Negligent Discharge — fortunately, in a comic

There’s few things more entertaining for a troop than laughing at the dysfunction of the institutional Army that the amazingly functional sharp-end troopies always seem to route around in order to accomplish the mission.

And there’s few things that get our dander up (as longtime readers have noticed) than negligent discharges. Awareness of muzzle and index finger would lead to a lot less stress. And the problem is never the guy who’s a novice to guns… it’s always the guy who will give you the benefit of his vast experience. Even when that is a null set.

There’s a longstanding Army joke about the 2nd Lieutenant who begins a sentence “In my experience…” the joke being that a second john usually has no experience and bears considerable watching (even combat-experienced NCOs seem to get a case of the dumbs when they pin the dreaded gold bar on).

The clearing barrels so beloved of the Army’s physical security apparatchiks,the military police, are a monumentally bad idea. It’s rooted, of course, in the fear or weapons among policymakers who are themselves unfamiliar with weapons. If you’re not going to train people to have perfect muscle memory with respect to firearms safety, you probably shouldn’t put them in the position to gratuitously handle their firearms and manipulate the controls of same several times a day. If you do, you’re going to hear a lot of bangs. And having been at Bagram and K2 at various times when someone ordered the usually gun-shy service support folks to start carrying guns, something that sounded like the OK Corral took place every meal time at the various chow halls around the ever-growing bases.

One reason there are lots of NDs in the conventional Army is that the consequences for an ND, if an American or Allied soldier isn’t hit or killed, are almost nonexistent. (There might be some light punishment for a private, but as rank goes up, consequences go down). Rather than holding leaders to a higher standard, as functional hierarchies must do, the Army functions with a sort of brain-damaged tiff on Hammurabi’s code, where the punishment depends not on the circumstances of the malfeasance but on the hierarchical status of the malefactor. As long as only equipment or a host country national is on the receiving end of the ND, no officer need fear punishment.

Make ND a career-consequences event, and the Courtney Massengales out there will learn to keep their “me, me, me” finger off the loud switch. Once you’ve made an example or two.

Thanks to frequent commented Medic09 for the tip to the strip, and do read DBS!