Not sure everyone here caught the little tit for tat over at Prairie Adventure's place (which if you're not reading that on a regular basis, you're screwing up by the numbers. A nice blend of ranching life on the prairie and war stories of a Corpsman on a Carrier, some of which are quite enlightening).
Our Beloved Host, the oldest Sergeant known to exist, made a comment casting aspersions on Colonels, clarifying it somewhat to reduce the sting by excluding "Diet Colonels".
As they say in the movin' pitchers, "That's gonna leave a mark!"
For you see....At one time in the not so distant (ok, maybe somewhat distant) past, I was a "Diet Colonel".
|Don't even THINK about commenting about that other soda!|
Not from the dieting point of view, as I was a lean, mean, fighting machine, running 5-7 miles at lunch, so on and so forth....
Naw, I was a Lieutenant Colonel.
Now, I've heard that the two most dangerous ranks in the Air Force were the only two officer ranks that wore gold. 2Lt's and Majors. Both had too little knowledge to be worth much and enough rank to use that little knowledge to the service's detriment.
My experience proved that saying to be "fairly accurate".
A corollary to that statement was that actually the two dangerous ranks were Major Generals and Lt Colonels with their retirement papers submitted. Both had enough knowledge and experience to know what was going on and what to do about it and too little "give a darn" to think twice about doing it.
So, I was at the Pentagon when it became obvious I wasn't destined to be Air Force Chief of Staff in this lifetime. (I'm sure that was obvious to all but me starting when I was a 2LT, but I'm a slow learner.) This tour occurred during the reign of Wannabe King Billy Jeff and the Empress Hildabeast.
I had been a Budget Manager for a $5 Billion Dollar Information Warfare budget. (You can thank me for that doppler radar app you have on your phone among other things....You're welcome.) With a business and computer background, I found that there were lots of idiosyncrasies contained in those program budgets.
So...I asked questions.
Then researched the answers and asked more questions.
One Monday morning, I walked into our office and the General was there. He shook my hand and said "Congratulations Juvat! You've been selected for a job in current operations on the Joint Staff."
I moved down there an hour later.
While on that staff, I was in charge of writing the operations orders that directed the DOD's support of Counter Drug operations.
Specifically, my job was to figure out how much support the DOD could provide without losing (too much) combat capability. The CD wienies (CDWs), if they'd had there way, would have demanded everything from everybody and then some. My job was to say "No".
And since it was obvious that Chief of Staff job had slipped out of my grasp, my "Dar una mierda" as to whom I annoyed was fairly low.
One of the highly prized assets that the CDWs wanted very badly was OldNFO's chariot, the P-3 Orion. Since the Cold War was officially over (at least in the eyes of the Non-DOD DC politicians), the CDWs used the argument that the Soviets were now our friends and conducting Anti-Submarine patrols and training were counterproductive to the enhancement of our relationship with our newfound commie friends.
To be honest, it was a hard argument to counter. Most of the Soviet Boats were tied up in harbor and rusting badly. Not much Soviet Navy was out and about. Everybody KNEW that peace was at hand and the DOD budget was the "Peace Dividend". It was very hard to argue that we still needed to practice looking for subs because Nobody was Listening.
I'm not sure that the some of the guys with the pointed objects on their shoulders didn't agree with the CDW's also. I mean, they'd assigned me, an Air Force Fighter Pilot to fight that battle. Heck, there was even a P-3 driver in my Office. Why it wasn't him, I never knew.
How does all this relate to "Diet Colonel", juvat?"
Relax, Sarge, I'm getting there. I get paid by the letter, you know. Mrs Juvat needs new shoes.
So, I spent a lot of time talking to my new best friend, the P-3 driver. Had him introduce me to a lot of his friends on the Navy Staff and spent a lot of time talking to them.
After a few weeks, I couldn't remember squat about operating an Eagle's radar and briefing a 2 v 2 DACT, but I could at least answer questions about stalking subs and what the training requirement for that was.
If you look just above the ensign, OldNFO is looking out that window.
But, I'm still under a lot of pressure to add more and more DOD support and the request for forces from the CDWs were getting heavier and heavier.
I'm in my office one day and the phone rings. "Current Operations, Lt Col Juvat speaking, how may I help you, sir?" (We weren't overly Politically Correct at the time and didn't need to add "or Ma'am" which always struck me as awkward).
"Lt Col Juvat, this is Col Schmuckatello. I'm the new counterdrug liaison, having taken over from Cmdr Schmedly."
"Hello Sir, welcome aboard."
"Can you stop by and visit this afternoon, I've got some new requirements I need you to fill for P-3 flight hours."
"Sir, you are aware that we have allocated all the hours we've been approved for this fiscal year?"
"Yes, Lt Col, I'm aware. We're being directed to provide more."
"Ok Sir, I'll be there shortly."
I hang up the phone, thinking the CDW's are upping the ante by replacing my counterpart with an O-6, so I walk in and talk to my Army O-6 boss and let him know I may be needing some top cover. Actually, I may be needing to USE some of my existing top cover.
My boss was an Army O-6, his boss was an Army O-6, his boss was a Navy O-7 by the name of Tim Keating (I called him Admiral, or alternatively Sir) and his boss (the JCS J-3) was a Navy O-9 by the name of Vern Clark (I also called him Admiral, or "Yes Sir").
|Lot's of stripes on that sleeve. Retired as Chief of Naval Operations|
So, my Boss now aware of the situation, I walk in to the lair of the CDWs and ask their secretary where I might find Col Schmuckatello. She kinda looks at me funny which puzzled me. (I had a pretty good relationship with her, never hassled her and always got my paperwork to her with plenty of time or at least a heads up that it was late. She always treated me fairly).
She looks at me and says, "You mean Dick?"
As I said, I'm puzzled. She never called any O-6 I knew by his first name. My confusion must have showed I guess because right about then the door opens and an Army Lt Colonel walks in. She says "Here he is now."
Ahh, I see, or as they say her in Fritztown "Alles ist klar!"
"Hi, Dick. I'm Juvat. Admiral Clark is adamant that we have provided all the support to Counter Drug operations that we will provide for this fiscal year. If you want to readdress that issue with him, please have his counterpart in the Joint Agency for Counter Drugs formally request that."
No way in Hades that's going to even make it out of Dick's front office.
So....OldNFO, if you flew anything other than CD stuff after 1998.....I like Scotch!
As a footnote, one of the other assets I had to handle were the aerostats flying along the border. We had another interagency foodfight over tasking for those assets that ended up with Admiral Keating and I at the White House with some guys from the Agency that broadcasts TV into Cuba and somebody on the President's staff who's going to decide.
That decision went our way, and as we're riding back to the Pentagon, Admiral Keating says that he'd heard I was retiring and ask what my plans were. I told him "move back to Texas, and maybe plant grapes". He asked if I was hiring as he might need a second career.
Doesn't seem that's the case.
|Again, a lot of stripes on that sleeve. Retired as Commander of Pacific Command.|
All in all, it must have gone alright. I asked my boss if he'd like to preside over my retirement ceremony. He said that he couldn't, Admiral Clark had said he was going to do it.
It was a nice ceremony. One of the going away gifts was a picture of a P-3 signed by all the P-3 guys on the Navy Staff.
* Jimmy Buffett