Category Archives: Media vs. Military

Fitness: The Army, Doing it Wrong

The biggest key to Army fitness testing, is it has to be something that dumb people with no equipment can measure. Seriously.

The biggest key to Army fitness testing, is it has to be something that dumb people with no equipment can measure. Seriously.

A reader suggested the linked item at Mark “Rip” Rippetoe’s Starting Strength blog. Rip gives a platform to Major Ryan Long, who asks:  Why does the Army want me weak?

Why, indeed? Long had spent the previous two years (his article is from 2010) as a Phys Ed instructor at school: the United States Military Academy, to be precise. And he found some pathologies in Army fitness culture.

I encounter a common theme with the active duty military folks: lifting weights isn’t entirely compatible with military culture and combat-related fitness. I feel compelled to share my thoughts on why Starting Strength is exactly what we need.

The US Army has a strong focus on low-intensity cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness.

Semi-annually soldiers must pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) consisting of 2 minutes of pushups, 2 minutes of sit ups, followed by a 2-mile run on a flat road or track.

See Table 1 for passing and maximum performance standards by age and gender. The minimum standards are disappointing while the maximum standards are quite achievable.

Physical training (PT) is usually given only minimal attention and is often the first victim of a busy training schedule.  Additionally, unit commanders are required to regularly brief their combat readiness, one measure of which is APFT performance. As a result, PT becomes APFT-centric and our soldiers rarely improve anything….

This fanciful illustration reflects what the Army really believes, institutionally: that the best runner is the best prepared for combat.

This fanciful illustration reflects what the Army really believes, institutionally: that the best runner is the best prepared for combat.

What the PT Test often yields, in our experience, is a sort of runnerocracy where the fastest 2-miler is the fittest guy, period. (We were once one of those guys with an eleven-something two miler. It seems a century ago. Well, it was in the last century). So in combat it turns out maybe we’ve been training for the wrong thing:

Most combat operations are not done at the limit of a soldier’s low-intensity capacity, because we don’t go out and do a 6-mile dismounted patrol as fast as we can, at least not intentionally. …. Combat is usually conducted at either the very low or very high ends of the spectrum. I strongly believe, through personal experience, that high-intensity training is the key to survivability and performance on the battle field

But even the mismeasure of fitness that comes from the PT Test, and the mistraining that results, isn’t the whole problem. You’re about to meet the weird Army weight control system that punishes soldiers for extra muscle:

But if a Soldier buys in to the above – lifts heavy weights and eats to support that recovery – there is an additional hurdle: the Army “Tape Test.” The US Army uses height and weight to screen for obesity, similar to the body mass index or BMI assessment.

In fact, the Army height/weight table is keyed to the rigid BMI standards. You’re overweight at BMI 25, and the Army only lets the fit off the hook with a bizarre tape test, one that is designed not for accuracy but for (1) not requiring any expensive equipment and (2) capable of being executed by a first sergeant, operations sergeant, or sergeant major with an IQ of 75. (Why we have any NCOs with an IQ of 75 is a question for another time).

At my considerable height of 5’4” I am only allowed to weigh up to 158 pounds, and yes, I get taped. Fortunately the only punishment for exceeding this 90s-small weight is a body fat analysis done by measuring the Soldier’s neck and abdominal circumference (and hips also in the case of women). These measurements, along with height, are used to approximate body composition. As long as body composition remains below the maximum body fat percentage (20% men and 30% women ages 17-20) then the Soldier is free to weigh in excess of the weight threshold. Too many Soldiers see the act of being taped as a personal failure and strive to avoid it.

And the Army’s answer to a soldier who is over, fit or not — run more, do more cardio, get a runner’s build.

height weight screening

Think about professional athletes. Who would not be over on BMI? The scale doesn’t cover heavyweight boxers, but the world cruiserweight champion, Russian Denis Lebedev, is overweight, says the Army. About half of American football players are over. It doesn’t cover NBA centers, but if you extrapolate, Shaquille O’Neal would be way over at 7’1″ and 325. To find a champion who isn’t “Army fat,” you have to go to cycling (Lance Armstrong, 5’10” and 165) or straight to running (Usain Bolt, 6’5″ and 207). On the other hand, female pro athletes often come in below the Army standard. (Example: Elena Delle Donne, WNBA MVP, is 6’5″ and 187, but she’s built like a lean man).

Running is a good measure of one thing -- running. The only way to prepare for long walks with a ruck, is long walks with a ruck, but strength training is better prep for that than running is.

Running is a good measure of one thing — running. The only way to prepare for long walks with a ruck, is long walks with a ruck, but strength training is better prep for that than running is. Meanwhile, running Army brass wants a return to the prewar “running culture.”

So here comes a story declaring that the Army is way fat and out of shape based on, of course, the percent of soldiers whose computerized health records screened as eligible to be taped (about 8%, presumably including MAJ Long, if he hasn’t joined us in the Elysian Fields of retirement yet).

The story is in Military Times and is written by one Andrew Tilghman. A few words about Tilghman, who sells himself (on LinkedIn) as a “storyteller”  (in a profile that seems aimed at getting him PR moonlighting work for Beltway Bandits) and someone who has “10+ years’ experience with military and defense-related issues.” Where did he get all this experience? For example, “[w]orking from the Pentagon pressroom for the past five years…”

Oooooh. Can we touch him? (No. Don’t touch. Don’t even point). When MAJ Long was going through Ranger School, Tilghman was going through Columbia Journalism School. So he’s a sucker for whatever Someone in the Pentagon tells him, and here’s what they tell him:

About 7.8 percent of the military — roughly one in every 13 troops — is clinically overweight, defined by a body mass-index greater than 25. This rate has crept upward since 2001, when it was just 1.6 percent, or one in 60, according to Defense Department data obtained by Military Times. And it’s highest among women, blacks, Hispanics and older service members.

“Defense Department data obtained by Military Times,” is Tilghman’s self-important way of saying, “a Press Release handout I picked up from the boxes in the Pentagon press room,” because that’s exactly what he has got.

From that data point, he twists the data to clickbait extremes:

  • Today’s military is fatter than ever.
  • For the first time in years, the Pentagon has disclosed data indicating the number of troops its deems overweight

Well, none of your reporter Johnnies asked, did you?

  • raising big questions about the health, fitness and readiness of today’s force.
  • others say obesity can be a life-and-death issue on the battlefield.

And the answer is always available from the running acolytes, in this case the current Sergeant Major of the Army (and not the worst; that would have been the couple of ’em that went to prison):

“If I have to climb up to the top of a mountain in Nuristan, in Afghanistan, and if I have someone who is classified as clinically obese, they are potentially going to be a liability for me on that patrol,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the military’s top noncommissioned officer and the senior enlisted adviser to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford.

Troxell said today’s force is combat ready, but he believes the obesity trends are troubling, and demand careful consideration from senior leaders. “I don’t think it’s a clear readiness concern right now.  But I think it’s something that needs our attention. And we really have to look across our services at what we’re doing every morning or every day to prepare the men and women for what could be the worst day of their life,” Troxell said in a recent interview.

Translation: we runners think everybody should run more.

Would you rather be wounded and dependent on a drag to safety by running SMA Troxell, or iron-pumping MAJ Long? What Troxell and the rest of the Army overhead don’t want to admit is that the original impetus and lasting enforcement of the Army height and weight standards gives a pseudoscientific gloss to what commanders really want, which is a way to get fat troops to slim down so the units don’t look bad. That’s all.

Does anyone remember when the Army first imposed height-weight standards, and why? We do. In the 1970s, Soviet officers were invited to observe NATO exercises in Germany. One of the Soviet senior generals, a man of no mean wit, observed to his counterpart, “Bathrobe” Bernard Rogers, then SACEUR (one of the lean, gangly running guys), that “In our army, all the generals are fat, but the sergeants are skinny. In your army, all the generals are skinny, but all the sergeants are fat!” Rogers was white with fury at the Russian’s joke, and soon we had height-weight tables and tape tests.

Like many well-credentialed but poorly-educated journalists, Tilghman also confuses the linguistic concept of gender with the biological concept of sex, but that’s the least of his sins. After a brief aside in which Pentagon health officials try to teach him some of the ways in which this data — computer derived from health records by simply applying the BMI calculation to reported height and weight — isn’t the clarion of Armageddon he wants it to be, he goes back to the quotable Troxell:

In the 90s we were a running culture. If you weren’t running, you weren’t training. And we were doing a lot of foot marching and things like that. As 9/11 happened and we started doing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the operational tempo rose for service members, I think more and more we started slowing down. We started doing more walking. Obviously in the Army and Marines, we started doing more walking with heavy loads, and moving over rough and uneven terrain, which in itself was developing muscles that we weren’t developing before. So now we were going from looking like runners to these block-y looking football players.

He says that like it’s a bad thing. And Troxell blames the new generation:

The men and women that are coming in today weren’t doing the things as they were growing up that I was doing when I was growing up, such as playing outside until dark, racing with my friends from one crack in the cement to another crack in the cement. More and more, young men and women are attracted to things that happen indoors and allow them be on a couch, like playing video games. Men and women are growing up differently. There is less physical activities and more mental activities.

Let’s see what LiveStrong.com (the fitness site created by steroidal cycling champ Lance Armstrong) says about BMI:

Kinesiology professor Sue Beckham, PhD of the University of Texas at Arlington, asserts that BMI is not useful in assessing athletic muscular individuals and is not a good indicator of changes in body composition. A 2007 study of male and female college athletes published in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Medicine” concluded that BMI incorrectly classifies athletes with normal body fat as overweight and that separate standards should be established for athletic populations.

Livestrong suggests that the better measure is Body Composition, which is Total Body Mass minus Fat Free Mass, but would require more high-tech measurement techniques (and possibly, smarter first sergeants and sergeant majors, a non-starter).

The CDC says more bluntly:

A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. BMI can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual.

So why does the Army use it? Because it can enable the Tilghmans of the world to write clickbait articles? Or, for the same reason the drunk looks for the keys under the streetlight instead of in the dark alley where he lost ’em?

Hey, you can read Tilghman at Military Times. Or you can read The Duffle Blog about the APFT. The result is the same. But one writer is aware he’s having you on. And if you’re going to read one link from this long story, go to Major Ryan Long’s article at Starting Strength and Read The Whole Thing™.

 

Insight on the Media from Australia in 1969

RAR Soldiers in Vietnam. Note slightly different uniforms from Yanks, plus they're armed with SLRs. (Many Aussies also used M16s, especially on reconnaissance patrols, etc.).

RAR Soldiers in Vietnam. Note slightly different uniforms from Yanks, plus they’re armed with SLRs. (Many Aussies also used M16s, especially on reconnaissance patrols, etc., but the standard rifle was the 7.62mm SLR).

In 1969, Major D.K. Atkinson of the Australian Army suggested that Vietnam might be “The Unwinnable War” in the pages of the RMCS Journal, the professional magazine of the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, UK. (Now — God help us — an institute of defense management). His British peers at the college, and the journal editor, had pestered him for insights about Vietnam. Turns out, he had them — he was straight off a tour in-country as an operations officer with the Royal Australian Regiment — but he also had insights that are just as functionally utilitarian today. For example, one of the downsides of a free press:

It is the lack of definition of terms and a lack of public education in the United States and in Australia which may prevent us from winning. Peace is an attractive word to everyone but does the word mean the same thing to a Communist Party member and to the well-meaning clergyman marching beside him in the same demonstration? It is in this field that national mass communications media can he of the greatest assistance, or do the most harm. At the moment. through either deliberate editorial policy, ignorance. or a plain desire to make money. the press inhibits our capacity to win.

An example of distorted reporting was the Viet Cong Tet offensive in January and February 1968. The majority of enemy objectives were known and allied forces were redeployed to meet the threat approxi- mately one week prior to the offensive. The 1st Australian Task Force moved from its normal base area in Phuoc Tuy province to cover approaches to Bien Hoa approximately 100 kilometres away. The ofiensive was a military disaster for the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong. Returning from the operation after three weeks we had our first opportunity to read the world press. There was no doubt that by incompetent. inaccurate and hysterical reporting we s u l k e d a propa- ganda defeat. A typical example of the irresponsibility of the press was a front page headline in a Melbourne paper – ‘Australian Battalion Wiped Out.’ The three paragraph report gave details of a supposed action in which 7 RAR had been lost. The last sentence admitted that the report was unconfirmed. In fact, the battalion had five men killed.

He goes on to describe actions in country, including a day-long fight when an Australian unit thought it had latched on to a local force VC company, but had actually come to grips with a main force NVA battalion.

And he goes out with another poke at the media:

One of the first Viet Cong acts in the attack on Saigon was the ruthless massacre of the families of South Vietnamese soldiers in a barracks there. Presumably this act of terrorism was designed to further destroy the morale of the army. I saw many photographs of buildings full of slaughtered women and children; of soldiers crying over the dead babies in their arms. I didn’t see any of these pictures published in the national press. What I did see was the photograph of the Police Chief summarily executing a Viet Cong. It was not a nice picture and was extensively used in anti-war propaganda. But what that picture did show was the hate, the fury, the ruthless determination of these people to rid their country of the terrorists, stand-over men and murderers that are the Viet Cong.

Maybe one of our down-undrian readers can explain what a “stand-over man” is.

In the end, of course, the USA, Australia, and most of all the RVN all lost. Re-education camps, Montagnard massacres, and the Boat People all lay ahead.

The quotes are from Australian Army Journal, No. 253 (June, 1970), in which Maj. Atkinson’s article is reprinted on pp. 3-8. (Here’s a link to the magazine in .pdf).

NPR Journalist Killed in Afghanistan

In a typically dishonest article, NPR, National Public Radio, a state-controlled broadcaster, reported on the death of one of its own this week. NPR’s David Gilkey was killed by a Taiban RPG, along with an NPR interpreter, Zabihullah Tamanna, whom NPR didn’t see fit to eulogize beyond the mere mention of his name — quite enough for a wog, if you’re NPR — and the Afghan wog, er, soldier driving Gilkey’s HMMWV, whose name NPR not only didn’t mention, but didn’t even record. Because wog.

In a classic example of absence of self-awareness despite unflinching self-regard, NPR’s Greg Myre writes:

David and [fellow NPRnik Tom Bowman] spent the past several years embedding with Afghan forces to see if they were up to the job of defeating the Taliban.

And two career journalists are going to decide this exactly how?

It’s a critical story that has largely been ignored. After 15 years of U.S. involvement in the Afghan war, the conflict has disappeared from the front pages in the U.S., and American interest has waned.

Indeed. Funny how that waning of media interest seems traceable to the same date as the coronation of NPR’s candidate for President in 2009. Well, strange coincidences abound these days.

The story does raise some questions:

  1. How come these guys have such a hard time remembering their indigenous assistants? Have they put on a halo that’s two sizes too small? and,
  2. When the Taliban kill an NPR journalist, is it “friendly fire”? and,
  3. Why does a taxpayer-funded official propaganda radio network need a photographer? That’s what Gilkey was.

 

A Tale of Terrorism and Recognition

Purple Heart (this one was won by a Lieutenant in WWI who went on to be a General. It's our PH file photo).

Purple Heart (this one was won by a Lieutenant in WWI who went on to be a General. It’s our PH file photo).

It’s no secret that the Government, in its current iteration, has little interest in recognizing Islamic terrorism for what it is. This comes from many things, including an academic fascianation with the “other,” and a conviction that every conflict everywhere stems from something the US did: the old “why do they hate us?” story.

They hate us ’cause we don’t submit to them. It’s not deep and you don’t need a PhD to understand it (indeed, a PhD may be an impediment to understanding such simple things).

Its strategy towards Islamic terrorism everywhere — and most of the terrorism in the world is Islamic, from Israel to Chechnya to the Phillipines, to right here in the USA — is to fight it just enough to dodge charges of supporting it, while denying it even exists as a thing.

That’s how you get a government that pauses its Magical Mea Culpa Tour just long enough to advance the Iranian mullahs, defend their Saudi brethren, and demean the efforts of those who fought it and died.

They still think that Nidal Hassan’s jihad was “workplace violence” best addressed by taking guns away from folks who did not do it, and used the same line in relation to the Sudden Jihad Syndrome strike against military soft-targets in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2015. The social-engineer suits who are running the services dry of lubrication, like the cars turned in during Cash for Clunkers, fought hard against recognizing these victims of terrorism as, well, victims of terrorism.

Back in April, with respect to the Chattanooga victims, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of the Navy (“Hey, how about USS Kardashian next?”) Ray Mabus, finally folded and the four Marine victims’ nexts of kin were presented with their Marines’ Purple Hearts. Two other victims, a wounded Marine and a slain sailor, had private presentations in January.

The decision had been telegraphed as early as December, after FBI director James Comey made it clear that the shooter had been radicalized by a local mosque and thereafter had been in communication with Anwar Al-Awlaki.

The part the media left out of this presentation was the ugly bit: had the Navy persisted in not awarding the medals (and ancillary veterans’ benefits that accrue to combat casualties), Congress was prepared to step in and force the issue. The Pentagon opposed the presentation of Purple Hearts to the 2009 Fort Hood victims until Congress directed it be done in the National Defense Authorization Act; the victims and their survivors finally received their medals from grudging officialdom in April, 2015.

“The Obama Pentagon fought tooth and nail against that,” [Sen. Ted] Cruz [R-TX] said in an interview…. “They insisted the attack was workplace violence. And they refused for nearly five years to award those Purple Hearts.”

“And each one of those family members, I took the opportunity to look them in the eyes, to thank them for their service and their family member’s service and simply to say I’m sorry this took five years for this to happen,” Cruz said.

Cruz and his Tennessee counterparts were prepared to do for the Chattanooga Marines what they, and a bipartisan group of Congressmen and Senators, did for the Ft Hood soldiers. It’s  amazing — astonishing really — that we still have senior officials, defense officials no less, who take the side of Islamic terrorists. And give that we have senior officials that disjointed from reality, we suppose it’s amazing that they actually gave in this time and didn’t make Cruz and his allies go through all the motions again.

About that Movie that Caused the Benghazi Attack

Would you trust your diplomatic Mission to this guy?

Would you trust your diplomatic Mission to this guy?

Just about everybody who’s anybody in the foreign policy and national security establishment, or “the Blob,” as former campaign van driver and novelist manqué turned Presidential foreign-policy mind-meld Ben Rhodes calls it, has had something to say about the spectacularly revealing Ben Rhodes profile in the New York Times Magazine.

David Samuels of the Times seems to have conducted the interview the way Times journalists usually do with Administration grandees: on his knees, breathlessly counterposed to the his dehiscent slide fastener of his interviewee’s trousers.

Despite his claim to be outside it,  Rhodes is a card-carrying Beltway Blob made guy, by dint of his position (which he probably owes to having a brother who’s head of CBS “News”). He is a Deputy National Security Advisor on the National Security Council and has nothing but contempt for people who actually have studied, practiced, or (in the instant case) implemented foreign policy, especially not when it comes down to kinetics.

Conversely, nobody is asking, say, retired special operations sergeants and former defense contractors what they think, but why shouldn’t we stick our oar in? Everyone else is.

And right now, everybody is talking about how Rhodes admits that the Iran “deal” was built on myth and sold with lies.

Rhodes’s war room did its work on Capitol Hill and with reporters. In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

When I suggested that all this dark metafictional play seemed a bit removed from rational debate over America’s future role in the world, Rhodes nodded. “In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this,” he said. “We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked.”

This is the first admission that groups like Ploughshares and the Iran Project are under de facto Administration control — or maybe it’s the other way around.

He is proud of the way he sold the Iran deal. “We drove them crazy,” he said of the deal’s opponents. ….

In fact, Rhodes’s passion seems to derive … from his own sense of the urgency of radically reorienting American policy in the Middle East in order to make the prospect of American involvement in the region’s future wars a lot less likely. When I asked whether the prospect of this same kind of far-reaching spin campaign being run by a different administration is something that scares him, he admitted that it does.

But there was another glimpse behind Rhodes’s Beltway Blob kimono suggested by that article, aside from whatever Samuels glimpsed through that zipper while achieving his own mind meld with his special friend and interviewee. And it ties into past articles, like this one at, oddly enough, the New York Times: Rhodes describes in the recent, Samuels story how he makes a lie into news. Bear that in mind when you see who the author was of the Administration’s, and then-Secretary of State Clinton’s, pathetic and fabricated claim that the Benghazi attack was a reaction to a YouTube video. Yep, it was Rhodes. Here’s the Times’s Michael D. Shear (another Beltway Blob made guy?) in April, 2014:

The email from Mr. Rhodes includes goals for Ms. Rice’s appearances on the shows and advice on how to discuss the subject of the protests that were raging in Libya and at other American diplomatic posts in the Middle East.

Among the goals that Mr. Rhodes identified: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” In a section called “Top-lines,” Mr. Rhodes added: “Since we began to see protests in response to this Internet video, the president has directed the Administration to take a number of steps. His top priority has been the safety and security of all Americans serving abroad.”

(For the record, the attack was a deliberate attack the extremist al-Qaeda linked militia. The extremists themselves had been suppressed by Qaddhfi, but were turned loose by the quixotic and purposeless war the Administration launched in Libya for reasons that still lack an explanation, except for the general tilt of Obama, Jarrett, Donilon, Rice, Power, Rhodes et al. towards Islamist extremists, and against American interests).

In another point in Samuels’ fluff piece, Rhodes, the self-described Holden Caulfield of the NYU MFA program, is described as having no ego. In the midst of a post that is probably enough for any pshrink to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder in both Rhodes and his interviewer.

Finally, this puts a new light on the various incompatible Hillary Clinton statements about the Benghazi disaster that somehow eventuated on her disinterested and mendacious watch. She herself may have been spun by Rhodes and his small army of suckling and spewing mouths, a group which may well include Clinton eminènce grise Simple Sid Blumenthal.

Yeah, the Army Personnel System is AFU. But…

Officer RanksThe Army personnel system is like the ancient Chinese mandarin system, except that it sucks even at producing mandarins. This should not be news to anybody. Certainly the best and the brightest — hell, even the dull and the dimmest — have been firing cannonades against DOPMA and “up-or-out” since Gabriel and Savage teed up Crisis in Command in the 1970s, and probably earlier. But along comes The Atlantic, commissioning retired general David Barno and some social (i.e., pseudo) scientist to write a jeremiad against the personnel system.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s like one of our VA or TSA stories. Expecting anything other than inept and counter-mission performance from any stumblebum government bureaucracy will end in tears.

Still, Barno and whatserface try.

Let’s start with a spoiled Millennial MI officer who’s all a-whine that the Army is not seeing to his emotional needs:

Jost arrived at West Point during the summer of 2004, nearly three years after the 9/11 attacks. The nation and the Army were at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Jost took Chinese language classes to fulfill his single year of required language at the academy, and a summer program in China cemented his love of the Chinese language and culture. According to Jost, he gave up his vacation time nearly every summer to study in China, and graduated with a double major in Chinese and International Relations.
West Point cadets line up at their graduation ceremony in Michie Stadium. (Mike Groll / AP)
Jost excelled in his studies. He was academically ranked seventh out of 972 cadets in his graduating class, and was commissioned as a military intelligence officer. He won a Rotary scholarship for a graduate degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He became proficient in Mandarin, and earned a master’s degree in Chinese studies after a year of intense study. Now it was time to join the Army and use his education.

It would be the last time Jost used his Chinese until leaving the service five years later.

Awwwwww, someone call that (now former) officer a Waaahmbulance. The Army didn’t dispose itself for one millennial’s ultimate self-actualization. Quel horreur! 

turkish water pipe

Sometimes, the Army is like a Turkish water pipe. The more you suck, the higher you go.

These Officer Selfie stories make up a good part of the long thumbsucker. Along with Jost, we meet a woman whose life was ruined, ruined, because she could only serve in combat as an attack helicopter pilot, when she really wanted to be an infantry officer. The whole attack-helicopter thing was a sideline for her, and her ambition for higher rank quickly drove her out of the cockpit into pursuit of other avenues towards fame and promotion, all collapsing in a Hindenburg FOOM when she and her officer husband didn’t get matching His & Hers assignments.

The promotion system, Barno and whatserface note, holds back officers of superior ability. Its Industrial Age men-as-interchangeable-cogs ethos has long been abandoned by industry, which can be even more dynamic (and even more focused on superficial, short-term results than the military, which is already too focused on knob-polishing for ticket-punching transient leaders). But it is an ill wind that blows no good, and that same personnel friction also holds back the toxic leader. We all know the type: the narcissistic careerist for whom military service is a love sonnet to self, the one who inverts the officer code of “the mission, the men, and me” to “me, me, me, then the mission, and bleep the men if they can’t take a joke.”

An example of the article’s focus on careerist vs. competent officers is its concern for officers’ graduate-school opportunities. In fact, the Army at least has numerous pathways to grad school and one of their selected whiners went directly from West Point to grad school, as noted above, but he wanted more grad school and he didn’t want to wait for it.  We have very seldom seen an officer apply his grad school effectively to the only real reason we need officers, combat leadership. In fact, officers who have led sports teams seem to do much better, on average, than their more intelligent supposed “betters.” (We make fun of colonels who majored in football, here, but it’s probably a better preparation for leadership than any graduate degree, although history and anything highly quantitative — like an MBA — have their applications). In our experience, the paid grad-school thing is mostly just a benefit that accrues to the individual officer, and that he or she takes “up or out” with him and may used to plus up a post-military civilian salary.

As an aside: that Barno seemingly wants to elevate such officers makes us wonder what stripe of leader he was. A friend writes, in introducing this article to us:

The two authors are currently prominent participants in think tank events around town focusing on military and defense. LTG Barno has some actual basis for what he asserts, having actually carried a rifle and rucksack on behalf of America. Dr, Bensahel apparently learned what she knows by reading books and being a member of the chattering class.

Full disclosure: LTG Barno and I, when we were captains over 30 years ago, were classmates (which does NOT translate to friends) in an Army course. While I recall him, I doubt that he would recall me.

So, is there nothing of value in Barno and whatsername’s report? No. They do manage to get in a good condemnation of up-or-out, the Original Sin in DOPMA which drives much of the ticket-punching, short-term, superficial activity of toxic leasers.

Quoting the RAND Corp:

While breaking new ground (permanent grade tables, single promotion system, augmentation of reserve officers into regular status), DOPMA [of 1980] was basically evolutionary, extending the existing paradigm (grade controls, promotion opportunity and timing objectives, up-or-out, and uniformity across the services) that was established after World War II.

They also note that, unlike civilian businesses, there’s no way to military leadership except the DOPMA-dictated process of plodding apprenticeship:

This legacy system is woefully archaic in the 21st century—and far removed from the best talent-management practices of the private sector. It may well be the last untransformed segment of an otherwise modern, flexible, and adaptable U.S. military. Yet the personnel system touches every single person in the military every single day of their career—and determines how much they are paid, where they live, what kind of jobs they perform, and how often they move or get promoted. Neither officers nor enlisted troops have any substantial input in how they fit into this system—nor how to maximize their talents for the greater good.

The U.S. military is largely a closed-loop system for talent. Lateral entry is nearly nonexistent outside of unique specialties such as medicine. The four-star generals and admirals who will be the chairman and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in 2035 are serving in uniform today as majors or lieutenant commanders with somewhere between 10 and 16 years of service. Even the members of the JCS in 2045 are already serving in uniform, just starting out as ensigns and lieutenants, most with fewer than four years of service. Losing talented, experienced, and innovative leaders in the first 10 years of their military careers means that those leaders will not be available to serve in ever-more senior military leadership positions during the next the 20 or 30 years. This problem deserves rapt attention because getting the quality of the force wrong—unknowingly keeping in less capable leaders while losing the best and brightest talent—could have debilitating effects on fighting and winning the complex wars of the future.

It’s actually worse than they suggest, because it’s extremely hard for officers to choose and change branches. The signal or QM officer who burns to lead infantry units is practically a wachword, and there’s no way for him to do it, because we decided who was going to be an infantry officer when he was 17 or 21 years old, and that’s that. There’s little traffic  and few pathways between the officer and NCO ranks — given our educated enlisted corps these days, there should be more traffic on those paths, and it should be bidirectional. There are still restrictions on Reservists coming on to active duty, and there is no possibility for an officer to opt to take a few years in the reserves, perhaps to raise children or to bank some money for their future education. Sure, you can leave active duty and take a reserve or Guard commission, but you’re passing through one of the personnel system’s beloved one-way diodes on its busy wiring diagram: there is no return.

The personnel system’s drag isn’t just applied to the most ambitious officers (whom Barno and whatsername conflate with the best), either. The byzantine system is a huge brake on everything the Army does. Around the time of the Gulf War we were shocked to discover that the Army, admittedly larger then, had approximately 50,000 enlisted personnel clerks, almost 10% of its active duty strength. Companies with thousands of employees employ single digits of personnel in their HR departments: these clerks are 99.9% superfluous, and exist to serve the organization; while their assigments might be merely orthogonal to the mission, their practical effect is negative because they bear down so much on everything the service does.

Finally, one goal of DOPMA is not mentioned by Barno and whatsername, even though it is one of the few that the act actually met: removing partisanship from officer selection and promotion. This article does not exist in a vacuum, but is part of an organized campaign in support of an initiatiave by SecDef Ash Carter, whose objective is to remove these requirements from both DOD civilian and officer billets. This would allow free and unlimited hiring and firing — and it would allow the even more rapid advancement of the one kind of officer proven to beat the DOPMA system: the political suck-up.

Whatever new Frankensteinian abomination flows from this, they will call it progress.

Rick Pearlstein Hates Vietnam Vets, Unless They’re NVA

Rick Pearlstein likes a red flag, not this one.

Rick Pearlstein likes a red flag, not this one.

The first question you’re probably going to ask is, “Who is Rick Pearlstein, and why do we care?” And when we answer the first question, you might wonder why we bother with the second. Pearlstein is one more wealthy media Manhattanite, raised in a family that sent poor black city kids and white country boys to the coal faces of freedom, while they rode deferments and dodges and Wall Street duplicity to personal comfort and self-satisfaction far removed from a plot in Arlington and a line on a slab of black granite.

Like any well-heeled debtor who does not want to pay the debt, he loathes his creditors. He is a type, one that may be found in widest distribution across the newsrooms and faculty lounges of America, and not any place that physical or productive work is taking place, or that risk is borne.

Pearlstein, further, writes for Newsweek, the forgotten-but-not-entirely-gone news magazine that sold a few years ago at an absurdly high P/E ratio, which is to say, for $1. So hardly anybody reads his drivel, unless the dentist doesn’t have Sports Illustrated or Highlights for Children. We will spare Newsweek the link from our small (but, we suspect, less dentally-captive than theirs) readership, and requote a quote that David French of National Review, a Pearlstein detractor, picked from out of Pearlstein’s word goulash to illustrate Pearlstein’s latest argument. Ickle Rick’s position is that the POW/MIA flag is evil and should be taken down — because Rick Pearlstein hates it, as much as and for the same reasons as he hates the Stars and Stripes. (So, what flag does he fly? That of personal self-aggrandizement, cloaked as concern-trolling for the downtrodden workers and peasants: a red one).

During the Nixon years, the Pentagon moved [missing, downed pilots] into a newly invented “Missing in Action” column.

Um, Perlstein is simply making that up. Here, for instance, is a link to the American Battle Monuments Commission describing, among other things, how the names of roughly 4,400 Americans who were classified as Lost at Sea or Missing in Action in World War I are recorded on tablets at the Commission’s WWI cemeteries. For Rick Pearlstein, of course, this may just be a symptom of just how deep Tricky Dick Nixon’s tentacles reached, polluting the ABMC before Nixon was out of triangular pants.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary notes that the first use of the abbreviation MIA for Missing In Action dates to at least 1944. In Rick Pearlstein’s world, which began when some doctor delivered him and slapped his mother, that’s before the Original Event Horizon, so everything has to begin with Nixon somehow.

That proved convenient, for, after years of playing down the existence of American prisoners in Vietnam, in 1969, the new president suddenly decided to play them up.

Wile-E-Coyote-Genius-Business-CardYou may recall that the guy before Nixon, LBJ, whom Pearlstein here conflates with Tricky Dick his ownself, had no idea what he was doing in Vietnam, just that he didn’t want to lose, didn’t want to win, and didn’t want to make a decision. LBJ was abetted in this by a bunch of Harvard geniuses he’d inherited from the JFK administration. Most of them were geniuses in the Wile E. Coyote mold: Robert S. Macnamara, for instance, after screwing up Ford Motor Company, gave the DOD the colossal TFX program that needed 25 years and an electronics revolution to become a working airplane, then created the Vietnam quagmire, and then proceeded to drive much of the Third World into default by screwing up the World Bank. And he was the high achiever of the pack.

He declared their treatment, and the enemy’s refusal to provide a list of their names, violations of the Geneva Conventions—the better to paint the North Vietnamese as uniquely cruel and inhumane. He also demanded the release of American prisoners as a precondition to ending the war.

The tortures systematized by the People’s Army of Viet Nam are quite literally violations of the Geneva and Hague Conventions. Not because Tricky Dick said so, however much Pearlstein imagines that to be true.

It is worth noting that the thoroughly criminal Nazi government observed these conventions to a much greater extent than the Democratic Republic of Vietnam did.

This was bullshit four times over:

This is projection four times over, as we will see.

first, because in every other conflict in human history, the release of prisoners had been something settled at the close of a war;

It is something that is always discussed between civilized combatants, usually through neutral Powers, and is always covered in end-of-war agreements. So Pearlstein is lying about this, too.

second, because these prisoners only existed because of America’s antecedent violations of the Geneva Conventions in bombing civilians in an undeclared war;

Pearlstein’s attempt at barracks-room lawyering fails just as you would expect someone whose entire life has been dedicated to sending others to the barracks in his stead. “Bombing civilians” of the sort that happened in the Vietnam War (or that happens now, in drone attacks) is not unlawful, if the force is intended to strike military targets and not grossly disproportional to the target. And there is no requirement that a war be declared (or even, for both of the warring parties to be states, and how can you declare war if you are not a state?) for the Laws and Usages of War to attach.

Also, in his credentialed-but-ignorant view of history, he doesn’t even note that only some of the tortured prisoners were airmen. The longest-held POW, Floyd Thompson, was a Special Forces officer captured in South Vietnam in 1964.

third, because, as bad as their torture of prisoners was, rather than representing some species of Oriental despotism, the Vietnam Communists were only borrowing techniques practiced on them by their French colonists (and incidentally paid forward by us in places like Abu Ghraib): see this as-told-to memoir by POW and future senator Jeremiah Denton.

Got one of these? Got tortured? Rick Pearlstein an Newsweek say you had it coming, and is glad you were.

Got one of these? Got tortured? Rick Pearlstein and Newsweek say you had it coming, and they’re glad you were. They were never “anti-war”; they were just on the other side.

This is, of course, the tu quoque logical fallacy, used twice; typical of Pearlstein’s shallow, juvenile, poorly-educated reasoning skills. How torture by the French, if such existed, prior to 1954, justified torture by the Vietnamese in the 1970s as payback to a third party is unclear. Moreover, just because someone tortured you doesn’t get you a Commit War Crimes Free Card. (That is, in fact, what the Americans at My Lai 4 argued in their defense, a defense that failed. Note also that we put our war criminals on trial, however imperfectly; Pearlstein’s pals in the PAVN showered theirs with honors). Second, his second shot at tu quoque, the misconduct by a poorly led MP unit at Abu Ghraib (led, incidentally, by a female BG that the same Manhattan media scrum liked to hold up as a model for the New Amazon Warrior Woman) was not a systematic, top-down torture effort approved at the highest levels of the nation, but was the creation of one mouth-breathing staff sergeant and his guard shift of unthinking inbreds, who were tried, convicted, and imprisoned. It’s like, we dunno, blaming the New York Bar for Joel Steinberg murdering his daughter. Or blaming all reporters because Pearl Rickstein subscribes to Jayson Blair standards of integrity.

And finally, our South Vietnamese allies’ treatment of their prisoners, who lived manacled to the floors in crippling underground bamboo “tiger cages” in prison camps built by us, was far worse than the torture our personnel suffered.

via So Now the POW/MIA Flag Is Under Fire — as a Symbol of ‘Racist Hate’ | National Review Online.

Ah, it’s another tu quoque. And a false one. And one that has its basis in wartime enemy propaganda, for whom some reporters are still the willing Tannoy, fifty years later.

We get it. Rick Pearlstein hates the POWs, because they criticized his commie pals (the side he and his always wanted to win), and also criticized his candidate for president, the one that did the bidding of those commie pals in 1970-72.

Rick Pearlstein hates the POWs. Newsweek hates the POWs.

Rick Pearlstein hates American soldiers. Newsweek hates American soldiers.

Rick Pearlstein hates the POW-MIA flag. Newsweek hates the POW-MIA flag.

Rick Pearlstein hates the American flag and what it stands for. Newsweek hates the American flag and what it stands for.

And that’s about all you need to know about Rick Pearlstein and Newsweek.

Guess Who Turned Up in a Pot Raid?

mad-magazine-trading-private-bergdahlWho was it that turned up in a raid on an industrial pot facility? Everybody’s The President’s favorite deserter1, who’s supposed to be in the jug awaiting trial for desertion, turned up in a massive marijuana raid in California.

The cops looked to return the peripatetic accused to his military base, only to get a “don’t bother” from military officials.

The Unique and Special Snowflake™ whose desertion to the Taliban led to the loss of a half-dozen lives of loyal Americans looking for him, as he gave them aid and comfort, wan’t AWOL at all. Knowing how Special he is and how much people in High Places prefer him to the usual ruck and scrum of enlisted swine, he’d been basically told, in that favorite phrase of sergeants everywhere, “You’ve got nothing to do. Don’t do it here.” The authorities knew he was in California and were cool with it.

Bergdahl was visiting with “old family friends” who apparently just happened to be hemp-huffing hippies. We hope this doesn’t shake your faith in Taliban-Americans.

Meanwhile, the President finally got around to putting flags at half-staff for the Chattanooga jihad victims, although the Partisan Political Police that are the FBI still express utter bafflement at the shooter’s motivations. Several commentators have been very critical of the President’s reluctance to memorialize the deaths of service members, something he does not like very much, at the hands of an Islamic nutball, something he seems much more kindly disposed towards.

Who’s saying he lowered the flags for the victims? Maybe he did it for the shaheed, Mohammod Abdulazeez.

Note

  1. Yeah, the court hasn’t convicted him yet. But we have.

We’re From the Government, Here to Help You

fingerprint-3That’s the most chilling phrase in the English language these days.

There’s the OPM’s carelessness with security clearance files. (Careless? One server’s password was “Password.” Another had the far more secure “Password1”. But those were just two servers and they didn’t even have an inventory listing how many servers they own). The IT managers were all compensated well into the six figures for this brain-dead performance, and none of them has lost a job, a paycheck or even a performance bonus, which are automatically awarded to anyone who can fog a mirror, or even, who once did sometime in the past year. The agency spends $82 million a year on IT, and they can’t account for it.

No, we’re not kidding. We wish. Who has clearances?

  1. Every officer in the Armed Forces.
  2. Every worker in the intelligence community, uniformed, civilian or contractor.
  3. Every service member in sensitive and special operations units, as Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) noted.
  4. A large quantity of law enforcement personnel.

Friday, they let it slip that they’d also lost the digital fingerprints of all applicants.

And then there’s Veterans Affairs

VA-veterans-affairsBut wait! At least they’re not the VA. The VA is not having a good week, and as usual when the VA has a crummy time, it’s their own damn fault.

What happens when you make a disability claim? Sometimes, it ends up in a shred bin. That was a problem seven years ago, and the Department made promises of new safeguards. It’s defense now? Hey, it was only 10 vets. Close enough for government work!

But the new word is that they’ve cut the backlog of vets waiting for appointments or other care by 30% — because 30% of the vets have died while waiting. That news story analyzed this VA analytical report (.pdf).

Speaking of dead vets, the agency is so bureaucratically inept that 2.7 million of them are still on VA rolls as beneficiaries. Some of them are getting medical treatment after death, which indicates that either The Walking Dead is a documentary, or there’s a whole lot of identity theft going on.

According to the internal VA report published April 1 by the department’s Date of Death Workgroup, the records of 10 percent of veterans in the VA system indicated “activity” — they received compensation payments, visited a doctor, made an appointment or had a prescription filled — after their actual date of death.

In one case…. such a miscommunication allowed 76 prescriptions to be filled at one pharmacy for controlled substances such as oxycodone, hydromorphone and Valium.

And, according to the report, some prescriptions have been filled years after the date of death — “on average, almost 12 years after the date of death.”

No wonder they’re missing buckets of money (which we’ll get to anon) and unable to catch up with registrations. But some of the vet registration backlog dates as far back as 1996.

Speaking of that backlog, some part of it was created deliberately by misrepresenting to vets what paperwork they needed to file, so as to give VA workers a break, and a justification for ignoring applications for benefits.

In a Dec. 2013 email exchange, Lynne Harbin, deputy chief business officer of member services, discussed her intention to dodge questions posed by the American Legion about how many veterans were waiting to learn of their eligibility for VA health care.

“Note that I am skirting the issue of the numbers of pending records and instead focusing on what it means and what we are doing about it,” Harbin wrote to colleagues.

In an earlier email, Harbin expressed the VA’s need to resist asking for veterans’ discharge forms.

“Interested in hearing what the data shows, but know that politically informing veterans to give us their DD214 would be unacceptable,” Harbin wrote in a June 2012 email exchange.

They’re getting the authority to fire bad actors on VA’s staff, whether they want it or not. Would you believe they don’t want it? The measure also removes the department’s authority to reward malefactors with extra unpaid vacation, and to lavish cash awards and bonuses on them while their dismissal is pending, both of which are standard VA (and really, Federal) practice.

It’s unlikely to change anything — VA Secretary Robert McDonald opposes it, because it’s something like accountability  — but it rocketed through the House Veterans Affairs Committee on a party-line vote. The committee chairman asked, “Are you going to stand with bureaucrats or veterans?” VA Secretary McDonald, the senior leaders, the employee’s unions and the minority of the committee have said that the employees have rights, unlike the vets. The measure, which the pro-union and anti-vet Washington Post spins as “limiting employees’ appeal rights,” will be on the House floor in two weeks at the outside.

One of the useless mouths to feed that a good manager, which is to say nobody at VA, would fire is probably Lina Giampa, HR manager at the cesspool Germantown, PA regional office who spent her time tweeting threats to whistleblowers.

In Oregon, the VA’s been shifting costs around the budget by moving Hepatitis C sufferers into the Veterans Choice program, which was meant for vets who live too far from a VA facility. We’re agnostic (without more information) on whether this was a rob-Peter-pay-Paul dodge, or a brilliant bit of bureaucratic legerdemain. It seems if they did not do this, they will run out of money because of new and expensive (but, fortunately, effective) Hep C treatments. The general population has about 1% prevalence of Hep C infection, but among VA patients it’s a staggering 6%, mostly in the Vietnam demographic. Hep C is considered presumptively service-connected in Vietnam vets, as we understand it. This one paragraph gives some idea of the challenges that the VA would still have even if they were any good at what they.

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), threatened with losing a hospital in his state, ripped the department’s mismanagement, as managers told Congress that they’d somehow burned a $2.5 billion hole in their budget, and if they didn’t get more money they’d start closing hospitals, rather than rein in their own perks.

Priorities! We could see the day arrive that the entire Department of Veterans Affairs runs well and smoothly, without wasting any effort at all on the troublesome vets. That seems to be management’s objective, anyway.

Keelhauling Kate Germano, Part II

Lt. Col. Kate Germano. (Note: per her husband, she raised her own pistol qual since this official photo).

Lt. Col. Kate Germano. (Note: per her husband, she raised her own pistol qual since this official photo).

We expected to have a longer historical report — on glider troops in World War II — here in this slot today but the press of events, and new developments, suggested that we focus on what’s becoming a bigger story than it was when we wrote about it last week.

Sure, we wrote about the relief of Lt. Col. Germano, a third-generation military officer singled out for a figurative keelhauling across the barnacles of command politics and sex-linked expectations.

And the Marine Corps Times wrote about that relief (to our embarrassment, we quoted Hope Hodge Seck’s article in the MC Times extensively in our piece, without linking it. We regret the oversight; it’s our policy always to link the sources we quote from inasmuch as possible. The original article has been updated with the missing link).

Now the New York Times has written about this relief (as usual for the Times, half at least of the facts are left out in selfless service to The Narrative™). And the San Diego Union Tribune wrote about the case, in an article that seems, for its first 2/3 or so, ghostwritten by a party-line Marine PAO. Then the reporter drops this one very informative paragraph:

Although female Marines have been required to qualify with a service rifle such as the M-16 since 1985, Germano chafed against a “women can’t shoot” mentality among some in the Marine Corps. At the recruit depot, she worked with the head of Weapons and Field Training, Col. Jerry Leonard, to encourage marksmanship coaches to focus on mentoring female recruits, resulting in a bump in first-time rifle qualifications from 68 percent to 91 percent in a few months.

You can’t argue with results. Although some of Germano’s subordinates apparently did — successfully. Almost anyone can learn to shoot, and there’s nothing in the sexual dimorphism of homo sapiens that gives men an irreversible advantage. We’re astonished that any Marine unit would ever have accepted sub-70% qualification. That’s a D in our book! (Actually, in Kid’s high school, it’s an F. And a 90 is a B — they grade hard — unlike pre-Germano female Marine basic).

And there’s this:

An officer on the Parris Island depot who asked not to be named said Germano lost her job because of a difference in philosophy about the future of women in the Marine Corps. Germano is engaged, hard-driving and willing to hold her Marines accountable, the officer said: “She is the kind of strong-caliber leader the Marine Corps needs. Firm, with high expectations, fair and compassionate, willing to give second — even third — chances and the tools to get there. She doesn’t have a zero-defect mentality. She just expects her Marines to try to do the right thing,” the officer said.

Well, you can see how that might cause a conflict with some superiors. Oh, brother!

One more little detail that’s crept out since our last report — the “command climate survey” was conducted online, and word about it spread by word-of-mouth among the CO’s critics. They discovered that there was no barrier to taking the survey over, and over again. So 100 voices raised against Lt. Col. Germano may well have been one voice raised 100 times, all along; and the Marine personnel office that established the survey deliberately set it up like that; and the Marine commanders that relied on the survey knew, or should have known, its… limitations.

Now comes Aaron MacLean in the Washington Free Beacon. (It’s good; RTWT™). MacLean has some interesting parts of the back story that suggest commanders may have had their Mameluke swords out for Germano since she and the other members of a Board of Inquiry crossed them in a case where the command wanted To Make An Example Out of Somebody after he was acquitted (!) of sexual assault. Sexual assault in the military is one of the few things that the current administration’s appointees care about, and the rule of law in these cases, including such arcaic details as the rights of the accused, doesn’t enter into the picture. It’s supposed to go like this: accusation made; target identified; locked on; target destroyed. And Lt. Col. Germano (and other principled officers) stepped in front of that train and said, “No.”

Here’s MacLean’s conclusion (again, we urge you to Read The Whole Thing™). Emphasis ours:

So why was Germano fired? Was she too much of a progressive crusader? Or too conservative in her blunt opinions, especially about sexual assault? This story is more complicated than a simple morality play wherein sexist bosses grow tired of an abrasive female subordinate. It appears that Germano’s aggressiveness, not to say her political incorrectness, made her vulnerable to female subordinates who didn’t care for her style, and who then campaigned for Germano’s removal on the grounds that she insulted them over poor physical performance, and made them feel “less safe.” Germano’s bosses, already exasperated by her refusal to shut up and color on a wide array of issues, no doubt felt they were doing the Right Thing by relieving her.

Germano’s sin seems to be that she was pursuing actual respect for—and self-respect by—women in the Marine Corps, and not the fictitious appearance of equality that both her bosses, and some of her subordinates, appear to prefer.

It’s probably not possible to reinstate Lt. Col. Germano or save her career. That’s not how officer careers work under DOPMA and today’s military culture; like Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, “It can blow at any seam.”

But MacLean’s report confirms our suspicion that Lt. Col. Germano’s stand against “the soft bigotry of low expections” was instrumental in her downfall.

She can wear that with pride and honor. If there’s anybody we need to hear from about women in the services, it’s Lieutenant Colonel, soon to be, unfortunately, Retired, Kate Germano, United States Marine Corps. And by firing her, they’re setting her free to comment. They can’t back down now, but we suspect they will soon wish that they could have done.

Update

To contrast with USMC womens’ basic, MacLean linked this example of kinder, gentler, female-values-centric Army mixed-sex basic. Lord love a duck; it’s pathetic. Read that and ask: if your daughter (or son, for crying out loud) is putting on a uniform and going in harm’s way, do you want her challenged by people like Germano, or coddled by the motherly, ineffectual types in the Army story?