President Obama was on edge.
For two exhausting months, he had been asking military advisers to give him a range of options for the war in Afghanistan. Instead, he felt that they were steering him toward one outcome and thwarting his search for an exit plan. He would later tell his White House aides that military leaders were "really cooking this thing in the direction they wanted."
Note to President Obama:
The military Higher Higher is used to giving orders and has forgotten how to take them from the mere civilian scum who are ostensibly in charge. I suggest you gather them together in a suitable setting such as sitting on the ground in a 'school circle' like a lower-than-whale-shit Marine recruit and gently remind them thusly:
"Listen up, maggots. I have called this moment of prayer because you fuckers have forgotten something that is an important part of the basis of the country which you serve. Which. You. SERVE. You best read the Constitution of the United States you have sworn to defend over again, if indeed you have ever read it in the first fuckin' place. Do it now. Whip 'em out, turn to Article 2, Section 2, and we will read the first sentence aloud together. That'll be enough. Any more will tax your little pea brains.
"What? WHAT? You don't have your little red books with you? ASSUME THE FRONT LEANING REST! GIMME TWENTY!"
(Pause about thirty minutes for the brass to realize they've been told for the first time in years to do something they'd better do, a bunch of grunting and groaning while they do it, and the ensuing wheezing to settle to a dull roar)
"Well that was a sorry sight, you old bastards. Thanks to all these news cameras, you'll be able to review your performance later this evening while you're douching your arm muscles with liniment. Pathetic! I can only hope that the actual combat officers could do better, but they're off fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and couldn't be here with us today.
"All right, I'll fucking read it to you. Turn yer goddam hearing aids up. Ready? Here it is:
"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States...
"There's more, but fuck it, that pretty much makes my point. There's shit in there about me asking your opinion, but nothing, I say again fucking nothing, about you bastards being in charge of any-fucking-thing.
"In case it hasn't penetrated those thick skulls of yours, I'm in charge of your fucking comfort zone on behalf of the people of the United Fucking States, and your comfort zone does NOT, I say again NOT, extend to telling me what to do or trying to thwart my plans. You might have been able to shove that little weakling Bush around with the help of Rumsfeld and The Dick, but that criminal element is gone and you fuckers best realize it or those goddam stars on your shoulders are gonna hit the ground so fucking fast it'll look like a goddam meteor shower!
"In case it ain't sunk in yet, here it is again - I OWN YOUR FUCKING ASSES, not the other way around, and YOU FUCKERS WILL SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT WHATEVER GODDAM STUPID ASS SHIT YOU WANT unless it relates to the health and safety of the troops. Remember them? We are gonna do what I want from now on, and you bastards WILL do your goddamndest to see that we are successful.
"In other words, if I call on you to give me a fucking exit plan, you will give me a fucking exit plan, and the best one you are capable of. If you balk at this, your next order will be from some E-5 in a combat zone to burn the fucking shitters, and said fucking shitters WILL be burned spotlessly fucking clean and you WILL eat your fucking ice cream ration out of them as a test.
"The American people have paid through the fucking nose to educate you, train you, advance you through the years to put you in your too-goddam-comfortable lofty positions, provided you with staffers and quarters and medical care, in short, every goddamned thing you have today, which DOES NOT include setting policy in any way, shape, or form.
"To conclude this regrettably necessary meeting, from this moment on WE ARE GONNA DO THIS SHIT MY WAY. Fall in behind me like the good soldiers you used to be or put in your papers and go fishing or be a FOXNews analyst or some other useless goddam thing for the rest of your lives on America's generous government dime.
"Your course of action is clear. When I call Attention, you will rise to your feet and say 'Aye Aye Sir!' in unison at the tops of your voices. There are MPs standing by to assist any of you who do not feel like carrying out the first order you have been given in years.
"What's that? I CAN'T HEAR YOU, GIRLS!
"Better. Police the area and fall into platoon formation from which the Gunny will dismiss you to turn to and carry out your orders. Do not make me have to do this again."
Then, Barry, do a smart about face and walk away. Somewhere in the deep recesses of their military minds those clowns will know you're right and may amaze you with what they can do with the proper motivation.
I made the above shit up, of course, but I'm not far off. Go read this article in Newsweek about the SecDef and what he's up against in the Pentagon. Excerpts:
Gates grumbles about perks and posh quarters—generally defended by senior officers as a reward for decades of stressful family moves every couple of years—but those are not his real targets. The defense secretary’s deeper complaint is about what he calls “brass creep.” Roughly translated, it means having generals do what colonels are perfectly capable of doing. Generals require huge staffs and command structures: three-star generals serving four-stars, two-stars serving three, each tended by squadrons of colonels and majors. This sort of elaborate hierarchy may have been called for in Napoleon’s day, but in an era of instant communication, Gates thinks the military could benefit from a much flatter, leaner management structure.
Gates is also looking to cut the Pentagon’s civilian bureaucracy, which has added a thousand new staff since 9/11. Around the time of the attacks, Rumsfeld reckoned that 17 layers of officialdom lay between him and a line officer. A recent internal study, Gates says, found that “in some cases the gap between me and an action officer may be as high as 30 layers.” (In 1948, when the Cold War began, the secretary of defense had a deputy and a staff of three supervising 50 employees; today, he has 26 political appointees running a staff of 3,000.) The outcome, says Gates, is “a bureaucracy which has the fine motor skills of a dinosaur.”
They should only go the way of the dinosaurs...
These next two ¶ will piss you off:
In the spring of 2007, Gates read a newspaper story about the Marines using mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles known as MRAPs. Gates was impressed to learn that the MRAPs had sustained 300 attacks without a single lost Marine. The secretary of defense inquired, “Why is the Army not doing this?” The response, says Gates, was that the MRAP “wasn’t part of the Army’s program, and if they spent money to get the MRAPs then they might have to sacrifice something else that they were going to get 10 years from now, maybe. And that just made me crazy.” So he intervened: “We had zero MRAP all--terrain vehicles in Afghanistan in January ’09. Now we have over 5,000.”
Gates became unusually exercised when he recalled his efforts to make sure soldiers wounded on the battlefield in Afghanistan were evacuated in what doctors call “the golden hour”—the time when the badly wounded may be saved if they can get to a doctor. “The standard for medical evacuation [from the battlefield] in Iraq was an hour,” says Gates. “Everybody had to be ‘medevaced’ within an hour. But Afghanistan is a lot tougher terrain. And so it came to my attention that they had settled on two hours. And I said: ‘Bulls--t. It’s going to be the same in Afghanistan as in Iraq.’ And the medical guys, the medical bureaucracy, pushed back on me and said: ‘No, no, it really doesn’t matter.’ And I said: ‘Well, if I’m a soldier and I’m going out on patrol, it matters to me.’ And so we sent a bunch of new helicopters, three new field hospitals, a whole bunch of stuff. And so now we have the ‘golden hour’ in Afghanistan.
It looks like he's trying. As a former Non-Commissioned Officer and leader of men (cough), thank you, Secretary Gates.