That's only partially true. They have to be right, and they have to be willing to have that tried by court martial.
Recall the commander who refused some order or other due to his belief that Obama was an illegal commander.
He was tried, convicted, and put out of the military. I don't recall if he did jail time.
I'm glad he stood up for his principles, but if you're "officially" wrong, then you pay the price.
He is at Leavenworth and he is hero with more guts and courage than most
And no matter the circumstances, they would be officially wrong 99.999% of the time.
Lt. Col. Terry Lakin
He spent 6 months in Leavenworth.
He was never allowed to defend himself. He wanted to plead that the orders he received were unlawful because they were not authorized in accordance with the Constitution and the Authorization to Use Force, which required someone acting as CINC to be the sole decision-maker on the use of force against terrorism abroad. The 20th Amendment prohibits someone who had “failed to qualify” from acting as President.
Denise Lind ruled that Lt Col Terry Lakin could not use that defense because the President doesn’t issue orders and the lawfulness of combat orders doesn’t require a President’s authorization, even though Congress’ Authorization to Use Force says it does.
Look at that ruling within this Syrian context and tell me whether you think anybody in Congress or the military really believes what Denise Lind foisted onto Terry Lakin. What do you think would happen if Obama wouldn’t authorize a strike on Syria but some military LTC ordered his men to do it anyway.
If what Lind says is true, no problem. It’s a lawful order and anybody who refused to obey it would be court-martialed, refused an opportunity to defend him/herself, and spend 6 months in jail and lose all their retirement benefits - as well as have the civilian authorities seek to refuse them a license to practice whatever skill they had been using in the military - just like was done to Lt Col Terry Lakin.
And lots of folks here on FR would be cheering it along saying it was right.
That’s why we give them the bars and stars. Sometimes they have to suck it up and do the right thing. There is plenty of room/opportunity within the military framework to evaluate a civilian leader’s order to make sure someone is not going to a war crimes trial if they follow it.
“I’m glad he stood up for his principles, but if you’re “officially” wrong, then you pay the price.”
I think it’s our job to protect and uphold the Constitution in this case. Let’s not be so quick to ask members of the military to sacrifice themselves unless we’re willing to give up our careers and freedom like we’re asking them to do.