Air Force General Joseph Ralston has withdrawn his name for consideration as the next Chair of the Joint Chief of Staff, the highest non-civilian military post. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s decision to consider him for the post came under heavy criticism after the Pentagon revealed that Ralston had had an extra-marital affair. Members of Congress and the military saw a double-standard applied to Ralston because of his rank and gender. Recently, First Lt. Kelly Flinn faced a possible court-martial and was forced into a general discharge, because she, who is single, had an affair with a married civilian man. Ralston had a prolonged extra-marital affair thirteen years ago while he was married and trying to reconcile with his wife. Ralston eventually divorced, and court records show that his inability to end the affair was a prime reason.
Representative Nita Lowey (NY-D), who led the Congressional outrage at the military’s double-standard, commented on Ralston’s decision, “Gen. Ralston did the right thing and now we can focus on the policy rather than just on this case, and hopefully the panels will come up with recommendations that make sense. The Pentagon has two options _ either change the rules or apply them consistently.”