Tag: Marines

 Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

Government has refined waste, fraud, and abuse to an art form. I wrote about one instance of this a couple of months ago. Now, from our friends over at Homeland Stupidity, here’s another.

Some people might be willing to overlook a certain amount of this, and say that as long as the government’s job gets done, a little corruption shouldn’t worry anyone. But it’s not just a little corruption. And it grows without bound. How do I know? Because I’ve been a party to it.

Around this time every year (as the beginning of the DOD’s fiscal year Oct 1 approaches) military commands all around the world begin to review their budgets and start to draft budgets for the coming year. Much like any other government agency, if you do not do an adequate job of justifying your own existence, by spending your previous year’s budget in its entirety, you aren’t likely to receive the same amount (or an increase) the following year. So August and September are the months when the military goes shopping!

In 1988, I was a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, and in that year I personally oversaw my command’s computer budget. I was asked to spend something close to $10,000 by ordering items from various GSA catalogs, or from commercial vendors. Some of the items I purchased were needed, some were even useful, but many of things we ended up buying that year sat on a shelf in our storage lockers until I was discharged years later. I was also made aware of leftover training budget that was spent to replace the carpeting our building — carpeting that was only a year old.

If waste, fraud, and abuse are going on at that level at one small Marine command, imagine the amount of graft when you multiply that by thousands of military installations. Then couple that with the knowledge from the story above that much of this “surplus” is then being sold at pennies on the dollar, and the sheer amount of waste is staggering. Like I said, it’s an art, and the DOD has some talented artists.

 It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

…that I stepped off of the bus in San Diego, California, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and stood on the yellow footprints. Minutes later my head was shaved, and I began what had to be at least 36 continuous hours of processing (paperwork, urine tests, etc.) before I was allowed to sleep.

I remember being teased by one of my drill instructors for my initial enlistment of six years. When he saw my military ID, with the discharge date of 14 July 92, he quipped that they wouldn’t even have cars anymore when I got out, that I was a “Buck Rogers” Marine. Six years seemed like a long time then, but when I got out, it didn’t seem that long.

Here we are twenty years later, and it still doesn’t seem like that long ago really, until I stop to think that if I had stayed in, I would have retired yesterday. Retiring at age 38 is certainly appealing enough, but in retrospect I can’t imagine my life without my wonderful wife Dixie and my little Noah-man. I definitely chose the right path.


I still remember being awakened by the phone the evening of January 16, 1991 and hearing my father’s voice say, “Jerry, they’re bombing Baghdad.” When you’re five years into a six-year enlistment in the Marine Corps, finding out that you’re suddenly at war is not the greatest news. Despite my non-deployable status as a member of the Landing Force Training Command Atlantic (LFTCLant), a Marine can never be sure what his next set of orders will contain. My initial apprehension about being sent to an active combat zone was soon replaced with feelings of helplessness, and later uselessness, as I watched my friends in the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (with whom I shared a barracks) leave for Operation Desert Storm. So in some small way I can completely relate to Anthony Swofford’s feelings of frustration and futility.

This is a fantastic film with a number of different, but important, messages all competing for screen time. From the absurd morality of arguing over who should get to kill an officer of the Republican Guard, to the complex ethos of a bus-load of Marines welcomed home by a Vietnam vet who received no homecoming parade of his own.

It brought back a number of memories for me, although I never regretted my decision to join, so there were a number of negative aspects of Swofford’s perspective that I could not share. But whether you love or hate the Corps, it is a great source of comedy and drama, and it was great to see “the Suck” as a co-star of this war movie for my generation.