Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters
The Disillusionment of Ranger Pt. II -- The Genesis
cannot be trusted with important matters
I prefer to be true to myself,
even at the hazard of incurring the
ridicule of others,
rather than to be false,
and to incur my own
In a room where people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot
Scratch any cynic and you will find
a disappointed idealist
. (This is an extension of Ranger's Disillusionment, PT I
One of the most common comments heard in the Army is that it eats its young; here is one of those tales.
Ranger ever wanted to be was a soldier, and his start was stellar.
Number One cadet in his ROTC class, Distinguished Military Graduate,
regular Army commission, Jump and Jump Master qualification, Ranger, and
then onto his first assignment. But within four months of his first troop assignment, his career was over before it started.
He was dinged on his first Officer Efficiency Report (OER), and for the
next 44 years he has agonized over the question of why his Battalion
Commander hated him, and/or why was he willing to kill him before I even
left "shavetail" status.
Why? It's a small and pitiable story, but not unique.
a Mortar Platoon Leader there was a lot of time spent planning and
running range firing for the Battalion. This was one of my duties and I
excelled at the task, but one day changed that -- the day that began my
professional death. (Keep in mind that Ranger's Commission was
Regular Army/ROTC, while the Battalion Commander was a West Pointer, if
you think that matters.
Battalion was a bad luck unit as was the entire European Command at the
time Ranger entered. The war was raging in Vietnam, and the seams were
stretched tight. While his Platoon passed all of its tests and was ready
to perform its tactical mission, the Battalion and Company failed its
Command Maintenance Materiels Inspection (CMMI), and was dinged badly on
several operational evaluation tests.
So we find our
young LT on a freezing hillside in Germany with a range set up to
familiarize and qualify the HQ Company personnel in their in their
assigned weapon -- the M3 grease gun, a .45 cal submachine gun assigned
to support personnel found in the support platoon of HQ Co. This was simple, clear and unambiguous job, until the S-3 (Operations Officer) and Battalion XO (Major) drove up.
S-3 and XO directed Ranger to pencil in all the personnel requiring
training because they were preparing to be re-tested for the annual CMMI
(as the Battalion failed their first attempt.) Failure usually equates
to Battalion Commanders being relieved, or at least, not promoted.
young LT Ranger stood before the S-3 and the XO who, in the name of our
lord, the Battalion Commander, were directing him to pencil in the
trainees as having received instruction which they had in fact, not,
which meant he
had a choice: either falsify official records, indicating that soldiers
had received training that they did not receive, or to not lie on an
You can guess the decision made by an idealistic young LT unversed in Army politics.
Neither Infantry Officers Basic Course nor ROTC mentioned any scenario like this in either ethics or leadership training.
As a result of the absence of a bootlicking unit in his education,
career died the day he chose not to lie, as did his hopes and
aspirations. You may call him a fool, but the moral dilemma surrounding
honor and integrity in the military forces of our nation remains the
same for both him and others today.
In his 20 years of active and reserve duty, the "grease gun" scenario was replicated many times, on much higher levels.
In mobilization drills and exercises, there were major units certified
for deployment which were measured with elastic yardsticks. Units were
certified as combat-ready which could not pour piss out of a boot. (If
you doubt this, look no further than current scandals concerning
cheating, lying and corruption regarding the certification of nuclear
weapons specialized units.)
It is a long way from that
frozen hillside in a 1969 Army unit and our little submachine gun
training to 2014 and nuclear surety problems, but they are the same
issue. If you will lie about a grease gun, then what else will you lie
Lest you think these are isolated events, ask a
veteran if they have their own "grease gun" story, for the issue is
pervasive and universal. The upshot is, I never again believed any
official, unofficial or any other word uttered by any government or
military official. I know the system is not run on honor.
Ranger's disillusionment is insignificant in context, but it indicts the system through and through.
[Cross-posted at RangerAgainstWar