Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DOD Forcing Out Combat Troops?

This Experienced Soldier will be forced out [TimeMilitary.Files]
Click here for related article {Army.mil}

This Administration seems intent on forcing out of the Army our elite, combat-experienced troops as it reduces the size of the Military.  When the Pentagon is finished, our Army will essentially be led by political generals with no combat experience, and populated by troops and officers equally deficient in combat experience or any semblance of esprit de corps.

With the new Military, however, we expect that leadership will not only be politicized, but will be well-represented by every level of unique sexual category -- to ensure there is no discrimination.

The most recent targeting process is the ban on tattoos -- which soldiers have embraced throughout history.  Notably, Rangers, Special Forces, and Airborne troops, not to speak of the majority of sailors, have traditionally added tattoos to arms, legs, chests, and backs to advertise their combat tours and particular expertise.  Just as the Green and Tan Berets added a level of pride to the Special Forces and Rangers, tattoos have set apart those who marked their experience and expertise [e.g., Combat Engineers and EOD specialists] with lettering and imagery which let their friends, peers, subordinates, and superiors know their history.

Now, we can understand some of the restrictions, e.g., ink on the eyelids and inside the mouth and on the face; and extremist, sexist, and racist tattoos which are also banned.

However, the new restrictions include tattoos on the neck, wrists, hands, and fingers.  Also, according to Army Pamphlet 670-1, forbidden tattoos include those
"... below the elbows and knees".
That pretty much rules out 50% of the existing tattoos, and most of our combat-experienced troops.

Now, here's the interesting part of this process.

1)  These restrictions apply to all soldiers, regardless of rank, to include officers, warrant officers, and non-commissioned officers in the Active Duty, Reserves, and the National Guard.
2)  Commanders must
     a)  perform annual checks for new tattoos and
     b) "... are required to document and photograph all Soldiers' tattoos above the neckline and
         below the elbows and knees, keeping that information in the servicememeber's official records.
3)  Enlisted personnel exceeding the limit of four [4] tattoos "... cannot request commissioning or appointment..." -- even if they are grandfathered, in accordance with the Pamphlet.

Senior soldiers interviewed, including officers and non-coms, advised that these new regulations will force out otherwise good soldiers -- particularly those with combat experience.

SGM-A Chandler listens to his Mom
Oddly, the soldier we'd expect to challenge the implementation of these new regulations, Sergeant Major of the Army Ray Chandler, seems to be going along with these new regulations with no challenge.

He did note, in a recent interview, that his children have tattoos, and that he promised his Mom that he would never get a tattoo.

And, we commend him for listening to his Mom.

But, we recall our time in the Military when soldiers tended to think for themselves, and to take pride in their specialties and accomplishments.

We'll cut him some slack though, since it appears that some of the initial requirements seem to have disappeared, perhaps due to his influence.  This included the requirement to surgically remove the existing tattoos.

We are, however, appalled that Secretary of Defense Hagel, whom we supported during his nomination based on his Enlisted Service, would allow these new regulations to be emplaced without regard to their impact on the combat readiness of our Army [yes, we said OUR Army, since we and OUR relatives continue to serve to protect OUR country!].

Those in my generation came into the Service pretty much on a non-volunteer basis - i.e., primarily via the Draft.  Nonetheless, a lot of us stayed in because we felt the Army -- and our country -- needed us.  So, we teachers, lawyers, engineers, and concert pianists -- stayed in and served OUR country, even though we disagreed with OUR country's leadership.

We do recall asinine regulations, enforced by our Academy company commanders, which required that sideburns not extend beyond the hole in our ears, or that we could not part our hair in the middle, or that our undershirts could not have V-Necks because the [West Point] Brigade Commander's wife objected to seeing the hair on our chests, or that we had to have shined boots even when we were in forward operating bases in mud up to our knees.  Soldiers in combat environments tend to operate in different modes than parade ground popinjays.

Now that the faux wars [the purpose of which we still ponder] have drawn down, and our Army is to be reduced to a strength of 420,000, we'll see the nonsense regulations once again take over as the spit-and-polish advocates from the academies demand, we expect to see less combat readiness, and an emphasis on parades and shiny uniforms -- and lots and lots of meaningless ribbons worn on the pretty new uniforms of senior officers and non-coms.