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June 27, 2008

Elucidating the Obvious

One of the things I have tried to do, over the many years I've been writing, is not to post in anger.

There are times when that is not easy, especially when I feel as strongly as I do about what I have to say today. Pent up emotions tend to increase rather than decrease in intensity, and each time an opportunity to respond is declined only makes the next time more difficult. Over the years there have been quite a few times when I have reluctantly decided not to weigh in at all on stories that interested me. I have done so primarily when I didn't think I could distance myself sufficiently from the subject to give it what (according to my own standards, if not in always in the judgment of others) amounted to fair treatment.

Let me begin by noting that in an era where so many time-honored traditions have fallen by the wayside, the military has consistently remained the most respected institution in American life. But why is this so? What is the military doing differently from other civilian institutions? Why do the American people still respect and trust the military when they have lost confidence in Congress, the Courts, and the media?

I would argue that the answer is really quite simple: the military, unlike these other institutions, has a clear-cut set of rules, they follow these rules, and when someone breaks the rules it is seen that they are held accountable for having done so. The fact that this is so, and that most members of the military cooperate to actively uphold and support this system, is what instills public trust and confidence in the military as an institution.

Another thing which instills trust and confidence is attitude: when the military is asked to do a job, they do not undertake the task with the mindset of "let us determine the minimum we can get away with doing and do that". On the contrary: they exceed expectations. They aim, not to get by, but to excel. And when it is a matter of integrity their attitude is not, "You're going to have to force me to obey the rules and show me subsection 5(c)(1) paragraph 2(b) or I'll sue you for intentional infliction of emotional distress", but "I'll get right on it."

Even when, sometimes, they are privately not that thrilled about rules and regulations.

Except, somehow, when it comes to military blogging. Then, mysteriously, all bets seem to be off and even military officers are suddenly insulting other military officers for enforcing existing regulations (which last time I checked was THEIR JOB, not a discretionary activity) and fomenting hate and discontent.

After much thought, I am not going to mince words here. I have watched this go on for far too long and it needs to stop. I cannot understand why no one is speaking up, but if no one else will say anything, I will.

It does not matter, really, whether you agree with the DoD regulations on blogging. Your personal opinion on military regulations is undoubtedly interesting to your mother, but essentially irrelevant to the performance of your job.

Discuss it, if you wish, on your own time. But the fact of the matter is that as long as the regulation is in force, it must be obeyed and if you do otherwise than to urge any military person to comply with a military regulation, you are behaving in a highly unprofessional manner. If you are doing this on your blog, especially using distainful and/or profane language, and you cannot understand why DoD is less than thrilled about Milbloggers, you are encouraging insubordination.

Is this really the kind of behavior military people should be proud of?

Is this the kind of behavior you want the civilian community to see us engaging in?

And most importantly, if you happen to be an officer or a staff NCO, is this the kind of behavior you want junior enlisted personnel (who are far from stupid, but ARE young and hopefully look to you for leadership and guidance) to emulate? My God, I hope not. Because I find it disappointing as hell.

I have no wish to pile onto Lt. G, but even he admits his initial post was rash.

He admits that he broke the rules.

The guy is an officer, for Christ's sake. He is paid to provide a leadership example.

And yet, many of you are defending an example of an officer who knowingly broke the rules, openly displayed contempt for his senior officers, and then, when the rule he broke was enforced, didn't have the good grace to take his lumps silently but rubbed their noses in it PUBLICLY.

If I had been the field grade in question, the easiest and least embarrassing course of action for me personally would have been to counsel the young man quietly and deal with the post LATER. However, allowing an officer to deliberately defy regulations and deliberately do what he did is not really an option a responsible senior ought to contemplate. I could not, in good conscience, ignore his actions no matter how irritating and public the repercussions.

Even if they caused someone to call me a "weak leader" for simply doing the job Uncle Sam paid me to do.

I suppose my question is, when are Milbloggers going to stop going off like a Roman Candle every single time a military blogging REGULATION is enforced? This was not the end of the world.

All I see here is a junior officer who broke the rules and (surprise, surprise!) was dealt with accordingly. I won't even address the issue of people not always getting to stay in their present job or the remote possibility that there were reasons the Lieutenant was not aware of for the proposed transfer. At any rate, he wasn't thrown in the brig. All that happened is that he was asked not to post for a while.

Be still, my beating heart. Somehow, I suspect the world will continue to spin on its axis.

What disturbs me more than anything else is to see military people putting out the kind of arguments they mock mercilessly when they come from the Leftosphere. I don't like hearing people suggest we pressure DoD into backing down on regulations, that we set up ghost sites so Milbloggers can post when they've been ordered not to (nice going - -what other orders would you like them to flout while you're at it?), or disparaging other military personnel on slight or no evidence.

The military is not, and never has been, a democracy and unless you want to see it turned into a debating society where discipline issues are debated and adjudicated via shouting matches in the blogosphere, might I suggest this is really not a path we want to go down? There is a way to handle disputes. It's called going through the chain of command. If you have a problem with someone, tackle it head on. Take it up with the actual people involved. Don't gun your frustrations out on the Internet where Dana Priest and the entire rest of the world can feast on your momentary bile.

I would have thought this was so obvious that it didn't need saying, especially during wartime when God knows we have enough problems without creating unnecessary ones, but apparently I was mistaken.

Posted by Cassandra at June 27, 2008 03:07 PM

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Comments

I'm with you on this one. And I like Lt. G. and his page -- except for that song file that goes off every time you load it.

Posted by: vanderleun at June 28, 2008 01:34 PM

All that happened is that he was asked not to post for a while.

Which is a euphemism for "You will *not* post until I tell you you can. If ever."

He broke the rules. He admitted he did so and he has been chastised. The episode has been a lesson in what can happen when both parties overreact to a situation in which both are firmly convinced that they were in the right -- with the result that one commits the indefensible and the other commits the inexcusable.

Has this situation occurred in the past? Of course. And more times than any of us who saw it -- and remained silent -- can remember. It's part of the "take one for the team and shut up" mentality, which, for better or worse, is an integral part of the discipline uniforms adhere to. We have to put up with nonsense when it is directed at us because we swore an oath to "obey the orders of those appointed above us" -- the orders, not the *requests*.

In this instance, there were two wrongs (and the commander's action *was* wrong, morally) but the public airing may eventually result in fewer occurrences of the one and the elimination of the other.

Posted by: BillT at June 28, 2008 02:11 PM

BillT, you were caught wearing that thong again, weren't you?

Posted by: Cricket at June 28, 2008 02:40 PM

I don't have a background in the military but all your reasons why Lt G shouldn't have done what he did - and why other military bloggers shouldn't be attacking his superior for disciplining him - sound more than reasonable to me with one exception.

When you say, "Don't gun your frustrations out on the Internet where Dana Priest and the entire rest of the world can feast on your momentary bile" that makes me a little uneasy. I understand that undermining a society's faith in its military is a bad idea but asking for silence so the "other side" won't have ammunition can easily drift into the type of argument an Obama supporter would make. A strong military can take some flak even from its own side. (Oops. My attempt at a military metaphor broke down pretty badly there at the end.)


As a side note, it would be interesting to know what would happen to a civilian who maintained a blog about his work and wrote a post about his boss similar to the suicide/martyrdom post at Kaboom. My guess is that the civilian would be fired. Or find himself working in janitorial services at the Death Valley branch of the company.

Posted by: EliseK at June 28, 2008 02:49 PM

BillT, you were caught wearing that thong again, weren't you?

I wasn't there, it wasn't me, you can't prove a thing, that picture was obviously PhotoShopped.

By the way, I want the negative back, too...

Posted by: BillT at June 28, 2008 03:02 PM

A strong military can take some flak even from its own side.

EliseK -- The usual euphemisms are "friendly fire" and "blue on blue," but your observation is militarily sound.

Keep hanging around here and you're liable to develop an entirely new vocabulary. And a taste for pomegranate martinis...

Posted by: BillT at June 28, 2008 03:11 PM

...and the commander's action *was* wrong, morally...

An elucidation: I wasn't referring to his forbidding the Ell-Tee to blog. He was absolutely correct in that.

Posted by: BillT at June 28, 2008 03:30 PM

The military is respected because they are the only ones, apparently, in America, apart from the private sector, that has its own internal ethical conduct that is independent of laws and the military is very experienced at working in a hierarchy if their bosses happen to be incompetent.

The military is thus able to take care of internal problems without turning things into a media circus. What the public doesn't know, will often mean the public will avoid acquiring a negative image of an institution if it is not publicly seen to be in conflict with itself often.

This kind of effiency is not only good PR, but it is also the standard by which people gravitate towards since people naturally like something that works well.

The civilian sector professions don't have as many, if any, self-restraints on skipping the chain of command. Book deals, traitors in the Executive Branch leaking classified information for political purposes, corporate espionage, copyright infringements, and various other things are going to contribute to public distrust. They can only be dealt with in public, meaning via court room, and if you don't deal with them, they just get worse. Either way, the public will lose trust in one fashion or another.

The military has a longer term vision, in that they tolerate short term incompetence based upon the faith in the system that sooner or later, the incompetence will be noticed and either you will be transfered to a unit with a better commander or your commander will be punished, promoted up, or transfered somewhere else and you'll be promoted up to take his slot. In war, an additional option presents itself. You can wait for the incompetent leader to get himself killed, hoping that there's enough of the unit left for you to keep together after the fact.

It's amazing the crack you find yourself in when you do everything to convince your superior that what he is doing is wrong, even by his own standards and goals for the unit, yet he is not convinced of this fact, even when the battles end up in disaster or reality says otherwise. There's only so much you can do under the table to get things done right, without directly disobeying an order or command. But at the same time, if you do disobey orders, then you are sacrificing long term discipline and cohesion for short term gain.

There are no really "good" choices in this situations. There are only choices less bad than the others.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 28, 2008 04:02 PM

There's only so much you can do under the table to get things done right, without directly disobeying an order or command.

A little "judicious stupidity" can go a long way. Its proper application is an art form, and it's been around for as long as there have been armies...

Posted by: BillT at June 28, 2008 04:27 PM

I likw the milblogs, they have played an important role in the last five or six years.

But the military has a purpose and it has nothing to do with employing citizen journalists.

Posted by: Pile On at June 28, 2008 04:55 PM

BillT, what kind of "judicious" moments would this be an example of? Got one from Vietnam?

I can't see a use for acting stupid to one's subordinates or when attempting to fulfill some responsibility given. So that leaves communication with the boss.

In my own personal example, my superior prefers not to micromanage, he describes it as a "fluid" plan in which he provides the central idea and people then run with it. HOwever, in actuality, everything concerning authorizations and changes to on the ground events must go through him or a secondary person.

My immediate response is, how is that fluid and non-micromanagement based when nobody can decide on himself to change an element of the "plan", so to speak, especially when there's no time to argue about it and there is no time specifically given to argue about it in private before events blow up in one's face.

His response is "if everyone gets to decide for himself or his buddies what they should be doing, it'd be chaos".

Certainly that's true, but obviously central command and authority means micromanagement and a Lack of Fluidity. One cannot have it both after all. The more central authority there is, the less immediate initiative and reaction speed there becomes.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 28, 2008 05:22 PM

Elise:

This situation HAS occurred on the civilian side - many, many times.

The employee almost invariably is fired, even when there is no formal blogging policy in place. That is what makes the whining about Milblogging even more egregious, IMO.

And Bill: which of the commander's actions was immoral? I'm genuinely confused here. If I have missed something, I'm willing to entertain the idea that I am wrong. Thanks :)

Posted by: Sister Mary Bag O'Metaphors at June 28, 2008 06:12 PM

Ymar -- got an example from Vietnam which illustrates it perfectly, but it's 0200 over here and I'm too sleepy to do it justice now. It involved a stupid-but-legal order.

Sister Mary -- Dear Lady, the action was not ordering LT G not to blog. He was right to do so. What was *wrong* of him was his action which triggered the post -- putting LT G on notice that he could expect retribution for rejecting his *offer* of a staff position. He took it as a personal affront and reacted in a petty and vindictive manner to a subordinate who has no recourse or redress. The chain will investigate -- and sometimes resolve -- personal disputes between peers, but never in my 37 years in the service did I ever see it side with a subordinate who was subjected to arbitrarily punishment, i.e., the sh*tlist. Imagine coming in from an 8-to-12 hour patrol and being told you were Officer of the Guard -- for an additional 12-hours. And when your tour was finished, being sent on a meaningless errand for four hours, then told to report to the supply room to conduct an inventory. And following that, being sent to the motor pool to inspect vehicles and reconcile records.

And you haven't yet showered from your patrol or slept the entire time. After about 54 hours of no sleep, every second drags. After 72 hours, you go totally numb. Trust me on that.

That's only a sample of what happens when you're on the sh*tlist.

Posted by: BillT at June 28, 2008 07:12 PM

"That's only a sample of what happens when you're on the sh*tlist."

Sorry folks, I'm not a combat veteran. But I'm a retired Chief. And I know damned well what the rules are. You don't like 'em then get the hell out. The USN/USMC/USCG/Sea Service isn't your damned forum. You don't speak for the Service. Those rules are laid out for anybody in a position to use them. Just my opinion. And oh yeah-most of them people on the sh*tlist belong there.

Posted by: lutonmoore at June 28, 2008 08:52 PM

Bill's little memoir reminds me of how the Navy likes the tradition of sending its new guys out to find "something". Something that never existed. Every body will tell them that this object is "over with the chief" or with the engineering officer and so on.

Since people on a submarine or a ship just cannot avoid each other forever (guess it depends on how big the ship is), their ways of telling someone they don't like them is rather creative.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 28, 2008 09:23 PM

Never did want to cross a Chief.

LT G is a great writer, and a fine young man. He was trained to write in the Hunter S. Thompson school, however, which has hampered his ability to get at what he's really trying to say. The Gonzo tradition makes more of what is really there, in the hope that exaggeration will make clear what are the underlying powers at work in ordinary things.

War does not benefit from exaggeration in the same way. What the LT is doing -- leading men in dangerous combat -- is the most extraordinary of things. The Gonzo toolbox, applied to that, blurs rather than sharpens the picture. What is needed is understatement, so that readers who have never known the shock of the thing can see past that shock to the truth behind it.

This is the sort of thing he'll have to learn on his own. In time, he will -- he is obviously an intelligent and thoughtful young man, and his mother's occasional comments show that he was well raised.

Lieutenants need to be given a certain latitude to screw up and learn. Don't be too hard on him here; but don't get in the way of his seniors teaching, either.

Posted by: Grim at June 28, 2008 09:52 PM

I remember reading that post when it apppeared, and I found it...disturbing. That word is not entirely accurate but I can't think of another one that is any more accurate. I do remember thinking that whoever vetted those posts must be pretty easy-going...turns out there was a simpler explanation.

I agree with Cassandra in some respects, but disagree in others. I am not part of the military community and so I probably see this differently.

I agree with the basic: there were rules laid out and they were broken. End of story. I see the constraints on milblogging by active duty personnel as no different from the "normal" constraints on free speech for those in uniform, and find it odd that the constraints on milblogging are singled out by some while those on other types of free speech while in uniform are ignored.

It's when the discussion veers into the effects on the reputation of the military among the public at large that I start thinking yes, no, and maybe.

It's true that airing dirty laundry, no matter what it is, impacts a reputation. I've read things here and there on a bunch of different milblogs that have made me wonder for some time if things are as they should be. It isn't so much smearing the military as it is reminding me that the military is made up of human beings who don't automatically become perfect when they don a uniform. My question from the non-military side is: would it hurt or help the military in the long run for these things to become known at large? And why or why not?

I am aware that closed communities prefer to keep less than perfection to themselves and I know why that is, there are quite a few out there besides the military. The problem, from my side, is that the functional health of the military does impact me a civilian since I am depending on that military to function *well*. BillT's explanation of S*t list left a soldier unfit for duty should an emergency arise. Some high ranking officers(including a certain retired general) gain that rank by political/underhanded means--and are otherwise incompetent. It is not a surprise that some military behave that way (the military comes from the general population after all), the question is how and why is it allowed to continue? Cassandra is right in that stories like this might undermine the public's confidence but is that a good reason to hide that imcompetence in the long run?

On the other hand--what, if anything, is accomplished by letting things like this out to the public, particularly in today's climate? The public does not have the context to understand a great deal of this, nor do we have the influence OR knowledge (of the right kind) to actually fix the problem--again, in the long run. A single squeaky wheel certainly can get deluged with oil by a public campaign but that does nothing to solve an imbedded problem. And yet, how can the military itself correct the problem when the military itself is part of that problem?

On the third hand--I think the military has benefitted in some respects by reaching out/talking to (complaining to?) the public. There are very few conduits into that closed community for those of us on the outside, by opening up to us there are some areas that we can help--if we know.

On the fourth hand--and this is one I find hard to articulate clearly right now--what effect will it have on the public's opinion if growing problems are hidden in the interest of public image until something goes boom big time? That little 'problem' with the AF nukes undoubtedly shook the AF more than the public--but that's because nothing actually happened with the nukes. What if something had--and the cause was revealed to be failures of command of long-standing?

Posted by: Maggie100 at June 28, 2008 10:06 PM

Maggie:

It doesn't bother me one bit that civilians should know that military people are human and fallible. I remind them of that all the time. In fact, I'm probably harder on military people than either most civilians or most military people are.

What bothers me is that I have heard a lot of ill informed talk on Milblogs that I either know for a fact to be untrue or know for a fact to be uninformed (in other words, people are talking out of their a**es - they are spreading rumors or speculating and passing it off as though what they are saying was fact). And then people who aren't in the military believe this nonsense.

That bothers me. Very often, they have only one side of the story, and an unverified side of the story at that, and yet they get themselves all in a lather.

We have the same issue inside the military community with call trees and family services. People spread bad gauge all the time, and once the wrong information gets out it is almost impossible to correct it. It's a real problem.

I just don't understand why people can't be a little bit more cautious - not assume they know everything just because they hear something that upsets them. Few situations end up being as they are initially presented when you finally get both sides and all the facts are in.

Maggie talks of "incompetence":

BillT's explanation of S*t list left a soldier unfit for duty should an emergency arise. Some high ranking officers(including a certain retired general) gain that rank by political/underhanded means--and are otherwise incompetent. It is not a surprise that some military behave that way (the military comes from the general population after all), the question is how and why is it allowed to continue?

I have never seen an organization that didn't have
bad apples in it. It's a human failing. Doesn't make it right, but until we create perfect people, it isn't going away. There are junior enlisted who are grossly incompetent and/or dishonest too, many who repeatedly escape consequences for their actions. Again, it just happens. Hopefully, we weed out the problem children.

Sometimes, it doesn't work, though.

I've also seen several times when frankly I thought people were just trying to crank one up. I have to say that any time I see anyone - military or civilian - trying to resolve either an interpersonal problem or a job dispute over the Internet, the first thing that crosses my mind is, "there is more to this story than meets the eye". Because this is not the way rational people deal with disputes.

It just isn't. And if you go high and to the right every time you read something like this on the "Net, I can't help but think perhaps you ought to be a little bit more skeptical about some of these people's stories. I can't imagine writing about a work problem on the Internet.

Hell would freeze over before I would ever do that. In over four years of blogging, I have NEVER written about my job, and I never will. It simply is unprofessional, in my opinion. If I have a problem with my employer, I will walk into his office and tell him to his face.

I don't think an employer should have to worry about employees blogging about them, especially during working hours or if they are using a government computer. That is not what you are getting paid for and it is a breach of trust.

I don't have anything against Lt. G. He is young, and I take him at his word that this was a rash act that he regrets. But I don't excuse it. As for what Bill says about the retaliation, I will have to think about that tomorrow. I didn't read that part of the the post literally. However, I have to be honest.

Even if someone had done that to me, I wouldn't have blogged about it. That is not the way I resolve my problems and I don't think it is right. I don't think two wrongs ever make a right.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 28, 2008 11:33 PM

I'm not familiar with the particular straw that instantiated the figurative broken back of the camel that M'lady has apparently suffered. I don't get over to the LT's site that often.

"The military is not, and never has been, a democracy and unless you want to see it turned into a debating society where discipline issues are debated and adjudicated via shouting matches in the blogosphere, might I suggest this is really not a path we want to go down? There is a way to handle disputes. It's called going through the chain of command. If you have a problem with someone, tackle it head on. Take it up with the actual people involved. Don't gun your frustrations out on the Internet where Dana Priest and the entire rest of the world can feast on your momentary bile."
I can not imagine how any argument could be made against that thought. But as we see in this election cycle, arguments are made against many standards that I've always thought were well established, including those found in the realm of common sense.

Regarding the airing of dirty laundry, IMO -FWIW- we should trust the oversight of the leadership in our services, up and down the chain, to perform their duties. And if they can not or will not, we should trust and hope -yeah, this is where it get more than a little shaky- that those within our civilian leadership will live up to and perform their duty. If we can not trust to these things, we are in deep kimchee.

Commonsense... You keep using that word? I do not think it means
what you think it means...
Apologies to Inigo Montoya

Posted by: bthun at June 28, 2008 11:40 PM

"... any time I see anyone - military or civilian - trying to resolve either an interpersonal problem or a job dispute over the Internet, the first thing that crosses my mind is, "there is more to this story than meets the eye". Because this is not the way rational people deal with disputes.
and there it is.

Praise in public, negotiate, or knock down & drag out if you are so moved, in private.

Posted by: bthun at June 28, 2008 11:46 PM

"What bothers me is that I have heard a lot of ill informed talk on Milblogs that I either know for a fact to be untrue or know for a fact to be uninformed (in other words, people are talking out of their a**es - they are spreading rumors or speculating and passing it off as though what they are saying was fact). And then people who aren't in the military believe this nonsense."

Yep. But that's true of the internet in general. You could also write "And then people who aren't in the ____________ believe this nonsense."

In this particular case that generated this entry, a rule was broken and consequences happened. Pretty clear cut, and up to this point I agree with you.

"I have never seen an organization that didn't have bad apples in it. It's a human failing. Doesn't make it right, but until we create perfect people, it isn't going away. There are junior enlisted who are grossly incompetent and/or dishonest too, many who repeatedly escape consequences for their actions. Again, it just happens. Hopefully, we weed out the problem childen.

Sometimes, it doesn't work, though."

And yes, I agree. The military is made up of human beings, it's not surprising there are bad apples. My question is more toward your last sentence here. Sometimes it doesn't work--and then what?

I can understand the reluctance to air problems publicly, I understand the distaste for uninformed s**t being passed off as fact, and all the rest of your caveats--and I agree with them. My question is aimed more toward the admittedly very blurry line of "*when* should something be said" to those outside the community. I am uncomfortable with a not ever to be crossed line being drawn--and I am speaking from outside the community, remember, we rarely get the whole story. The AF nukes overflying the US shook me more, frankly. I am also interested in a discussion about this because of something that happened in the fire service--I've wondered what could have been the "correct" course of action for years.

Posted by: Maggie100 at June 29, 2008 12:08 AM

Ymar -- Reference the example of "judicious stupidity": look for a post at the Castle in a couple of days. It's a good story, I need practice using the new format, and John will kill me if I start posting TINS!* over here...

Posted by: BillT at June 29, 2008 03:32 AM

Well, something like the AF nukes is in a whole 'nuther class, first of all.

Vehicles exist within the services for handling grievances and complaints, as well as allegations of wrongdoing. What I am saying is that you are supposed to avail yourself of those first. This is the same thing as when the NYT published classified materials from so-called 'whistleblowers' who bypassed the designated Congressional committees appointed to handle those very same types of situations.

That is what you are supposed to do if you work for the CIA and you think there has been wrongdoing - you don't run to the NYT and illegally blab classified to the freaking world. You go to the oversight committee designated BY LAW to handle those types of complaints. Let's face it - if you get no satisfaction its not as though you couldn't then go to the Times. What are they going to do? Murder you in your sleep? The Times would eat you for lunch.

But everyone thinks they are special. They are the exception to the rule and their special case shouldn't have to wait.

Especially for routine problems, the solution to the problem is not going to be found OUTSIDE the organization. The proper pressure needs to be applied from inside, not outside. All you are doing is adding a whole lot of heat and not very much light. All of this assumes the individuals involved are irretrievably corrupt, which is rarely the case. It may not be easy, and there may be problems along the way b/c organizations may be slow and inefficient and people can be dense and don't always cooperate. That doesn't mean that taking the easy way is the right path, especially when it amounts to slaying a gnat with a sledgehammer.

In this case, we don't even know for certain if the "immoral act" even occurred. For all we know, assuming the officer in question really uttered such a threat, it may have simply been something said in anger.

Was it ever acted upon? We already know (from reading his posts and from the nature of the post in question) that Lt. G tends to be a tad bit .... shall we say... pugnacious.... errr... "Irish" :) I imagine he may have provoked the officer in question, perhaps to the point where he, too, lost his temper and said something he now regrets.

Again, I wouldn't dream of posting the results of an argument online. I just wouldn't - at work or at home or anywhere. I don't understand anyone doing that. It's kind of like punching a guy you know won't hit you back so you can get the last lick in.

That's why I am not inclined to take this that seriously. If what he says really occurred and he is concerned about serious retaliation, he needs to request mast because an officer like that is dangerous not only to him but to others in the command. If not, he did a real disservice to that officer by suggesting a remark made in the heat of anger was more serious than it was. That's why we don't put conversations on the Internet - he is playing with fire and I'm not sure he realizes that.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 29, 2008 09:42 AM

I have to admit that when I posted yesterday I had done only the briefest scan of this issue. (I figure commenting about something I know very little about means I’m now an official blog commenter.) I’ve done a little more reading and I hope you’ll bear with me while I make sure I understand what’s going on:

- Lt G blogs at Kaboom. All his posts are to be reviewed by his CO before being posted.
- Lt G was offered a promotion. He turned down the promotion suggesting others might be better candidates for the promotion. He offered various reasons for his decision including the fact that he did not intend to reenlist.
- He was urged by his CO and by others higher up the chain of command to accept the promotion and continued to refuse.
- His refusal was finally accepted. At that point things get murky. (And boy do I agree with Grim: I, too, wish this guy wrote what Delderfield called “parlor window prose”.) Lt G reports that the person who accepted his refusal (presumably his CO) is upset with his decision and plans to punish him for it by assigning him to an unpleasant task in the future despite the fact that Lt G has consistently had excellent performance reviews. It is not at all clear to me whether Lt G is reporting what his CO actually said or what Lt G believes his CO is thinking.
- On May 28 Lt G writes a post about the promotion offer and publishes it without having his CO review it.
- Lt G goes on leave (takes leave?).
- When he returns he is informed (presumably by his CO although that is not specified) that since he published his May 28 post without having it reviewed, he is to stop posting.
- Lt G posts that he has been ordered to stop blogging. (Presumably this post is reviewed before publication.) He does a commendable job of not stirring things up except for his “too much unvarnished truth” phrase.
- The reaction of some (most, all?) military bloggers is that his CO ordered him to stop posting because the CO is angry about the May 28 post or that the CO’s order to stop posting is the punishment threatened when Lt G refused the promotion or both. Thus the CO is considered “weak” because he couldn’t handle the truth about himself or because he is taking a petty revenge for having his offer turned down or both.

So the problems with this whole episode are:

1) the content of the May 28 post because it airs a work problem in an inappropriate forum and because it undermines military discipline and the chain of command; that is, Lt G is publicly bad-mouthing his superior.
2) the fact that the May 28 post was not reviewed before being published because that violates orders.
3) the failure on the part of other bloggers to support discipline and the chain of command by attacking Lt G’s CO for enforcing the blog review order.
4) the willingness on the part of other bloggers to recommend ignoring or circumventing the blog review order.

Have I gotten a handle on what’s going on?

Ymarsakar - Your explanation of the tension between having an incompetent superior and the need for military discipline is a very helpful framework for thinking about these issues.

Sister Mary Bag O'Metaphors - The firing of civilians who have blogged in such a fashion does make the claims that military blogs should be unfettered (for lack of a better word) seem unreasonable. I suspect those claims rest partly on the idea that since the elected portion of our government is (or should be) open, democratic, somewhat flat organizationally, somewhat responsive to public outrage people have a (perhaps unconscious) feeling that everything associated with the government should be the same. That is, people will shrug their shoulders when a civilian employee is disciplined for not following the company line but scream “Censorship” when a government employee - including members of the military - suffers the same fate. I’m not saying this is a reasonable response just that I think it might be generating some of the heat in this case.

BillT - I have heard the expression “friendly fire” but never “blue on blue”. It sounds either very naval or vaguely rude. (I do plan to keep hanging around but I can’t imagine I’ll develop a taste for pomegranate martinis. Perhaps instead I could convert y’all to my favorite summer drink: the Willie Randolph - Jack Daniels and cherry 7-up. It’s a bastardized 7&7 with a little sweetness or a Shirley Temple with a kick.)

Posted by: EliseK at June 29, 2008 03:15 PM

"Have I gotten a handle on what’s going on?"

Mostly: there's one key thing that needs to be understood for this to make sense. The Army has chosen to define blogs in a way that makes these regulations applicable to comments made there.

Blogs could have been defined otherwise, but were not. Anybody who has ever eaten at a DFAC in a warzone will have heard complaints about the superiors of everyone in the place -- as will anyone who has drunk beer in a bar near a military base. These are also public spaces, in which theoretically one should also not badmouth one's superiors, but the military accepts it.

Why? Because discipline needs a steam valve. Even the best officer will make calls sometimes that strain people's feelings, especially in a stressful situation like war. There has to be a way for your soldiers to get out from under you and blow off steam.

LT G.'s post looks like he thought he was doing just that -- blowing off steam among friends. That suggests he considers the affront to be insufficient to do what Cass is suggesting as an alternative: request mast, as the Marine Corps puts it.

He just wanted to vent to his friends a bit, and then was going to soldier on. His friends read his blog; so he vented to them there.

Then, back to work.

The problem is that the Army has chosen to view blogs as a kind-of public affairs system, rather than a kind-of social space where you can get away from the normal constraints and speak as one among friends. It's easy to understand why they have chosen that model: all comments made there are recorded and published for all the world to see, and can't really be erased once posted.

So, unlike with stepping around the corner for a smoke-and-gripe session with a friend, you've got a case where the harsh and angry things you said are part of a quasi-formal record. Your superior can't help but take notice of them if they are brought to his attention -- as they will be, because another part of the Army regulation says that he has to review your blog sometimes.

The Army might have done this differently, by requiring milbloggers to adopt pseudonymns and not to post details that would reveal just who they are or just which unit they served in. If you did it that way, then anything overheard could be like a nameless voice at a bar back home -- nothing the official Army needed to take stock of in any formal way. That was how the original milbloggers used to do it, in fact.

I think a lot of the milblogger defense of LT G comes from having an ethic that was formed in that original period, when it was unregulated and anonymous. Wishing it was that way can't undo the regulations, though. Whether the Army was right or wrong, they did what they did, and there we are.

Posted by: Grim at June 29, 2008 03:54 PM

Thanks for the info, Grim, although to tell you the truth it would never have occurred to me that the Army *wouldn't* treat blogs as kind-of public affairs system for the very reason you cite: writing a blog is more like writing an op-ed in a newspaper than like having a drink at a bar.

And I believe my comparison to a civilian employee still stands. If I start a blog and say I work in the Texas branch of Incredibly Huge Widget Corp and talk about my job, IHWC will expect me to preserve the corporate image and - I believe - be justified in that expectation.

Your comment about the change in ethics from the original anonymous milbloggers to the current milblogging environment certainly does help me understand how so many milbloggers could be so bent out of shape about this. I, too, sometimes have trouble accepting changes to my world.

I gather from what you've said that if a current milblogger elected to post totally anonymously (no name, no picture, no details on where he is or what he does), the Army would view that as a violation of policy, also, and attempt to determine who he really is. Which would probably be easier in Iraq where I assume Internet access is not as wildly available as in, say, New Jersey.

Again, thanks for the explaining. This is a whole new world for me.

Posted by: EliseK at June 29, 2008 06:10 PM

BillT - I have heard the expression “friendly fire” but never “blue on blue”.

The military whenever they have war exercises, have the friendly forces as blue and the enemy forces as red. So 'blue on blue' essentially means whenever one side shoots itself.

It's also connected to the "Blue Falcon" phrase, which has similar meanings but more negative connotations.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 29, 2008 07:54 PM

The one thing I got from reading LT G.s Suicide:Media post was that he simply does not respect his commanding officer, to which if he is a LT and in command of a platoon, would be the company commander, usually a captain.

At first I was wondering if the LT knew that XO positions are offered to people in order to train them for command. But he knew that cause he mentioned later on in his post.

But at the bottom line, in the end, it's not so much regulations or following them or not, it's that if you don't respect your superior and your leader, you're not really going to follow his dictates, either in the letter or the spirit of the command/rules.

For some reason, I get the impression that the LT doesn't think of the Captain as someone out in the boonies doing the work that needs doing, but back at HQ living it live or something. It was more than just refusing a promotion to XO because he doesn't want to be stuck behind a desk figuring out what makes the company tick.

This, as Grim mentioned, if present, is rather known amongst servicemembers that serve together because of unofficial channels, rumors, or what not.

When the LT was on leave and wanted to talk, he blog posted his grievances that was not of an OPSEC nature so perhaps he didn't see why a violating of the blog post rules would affect it one way or another. Yet later on he said it was an extenuating circumstance. This leads me to believe that the Army's regulation has trained military bloggers to never have to restrain themselves or check what they are posting before publishing. That's the task of their CO. And if the CO is not here to check it, well...

That, primarily, is not good training and it's not good doctrine.

It also contradicts micromanagement issues concerning command. Since officers aren't supposed to be in the dirty nitty itty bitty secrets of every individual in the company. That's kind of the NCO's responsibility. The rule about blogging makes it so that officers must involve themselves in the personal opinions and what not of the people in their command. If the Army's intent was to create better OPSEC and a more cohesive public relations campaign on the internet, it is not going to happen the way things are going.

It almost isn't even about flaunting the rules of blogging, either, at least in this one incident. It's about how if you train a person that he can blog but he has to do it by twinging things so it passes by their superiors, this means that it trains in a mentality that says "if I have to get something done the way I want to, I have to slip it by my superiors". This, naturally, produces a sense of contempt about those in the upper chain of command.

It becomes less and less about OPSEC and more and more about how to game the system. If all you are focusing on is gaming the system, then what you aren't going to focus on is the public impression you are giving. Since that's ostensibly the CO's job when he overviews blog posts, the LT was perhaps never allowed to realize the consequences of what can happen if he says things that didn't have to go through a filter.

Good training has many elements in common. One of them is that it takes a lot of mistakes in the beginning to eventually produce a good training regime later on.

If a junior officer can blame most of anything concerning blogging on the CO since it is the CO that authorizes these posts, what we have is a system designed to prevent juniors from learning from their mistakes, since they won't recognize it as being their mistake to begin with. They'll recognize it later, but in the heat of the moment, they haven't been trained to do so.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 29, 2008 08:50 PM

I would argue, ma'am, that Huge Wicket Corp should be formally restrained from reading your blog in any official way. As a society, we greatly benefit from two neatly connected interests here:

A) Protecting the freedom of the individual from larger interests that may wish to command them -- whether corporations, labor unions, or others,

and

B) Protecting a space in which people can act as social creatures without putting their livelihood at risk. You should be able to speak your mind, outside of work; and make friends, whether or nor your boss approves of them; without thereby risking losing your job and the ability to feed your family.

If the corporation accept that your rights as a citizen trump their powers as an employer, then the law might reasonably restrain them from considering the question. Indeed, if they go too far in this regard, they might rightly be destroyed as an entity -- as we would boldly destroy a human entity that sought to make slaves out of free men and women.

The military is different. Corporations are not inherently dishonorable, any more than labor unions; but neither are they inherently honorable, as the military is designed to be. Their purpose is profit, which is hardly wrong; but our purpose is liberty and virtue, which is the uttermost right. Oaths and demands predicated on the defense of liberty and virtue may reasonably force us to set aside other things we also value.

Not so corporate interest. A corporation's bottom line is not worth a pinch of my liberty, or yours either. To my mind, they can accept this, or be destroyed.

Posted by: Grim at June 29, 2008 10:23 PM

I mean to say, "If the corporation cannot accept that your rights as a citizen...", etc. Just to be clear.

Posted by: Grim at June 29, 2008 10:25 PM

Which would probably be easier in Iraq where I assume Internet access is not as wildly available as in, say, New Jersey.

I have access to wireless over here (when the satellite link is functional). In New Jersey, I was stuck with dial-up (so long as a certain Public Utility wasn't trashing the phone cables).

Don't even *try* to tell me we haven't made any progress in Iraq...

*pssst* Ymar -- the TINS!* on Judicious Stupidity's up.

Posted by: BillT at June 30, 2008 01:53 AM

A number of us have volunteered over the centuries of America. So, I'll have to take issue with you on this.

Heaven forbid, an American soldier speaks off the reservation about his situation. I would suppose the carrer folks are different, as opposed to us short term volunteers.

Posted by: Allen at June 30, 2008 03:25 AM

You are, of course, always free to disagree with me :)

That's why I have a comments section - to encourage discussion.

I do have to say, however, that I find it inexplicable that so many military folks argue this one. I have more to say about this, but it is going to turn into a post.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 03:35 AM

Look, the basic fact here is that the guy had an agreement with his employer.

He broke the agreement and was subject to disciplinary action.

Exactly how is the employer the bad guy here?

IMHO, the content of the 28 May post is actually irrelevant to the discussion, although I'll say two things about it. One, if I posted a conversatin like that between me and my (civilian) boss on the internet, my ass would be fired in a heartbeat. Two, if you believe he just "forgot" to have that particular post reviewed, I got a bridge for sale...

But getting back to the original point of the existing agreement. Aside from any legalities involved, he gave his word and he broke it. Hardly behavior becoming of an officer and a gentleman.

The response I would like to see from the milblog community is for a senior member to take him aside for a little chat about that.

Posted by: MaryAnn at June 30, 2008 05:19 AM

Just to be clear, the "agreement" I refer to above is that blog posts are reviewed before publishing.

Posted by: MaryAnn at June 30, 2008 05:26 AM

Couldn't have said it better :p

I've wiped out several comments to this effect, MaryAnn.

I've been blogging for over four years and I've never...NEVER blogged about anything that happens between me and my employers. It just. won't. happen.

I don't write about things that happen at work, either, for the same reason. And my employer doesn't have a blogging policy.

They don't need to. Some things don't need to be spelled out. They are obvious.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 05:34 AM

There's another thing that bothers me about the reaction to this from those who are, shall we say, not typically military-friendly.

It's the whole idea about feeling your case is "special", i.e., you are somehow not subject to the same rules as everyone else - above the law, almost.

I wonder how the Left would feel about a Soldier who "stood up to the Man" when it comes to ROE, treatment of prisoners, etc.

Somehow I doubt he would become their Poster Child.

Posted by: MaryAnn at June 30, 2008 06:10 AM

The other aspect of this, too, is that it was an officer and not an enlisted man who was involved.

A frequent complaint I've heard (first as an officer's daughter and then as the wife of an officer) is that officers get away with murder while the lower ranks are punished for the slightest infractions of the rules. Yet you guys are arguing for an officer to get away with not only breaking the rules but publicly thumbing his nose at the organization that employs him while doing it. By what standard, in what community (civilian or military) had that sort of thing EVER flown?

I just don't understand.

Also, I am not familiar with Army promotion procedures, but in the Marines, you go where you are sent. You are not "offered" jobs as in the civilian world.

This guy said he was getting out.

Have any of you even CONSIDERED the possibility that he was needed in the XO slot? Or that it just made sense, long term, to rotate him out of his current job and get a new guy in there?

Or that, in his own words, this was a lateral promotion (in the Marines, you have to go before a promotion board in the States to get an actual "promotion" in rank). The term 'lateral' implies no increase in rank, as does the term 'offer'. So in other words, it sounds very much to me as though they needed him in the XO slot.

But he just preferred to stay where he was.

O-kay. It must be nice to always get what you want.

In the entire time (27+ years) my husband has been in the Marines, I can count on one hand the number of times he has gotten to do what he wanted.

None, actually.

I can count on one hand the number of times anyone has come to him and said, "Gee whiz, what would YOU like to do??? Oh ... well we won't MAKE you if you don't want to."

None. Actually.

I can think of more than one time when he has rotated out of a job he loved because it was better for the command.

At his suggestion. Because he was thinking ahead and looked at the slate of incoming officers and thought, "Hmmmm.... it's pretty damned stupid to have x number of guys all turn over at the same time - why don't we stagger it?" And the only way to do that was to have him move over early. So he got screwed, career-wise, but the command didn't.

This is why it aggravates the hell out of me to listen to a lot of you second guess someone on one side of the story.

Because that is all you have.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 07:37 AM

And all of the foregoing is not to say that I know this is what happened with Lt. G. Because I don't.

The point is this: NEITHER DO ANY OF YOU. And yet you didn't hesitate one second to dish dirt on a man none of you knows, based on.... what?

I'm really not sure. This is exactly the kind of thing that pisses me off. A Lieutenant is not necessarily going to know about, or think about, this kind of thing. It's above his pay grade.

The irony is, he would have learned about it, had he taken the XO job that he clearly thinks he is too good for (his words, not mine). But that is why he should not be blogging about this stuff, and you all should not be assuming things based on his post.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 07:41 AM

You are always on parade.
-Letter to Cadet George S. Patton, III, USMA
6 June 1944

Posted by: Drive-by George S. Patton, Jr. at June 30, 2008 08:20 AM

"Well, something like the AF nukes is in a whole 'nuther class, first of all."

Well, yes and no. I tend to think sideways (Burke's "Connections" style) and the questions raised by this fed into other things I've read--but that way lies thread drift. They've gone into more like what Y said: "It almost isn't even about flaunting the rules of blogging, either, at least in this one incident. It's about how if you train a person that he can blog but he has to do it by twinging things so it passes by their superiors, this means that it trains in a mentality that says "if I have to get something done the way I want to, I have to slip it by my superiors". This, naturally, produces a sense of contempt about those in the upper chain of command."

My kids are 26 and 30--and I've seen this attitude among their generation, even in the entertainment popular among their generation. Could it be a cultural generational attitude that is reinforced by this type thinking? Or even already present in military culture that is exposed now by blogging? Doesn't seem that different in some senses than that expressed by the very old TV program Sgt. Bilko...except that now it's out there for all to see courtesy of the internet.

"Have any of you even CONSIDERED the possibility that he was needed in the XO slot? Or that it just made sense, long term, to rotate him out of his current job and get a new guy in there?"

In which case, why wasn't it simply an order? The difference in action between your husband and Lt G could simply be that Lt G is not making it a career and sees this as the last job of his career. He's not looking ahead and in his POV he is continuing the mission as needed.

Posted by: Maggie100 at June 30, 2008 09:57 AM

I'm not saying that he has to take it, Maggie.

And I don't want to turn this into a referendum on Lt G, which is why I avoided this line of reasoning earlier. I am advancing a hypothetical to make a point, and my point is simply to highlight the willingness to jump to conclusions based on insufficient information.

I don't really want to discuss what did, or did not happen with the Lt, or what he should or should not have done. It's not my place, that is none of my affair and not a thing I am even remotely interested in here.

My point, and the only reason I wrote this post, is that when Milbloggers insist on defending this kind of thing, this is exactly what happens: we get people jumping to conclusions based on not much information at all, speculation about what happened when too often they really have NO way of knowing, and (in this case and every case of this I've seen so far) assuming that the command screwed up, when they do not, in fact, know that this is the case - they are taking the blogger's uncorroborated word uncritically. That bugs me more than a bit.

As I stated before, my intent is not to accuse anyone - on either side - of anything, but rather to point out that a Lieutenant ordinarily doesn't know how field grade decisions are made, a Sergeant doesn't ordinarily know how decisions are made at the General officer level and yet we have Milbloggers and civilians taking their word as the Gospel.

I have known (because I have had information I couldn't pass on) in several instances that bloggers were passing incorrect or incomplete information, but I couldn't say anything about it.

That is aggravating. And I'll bet I'm not the only one this has happened to. Often the people who can't wait to put their oar in don't always have the whole story, and a lot of people who do know something don't say anything b/c they're aware that they don't have the whole story, either :p But it sure is aggravating to see someone pass something that's even more wrong than what you didn't pass b/c you didn't think you ought to.

re: the Lt's POV.

That's kind of a foreign mindset to me. As I said, it must be nice :p The way I read the post it sounded more as though he just wanted to stay where he was. He went on about how no one was going to get him to go back to the FOB because he didn't see himself as that kind of guy. No PowerPoint for him and a lot of put-downs about the kind of people who are willing to take that kind of job.

As I said, 'one of the few' :p

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 10:18 AM

Okay. It's all my fault. I shoulda put today's post up first.

Then Friday's.

And not conflated my issues.

Geez you guys use a lot of electrons around here.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at June 30, 2008 10:29 AM

Yet you guys are arguing for an officer to get away with not only breaking the rules but publicly thumbing his nose at the organization that employs him while doing it.

If you've read *that* in anything I've written, it's time for me to stop writing...

Posted by: BillT at June 30, 2008 10:32 AM

Yeah, me too.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at June 30, 2008 10:40 AM

"My point, and the only reason I wrote this post, is that when Milbloggers insist on defending this kind of thing, this is exactly what happens: we get people jumping to conclusions based on not much information at all, speculation about what happened when too often they really have NO way of knowing, and (in this case and every case of this I've seen so far) assuming that the command screwed up, when they do not, in fact, know that this is the case - they are taking the blogger's uncorroborated word uncritically. That bugs me more than a bit."

But why did this particular case make you post on this subject, even for those reasons? The situation is commonplace--goes back even to verbal gossip over teacups. Even more, it seems that command behaving badly is not uncommon, which lessens the leap to belief.

"That's kind of a foreign mindset to me. As I said, it must be nice :p The way I read the post it sounded more as though he just wanted to stay where he was. He went on about how no one was going to get him to go back to the FOB because he didn't see himself as that kind of guy. No PowerPoint for him and a lot of put-downs about the kind of people who are willing to take that kind of job."


I wondered--that's why I said something. I suspect that those who don't intend to make the military a career ARE looking at it differently and therefore make different choices. As to the rest, it seems to be the common viewpoint of combat toward the rear lines. Where did the term Pogue and Fobbit come from?



Posted by: Maggie100 at June 30, 2008 10:44 AM

Pogue is a term dating at least back to Vietnam referring to people who are in "the rear with the gear" and don't take the risks the frontline soldier does - especially ones who exercise power (in sometimes picayune and petty ways) over the grunt in the field.

It should be noted that the Private on outpost duty thinks that the mortar guy 250 yards behind him is a pogue...

Fobbit is this war's term for roughly the same thing and both terms covers troops who's jobs keep them on the air-conditioned Forward Operating Base (FOB) yet they walk around with a brand-new rifle tricked out with all the kewl stuff - while the troop who is kicking in doors is hot, and dirty, and is using duct-tape to hold his handguards on the rifle and only has one battered knee-pad left.

And when a FOBBIT does show up out in the wild... he acts like he's surrounded and about to get over-run.

I'm sure the Roman soldier had an equivalent term.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at June 30, 2008 10:53 AM

Pogue is a term dating at least back to Vietnam referring to people who are in "the rear with the gear" and don't take the risks the frontline soldier does - especially ones who exercise power (in sometimes picayune and petty ways) over the grunt in the field.... And when a FOBBIT does show up out in the wild... he acts like he's surrounded and about to get over-run.

Really? All the time?

Huh. How do the cool guys ever get to be... err...cool? When do they stop "acting like they're surrounded and about to be overrun?"

Or are they just born cool? Just curious, you know.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 11:10 AM

You get to be "cool" after you've been through the firefight and pulled your weight. Though you'll still be the "noob" until another new guy shows up. But that's really talking about the guys in the units that are out walking and talking in indian country.

The Fobbit is the guy who's job is in the FOB, and only occasionally shows up outside the wire.

A Fobbit shows up all tricked out and swaggering, talking shite about how he wants to fire somebody up and "get some" etc.

And then the first bullet whips by or the IED goes off and suddenly the swagger is gone.

Or worse, he goes all John Wayne and has to be rescued.

Anybody who doesn't get shot at routinely as a direct result of their work is going to be a pogue, garret trooper, a fobbit.

They can still earn respect, "She's a good kid, for a fobbit." is high praise from a shooter.

But your question, Cass, kinda mixes two things - new troop in a combat element, vice those troops who mostly do their jobs in the FOB.

There are fobbits who wear combat patches and CIBs, too. Like I said - it has more to do with the level of your exposure to direct fire that drives the definition.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at June 30, 2008 11:31 AM

There are fobbits who wear combat patches and CIBs, too. Like I said - it has more to do with the level of your exposure to direct fire that drives the definition.

The term for a Fobbit in my war was REMF -- a vulgar and vaguely hostile term used to describe the Rear Echelon (support troops, staff, what-have-you) who always had new, starched and pressed jungle fatigues while the grunts in the boonies couldn't even get socks. Fobbit is gentler term -- still a put-down, but without the disdain.

Posted by: BillT at June 30, 2008 12:01 PM

Some days I am just speechless.

This is one. Oh well, back to work.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 12:12 PM

Ymarsakar - It's also connected to the "Blue Falcon" phrase, which has similar meanings but more negative connotations.

This I looked up and based on what I found, I assume "more negative connotations" is military jargon for "bad language".

Posted by: EliseK at June 30, 2008 12:49 PM

Grim - I’m not going to argue your point that Huge Widget Corp should not even read my blog much less fire me over it because that would take us far afield. I’ll just say I agree in principle with the idea that I should be free of my employer’s interference in my non-work life but also think that my employer may have some right to interfere if I am writing about it and can do so because I work for it. I don’t entirely like that idea but I believe it may have some merit and think a discussion about it would be very interesting but - as I said - off-topic.

I do, however, want to respond to your saying: The military is different. Corporations are not inherently dishonorable, any more than labor unions; but neither are they inherently honorable, as the military is designed to be. Their purpose is profit, which is hardly wrong; but our purpose is liberty and virtue, which is the uttermost right. Oaths and demands predicated on the defense of liberty and virtue may reasonably force us to set aside other things we also value.

And my response is a resounding, “Ah-ha”. This was a concept I wanted to incorporate into my original comment but couldn’t get as clear in my mind as I needed it to be. The closest I could come to expressing this was to say that while civilian comparisons can be useful they inevitably fall short because actions in the military world carry so much more weight than those in a civilian arena. Your formulation is obviously much more pointed and has the advantage of being backed up by philosophical underpinnings. Which indicates you think about things military which brings me to:

I want to drift back to my original point (I know I had one here somewhere) which was that I agree with Cassandra that concerns about discipline, chain of command, respect for superiors, and the danger of pontificating without knowing both sides of the story are valid reasons for other milbloggers to not talk about this episode the way they have. I even agree to some extent that not wanting to wash dirty linen in public is a valid reason. But not wanting to give those who are “not typically military-friendly” any ammunition against the military does not seem to me like a valid reason to keep these issues quiet. I know it’s a thin, shaky, and often even invisible line between “don’t wash our dirty linen in public” and “don’t give the other guys any ammunition” but I think it’s an important distinction and here’s why.

It represents the great gulf between the military and those they protect. The closest I come to knowing someone currently in the military is my cousin’s wife’s grandson by an earlier marriage. I don’t think I’ve ever even met the young man. I’m not old enough to remember World War II but I’ve heard my mother and my aunt talk about it and then everyone knew someone in the military. Even more important everyone knew something about the military through newspaper articles, books, movies, comics, servicemen on leave grousing about military life. It seems like everyone knew that most officers were idiots, the military way of doing things was totally FUBAR, and the soldiers were basically kids who were doing their best in a terrible situation. But everyone also seemed to understand that even though the military way wasn’t always the logical way, it was the system that had evolved over long experience and was the best we could do right then.

In the current war, it seems like very few Americans think about the military at all in the day to day course of things. And if they do, they see either this huge, soulless monolith rolling over everything it its path or this totally fouled up bureaucracy that - depending on the day of the week - either wastes young lives needlessly or turns those young lives into brutal killers. There’s no real sense of how the military works much less of why the way it works might look stupid but still be what’s evolved over long experience and the best we can do right now.

I would argue that those who love to disparage the military need more inside information, not less - or at least their audience does to inoculate them against caricatures of the military. Maybe we just need an Ernie Pyle. (It’s possible we already have one and I’ve missed him: I do, after all, live in the Eastern seaboard liberal enclave so it’s possible his fame hasn’t penetrated our cocoon.) It seems to me that the most likely place for an Ernie Pyle to arise today is among the milbloggers in Iraq or Afghanistan. Which - to further make my point - I did not realize existed in the form they do until I started reading this blog.

So I think letting milbloggers grouse about their superiors and stupid promotions and so on is a good thing provided - and here I’ve argued myself back around to a big part of Cassandra’s concerns - there’s some balance. So rather than arguing about whether Lt G’s superior officer is a weak sister surely it’s possible to empathize with (even applaud) Lt G’s desire to stay with his men in a combat zone and acknowledge that, yes, officers are often idiots; but also make the points Cassandra has made: regulations are to be obeyed; superior officers are to be respected at least in public; there really is a big picture; institutional concerns can and should override personal desires; and while discipline and chain of command can look stupid, in the long run they’re the only things that work.

I realize I may have missed a lot of nuance here given my state of woeful ignorance. But I do truly worry about the apparent disconnect between the American military and much of American society. I think that when a society doesn’t understand its military that’s dangerous for the military and even more dangerous for the society.

Posted by: EliseK at June 30, 2008 12:51 PM

I was worse than a Fobbit back in my service. I was a full fledged chairborne ranger sittin REMF. Never deployed out of air conditioning unless it was for PT, an exercise, or a school. And I accepted that. But I was damned sure determined that I would NOT try and compare scars with the shooters, nor talk about this absolutely WICKED paper cut I got in front of that guy with the purple heart. And I certainly worked my assets off doing the job, because I didn't want to become THAT intel guy that gets folks killed. So being a fobbit, pogue, remf or what have you is a "step down" from being a shooter. But it still has its place. And strictly for the record, everybody looks down on everyone else in the Army for something. You should hear the Airborne (Death From a Bus... they hate that) talk about "dirty Legs", their term for non-jumping infantry. The foot infantry guys (when we had them) bitched about taxi-cab infantry (the IFV/APC guys in Mech Infantry). And everyone mocked the "Turtles" of the armor (until you needed em, in which case they were pretty good guys... for turtles).

The only universally beloved class of soldier is "Doc". Doesn't matter what else he does, or where she's from... "Doc" is everyone's hero.

One thing I would like to take issue with, and it's something Grim said. Blogs could have been defined otherwise, but were not. Anybody who has ever eaten at a DFAC in a warzone will have heard complaints about the superiors of everyone in the place -- as will anyone who has drunk beer in a bar near a military base. These are also public spaces, in which theoretically one should also not badmouth one's superiors, but the military accepts it.

Yes it goes on. "How do you know if things are alright in the unit? Folks are still bitching." If they stop, thats when you've got problems. I know this. But I also know it isn't "accepted". Sure, your buddies aren't going to rat you out to your CO for calling him a "**** *** ***** **** with **** ****** ******** and *** **** ** **** whale **** *** beaks." But if your CO overhears it, you're damned sure going to be in trouble. If you're lucky, your squad leader/platoon sergeant/first sergeant is the one who overhears and merely gives you a chewing out.

Complaints do happen. Just like in the civilian world. And personally, I'm ok with that. If I bitch about my boss at a party (which I wouldn't cause I actually have a damned good one) and get away with it, fine. If she is standing behind me, yeah I'm getting fired. But blogging isn't having drinks at the pub with your friends. You're making a written record and betting your boss won't see it, and then posting it around town. Heck, the closest bar analogy I can think of is writing on the bar walls about your boss, and signing it. Only the folks in the bar will see it, but your boss could walk in anyday. Why would you do that?

Common sense dictates not airing dirty laundry on the internet if you wouldn't want folks later finding out it's you.

Posted by: MikeD at June 30, 2008 01:01 PM

I guess this is where I weigh in and get a little testy.

I rather doubt officers are "idiots" any more than staff NCOs are "idiots" or Sergeants are "idiots" or PFCs are "idiots". Broad brush generalizations "generally" create one impression in my mind: that of a general failure to think.

And while I'm on the subject since the point of my earlier questions was obviously missed, and missed big time, please allow me to say how extremely unimpressed I am with terms like "Pogue" and "Fobbit". Do we have an all inclusive term for people who think that being in combat makes them (per se) a better Marine or soldier than the next guy? Because by that criterion, John Kerry is a damned sight better than a lot of guys who worked their asses off hard to get you what you needed in VietNam, and yet the only thing keeping them from being right next to you may have been a detailer in Washington DC.

But hey. Keep it up with the cute names for your fellow servicemen. We're all in this together.

Except, of course, for when we're not.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 01:03 PM

Cassandra,

Well done. Good read.

Posted by: Galrahn at June 30, 2008 01:12 PM

I'm not saying it's "good", Cass. I'm merely saying it is. It was in place before I went into the Army, it's still there after I left. The services also do it with each other. I KNOW you're aware of "jarhead", "leatherneck", "devildog" for Marines. And you probably are also familiar with "squid", "dogface", and "grunt". Marines tease Navy, Navy teases Army, Army teases Air Force, Air Force teases Marines. 99% of the time, it's good natured. Sometimes it's not. But it does happen. There is a natural reaction for the folks who are "roughing it" to be a bit disgusted with the folks who are not, yet seem to think they are. It's human nature. And very little in human nature is impressive. Does combat experience make someone a better infantryman or pilot than someone who works in the supply depot filling out paperwork or someone who flies the KC-130? Yes. Almost by definition. Does it make them a better servicemember? Not really. Without one you couldn't do the other. But again. I'm not speaking of good or bad, right or wrong. I'm just saying it's out there.

Posted by: MikeD at June 30, 2008 01:26 PM

Cassandra, my comment that everyone in WWII knew all officers were idiots was not intended as a generalized attack. I was attempting to convey the general acceptance among the public that all soldiers grouse about all superior officers.

I apologize if I've offended you or anyone in the military. That was far from my intention.

Posted by: EliseK at June 30, 2008 01:33 PM

Cassandra - it's part and parcel of the culture.

As I said, I'm sure the Romans had a term for it, and I'm sure a soldier in Gilgamesh's army had a word for it, and both armies at the first battle of recorded history, Megiddo, looked over their shoulders at the Pogues who were, for the nonce, safe from arrows, spears, and disembowelment.

My brothers in the infantry thought I was a remf as an artilleryman, etc.

But we're all brothers in arms in we're in the box.

But the guys at the sharp end of the spear are always going to have terms of endearment for those perceived as being safer - even if the safety, as in this war, is relative.

And, frankly, it doesn't bother me. I've been a warrior and a pogue, and it doesn't bother me when someone who gets shot at with a greater regularity than I chooses to make a distinction in that regard.

I give John Kerry credit for being somewhere where he could (and did) get shot at.

But I'll still slam him for running to be a pogue when he got the chance.

Just as I'll revere BillT for going back into hot LZ's over and over again - and recognize that next to Bill, I'm a pogue.

Or am I'm missing something - since I'm admittedly doing this while in a telecon.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at June 30, 2008 01:40 PM

Elise, I didn't take it as an attack, and to be honest I wasn't even aware it was your comment.

It just caught my eye. No harm, no foul :p

And yes John, you are. But it's machts nichts. Let's let it go, OK? I'm just going to get pissed and that doesn't solve anything :) I shouldn't have brought it up.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 02:05 PM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 06/30/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at June 30, 2008 02:08 PM

Some days I am just speechless.
This is one. Oh well, back to work.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 12:12 PM

One wonders how many minutes without commenting qualifies as "speechless" in your book?
LMAO.

Posted by: malachy at June 30, 2008 02:15 PM

I don't know.
Let's find out.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 30, 2008 02:23 PM

"One wonders how many minutes without commenting qualifies as "speechless" in your book?"

Heh, I'm glad someone else said that....
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at June 30, 2008 02:49 PM

And, since I don't think I can get this up on a line in Vegas, I'll keep the book on just how long *long* is....

Posted by: DL Sly at June 30, 2008 02:53 PM

- and recognize that next to Bill, I'm a pogue.

Oh, stop. If it'll restore your sense of self-worth, until they get the dingblasted JetRangers up here, I'm a Fobbit...

Posted by: BillT at June 30, 2008 03:13 PM

Okay, what MikeD and ElisaK said, I suspect that's why I have trouble seeing the problem with content of post that Caused the Problem. There are equivalents in the fire service too, for what it's worth.

As ElisaK said, since WWII the circle of military insiders has drawn in more and more tightly, I think the line between "us" and "them" has become so thickly drawn that when something "leaks" out these days the shock is greater.

I don't think there's much controversy over the Rule Breaking and Subsequent Rule Enforcing.

Controversy appears to be over: 1)What was said 2)Apparent jumped to conclusions one-sidedly over the action taken over the post. 3)Some over reason for controversy. 4)venue in which it was said.

Opinions on 2 and 3 appear to rest on personal opinons due to life experiences. Everyone's mileage is going to vary.

Opinions on 1 appears to depend on opinion of 4)venue.

What was said is old. I think Bill Mauldin(?) got in trouble now and then for his Willy and Joe cartoons. What is new (again) NOW is that the audience is not "insiders", and opinion about that drives judgement.

For what it's worth--I would not have made that post because for whatever reason I have the same scruples about airing dirty linen, airing only side of a story bad experiences, and insider/outsider distinctions. I suspect it's because of the introduction I got to military side thinking in Civil Air Patrol when young, and my experiences in fire as an adult. My ambivalence about some of it is due to the fact that I am at the same time firmly in the civilian world. I think it's also because blogs of any kind weren't something I read until relatively recently, as compared to how long they've been around, and by that time I had already discovered that the reliability of the internet varied widely. I don't *automatically* assume something I read on any blog is true.

Cassandra, if I understand your original entry correctly, airing of these sentiments was wrong because it was dirty laundry that should have remained private. The response of support from other milblogs only compounded the wrong because only one side had been presented, it appeared to encourage rule-breaking, and the disrepect toward superiors tarnished the military in civilian (outsider) eyes. There appeared to be anger over the apparent disrespect for those not in the front lines also. Personally I can understand that one, from my civilian side here I'm getting really, really tired of the sheep/sheepdog analogy myself.

I don't think there can be a resolution of this type of thing anytime soon because it involves a new medium and changing generational attitudes. That always makes things sticky. Several posters have made mention of the fact that there's always been a venue for unofficial, ie inside, venting. I think what's happening is that the generations growing up now are thinking, at whatever level, that blogs ARE 'unofficial' venues for venting the same as bars, parties, or office gripe sessions. It has happened in the civilian world--people are discovering that employers are finding out about blogs, myspace, facebook--and using them as part of the vetting process. Not always favorably either, and some people are caught out just as badly as this particular milblogger was.

From my side I think there is also going to be a messy adjustment period because I think there is not only a civilian/military divide but a civilian and a military career/non-career divide developing. This was another issue that appeared to be a problem. I didn't find the reason for the blowup either shocking or surprising because I had not only seen the issue of retention and its ramifications discussed elsewhere but one of my daughter's friends is doing the same thing. This young man is currently learning to fly C-130s in the AF. He's totally dedicated to fulfilling his commitment and everything that entails but intends to stay in for a couple of tours, maybe three--and then get out to do something else. His decisions--when there IS a choice--are going to be different than those made by someone who does intend to make a career of it. This parallels the civilian world--neither employers nor employees expect a lifelong commitment any lnoger. My grandfather and father stayed at the same company but that began to change in my generation and not always by choice on the part of the employee. My children don't expect it at all and that's going to show up when civilians from this generation enlist in the military of this generation. That world view is going to influence their decisiions in the civilian world as well as the military should they decide to enlist.

For what's worth I really don't see this as damaging to the military; there are a LOT of milblogs of both active and former military out there and some of them are pretty angry; this isn't new and at this point I don't think it can be contained. It also resembles (for better or worse) what goes on in the civilian world and I suspect therefore isn't big news to civilians. What matters is that the job gets done--and it is, very well. I think far more tarnishing is done by people such as Murtha or Gens McPeak and Clark, which is far outside the milblog venue.

Posted by: Maggie100 at July 1, 2008 02:41 AM

You get to be "cool" after you've been through the firefight and pulled your weight.

And it's retroactive, to 'way, 'way back.

Only a total newbie will refer to a combat vet whose job keeps him inside the wire as a Fobbit...

Posted by: BillT at July 1, 2008 04:15 AM

Exactly how is the employer the bad guy here?

I think partially because the military culture indoctrinates people, the ones that survive anyways, into thinking of things not so much as a "good guy vs bad guy" situation as a "action and consequences" situation. There's an actor, he did something, and there was a result produced.

So for many that criticize the superior in this situation, the captain, they are saying he did something that caused a negative consequence. Blame, is not the game, but rather survival and victory is. And survival and victory requires a lot more than the blame game, which is why most survivors in war realize this in their after action reports. It does not matter so much who did what, as to what was the actual causality of the situation. What this means is that it can be that everyone involved in a scenario is a "bad guy".

Yet you guys are arguing for an officer to get away with not only breaking the rules but publicly thumbing his nose at the organization that employs him while doing it. By what standard, in what community (civilian or military) had that sort of thing EVER flown?

Perhaps my memory is fault, but I do not recall anyone in the comments section up to now, arguing for that.

Also, I am not familiar with Army promotion procedures, but in the Marines, you go where you are sent. You are not "offered" jobs as in the civilian world.

The superior can always make "requests" into a direct order, and thus if you disobey you, you are heading towards court martial or administrative punishment.

In this case, that didn't seem to happen.

The way I read the post it sounded more as though he just wanted to stay where he was.

To me, it sounded like the LT didn't trust his lawful superior to take a piss in the dark without a subordinate leading the way.

Cocerning the jumping to conclusions comment, since the LT's comments are the only thing availabe, that is the only thing I can use. The only alternative, given such situations, is to not talk about it at all, even hypothetically. Which means once this incident is removed from all consideration of analysis, it can also never be compared to real world examples for good or bad, ill or profit.

However, people are going to talk and think about the subject one way or another. That's just humanity is made up. And since this is going to happen, making it an order or directive not to talk about it is just going to be counter-productive. And I'm not talking about any particular individual or hierarchy making that order, but that some people may wish for the effect if that order was followed.

Meaning, if people obeyed the directive to not think or talk about it, then the issue would go away. But it doesn't look like it is going away anytime soon. So either it gets handled, even if partially, now, or something like it will come up later and we'll have to do everything the first time.

The term for a Fobbit in my war was REMF

Obviously people have become more sensitized and politically correct since "your" war's Rear Echelon Mother*******.

Fobbit is gentler term -- still a put-down, but without the disdain.

A fobbit reminds me of a cute rabbit gentleman kicked out in tux that while cute to look at, aren't much good in a fight. Except for the killer bunny.

The foot infantry guys (when we had them) bitched about taxi-cab infantry (the IFV/APC guys in Mech Infantry). And everyone mocked the "Turtles" of the armor (until you needed em, in which case they were pretty good guys... for turtles).

This is an issue related to esprit de corps in that fighters take abnormal pride in certain things. However, if you remove those things, they aren't going to fight. There's the clincher.

These problems aren't too bad in active warfare, since people together in a foxhole tend to have greater things in common than that which would separate them.

These inter-service and inter-X rivalries get really bad in peacetime, however, as it is the only way to distinguish yourself. That or getting better marks on your readiness and bean counting reports. Which is why peacetime generals tend to excel if they are very cautious and politically correct.

But hey. Keep it up with the cute names for your fellow servicemen. We're all in this together.

The one thing I have learned while studying history is that if there's something that can cause people to become upset in a military unit about, it will happen, if you don't take a hold of things as a leader or officer.

While the truth is that "we're all in this together", the real on the ground truth is that people have doubts. They have doubts about whether this new guy can cut it, so they doubt whether they should trust him and treat him as an equal. Even if the armored division is working with an infantry mechanized division, the armored guys still don't live with the infantry guys, not while on mission, and so there's always going to be things that divide. And when it comes to matters of utmost trust, the tiniest little ittiest bit of "division" can start to crack into major fissures if bad things start happening and it can be blamed on X.

That's why I think discipline, self-discipline, training, good leadership, and all that jazz is supposed to handle. To deal with before it gets people killed. But can even such things prevent division and distorted perceptions of human beings? No, they can't prevent it.

But again. I'm not speaking of good or bad, right or wrong. I'm just saying it's out there.

In order to conclude my viewpoint, here it is. My viewpoint is that there are actions and consequences to those actions. There are no "bad people or individuals or people that made mistake". There are consequences and the individuals that are working to fix those consequences if they are negative and individuals that are exploiting those consequences for all they are worth, if they are positive.

So in this case, the question isn't "has LT G posted without permission on his blog because he was peeved at his boss and for some reason made it personal and permanent"? No, that's the question. Cause the question has been answered. He did that, and there's nothing I or he can do to fix that. LT G's previous blog posts were vetted by his superior, and then went LT G went on vacation or leave or whatever extenuating circumstances he refered to, LT G posted a blog post that didn't go through his superior. These are the events, but the questions are a different matter.

It is also a different matter from assigning blame. If we're going to assign blame, I'm pretty sure you would have noticed it by now from BillT or John of Arrg. Since they didn't speak too much about the LT G's comments, I assumed they were just talking about actions and consequences, rather than blame. And if the explanation or causality of an action is that high command did something, this is not so much to blame High Command, although we could, as it is a possible explanation as for what went wrong. And if people didn't want to speculate or get involved, they would just talk about events they knew more intimately, instead.

I'm a curious person, though, so I tend to be unable to refuse analyzing new information, even if it is incomplete.

And, frankly, it doesn't bother me. I've been a warrior and a pogue, and it doesn't bother me when someone who gets shot at with a greater regularity than I chooses to make a distinction in that regard.

In the end, what matters is victory. If a person will fight 10% better or harder because they and their brothers themselves made the distinction that they were "better" than the rest, then so what? If they made a name for themselves, Let them Earn it. It is their business, and their pride at stake, even if it is all our lives in the end in the kettle.

There may be better ways to create shock and assault troops, but I don't think it has been found. A small, distinguished, and "elite" (meaning membership is closed off or heavily restricted) tends to create esprit de corps faster or better. Of course, they may not always perform well in battle, like parade soldiers, but they have a better chance than those without pride.

One of the things Steven pressfield discussed in Gates of Fire was layers and hierarchies to Valor and Courage. While Pressfield devoted the epitome of courage to woman's courage and the courage to love another more than your own life or safety, there are lesser degrees of valor. Say the valor that a person acquires by refusing to tarnish his pride or honor by retreating or surrendering to the enemy. Or if he fears losing his pride more than his life, if others, those that he remarked as cowards (fighting word) or REMFers, were to witness him running for his life.

Personally I can understand that one, from my civilian side here I'm getting really, really tired of the sheep/sheepdog analogy myself.

If you look up cape buffalo and their reactions to hunters, you might not be anymore. The thing about predators and prey is that not all prey are vegetarians and not all predators are carnivores.

Human beings, being omnivores, can switch to one or the other. But the deciding issue is choice, free will.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 1, 2008 07:48 PM

Obviously people have become more sensitized and politically correct...

No, today's REMFs don't even get over here. And most of the Fobbits *are* killer rabbits, in potentio, since a lot of them get outside the wire at least once....

Posted by: BillT at July 2, 2008 02:59 AM

i have a hard time listening to anyone ramble on (and on...and on...and on) about military protocol if they can't understand the disdain combat soldiers have for fobbits/REMFs/pogues.

Posted by: Grunt at July 2, 2008 03:38 PM

Be sure to mention that to the doc in the FOB who just put the gel bandages on your flash burns...

Posted by: BillT at July 2, 2008 05:32 PM

Or the Marines who continue to show up for their boring desk jobs every ****ing day even though they are pissed as hell that they aren't out there with you, through no goddamned fault of their own.

Because last time I checked, the supply chain is pretty damned long and it would come to a screaming halt if everyone in the service acted like a prima donna because they didn't get to be on the front lines.

Of course, I'm sure they appreciate your disdain. How could they not?

After all, they're just useless fobbits and pogues and you're a real man.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 2, 2008 07:43 PM

And not that it matters, but my husband isn't in supply :p

But if he were, that wouldn't be anything to be ashamed of.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 2, 2008 07:47 PM

it has nothing to do with being a real man, or being cool. it's a credibility issue.

Posted by: Simon at July 2, 2008 10:22 PM

It's a trust issue. Humans are social animals and that means social jerks at times. Anybody not in this tribe is a barbarian and can be killed out of hand cause they ain't "us".

People can talk about how they are different cause they don't have combat experience, but in the end it is about trust. They don't trust and that's it, period.

But that in itself is nothing new in military life or human civilization. Human beings have always had a tendency of gravitating towards like on like. Doesn't mean that it is always a good thing or a wise thing. It does mean that this is just what people do, cause they're people.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 3, 2008 02:23 AM

Simon's right -- and that knife cuts *both* ways.

Nobody over here badmouths someone merely because of their position and nobody over here admires what we used to call a "grenade simulator" -- all flash and noise...

Posted by: BillT at July 3, 2008 02:28 AM

...it has nothing to do with being a real man, or being cool. it's a credibility issue.

Credibility? Or disdain?

The credibility thing I understand, Simon. And I understand the survival value in wanting someone by your side who has combat experience if you are under fire. But that's not what is expressed by running down people who are supposed to be on your side.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 3, 2008 05:41 AM

But that's not what is expressed by running down people who are supposed to be on your side.

That's the crux.

The people who *are* on your side aren't the target of the "terms of endearment"...

Example: The Finance Office closes for lunch at 1100. Sergeants A and B are both finance types who work the cage.

At exactly 1100, Sergeant A looks at the line of customers and announces, "We're closed. Come back at 1300." And leaves.

Sergeant B looks at the five people in line at 1030, estimates the number of customers he'll be able to handle in a half hour at three and says, "We'll be closing at 1100, so I'll see you two guys at the end back here at 1300."

Same situation, but both do their jobs with a slightly different attitude. Sergeant A *might* be called a Fobbit, but Sergeant B *won't* be called a Fobbit.

Posted by: BillT at July 3, 2008 06:23 AM

Yeah, lotta 'trons gave up the ghost for this comments section.

I'll pose my counter to John's argument about 'combat jargon' and Grim's general thrust thusly: it's all fine so long as it stays in house or when it comes out of house as history and not as unfolding events. Your *job* is 24/7-365. YOu signed up for it. If you're an officer you swore an oath. You *don't* screw the mission because you're pissed off at the guy above you.

Better yet, just go look up what SecDef Gates has said about this. Sure, we need more Yinglings(is that his name, I can't remember accurately.). BUt frank, honest, and blunt do not mean public hissy fits that simply *hands* ammo to the opposing side in a 4th Gen conflict. You don't do that. If you do, you pay the consequences for it.

And I say that as the guy who wants and is working toward being the ultimate pogue: the Washington bureaucrat who orders you off to do something stupid like Bay of Pigs and then has to drink himself to sleep in perpetuity.

The indidual with the revered warrior spirit has his place, but, damn it, when he riskes blowing the larger picture he better be crushed and good or there was no point in starting anything in the first place if any old JO can ruin the whole thing over personal pique. Big events matter too, y'all.

"Battles can decide wars, and battles on the merest triffle."---Nappy(or close enough. It might be just a paraphrase instead of a quote. My book of notable quotables is in a box.)

Posted by: ry at July 3, 2008 02:43 PM

The academic discussion being carried out here is interesting. However, I would suggest it is inappropriate for anyone to comment specifically on Lt. G. unless: (1) you are privy to all the facts in regards to the specific situation in which he found himself; and (2) you have served as a Cavalry Scout Platoon Leader in a combat outpost in Iraq in 2008; and (3) you have read all of his posts; and (4) you never, yourself, errored when you were 24 years old; and (5) you never, yourself, have felt regret for actions you took or actions you failed to take, for things you said or things you failed to say, for the times you submitted and the times you didn't submit; and (5) you have always been able to identify the honorable choice amongst a sea of conflicting, apparently honorable choices; and (5) you are absolutely positive that you are not envious of this young man's youth, intelligence, talent, compassion, courage and devotion to his men.

Posted by: Mollie at July 3, 2008 08:20 PM

"Q finding myself on the literal and metaphorical carpet of multiple field-grades, sometimes explaining, sometimes listening."

Sounds like the BC or XO was making the sales pitch.

Guess they didn't like their responses aired...

In the Contemporary Operational Environment (COE) you need to maintain situational awarness. Make sure your words or actions are something you could live with if published on the front page of your local newspaper...

Definitely no winners on this one.

Lost an unvarnished look into the trenches.
Blackfive and Kaboom were my favorite books marks.

Posted by: MAJ W. at July 3, 2008 11:22 PM

The service doesn't deserve this officer, or frankly the fine enlisted men whose time, lives and limbs you oh too loyal (to your careers) regulation quoting robots have been wasting the last few years. Results, guts and leading from the front are what count. No one (especially the backstabbers who dominate our upper and middle ranks) gives a damn about the regs (which most of you are more than willing to overlook when it suits you). Think: 2406 (deadline report), think USR (which equals LIE as often as not).

"The essence of war is to disobey orders" - Lord Nelson. You would have gotten rid of him as well. There's a reason we've lost or been fought to a draw the last 40 years.

Learn the difference between discipline and slavery. Backstabbers.

Posted by: Arif Jayish Al Amiriki at July 6, 2008 08:40 PM

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