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"Anonymity, Accountability, Cowardice, and Courage" -- Col Ed Pernotto (ret)

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Swiped from Otto's LinkedIn. I remember reading this as a Lt maintenance officer. Timeless...sport bitching and repeating history:

Anonymity, Accountability, Cowardice, and Courage.

March 4, 2017 

In February 1992, I was a mid-level O-3 (Air Force Captain) and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Merrill McPeak was halfway through his tenure and he was unleashing changes and reforms that to this day are among the most controversial actions ever done to a single military service. From changing the "wing" structure, to shoving Total Quality Management down our throats, to a savage "reduction in force" and yes, the unveiling of a uniform reminiscent of an airline pilots, McPeak was seemingly unchallenged by history, his fellow generals, or even common sense. There were anonymous papers faxed around with criticism but no one dared put their name out there in opposition.

Multiple events were my catalyst but one day in my BOQ room, I wrote the article attached and submitted knowing full well it would never be published by the Armed Forces Journal a magazine I had read since ROTC. The assistant editor called and said it was being seriously considered and they needed a bio and photo and then hours later, West Point graduate, owner and publisher, the irascible Ben Schemmer called and said he was going to run it. In our call, he said there was great debate in his editorial meeting and some said I was just bitching but he said I was putting my career on the line and they were going to run it.

Ben told me I was going to lose my career, he said there is no tradition of disagreement in the US Air Force. I had heard that twice before, one at Squadron Officer's School from AF Historian Earl Tilford who said the Air Force crushes dissent in all forms. He said as an Intel briefer during the Vietnam War, he was briefing about Operation Lam Son719 and he used the words the "Allies were retreating" and the USAF general he briefed said our allies don't retreat and "Butch" said he was right, retreat implies order and this was a rout! He was tossed out of the office and became an Air Force historian. The other time was from Colonel John Guilmartin who was sacked as editor of the Air University Review who told me the Air Force leadership will never allow dissent, you tow the line or get crushed.

Hearing Ben tell me at that moment my career would be over, I gulped and said it's worth it. Someone has to voice concern over McPeak's idiotic policies.

The article was published and a few weeks later, a friend called and asked how I was? I said umm, OK, and he said my article was the subject of a discussion at Air Combat Commander's conference room (he was a general's aide) and the view is I will receive a phone call telling me to resign my commission if I have any problems with USAF policies. I ran to Radio Shack and bought a microphone that attaches to the telephone and figured if someone called, I'd tape it and go on 60 Minutes. No call came.

A couple of months later at my next training location, I got a call from a Major General I had worked for and respected and he told me he and most of his fellow GO's agreed with me but none would lay it out there publicly, as I had. Several years later, I was passed over for Major and kicked out of the USAF. I personally do not believe the article was directly related but that I did not do the careerism the USAF officer corps expects and my records were not competitive. Either way, I had prepared for that day but it still came as a severe blow.

Which brings me to today, it's impossible to not turn on certain news shows or read the leading newspapers or websites without seeing news that is highly classified to include signals intercepts of American citizens. I'm sure these leakers believe they are helping the nation, in their infantile minds, but they are exposing the nations secrets. If they were so concerned, invoke whistle blower laws and go see their Members of Congress! Isn't it telling that not a single individual has done this? Or go to the National Press Club and hold a press conference. Instead, they are playing games with our national security.

There are often articles written about the need to write critical assessments of the military and none look further than our current National Security Advisor H.R McMaster and his book Dereliction of Duty. It did not hurt but most likely saved his career. I was able to get in the Air Force Reserve and retired a few years ago as a Colonel.

Stop the Leaking. Stop breaking laws divulging our national secrets. Stop putting the lives of our armed forces service-members and our citizens at risk. Or if it's so important, don't be an anonymous coward and stand for your principles.


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Copy sarcasm...

But I've advocated for no bonus for years...as long as we also put UPT ADSC back to six years
where it belongs.

Thought y'all might enjoy reading about USAF turbulence from 26 yrs ago...

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Managed to take a swipe at Trump over 20 years ago, wonder what his politics are?  Funny, the "eyes only" thing still goes on, last time I heard about it a few years ago, it was called the tiered officer concept, of which you were NEVER told what tier you were.  There were 3 of them, top/middle/bottom, and there were qualifications but thats about all I knew.  Funny what drunk O-6's will divulge.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

LJ, thanks for sharing that. Round and round we go.

The article gave good insight to the culture of the AF in the early 90s, but was almost all sport bitching with no real solutions given other than platitudes like "Leaders, not managers are the key to success" and "Let's use 'RL'--Real Leadership!"  Yawn... tell us what that actually means.

I love the plug for Marines and their strong heritage vs our so-called confused heritage too..

So funny how all this shit still gets repeated today.

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