By Morgan Hitzig
The Pentagon has sent President Barack Obama the initial findings of a review of ethics standards for officers, a Pentagon spokesman said Friday.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conducted the review after recent scandals and ethical misconduct involving high-ranking military officers.
The review has found the current level of ethics training to be "appropriate," but training should start earlier and continue to be reinforced more frequently throughout officer's careers, Little said. Currently, ethics training, which is conducted in "ethics modules," varies by service. This training is usually led by the Pentagon's legal counsel.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who ordered the review, discussed these preliminary findings with Obama during a regularly scheduled meeting earlier this week.
"There have been limited instances where general and flag officers have fallen short," spokesman George Little said Friday.
The most prominent instances include the recent scandal involving retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus, whose extramarital affair led to his resignation from his post as director of the CIA and an investigation into whether classified material was improperly shared with his paramour who was also his biographer.
That situation led to a separate investigation of the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, for allegedly exchanging inappropriate e-mails with a Florida woman.
Gen. William "Kip" Ward, the former commander of Africa Command, was demoted over more than $80,000 in unauthorized travel expenses.
The initial findings also recommend that the level and type of support given to flag officers should be examined to ensure they are "necessary, sensible, and efficient."
"For example, generals in command have an 'aide-de-camp' which is one level of support. They often have additional staff to help with more routine activities," Little said. The review will examine whether the use of these additional aides could contribute to commanders abusing some of their authority.
Before the most recent instances, Dempsey called for "a rededication to the profession of arms" in a February 2012 white paper. "Renewing our commitment to the profession of arms is essential to ensure we maintain the best led and best trained force in the world," he wrote. "Leadership is the foundation of our profession."
Details of the review process remain limited because deliberations are conducted privately with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The privacy is meant to encourage candor, Little said.