AWOL and Dereliction of Duty

Although I’m sure he didn’t realize he was doing so, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett has apparently confirmed that Bush was indeed AWOL—Absent Without Leave—during part of the period he obligated himself to serve in the Air National Guard. (Uniform Code of Military Justice 866. ART. 86. Absence Without Leave)

In his February 14, 2004 Houston Chronicle article `Some light shed on Bush Guard service’, Michael Hedges wrote:

Bartlett said that Bush skipped the [Flight Medical] examination simply because he’d decided to go to Alabama as part of the political campaign and wouldn’t be serving as a pilot there.

Since Bush would have been ordered—in the full military sense of the term—to present himself for that examination at a specified place, date, and time and failed to do so, Bush is guilty of being AWOL. It does not matter why Bush didn’t show up, only that he did not.

That he apparently never faced any possibility of punishment for this infraction of the Military Code of Uniform Justice (UCMJ) can be due to only three things: an administrative failure, political influence, or dereliction of duty on part of the person or persons whose duty it would have been to institute such proceedings. Dereliction of duty, or failure to perform a required task, is also an infraction of the UCMJ and it’s unlikely that anyone would have `decided’ on his own to over-look the matter. Since the military has set procedures to follow for virtually every situation (and certainly the failure of someone to show up for an examination), it’s very unlikely that an administrative failure occurred. That leaves political influence as the most likely reason Bush apparently was never brought up on charges under the UCMJ for being AWOL from the flight medical.

The big `flap’ about Bush being AWOL is centered on his going to Alabama, and as a result absenting himself from his Guard duties in Texas. It’s been written in at least one news article that Bush did receive permission to go to Alabama, but only months after the fact of his move. If that is truly the case, Bush was indeed AWOL during those months he was in Alabama prior to receiving that permission. The three possible reasons he apparently was not charged with being AWOL during that time are those I’ve mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

It’s apparent that Bush is also guilty of Dereliction of Duty (892. Art. 92. Failure to Obey and Order or Regulation). Bush was assigned to `duties involving flight’, specifically as a F-102 Fighter Pilot. That being the case, Bush would have been required to maintain a status of `qualified’ as an F-102 pilot. To do so, he would have not only been required to pass an annual Flight Physical, but also `maintain proficiency’ in the type and model aircraft he flew. That is accomplished by actually flying the aircraft. He also would have been required to keep his knowledge of the aircraft—including operating procedures and equipment changes—up to date. That’s primarily accomplished by reading `notices’ on the aircraft, but `presentations’ where pilots must be present are also used—a staple for the National Guard’s `Week-End Warriors’. Both pilot requirements are referred to collectively as `staying current’.

In any military organization, one simply does not decide to stop doing something. To `legally’ stop flying for any period of time, Bush would have had to ask permission to do so. Since he apparently did not so ask, the charge of Dereliction of Duty should also be added to those of being AWOL.

WILLIAM WILGUS served in the U.S. Navy from October 28, 1965 until November 4, 1974 and was honorably discharged. Assigned to duties involving flight, he logged 5,000 hours of flight time in Navy aircraft. Now retired, his hobbies are a web site called The Public Cause Network and digital photography. William also enjoys reading and listening to music—especially pre-1950s American Jazz. His e-mail address is Director@ThePublicCause.Net.