The Best Defense

NDU professor faces homicide charges, former Canadian commander in Kabul jail

You turn over a rock and things come out. I learned late yesterday that a professor at NDU, Jaime Garcia Covarrubias, was indicted for homicide in November.

Covarrubias, a retired Chilean brigadier who is listed in an NDU document as a "professor of national security affairs," was charged three months ago with being involved in the deaths of seven political prisoners in Temuco, Chile, in 1973. Apparently he is still on the faculty of NDU. He is now in Chile, where he recently told a judge that he needed to return to NDU, as he was still under contract, but the judge denied him permission to leave the country.

I queried the powers that be at NDU about this last night. The spokesman responded:

Dr. Garcia Covarrubias is not an employee of the National Defense University. He is a Title X (Department of Defense civilian) employee of the Office of the Secretary of Defense with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency serving as the Executive Agent. His current appointment ends on February 25, 2014.

Please refer all future questions about Dr. Garcia Covarrubias's employment to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Public Affairs.

Tom again: I've asked for clarification -- are they saying the alleged killer is an NDU faculty member but not an NDU employee? That strikes me as quibbling. I will update if they respond.

In other unusual foreign military crime news, the Toronto Star reports that retired Brig. Daniel Menard, a former commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, has been held in a jail in Kabul for the last three weeks. So far no charges, the Star says. As a former resident of Kabul, I have to wonder if this is a classic Afghan shakedown. Menard, who got the boot from his military command for boffing a female corporal, had been working for a security company. While in (or out) of uniform, he also got in trouble over another kind of negligent discharge, with his weapon.

However, Tawfiq Aziz, a current resident of Kabul, reports on Michael Yon's Facebook page that he called a friend at the interior ministry and was told that the issue is forged papers for the movement of arms.

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Comment from an NDU insider: MG Martin is a good guy but in over his head

Below is note I got this morning from an NDU insider.

Speaking of notes, I've had many from outraged NDU faculty members (and others) unhappy with the broad Guamanian brush I used to describe them yesterday. I apologize for that. I should have been clearer that I was talking about some, not everyone. In addition to the entrenched mediocrities, there are some great faculty members, too. I guess I am just sad to see a once-great institution tarnished, losing enough lustre to threaten its accreditation, and now facing what appears to be a crisis in leadership or morale, or both.

Anyway, here is the note.

I can say from firsthand knowledge that the problems you describe are accurate, but only scratching the surface. General Martin is a truly friendly and unbelievably enthusiastic individual ... but those traits are overshadowed by his admittedly horrid personal time management abilities and nearly utter disregard for his senior staff's time, a frustrating inability to prioritize effort, inconsistent focus and vision, paralyzing personal indecisiveness, and a shocking level of paranoia over many on his staff (to the point that he often referred to some as "The NDU Taliban").

His actions were often characterized as an ADHD child on a sugar-jag, or a Mr. Magoo in uniform by some at the top echelons of the NDU's colleges. And then there were the pettiness and ethical grey areas from the general that has tarnished the reputation of the NDUP in the eyes of those who work with him on a daily basis.

Good folks opted to leave rather than work under the unstable an unpredictable leadership coming from the NDUP and his Exec. Others have just hunkered down to wait out the current administration. The staff alienation was palpable. Some of his senior staff have gone so far as to cynically comment that the J7 must have brought general Martin to the NDU as a "fall guy" during this difficult transition time in the university's history, knowing that he would set a new and lower leadership bar for his successor to build from in the future. BG Martin is not a toxic leader in the traditionally abusive or amoral manner of many other officers, but the leadership he delivers is poisoning the NDU nonetheless.

This note represents the views of the writer, and are not necessarily those of the Defense Department or the U.S. government.