Did a 2-star general just violate that many regs in 30 seconds?

Did a 2-star general just violate that many regs in 30 seconds? August 16, 2012

I discovered a video that is probably about to be deleted. The video features a 2-star general stumping for Centurion’s Watch – a traveling bible-based marriage retreat aimed at military members.


“Centurions Watch is a wonderful way that you can help. Any donation or resource that you can give this organization – it’s faith-based. It’s wanting to keep families together with the stresses and strains of being apart, being in harm’s way, risking their lives for this country. I can’t think of a better organization that you can support. So if you want to give back, if you want to have some way you can help, I would highly encourage that you support this organization.” – Maj. Gen R. Martin Umbarger

Maj. Gen. Umbarger is the Adjutant General of Indiana. He leads all of the state’s Army and Air National Guard and Guard Reserve units. Commanders have to be careful not to give the appearance of selective treatment. I’m surprised that this wasn’t vetted and then squashed. Centurions Watchhas a disturbing mission:

Centurion’s Watch is a faith-based nonprofit organization that uses practical, thought provoking biblically based education and support to transform America’s Reserve and Guard families into strong, healthy and ready military families.

They want to transform existing marriages into “Pray together, Stay together” styled families. Arrogant, and disgusting.

Conflict of interest on Facebook, YouTube

Indiana’s 181st Intelligence Wing’s official Facebook page advertised a $70/person marriage retreat event sponsored by Centurion’s Watch. Atheist service members began contacting me. I’m sure my readers will start commenting there. Please do so, but be respectful. It’s entirely possible that both the Facebook post – and the youtube video for that matter- will be deleted soon, so act fast.

Don’t non-Christians deserve an equal opportunity? Yes, of course. The divorce rate in the military is very high. Roughly one in every 27 married soldiers got divorced in 2011. The best way to avoid the appearance of providing a selective benefit is to offer a universal secular marriage counseling program. (And don’t get me started on the ‘Strong Bonds‘ program.)

Why would the government endorse a such a blatantly sectarian approach? They aren’t supposed to. The regulations are quite clear.

Maj. Gen. Umbarger Indiana Adjutant General violates regulations

(Click to embiggen) After I discovered that video, I pretty much immediately realized that I couldn’t fight this battle. That’s a rare statement coming from me. Situations like this are exactly why the Military Religious Freedom Foundation exists.

Take it away, MRFF!

Mikey Weinstein, Founder and President of MRFF, makes a devastating case against Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger.

General Craig R. McKinley Chief, National Guard Bureau

Dear General McKinley, I am Mikey Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization currently representing over 29,000 active duty United States soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, service academy/ROTC cadets and midshipmen, reservists, national guard personnel and veterans. For the record, approximately 96% of our clients happen to be either practicing Protestants or Roman Catholics. In the matter referenced below, MRFF presently represents 31 members of the Indiana Army and Air National Guard, 27 of whom are practicing Christians. All 31 of our MRFF clients fear that they will suffer significant reprisal and/or retribution for bringing this travesty up through their chains of command, or to the other “usual suspects” (JAG, EEO, IG, Chaplains) for redress. Thus, they have come to MRFF for us to speak on their behalf.

I write you today about a most disturbing and disgusting matter. As one picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video to see an astonishingly brazen, bold and blatant violation of DoD regulations, instructions, and directives by the current Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, Major General R. Martin Umbarger.

In this video, Maj. General Umbarger is incontrovertibly endorsing, as the most senior Commander of the Indiana Army National Guard and the Indiana Air National Guard, a private sector entity which is clearly a comprehensively sectarian, proselytizing, fundamentalist, evangelical Christian parachurch organization by the name of “Centurionʼs Watch“. This pernicious and craven video speaks for itself. In it, Maj. General Umbarger apparently violates DoD Instruction 5410.19 (re: “selective benefit”), DoD Directive 1334.1 (re: “endorsing a non-Federal entity”) and Joint Ethics Regulation 2635.702(b) (“use of Government position, title or authority to imply Government sanction or endorsement”).

In case you need any reminders about the formidable magnitude of Maj. General Umbarger’s official malfeasance and/or misfeasance in this present matter, I will take the liberty of refreshing your memory by directing you to review the so-called “Christian Embassy” scandal, which MRFF brought forth into the national media in December of 2006. The DoD IG, several months later in the summer of 2007, specifically faulted a number of senior military officials, including flag officers, for doing essentially the exact same thing in a fundamentalist Christian, parachurch, promotional video that Maj. General Umbarger is doing in this instant matter by officially endorsing “Centurionʼs Watch” IN UNIFORM.

An additional matter of grave concern here focuses on Army Chaplain (Major) Doug Hedrick, the apparent founder and director of “Centurionʼs Watch.” I am sure you can appreciate the galaxy of nontrivial, potential DoD conflict of interest issues that surround his promotion and operation of his own private sector, evangelizing ministry while, seemingly, concomitantly still in the U.S. Army (Active duty? Active reserve? Active national guard?) in whatever capacity if any, he might currently hold as an Army chaplain. In fact, the mind boggles as to what is actually, as a matter of law and practicality, going on here with BOTH Chaplain (Major) Doug Hedrick and Major General Umbarger vis-à-vis “Centurionʼs Watch”?

General McKinley, on behalf of our 31 Indiana Army and Air National Guard clients, MRFF hereby demands that you immediately order Maj. General Umbarger and Chaplain (Major) Hedrick to cease and desist from any further violations of DoD and/or UCMJ mandates regarding their overt endorsement of and participation in the parachurch proselytizing organization “Centurionʼs Watch”. MRFF also demands that you immediately and aggressively investigate both Maj. General Umbarger’s and Chaplain (Major) Hedrick’s comprehensive actions in the development, promotion and operation of “Centurionʼs Watch”. Lastly, in the likely event that you find DoD and/or UCMJ regulatory violations committed pursuant to your investigations, MRFF demands that Maj. General Umbarger, Chaplain (Major) Hedrick and any and all other complicit individuals be severely punished.

Sincerely, Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq. Founder and President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Full letter from MRFF (PDF)

Don’t let them ignore this!

Mikey Weinstien’s passionate letter expresses what many of us can’t. Get your megaphone out. Sometimes, military members need you to speak for them. Please send your concerns to the local media. Here are some contacts.

Fort Wayne

Journal Gazette

Newsroom email: jgnews@jg.net | phone number: 260-461-8773

News Sentinel

Newsroom email: metro@news-sentinel.com | Phone: 260-461-8354


Indianapolis Star

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • steve84

    >”thought provoking biblically based education”

    That’s two oxymorons wrapped into one

    And an Army chaplain running his own private proselyting company and then enlisting senior military leadership to promote it? Are there no depths to which these clowns won’t sink?

  • Richard Tucker

    This is very disturbing. The military has serious issues when it allows and actively promotes this kind of biased and closed minded, religious based, propaganda and with active support it clearly seeks to separate the military into religious based factions. We need a United States military and not a Christian military.

    No one’s banning anyone’s faith or insisting someone be of any faith but this representation is a serious and obvious bias when it is endorsed by a 2 star general officer and in uniform. While in uniform it’s the rule of military code that he represent all the of those in his command as well as the UCMJ and the spirit of our nation’s goals. This endorsement, while in uniform is separating us by religious castes giving the appearance of bias. The UCMJ states emphatically to even look like there is bias is the same as having one. It’s not only to be avoided but simply not to be done or face serious reprimands and even face charges as a result.

    No bias is the rule of conduct and the law. Simply put there is no decision to be made here except how long it takes for his formal removal. If we’re going to throw the book at the junior enlisted for such breaches in both law and professional protocol and ethics then the punishment for a general officer should reflect the arrogance of the senior officer who knows those rules far better and therefore has held those rules in utmost contempt.

  • Centurion’s Watch. Would that be a reference to the centurion mentioned in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke Luke 7:1-10 who asked Jesus to resurrect his young lover?

    The original Greek texts both mention that the centurion was worried because his παῖς (pais, literally, “boy”) was very sick. At the time the Gospels were written, pais was used to describe a young male slave kept for the sexual use of his male adult owner.

    • Justin Griffith


      • Me, too. I always find it amusing how many literalists genuinely believe that the Bible was written in King James English. Point out what the Bible really says, in the context of the language at the time a given section was written, and the ensuing show is often quite amusing.

        I would dearly love to ask this general why the name of his marriage organization is based on a New Testament example of same-sex marriage (or at least, the closest equivalent that would have existed at the time.)

  • Ryan Jean

    “He leads all of the state’s Army and Air National Guard and Reserve units.”

    Nope. The Reserve is a Federal asset, not a state one. He is no more in charge of a Reserve unit in the state than he would be of an Active Duty unit in the state.


    • Justin Griffith

      Good eye. Thank you. I meant to say “National Guard Reserve.”

    • Dave

      The use of the term Indiana Guard Reserve is really interesting. Federal Reserve units augment our active duty regular forces. So, you have the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Reserves. We’re simply part of these individual services and are under the direction of the DOD. Guard units are NOT Reserve units. Guard Units are at the State level, and serve at the direction of the Governor of the State. In time of war, the Pentagon can call up Guard units for service, as we’ve seen over the last decade. But all State Level Guard forces have FULL TIME members, as well as part time weekend drillers. You can retire from a State Level Guard if you’re full or part time. Same with Federal Reserve forces. The Indiana Guard Reserve is a part of the Indiana Guard that is part time, like the Federal level Service Reserve units but is specific to Indiana. I retired from the Marine Corps Reserves recently and until reading this post and investigating this I didn’t even know this Guard Reserve was possible. All that being said this guy is the commander of the Guard Reserve force, but he would NOT be the commander of any other Reserves in the state (read Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines). Long post but important to understand the authority this guy has.

      • Justin Griffith

        Well said.

        The blog post had been fixed on the first mention of the oversight. I was careless in my extrapolation from his bio, because I had not been familiar with ‘Guard Reserve’ augmentation militias. Luckily Capt. Ryan Jean pointed it out shortly after I posted.

        FYI – bloggers really do appreciate corrections like this. Thank you for spending the time.

    • Benm

      Thanks for the insight. Indiana Guard Reserve does indeed exist, and I had no idea. However, for the sake of terminology, there still isn’t anything called “National Guard Reserve”. IGR is mentioned in Indiana Code, while NGR is not. It’s similar to when some folks mistakenly say “Air Force National Guard” instead of “Air National Guard”.

  • Morgan

    Don’t confuse the US Army with the Indiana Army National Guard. There are a number of State Adjutant Generals (TAGs) who are on State Active Duty (SAD). They are State employees only, and despite wearing the uniform, not receiving any income from the Department of Defense. As State employees, none of the Federal Rules & Regulations quoted above apply to them.

    When I was in the California ARNG years ago we had an appointed TAG who had already been retired from Federal service. He wore the uniform, commanded the CA Army NG & CA Air NG, but only received State pay… and none of the Federal rules applied to him.

    • Justin Griffith

      “and none of the Federal rules applied to him.”

      Could he wear corduroy pants with his Class A jacket? Is there a state-instituted system of regulations that covers the federal regs that simply HAVE TO apply? I believe that there is certainly a huge difference, and obviously Maj. Gen. Umbarger is an appointed commander (by the Governor). However, to claim that all federal regulations don’t apply is quite a stretch.

      At the beginnings of each of those regulations there is a section called “applicability”. This is from DoDI 1334.01:

      This Instruction applies to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the
      Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General of
      the Department of Defense, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Activities, and all other organizational
      entities in the Department of Defense
      (hereafter referred to collectively as the “DoD Components”).

      The National Guard is an entity in the Department of Defense.

      • Dave

        Actually, Justin, the Guard comes under the direction of the National Guard Bureau. Look it up. If a unit is called to active Federal Service then I would agree this guy would have violated certain DOD regs. If he was a commander of a Reserve Component, say a Battalion in the US Army Reserves, then yes as well. But given the fact that he’s at the State Guard level this doesn’t really apply. For instance, he isn’t even subject to the UCMJ – “Soldiers and airmen in the National Guard of the United States are subject to the UCMJ only if activated in a Federal capacity under Title 10 by an executive order issued by the President or during their Annual Training periods, which are orders issued under Title 10. Otherwise, members of the National Guard of the United States are exempt from the UCMJ. However, under Title 32 orders, National Guard soldiers are still subject to their respective state codes of Military Justice.” NOW the State of Indiana could have regulations that prohibit this activity. But as to being in violation of DOD directives it doesn’t wash.

        • Justin Griffith

          This commander is effectively AGR, and ‘always on’ ‘full-time’. The National Guard is a DoD entity, regardless of its status as a state-controlled entity. Also, the states vary, but usually the DoD regulations apply unless otherwise specifically stated by that state’s regulations. Ethics regulations are universal. States don’t need to pass special laws to get around them for the benefit of the ‘special National Guard mission’. States would still want their NG leaders to act ethically!

          Lastly, even a state Adjutant General has a National boss in addition to the governor of his/her state. That’s who Mikey’s letter is addressed to.

          Capt. Ryan Jean and I talked yesterday. I hope he returns to say this all better.

        • Justin Griffith

          As Ben cited, Indiana state law indicates that federal / DoD regulations and policies do apply unless specifically stated otherwise in that chapter.

          IC 10-16-9-13
          United States military laws and regulations
          Sec. 13. The general principle and spirit of the military laws and regulations for the government of the armed forces of the United States, when not in conflict with the express provisions of this chapter or the Constitution of the State of Indiana, shall be the guide of commanding officers and courts-martial.

          I saw no provisions for federal ethics regulations to be squashed for the state of Indiana. I would be surprised to see any state with such exceptions. For Indiana, the case is closed. The regs are pertinent.

      • Ben
      • Ryan Jean

        “Capt. Ryan Jean and I talked yesterday. I hope he returns to say this all better.”

        Looks like you took care of it just fine, Justin. The state regulation that automatically incorporates all regulations governing Command and Courts Martial when not in conflict with the state pretty much seals the deal.

        And, as written elsewhere here and discussed when we spoke, rather than only looking in DoD regulations, this issue can just as easily be viewed as an endorsement concern. The 14th Amendment’s effect on the states regarding the prohibitions of the 1st Amendment can’t just be ignored out of convenience.

    • Mundania_Express

      That’s incorrect. National Guard falls under Title 32. Of note, see 32 USC § 312 – Appointment oath:

      Each person who is appointed as an officer of the National Guard shall subscribe to the following oath:

      “I, XXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of XXXXXX against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and of the Governor of the State of XXXXXX, that I make this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office of XXXX in the National Guard of the State of XXXXXX upon which I am about to enter, so help me God.”

      Constitution has Establishment clause in the First Amendment – and Fourteenth Amendment makes First Amendment applicable to the States and localities. NG officers also obey the orders of the President, which are delegated to SECDEF and Service Secretaries and appear as Army Regs. The General does not get a State-based waiver on this one.

    • sc_10f6570233dbf550a2666a74fd6de552

      As a employee of the state of Indiana, the General cannot endorse a specific religion. This applies to all levels of government.

      Even though the General’s direct boss is the Governor, Guard units and personnel are frequently activated to Title 10 status. Guard personnel have the same uniform and fitness standards as Active Duty personnel.

  • CM Stanfield

    If it does get taken down, it’s not going away.

  • They say it works? Show me the data.

    oh wait, they probably don’t keep data.

    • Justin Griffith

      Actually they do! The stats are at all-time highs. They’ve been spending $30 MILLION on evangelical marriage counseling for us, and it’s just not fucking working. It’s time somebody told the emperor he was naked (or arrest him! Who does he think he is? I don’t want to see all that!)

  • Mundania_Express

    out of curiosity, does MRFF or American Atheists have the rights to use the Lorax image? Don’t want to get bit in the ass with a copyright violation while harpooning others for Establishment clause violations.

    • Justin Griffith

      Curious, have you ever heard of Fair Use? Parody, ftw.

  • davejohnson

    5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet


  • Ferrous Patella

    Gen. Martin apparently comes from the Jimmy Stewart school of elocution.

  • Les Newport

    Listen. MG U has made a career of looking after soldiers. If this organization you abhor appeals to a certain base of the Indiana National Guard and is helpful, then why would you have any opposition to something that helps keeps us and our families whole.

    I’ll tell you why. Because you are a self obsessed band of bunglers. You have grasped onto an alternative idealism in hopes of finding some special place for yourselves and your ilk. Why in God’s name would you look for a way to undermine Christian families, when the vast majority of those who have fought for your belief in nothing are Christians.

    You like to pretend that you are under some kind of God awful attack brought on by some curse of believers, when it is well documented that they only pray for you and grace on yours. And along beside them pray those of all the other great religions.

    You pick your fights at a peculiar time, as if you wish to bring torment on yourselves and cast yourselves as victims. Everyone is kinda catching on to that, and it’s kinda getting old. Be specific about what it is you really want, and we can talk about it.

    • Justin Griffith

      We want universal marriage counseling opportunities. That means secular. (not atheist. secular.)

      We want leaders to stop using their rank and position unethically. The rules are there for a reason. Follow them.

      We want people like you to imagine the fall out from a DoD-endorsed / sponsored “Quran-based marriage counseling initiative” as the only option for all service members. If you are disgusted, then you understand where we are coming from. If you only have a problem with it being the ‘only option’, start doing calculations for how expensive it would be to represent all the faiths equally…

      Sometimes it’s okay / expected to have sectarian options. However, in those instances, all religious preferences need to be supported. Marriage counseling is not a good example of when it’s okay to have a sectarian approach. Multi-cultural approaches can be had for holiday displays, pamphlet tables, chapel schedules, chapels, email etc. It’s often done wrong, but it can be done right.

      When discussing topics like suicide prevention, sexual assault, divorce, we are talking about universal problems. When the DoD endorses a sectarian approach to a universal problem, it comes off like this: “Hey you, Muslim / Jew / Atheist / wrong-type-of-Christian! The reason you’re suicidal is because you’re not Christian!”

      • Les Newport

        Apologies for the personal attack Justin. The reference to child molesting set me off. OK. This has nothing to do with tax dollars, except for MG Umbarger was in uniform. He’s often in uniform as you can imagine. This is a non-profit run by a Hoosier chaplain in Indiana. They operate in Indiana and close by.

        I’ve been on MG Umbarger’s staff for years. I’ve logged countless hours with him in airplanes, helicopters and vehicles. I have absolutely no idea what faith the general practices. So you might imagine my frustration when he is painted as a zealot.

        I serve with Mrs. Umbarger on the board of a foundation of an organization that works to help high school drop outs recover. Again, no idea of their faith.

        I can tell you that he reaches out and works with anyone who is interested in helping the troops, if you’ll pardon the expression, in good faith.

        If he is given to hyperbole when recognizing the efforts of those who are working to help Soldiers and their families, I can hardly criticize.

        You don’t want him to use his rank to help Soldiers. Then what? His membership to Good Sams Club? His civilian position as a grain seller?

        You have captured one short minute of Marty Umbarger and lofted it for ridicule. I serve with Jews and Muslims and Sikhs and Buddhists in the Indiana National Guard. And if I had to guess the general’s primary faith, it would be in his Soldiers, not their faith.

        Come to Indiana, if you will, and meet the general. Learn who we are. Study our history. Lew Wallace’s closest confidant was Fredrick Knefler, a founder of Indianapolis’ first synagogue. The largest Mosque in the country is in Plainfield on the west side of Indianapolis.

        We are a shining example of tolerance and faith in our fellow citizens, regardless of faith. You can also find ignorance and despair. But you won’t find it in my commander’s heart.

  • Timberwoof

    The ballroom dancing and parlor games are fine. I am concerned about any Christian-based psychological theories being used to help heal soldiers and their families.

    The National Guard are the people who are supposed to restore order after hell has broken loose, right? With what looks like government-sponsored proselytizing, what assurance do I have that they will be looking out for the interest of my neighbors and me, and not, say, God’s?

  • Jasmyn

    One in every twenty-seven married soldiers? Less than 4%? I think you may have meant 2.7. I’d believe a rate that high.

    • Justin Griffith

      1 / 27 = approx .037


  • steve84

    Stars and Stripes picked up the story:


    Cue comment section being overrun by religious whackjobs in 3..2..1..