Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The IG Complaint

Not the United States Air Force Inspector General...
Once upon a time, near the wee town of Geilenkirchen, in the land of Germany, on the banks of the Wurm River, a decree came down for Yours Truly (and others) to hold themselves in readiness to testify before the Inspector General (IG) regarding various and sundry matters both sordid and (quite frankly) unbelievable. Matters regarding our well-respected and much loved Colonel. (Well, he was only a Lieutenant Colonel at the time, but that is far too tedious to have to type out over and over. So I'll go with Colonel. Write it off to artistic license. Occasionally I'll be inconsistent and say "Lieutenant Colonel", again "artistic license.)

The "Mighty" Wurm
Burg Trips, on the banks of the Wurm.

Main gate of NATO AB Geilenkirchen
(I see they spent some money since I left, this is "new" as in, it wasn't there in 1999.)

We were all wondering what exactly this IG testimony was about. We had not heard anything through the grapevine, nor did we know who the complaint was against and who the complainant was.

Gradually bits and pieces of information leaked out and we discovered that a sexual harassment complaint had been lodged against our beloved Colonel. That's all we knew. We had no idea who had lodged this complaint.

Now our Colonel was a well-respected family man, wife, two kids and was an all around decent chap. Treated his NCOs with respect and actually kept his ear to the ground and his nose to the wind. The man had things well in hand from a mission and duty perspective.

Now I know what you're thinking, this is exactly the type of person who does this kind of thing. Pinching bottoms, not-so-subtle innuendos in the workplace. The guy you least expect to do this kind of thing, then does. And gets caught. But this was not the case. No, not this time.

While I am by no means an expert on the sexual peccadilloes of field grade officers, it does seem that I was exposed (pardon the expression) to more than one Lieutenant Colonel who had been caught with their figurative "pants down." (Bailiff at two courts martial for Lieutenant Colonels who, shall we say, committed indiscretions of a sexual nature. One I've written about, the other I have not. As the latter case was very sordid, it may be some time before I regale you with that tale. If ever!)

But this particular episode seemed so far out of character that many of us had serious doubts as to the veracity of the complaint. But being good Master Sergeants (and above) we held judgement until in possession of all the facts.


One fact that came out early was that the officer investigating the complaint was a full colonel. A female colonel. One or two of my colleagues immediately cried "Witch hunt!" Again I held back. One of the best officers I ever worked for had been a female major. She was tough, but fair. She once threw two captains out of our office for swearing, in Italian.

They chuckled, thinking she was kidding. I was frantically trying to get their attention to let them know, oh-my-God-she-is-not-kidding! "Fly you fools!" It was only when she stood up and asked them "What part of get out of my office don't you two clowns understand?"

They learned quickly that Major Fraker was not one to be trifled with. On the other hand, she treated those of us who worked for her very well.

Bottom line, I don't judge an officer by their gender, never have, never will. (And it has nothing to do with having two daughters who are officers in the Navy.)

At any rate, the day came when I was informed that I should wear my best togs to work the next day as I would be chatting with the IG.

Testifying, as it were.

Again, not the USAF IG

The hour of my appointment with the IG Colonel arrived. I, in my best uniform, was briefed by another officer (again, a female officer, even I was beginning to get slightly suspicious) as to what I would be "chatting" about with the IG.

They must have dealt with a lot of nitwits, ne'er-do-wells and simpletons back in those days. It was a good five minutes before the lady captain gathered that I did indeed understand English (even the big words) and was not likely to pick my noise, pass gas or otherwise "let down the side" while talking to the Colonel. While I won't bet on which fork to use at a big dinner party (I've heard you start outboard with the utensils and work your way inwards) you can actually dress me up and take me to the nicer establishments.

(Which doesn't mean I wouldn't feel right at home with a bunch of sailors on their first port visit in three months. On the way back to the ship. Been there, done that. I recall Lex having a "colorful" story, or two, about being in charge of the liberty boat!)

Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, about to be ushered into the august presence of Her Majesty, the Air Force IG Colonel.

While it was somewhat daunting at first, it quickly became apparent that the Colonel had already drawn her conclusions. (Patience Gentle Reader, it ain't what you think.)

As the interrogation questions began, it was immediately apparent who the complainant was. The Colonel did not seem that surprised when I used the good female captain's name in answer to a question. This poor girl had arrived in Germany, full of vim and vigor and ready to do her job the best way she knew how.


Unfortunately, she did not know how. Not her fault really, most of the American captains in our outfit were about six pay grades above the work they had to do. As NATO was (and probably still is) a prestige assignment, most nations won't send just anybody there. (Well, the Italians do, but they are good for morale. What with the cuisine and such they bring with them, and share. Give me an Italian who can cook over two competent computer guys any day!)

So we had what you might call bloat. Too many people who would be telling people what to do at any other place on the planet, are now the ones doing the actual work. All in the name of politics.

Hell, I didn't mind. Did I mention that this was in Germany? That our multinational outfit had Italians (who could cook) and Danes and Greeks and Turks (though not in the same room) and Norwegians and Brits and Germans and, and...

Well, lots of various and divers nationalities.

It was all too much for our lady captain. She had come from a rather good staff job to being just another body at a keyboard. Rather a let down.

Also the environment in Europe in those days was the near exact opposite of that in the States, political-correctness wise. The Germans were all male and had no compunction against making rude remarks to the unwary Yanks who could not sprechen Deutsch.

Risqué calendars were also all the rage with our Teutonic allies. (Most of the American ladies learned to grit their teeth and look the other way. Different times, different culture.) Seems our lady captain had taken one insult too many, seen one too many a "Fräulein November" and decided that the Colonel should "do something about it!"

Apparently our dear Colonel had hinted that she needed to put on her "big girl panties" and deal with the Germans (and other Euro-types) herself. She took offense and lodged an IG complaint.

The IG determined that there wasn't much the United States Air Force could do about the situation. Short of pulling out of NATO I guess. Mind you, this was before we had Presidents who get their jollies bowing and scraping to foreign potentates. Even Clinton didn't stoop that low!

So our lady captain discovered that she wasn't in Kansas anymore.

Apparently the IG assured her that that was indeed the case and that if she couldn't deal with it, then perhaps a new assignment was in order.

And so it came to pass...

The lady captain was reassigned back to the States. Our colonel stayed to the end of his tour and eventually left Germany to go to the Five Sided Puzzle Palace Pentagon where he made "full" colonel and then (in the fullness of time) eventually retired after a long and glorious career. (Hhmm, maybe the Pentagon tour was punishment?)

I'm pretty sure the lady captain thrived back in the good old (politically correct) US of A, then faded into career obscurity and was never heard from again.

Nowadays I'm sure she'd be a full blown celebrity making the rounds of the talk shows.

Sigh...






Wondering about those movie stills? Our colonel's name and the name of Frank Sinatra's character in that movie were identical. Well, the last name anyway. Without the "von".

12 comments:

  1. "...he was only a Lieutenant Colonel at the time, but that is far too tedious to have to type out over and over. So I'll go with Colonel."

    Kinda like how Lt Commanders get called Commander.
    Where we'd get confused was when Lt. Commanders and Commanders would be called Captain or Captains would be called Commodore.
    It wasn't so much the why, but more about the when was it inappropriate.
    Like I was really confused when I eventually met up with a former CO who'd been 'promoted' to Operations officer on the CruDesFlot staff.
    I decided "Sir" was appropriate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the beauty of the flying Navy. Nearly everyone goes by a callsign, almost regardless of rank.

      Note that I said "almost"...

      (Don't get me started on the whole "upper half" - "lower half" thing.)

      Delete
  2. Great tale.
    Reveals a lot about us.
    While in uniform, I used to dread hearing of the cyclic IG visit.
    It meant extra, extra actual work and mucho busy-work.
    Then, one day, I found myself to be a civilian inspector on the
    local brigade IG team. It was a much different, heady experience.
    If I merely asked where the coffee was . . . somebody was dispatched
    to get me a cup (And how do you take your coffee, sir?)
    I learned to keep my comments and requests to the minimum and
    spare the poor private or specialist from having to run unnecessary
    errands on my behalf.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Feels weird to be on the "other side" doesn't it?

      (Which you handled very well I might add!)

      Delete
  3. Sarge,
    No "Maybe" about it. The Pentagon IS punishment!

    ReplyDelete
  4. In re: Main gate of NATO AB Geilenkirchen. I'm pretty sure that's a Rooshian flag flying in between the Brit and Turkish flags, which makes me think "WTF?" Just sayin', is all.

    I never had the pleasure of working for a female, in the AF or outside. I worked WITH more than a few, including a comely Ops Officer who became a very good friend of mine while I was at RAF Uxbridge. We kinda-sorta played on the ragged edge of that fraternization thing, one such example being the two of us getting kicked out of the O Club dining room at RAF Mildenhall while we were TDY up there... she for bringing me in, me just for bein' me... so we went over to the NCO Club and had dinner there. End of digression. I have more stories but now is not the place or time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Similar to the Russian flag yes, but it's not. I had to do some digging but the flags between the Union Jack and the Turkish flag are (l to r) Slovakia and Slovenia. If you zoom in real close you can see there are markings upon each flag, the left one is clearly Slovakia (the read on the shield shows kind of clearly) and the rightmost you can just make out the markings corresponding to the Slovenian flag. Both of these nations joined NATO in 2004.

      Many Slavic nations have flags based on the white/blue/red color scheme, similar to Russia's.

      Speaking of comely officers, in Basic we were briefed by a very lovely female captain in about week four. She kept raising her hands over her head to make some point, exposing a certain amount of female anatomy. She had our rapt attention for her entire briefing. When she departed there was a collective sigh, followed by an epic ass-chewing from our TI.

      Ah, the good old days.

      Delete
  5. Yep, I did some time in that part of the world in the mid-80... NOT PC by a mile... :-) The female Navy officers I knew gave as good as they got... :-) And NONE of us ever got assigned to the five sided puzzle palace... :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I can speak from experience when I say that female Naval officers are made of sterner stuff than the other services. Least-wise my daughters fit that mold!

      Delete
    2. The unit that shared out barracks lost a rifle. For about four days, the place was crawling with I.G., C.I.D., hell, maybe CIA. All of us in the Battalion who were active in the Rod and Gun Club were grilled, repeatedly. Never heard if the rifle was found. Months later it supposedly showed up at some depot to be rebuilt.

      Delete
    3. Because yes of course, people who enjoy the proper use of firearms are most likely to steal them.

      No doubt some second john just lost the paperwork!

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)