WASHINGTON – A retired three-star general has been suspended from a $ 92-hour contract consulting with the military and is under investigation after he posted a tweet mocking First Lady Jill Biden on a hot-button social issue, the military said. .

Retired Lieutenant General Gary Volsky, a former top military spokesman and recipient of the Silver Star for Valor in Iraq, was a “senior mentor” advising senior military officers, staff and students participating in war games and other military activities. Lieutenant General Theodore Martin, commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suspended Volesky pending an investigation, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith told USA Today.

On June 24, The first lady tweeted one Protesting the Supreme Court’s decision to strip away the constitutional right to abortion, part of which is this: “For nearly 50 years, women have had the right to make their own decisions about their bodies. Today that right has been stolen.”

Volesky responded with his own tweet: “Glad to see you know what a woman is”.

His response indicates a breach of etiquette for a retired military officer and his entry into partisan politics by a Pentagon payroll officer, which experts say should be addressed. His tweet has been deleted.

Sen in March on Volesky’s post. Marsha Blackburn, R-Ten. And there was an echo of the exchange between Judge Ketanji and Jackson Brown during the confirmation hearing, during which Blackburn pressured the judge to define the word “woman.” Of transgender rights.

Volesky did not respond to a request for comment. Jill Biden’s spokesman, Michael LaRosa, declined to comment.

This is not the first time Volesky has posted a tweet with a political overtone. In July 2021, he rip. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. Responding to her tweet, she wrote, “I am honored to be on the selection committee on January 6. Our oath of office should be above partisan politics.”

Major General Gary Woleski speaks at the Intrapid Fallen Heroes Fund Dedication of the new Intrapid Spirit Center at Fort Campbell, Ky on September 8, 2014.

Volesky replied: “It’s all about partisan politics.” He was openly critical of the January 6 committee’s investigation into the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, in which supporters of then-President Donald Trump sought to block Joe Biden’s election victory certificate.

According to the Pentagon’s program description, Volesky was hired under the Pentagon program as an expert with experience and skills to bring “enlightened thinking” into the military. He was paid कामा 50,046 for work from November 2020 to August 2021 and $ 18,952 from September 2021 to June 2022, according to the military.

Senior uniformed officers work hard not to get involved in politics, and civilian control of the military is fundamental to the US government. This theory is under increasing stress.

After 6 January 2021, The rebels, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Millie, sent a bizarre memo reminding soldiers of their constitutional oath. In 2020, Millie herself apologized for being present with Trump after forcibly clearing peaceful protesters from Washington’s Lafayette Square so that the president could take a photo.

Volesky’s tweets point to a different breach in civil-military relations – one in which senior retired officers have taken on political roles. In 2016, retired Marine General John Allen backed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn led the “lock-up” chairs about Clinton during that campaign; He was later removed as Trump’s national security adviser in 2017 for lying to federal investigators and has become an increasingly biased person.

During the Trump administration, the Navy SEALs who led the raids that killed Osama bin Laden and General Stanley McChrystal, who led the war in Afghanistan, Adv. Several retired top officials, including William McRaven, criticized Trump in clear terms. McRaven accused Trump in the Washington Post op-ed of “actively working to undermine every major organization in this country.”

Andrew Basevich, an emeritus professor of history at Boston University and a retired Army colonel, was shocked that Volesky would threaten the military’s reputation on Twitter.

“It’s hard to understand why he or other retired senior officials tarnish the military’s reputation at the top of politics in order to get some cheap partisan points on social media,” Basevich said.

If McCraven and McChrystal’s comments go beyond political commentary, Volesky’s “snark” would go even further, said Peter Fever, a professor of political science at Duke University and an expert on civil-military relations. Volesky’s tweet was not a close call in response to the first lady’s message, he said.

“Retired soldiers have the right to express their opinions and tweet what they like, but that’s not fair,” Fever said. “And the more senior a veteran is, the more damaging a healthy civilian-military relationship can be. One wrong tweet.”

Retired senior executives can make “useful contributions” when they consider strategic matters in their area of ​​professional expertise, he said.

“But when they move away from the core competency zone to commit biased acts, they violate the rules of their business and make the jobs of current senior military leaders more difficult,” Fever added.

Volesky, a highly decorated infantry officer, was a star in the army who had reached the pinnacle of service. He was instrumental in leading a rescue operation in Iraq in 2004, in which he led an armored column to retrieve soldiers and their disabled Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Later, the military named him as its chief spokesman, who was heading his public affairs office. He commanded the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, part of which he took to Africa in response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

More: Volesky said the military responded to Ebola

This screenshot of a deleted tweet posted by retired Lieutenant General Gary Wolesky shows the response to First Lady Jill Biden's tweet on abortion on June 24th.

This screenshot of a deleted tweet posted by retired Lieutenant General Gary Wolesky shows the response to First Lady Jill Biden’s tweet on abortion on June 24th.

Volesky earned a third star and became commander of the I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington state. That command monitored more than 40,000 troops, including bases in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

After retiring, Volesky signed an agreement with the military as a “senior guide” advising active-duty officers.

A 2009 USA Today investigation found that senior guidance programs at the Pentagon thrived on scant scrutiny. As well as collecting government pensions.

Congress ordered the Pentagon to establish rules for the mentor program, which would include salary limits and the filing of financial disclosure forms for retired officers. In 2010, the Pentagon listed 355 senior mentors on its roster. In 2011, after the implementation of pay cap and interest-conflict protection, the number dropped to three.

The Pentagon has a unique right in the federal government to appoint retired senior officials, such as Volesky, whom it refers to as “highly qualified – senior mentors.” He has “extraordinary, specialized knowledge, skills and experience in the professional field; and decision-making authority and status by peers or people,” according to the Pentagon’s program description. They are “appointed to bring enlightened thought and innovation,” the description reads.

Senior mentors are given a higher status than other retired officers, Fever said. They need to teach active-duty officers how to navigate services in times of political polarization.

First Lady Jill Biden speaks at the 125th anniversary convention of the National Parent Teacher Association on June 17, National Harbor, Mo.

First Lady Jill Biden speaks at the 125th anniversary convention of the National Parent Teacher Association on June 17, National Harbor, Mo.

“They have been appointed not only for their military skills but also for their character and adherence to professional standards,” he said.

Active-duty leader Volesky was advised as a senior mentor that his tweets could make his job difficult, said Corey Shack, an expert on civil and military relations at the American Enterprise Institute and director of foreign and defense policy studies. Volesky has the right to freedom of expression as a citizen, but his status as a retired senior officer binds him to the military in the eyes of the people, she said.

“Public respect for the military as an institution is declining,” she said.

The tweet has also put the military in trouble, Shack said.

“It’s definitely inappropriate for someone to be involved in political criticism that guides active-duty leaders,” she said. “On the other hand, it’s difficult for the military – to dismiss him for exercising protected political speech. He is an American citizen who expresses his constitutionally protected views.”

Wolesky’s response to Biden’s tweet was a clear reference to legal questions about transgender rights. Blackburn, Tennessee Republicans pressed Jackson about it during her confirmation hearing.

“Can you define the word ‘woman’?” Blackburn asked, a clear reference to legal questions about transgender rights.

“I can’t. Not in this context,” Jackson responded. “I’m not a biologist.”

“The meaning of the word ‘woman’ is so vague and controversial that you can’t explain it to me?” Said Blackburn.

Fever had some advice for military leaders, active-duty or retired, making political commentary.

“If it feels good, don’t do it.”

Major General Gary Volesky flies over Liberia.

Major General Gary Volesky flies over Liberia.

This article originally appeared on USA Today: Army suspends retired general over contract over tweet about Jill Biden