The official story is that General Byrnes was fired for an extramarital affair with a civillian. Allegedly, the Army terminated Byrnes to show how serious it is about moral values. Mark Kleiman notes irony: torture innocents, no problem; commit adultery, you're accountable. This doesn't pass the sniff test. Is it possible that someone wanted to punish Byrnes? For example, might he have said anything inconvenient about the Army and its recruiting goals? If anyone has any alternative hypotheses about Byrnes demise, they're eligible for one of these tinfoil medals that I am empowered to bestow.
Well, if we are entertaining flights of fancy, then here's one...
Byrnes might have been spaced out the airlock in a nasty political fight with a rival...
Tin foil hats on, everyone? Good...
One of the last major promotions made before the current junta took power was the tapping of Byrnes to be Lt. General in 1999. He was still at his post at that time as commanding general of the 1st Cav. In 2003, W punted him over to TRADOC taking him out of rotation for combat duty in the gulf. Why? Who knows...
But, while at TRADOC, he very quickly initiated a project called LandWarNet, a massive information integration command and control infrastructure that is -- eventually -- supposed to completely revolutionize the way data is used adminsitratively and on the battlefield.
So far so good... however, while he was working on this, a General Steven Boutelle, U.S. Army's G6 (or the Army's Chief Information Officer) was about to go to Congress and testify regarding funding for his pet project, called the "Army Knowledge Management Strategy."
In an April 2004 interview, Byrnes talks about how:
"The G6 has made significant headway for the institutional Army under the Army Knowledge Management Strategy. Now it is time to integrate the operational Army into a capstone strategy that is LandWarNet. The LandWarNet initiative will also establish the Army’s future networking efforts with the joint community, specifically in the joint battle management command and control development process.
In essence "thanks for all your help Steve, me and TRADOC will take it from here..." It ws shortly thereafter that Boutelle was sent up the Hill to pimp for LandWarNet, instead of his own deal, but as CIO, he really has little implementation control or funding access to it, since it is now a TRADOC program.
My theory turns on the idea that these guys are getting to the end of their useful shelf lives as flag officers. It is not uncommon for retired flag officers to "double dip" -- that is, take a pension, then get a job as a "consultant" with the Dept. of Defense, or just simply go to work as a pimp for any of the numerous defense contractors looking to open doors at the Pentagon.
And make no mistake, whoever ends up running LandWarNet is going to be in charge of majorly -- majorly-- phat stax of mad bank.
The fact that G6 technically outranks the TRADOC commander in the chain of command, although Boutelle was a three-star as opposed to the four stars of Byrnes is something I found interesting in the context that LandWarNet is something that is more naturally suited to the G6 command instead of Training and Doctrine, or so it would seem to me.
Boutelle's resume is not nearly as combat command intensive as Byrnes' and moreover he has not been in as long, making his bones as one of Rummy's hand-picked technocrat Tom Clancy desktop generals.
For Byrnes to have essentially seized a multi-billion dollar hardware and software intiative out from under Boutelle is the sort of thing that makes hard feelings in Washington.
After seeing Byrnes' resume, it seemed unlikely that a mere pecadillo would be the sort of thing that would force him out... what's the old saying in politics "unless he's found with a live boy or a dead girl, he's got job safety..." I think there's more to his ouster than just a dalliance.
Personally, I think the thing to watch for now is to see if G6 regains complete control of the LandWarNet project, and to see if one of his minions ends up running TRADOC... I would also be interesting in knowing more about the contractors bidding for LandWarNet projects and who in the Pentagon they are close to...