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Sunday, May 2, 2010

A letter to a general

In the last few months of my time in the military I was placed in charge of “Special Projects” at Holloman AFB. It is a position, which does not exist. It doesn’t exist for a reason – because it never really existed.

Special Projects was like calling your breakfast “special” or your neighbor’s house “special.” Just because one has scrambled eggs on it – and the other has rotten eggs dripping down the windows and doors, doesn’t mean they are special. In fact, “Special Projects,” should have been called “Projects for the Soon To Depart (PSTD),” if it had to be called anything at all. In fact, it was absolutely “Special” in the way the old lady down the street describes it, when her rat-dog shits all over the carpet – as in, “Ohh, isn’t that special!” But there was a reason for it – there always is.

Take for example the office adjacent, in which two high-ranking officers were in charge of something called “Quality Force.” Yep – it’s just what you were thinking. Much like Special Projects, Quality Force had nothing to do with anything in its’ title. There was no such thing as a “Quality Force” or “Do More With Less.” If you could do "more with less," then you must have had too much to begin with. If you are calling everything "Quality" now, that must mean that before, your force was something less than that. Lastly, when you’re given less to work with, less generally gets done – and when you have to call something “Quality,” you can be pretty sure that is not what it is all about. Quality Force propaganda was controlled by the two less-than-quality monkey head officers behind that second-floor headquarters door. But that didn’t change what every regular serviceman and woman knew it to be – just a trail of rat-dog shit.

And once smelled, you always know it for what it is.

And so, when the Army Two-Star and SOCOM Commander, Charles T. Cleveland allowed the charges to go forward against three young Navy SEALs, you could be damned sure there was both more and less to that whole story than met the eye. The smell was too familiar. Now, with two SEALs cleared, the third and final guy steps into the courtroom this week.

If the military administrative rat-dog squad had anything other than “Quality” people, the General might get a clue and try to back out while there’s still time. Just let McCabe go. But, the wheels and weasels are already in motion – and in the service, that means the whole stinking trail of poop must be allowed to drop completely, once a little bit of the steaming sauce has hit the carpet.

After all, why have a small mess, when a much bigger one is possible.

Being an NCO of some hard-knocks experience, I tend to view things from a Special Projects perspective. So pardon me if I don’t get all teary-eyed over Cleveland getting smeared as this charade he allowed to begin implodes like a rusting Soviet submarine on its’ way to Davy Jones. And I damned sure would be contemplating a fun Welcome Back To  Active Duty party (WBTAD), to Petty Officer Third Class Kevin DeMartino, the lying rat-dog enlisted guy who has proven to the world that “Yes, Virginia, Shitheads Do Exist (YVSDE).

In fact, now that I am long since out of the service, I can voice my gentle opinion as publicly as I would like – and “I do like,” so, here it is:

Dear General,
The dumbest Airman Basic I ever knew, could have seen this one coming. In fact, there were probably a number of recent trainees, fresh from Lackland AFB, you could have consulted. But you didn’t. One wonders how it was possible, then, to run afoul of such a simple and obvious thing. If young enlisted guys are unwilling to accept non-judicial punishment and instead risk court-martial for something they are swearing they didn’t do – then probably, they didn’t do it. Because, in the world of the enlisted, you know how things are geared – and that is mostly in such a way as to chew you up and spit you out. When an enlisted guy is offered non-judicial wrist slapping instead of career-ending CM action, and he takes the CM, he’s either a fool, he likes how they deliver the food at the jail, or – and this is really a key point – HE’S INNOCENT.

But, potentially being a worthless hump, you decide in your gilded letterhead glory, to hammer these guys.

I have only met a handful of generals, because I was just a regular schmuck. One bitched me out, two were really good to me, one shook my hand, one stood beside me in a hummer in Somalia, one signed my journals and one even tried to promote me. They were all good guys, and to be fair, I don’t know you. But I can say for certain how I would have handled a scenario like this one these SEALs have been faced with. I would have been indignant and pissed off, and as a tough, but principled sergeant, I would have delivered my thoughts about such a thing in-person, replete with colorful language and punctuated with appropriate additional activity. It would have been stupid and pointless (perhaps like this article), then, as an old friend of mine once said, “I could go to lock-up or some icy northern rock in the ocean, with a smile on my face.”

But these young men are professionals. They are good, decent men. They deserve respect and support, not Prosecution By Pinheads (PBP). They have handled themselves with dignity and their actions prove what I and every other American except for yourself and the prosecutors already knew – they didn’t deserve this. They prove there are a lot of folks out there, anyone would be proud to serve with. You, however, should possibly consider opening a new office for yourself – the PSTD (see paragraph two of this article), because you might just want to think about some civilian career options.

Subsequently, you may feel free to include yourself in the “pinhead” category if you would like. I won’t put you there, because I’m a member of the former “Quality Force.”

And I was “Special.”


P.S. If the poor schmuck you have compiling your press clips happens to come across this article and you are given it in your daily folder of "poop about you," please feel free to send me a response. I'll actually print it - even if you call me an asshole - and especially if you say "you didn't do it."Because I always gave officers my support. And I always thought you generals were stand-up guys. I wonder what young men and women will think, though, after this? 

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