30 January 2015

General Post’s Mexican Hot Platter

There are indications and warnings (I&W) that the U.S. Air Force is headed for the rubber room, at least if the attitude of Major General James Post, the Vice Commander of Air Combat Command is an I&W of the Air Force’s corporate attitude.  

As I said in an earlier blaster, the AF hates the A-10 for deep-seated cultural reasons and has been trying to trash it since it was the paper A-X in the 1960s.  But its recent efforts to kill the A-10 to save the troubled F-35 have degenerated into the bizarro world of cognitive dissonance.  For reasons explained below, this development raises medical questions that may open up a new lucrative area for psycho-pathological research.  

General Post recently told Air Force officers that any A-10 pilot communicating the virtues of the A-10 to a member of Congress is committing “treason.”  Marine Corps infantrymen, who are not subject to Post's definition of treason, have told me time and again that the A-10 is by far the most effective air support they can get in Afghanistan; bear in mind, this is coming from people who do not think much of the Air Force.  At the same time, sources with connections in the Air Force tell me that the pressure on A-10 pilots to shut up about the A-10's virtues has been increasing since Post enunciated the new legal doctrine.  Moreover, I have been told by one reliable source that this pressure is especially intense on those A-10 pilots who are now flying missions against ISIS.  So pilots bragging about the airplane they are flying in combat are committing treason if that airplane is the A-10, but not if that airplane is an F-15, F-22, F-16, or (hypothetically) an F-35.  

More generally, to be effective, General Post’s legal prohibition must also apply to newly retired officers who flew the A-10 in Afghanistan as well.  That is because recent retirees are subject to recall in a state of emergency and are therefore still technically part of the Air Force (and the U.S. has been in a state of emergency since the Korean War).  That being the case, Post’s prohibition places the recently elected Congresswoman Martha McSally on the horns of a dilemma: According to the Air Force Times, McSally is a recently retired Air Force colonel and a former A-10 pilot and squadron commander with 325 combat hours in Iraq and Afghanistan; and she has been openly bragging about the A-10. Being recently retired, she is technically still subject to recall, so she is still bound by legal restrictions of the UCMJ.  Therefore, according to Post’s legal doctrine, McSally will be committing treason if she talks to herself or other fellow legislators about the virtues of the A-10.  Senator Ayotte from New Hampshire also must be careful.  She is married to a former A-10 pilot, so it would be wise not to talk to her husband about the virtues of the A-10, unless she is trying to establish legal grounds for a divorce. 

There may be one silver lining in this weird episode, however: In WW I soldiers suffering from battlefield fatigue were shot for cowardice in the British Army.  Since then, people have come to recognize correctly that combat fatigue, or PTSD in modern parlance, is a psychological wound that should be treated with the same empathy as any other combat wound.  

General Post’s outburst suggests that PTSD may be too narrowly defined.  His behaviour suggests a form of PTSD could also result from the stress one is subjected to in the Pentagon's budget battles.  This possibility would open a vast new field of mental research. If true, perhaps Post would be able to increase his retirement pay by retiring on a disability, and not have to go thru the revolving door to the makers of the F-35 in the defense industry to augment his retirement.  

For traditionalists, there is, however, a competing old-school diagnosis:  General Post is just another bureaucratic asshole who autoenchiladed.  This is the time-honored Pentagon term-of-art that hardened veterans of budget combat use to describe a self-inflicted wound that is caused by the psychological equivalent of taking in a Mexican hot platter thru the wrong orifice; i.e., where the enchilada, smothered in hot sauce, wrapped in barbed wire, is self-inserted into a very painful place.