2946-11-12 - Editor's Loudspeaker: The Great Purge

The pundits are calling the fallout from the New Rheims scandal "The Great Purge of the Admirals," and it seems at this point the term has stuck, despite its overwrought hyperbole. To date, barely five percent of the Confederated Navy's staff-level officers have been affected as of this writing, and among the captain grades, the number affected is more like one in four thousand; it is only the vast size of the naval edifice that makes the "Purge" seem so massive.

It is true however, and quite concerning, that a number of the most experienced admirals are choosing now to make their exit from military service, and that this includes a number of well-known names who probably didn't have anything to do with Block A50. Most of the senior officers who served in the Brushfire War have been implicated (likely having, as Samuel Bosch did, returned from the brief conflict with a favorable impression of war-fighting automatons), and many of the older senior officers still in the service who served in the conflicts in the aftermath of the Terran-Rattanai War have decided to take early retirement, likely sensing that their relative freedom of action up to this point is to be constrained by increased Congressional oversight.

All of these officers surely have personally groomed favorite subordinates to succeed them, as is common practice in the Navy, so the brain-drain is not likely to prove as disastrous as some of the doom-sayers prefer to lament. It is possible that some of these successors may also fall in time to the continued revelations around Block A50; of more concern than the first-wave resignations is the frenetic pressure around the issue which encourages the officers involved to save a fragment of their own reputations by providing lists of others who were more important to the secret project than themselves. With these revelations moving so quickly, it's far too likely that some innocent men and women will be named and forced out as well.

I fear Delegate Nisi-Bonn is beginning to overstep badly, though I sympathize with her reasoning. A populated world was fired upon by an automated warship during the incident; it is only by good fortune that the world the rogue vessel targeted was a thinly populated colony. Still, in its zeal to root out every officer who put Confederated civilians at risk, it is possible the committee will smear the names of officers who were not involved, especially at the middle-seniority levels. In the long run, this is a minor tragedy compared to what might have happened if New Rheims were a more populous world, but I hope Ms. Nisi-Bonn treats every accusation in successive waves of testimony with a healthy degree of skepticism.

Interestingly enough, Samuel Bosch seems to have weathered the storm so far, despite seeming to be involved on both sides of this issue. His ship, the light cruiser Arrowhawk, has been in the Naval Yards here at Centauri since a few weeks after the New Rheims incident, and is scheduled to be out for trials with its supporting squadron in a few days. If he's still captain during trials, it's likely he's going to emerge from this largely unscathed. I'm still not sure whether he deserves any blame for Block A50, but since the committee isn't screaming for his head, the political class doesn't seem to have any of the same doubts I do.