Tuesday, March 13, 2007

SNAFU

I just spent a couple of hours writing somethng that disappeared when I hit SAVE. Ever notice how the SUBJECT never gets lost during one of those episodes?  I will now try to remember what I wrote. Unfortunately this will be the Cliff Notes version.


I am amused that the Army somehow thinks that the appearance of change among their top brass will divert our attention from the depth, breadth and longevity of their incompetent bureaucracy.

This little tempest is just another Army SNAFU. For those of you who missed boot camp, SNAFU is a military acronym for Situation Normal -- All F**ked Up. Never have so many tried so hard to cover so many asses. And this is on one of their regular days.


Except for battlefield surgery, which may be the best in the world, Army medicine has always been a crap shoot. Just ask non combatants what it's like getting medical care on this side of the war. Years ago, a nurse friend of mine went apeshit when she discovered that her husband, an officer, might die because of an idiotic military dentist. The military threatened him with demotion if she didn't shut up. That's how they like to handle their problems. for the most part.

Even battlefield medicine has its troubles. Watch re-runs of  M*A*S*H sometime. Beneath all the joking around there's a river of truth.  The show is based on life among doctors on the front lines in Korea -- on the slim chance you've never seen an episode.

The Major Burns character was a total screw up. The other docs had to watch out to make sure he didn't accidentally kill any wounded before, during or after surgery. Since the show was a success, he was around for eleven years. If this were real life, a few days of screwing up the lives of freshly wounded soldiers and he would have been promoted to a desk job. Surgery on the battlefield may be the only place where the hope for meritocracy exists in the Army.

But you can forget about any place else in the system. If the shit's not rising, status quo is the order of the day. What's happening now may seem like change, but it will just be more of the same.

In Viet Nam the troops had their own ways of dealing with incompetent leadership.  Too often a new second lieutenant, usually a white college grad fresh from OCS, was brought in to lead a group of war weary veterans, for the most part minorities, who had no patience with inexperience accompanied by arrogance.

After the complaints of the grunts were ignored by upper management time after time, they invented the sport of fragging.  Basically a live grenade would be thrown into the second lieutenant's tent while he was sleeping and you can pretty much imagine the outcome.

Too bad we have never taken a lesson from the Israelis who let their troops choose their own leaders.

If it weren't for the fact that most Americans are fed up with sending our young people to be wounded and killed in a war we shouldn't be fighting in the first place, all these revelations about rats and mildew in building eighteen at Walter Reed would have been met with a collective yawn.

This isn't the first revelation of incompetence in the Army medical system you know. It's just been a long time since people were running for office in the midst of a very unpopular war.

So when all is said and done, after a flurry of high profile firings, there will be a lot of televised hand-wringing and finger-pointing. Congressional committees will appear like mushrooms on a dead tree stump. Lunch will be served. And Ted Koppel will comment.

Mostly there will just be a lot of noise. And an outcry full of sound and fury.

Signifying nothing.

4 comments:

ksquester said...

White noise............have you seen the movie "Breach"........I think you would really like it.  Anne

screaminremo303 said...

The VA system has been a sh*thole for decades and anyone who has ever been in the military can tell horror stories about non-combat medical services they receive. I can't understand why we continue to fail these heroes.

mosie1944 said...

Exactly.

ber144 said...

When my father was in his mid-60s he realized that he was entitled to medical care through the VA because he was a veteran. He went once. I was there when he arrived back home and he looked like he had spent the last hour in a barrel of cornstarch. I asked him how it went and all he said was "never again."