Problem Solved: The E-4 Option

Written by Swingin' Dick on 28 November, 2013.

The "E-4 Option" may just be the only hope we have of surviving the best efforts of Marplots (especially the ones in the TOC!) Know what a Marplot is? Noun: An officious meddler whose interference compromises the success of an undertaking. After Marplot, a character in The Busy Body (Susanna Centlivre). Today Mad Duo Chris is going to fix the problem. Meantime, if we may be so bold, you should consider reading Col. Bolgiano's book, Combat Self Defense. It's outstanding. Pass it on to SNCOs and officers who might learn from it. Take it away Chris.

The E-4 Option: it's our only hope

Lately I’ve been speaking out (aka “bitching incessantly”) about certain things in the Army that drive me nuts. The biggest complaint I’ve had lately is about stupid decisions from higher up that make soldiers want to chew their fingers off in frustration. But I’ve always been told to offer solutions, not just whine about problems. So I’ve got a solution to offer.

My solution isn’t going to fix everything. And it’s not intended to prevent leaders from making mistakes. Every good leader has learned valuable lessons from screwing up, and no soldier should expect his leaders to be perfect. The wars we’ve fought since 2001 have been rife with unsolvable problems and gray areas which no leader, no matter how wise and brave, could perfectly handle. Good leaders are made better by their honest mistakes; we don’t need to “fix” those men and women. Instead, my solution is aimed at those who make decisions so egregiously stupid that anyone with even half the average IQ wonders, “What the hell could he possibly have been thinking?”

Here’s what I propose: we should assign every Colonel and above, plus certain Department of Defense civilians and every Sergeant Major, an E-4 to act as a sanity check.

Mind you, I don’t mean we should use just any E-4s. To be effective they have to be salty, veterans of at least one deployment. They have to be smart, rather than just being smartasses. Preferably they’re on their second ride as an E-4. And they absolutely have to be short, close to discharge with zero desire to reenlist.

In other words, they’ve been around, they’ve fought a war, they’re sick of the Army’s bullshit, and they have not even a single fuck to give.

These E-4s will shadow their assigned leader. They’re not his aide-de-camp, they’re not there to polish his shoes or clean his office. Their only duty would be to assess any decision he’s about to make. They’d be something like the modern-day equivalent of slaves who stood on chariots behind Roman emperors returning from victory, whispering “All glory is fleeting” to keep the emperor’s head from swelling. But our E-4’s whispers would keep our leaders from getting too stupid, not too proud.

As a reward for enduring the horrors of life among senior leaders, our heroic E-4s would receive a gift that generations of fighting men have desperately wished for.  Only Specialists and Corporals with maturity and self-control could be trusted with this gift. And while the gift might seem like pure orgasmic joy to those who receive it, it also has a utilitarian purpose. My solution will not work without it.

Our E-4s will receive a special dispensation, signed in blood by the President, allowing them to beat the crap out of any senior leader who desperately needs it.

Yes, this sounds harsh. But I don’t know of any other way to fix the problem. Appealing to reason obviously doesn’t help.

Here’s how it would work. Our E-4s would stay in the background, quietly watching their assigned senior leader for telltale signs that he’s been struck by the Good Idea Fairy: fingers rubbing his chin, eyes drifting upward and glazing over from deep concentration, sudden expressions of rapturous joy followed by mad dashes to a computer to build a 278-slide PowerPoint presentation, frantic phone calls to bark orders at frustrated subordinates. 

When they see those signs, our E-4s need to leap from the shadows, peer over the leader’s shoulder at his computer screen or listen to his phone calls, and make a split-second evaluation of the order the leader is about to give. If the order is something like “All troops, combat or support, need to get more call for fire training!” the E-4 should back off. But if the order is something else, he needs to shift into attack mode. And he has to do it quickly, before the leader can give the order and cause irreparable damage.

·Leader: “Soldiers should wear reflective belts, salute officers and carry their weapons at the combat ready inside the FOB!”

>E-4: “Come here, dipshit!” Crack!

·Leader: “I think every soldier in the Army should wear black berets! That way they’ll all be just like Rangers!”

>E-4: “Moron!” Whack!

·Leader: “If we make every soldier put a green safety dot on their watch, they’ll think safety whenever they check the time!”

>E-4: “Stupid motherfucker!” Pow!

·Leader: “We’re going to create a special Drone Operator Medal, and make it higher than a Purple Heart or Bronze Star!”

>E-4: “Stop it, shithead!” Smack!

·Leader: “We don’t need to listen to soldiers actually fighting the war! The Universal Camouflage Pattern is obviously the best camouflage for Iraq and Afghanistan!”

>E-4: “What the. . . you son of a bitch!” Whack! Whack! Whack! (I should point out that our E-4s wouldn’t be allowed to carry weapons, because in this situation numerous terrified officers would be standing back screaming “Drop the knife, Corporal! Drop the knife!”

And so on.

I need everyone’s help on this. I’ve wracked my brain for years trying to find a solution, and this is the only thing that could possibly work. Please find E-4s who are willing to intercept and destroy the stupid ideas that have been killing us for years. Write your Congressman to express support for my idea. Send the President the Special E-4 Leader-Beating Dispensation and ask him to sign it asap.

Help me put this plan into action. Because the E-4 Option is our only hope.

That's it for now. Go pick up a copy of Chris' novel, Proof of our Resolve. You'll be glad you did. You might even be able to get him to sign it.

Mad Duo, Breach-Bang & CLEAR!