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American Forces Press Service

Panetta Directs Review of Officers' Culture of Stewardship

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

BANGKOK, Nov. 15, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has ordered a review to determine how the armed forces can better foster a culture of stewardship among senior military officers, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said here today.

Panetta directed Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to work with other members of the Joint Chiefs on the review, Little said, adding that initial findings are due to the secretary within the next few weeks.

Little said this is an ongoing process, the timing of which -- amid recent reports and investigations of potentially improper behavior by several general officers -- is coincidental. The review, he said, “was going to happen anyway.” Input to the secretary will form the basis of a report to President Barack Obama on the department’s progress in this area by Dec. 1.

The process, Little noted, is intended to reinforce and strengthen the standards that keep the military well led and disciplined.

“The secretary believes that the vast majority of our senior military officers exemplify the strength of character and the highest ethical standards the American people expect of those whose job it is to provide for the security of our nation,” Little said.

“They represent not only the best of the American military but the American people,” he added. “The majority of these officers lead by example, which is one of the reasons the United States military stands without peer.”

Over the past several months, the press secretary said, Panetta has spoken with the service secretaries, service chiefs and combatant commanders about instances when senior officers have not lived up to the standards expected of them.

“This has been an ongoing discussion,” Little said, “reflecting shared concerns.”

The secretary is traveling this week in the Asia-Pacific region, visiting defense officials in Australia, Thailand and Cambodia.

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