Colonel who slammed Afghan HQ PowerPoint culture is fired
Heroic US officer returns to civvy IT job
A US Army colonel who published a splendid attack on top-heavy bureaucracy and PowerPoint culture at NATO's top headquarters in Afghanistan has been sacked.
Colonel Lawrence Sellin, in his critique of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (IJC), suggested that the IJC exists primarily "to provide some general a three-star command", and that it will soon be enlarged because "an officer, who is currently without one, needs a staff of 35 people to create a big splash before his promotion board".
Wired magazine now reports that less than 48 hours after the colonel's article was published by wire service UPI he was fired.
Sellin tells Wired that an unidentified two-star general, angered by the article, told him he was "a coward, unpatriotic, ignorant [and] petty". However, his own commanding general (there are many generals at the IJC) was "very polite" as he gave the colonel his marching orders.
ISAF spokesmen confirmed that Colonel Sellin had been dismissed for violating NATO regulations requiring clearance of media activities through the public-affairs apparatus.
"His duty position and responsibilities did not offer him the situational awareness needed to validate his postings to the media," an IJC spokesman told Wired.
Sellin's article said that NATO staff officers in Afghanistan do little else but prepare and sit through "inane" and "useless" PowerPoint briefings and meetings. "Cognitively challenged generals", he wrote, listen to the PowerPoint presentations "in a semi-comatose state".
"I have not done anything productive" in two months' service at the IJC, he added.
Reportedly there was a good deal of support for Colonel Sellin's views among middle-ranking officers at the headquarters such as majors and lieutenant-colonels (junior officers and enlisted personnel are seldom seen in such places). Other colonels were less sympathetic.
"I have marks all over me from where they have been touching me with ten-foot poles," he told Wired.
We here on the Reg defence desk believe that the US Army and NATO in general could use more officers like Colonel Sellin - though much fewer officers overall. But that's exactly what the IJC won't be getting.
Instead, the colonel is headed for his home in Finland where he works in IT (he is a US Army reserve officer rather than a full-time regular). Meanwhile, the IJC headquarters is to gain another 30+ PowerPoint-happy PONTIs**.
We'd guess that Colonel Sellin may become something of a hero among frontline troops in Afghanistan, no matter what the unidentified two-star IJC general thinks of him. ®
*Officers above the rank of full colonel wear stars as their rank insignia in the US forces: from one star for a brigadier-general to five for a "general of the Army". The same use of numbers of stars to describe officers of equivalent ranks (and jobs for them) is common across NATO, particularly in the British forces, though actual rank insignia worn on national uniforms are different.
**Person Of No Tactical Importance. Frontline personnel sometimes use this abbreviation to refer to staff types.
What a shame
We could use more officers like him.
Some new definitions for the US dialect of English
"a coward, unpatriotic, ignorant, petty"
Coward: Someone who tells the truth because it's important, knowing he'll get fired for it.
Unpatriotic: Putting the good of his country above the good of the parasites he works for.
Ignorant: Knows where the bodies are buried.
Petty: Does not go round firing people for annoying him then sneering cheap insults at them.
What's really sad...
is no one seems to notice officers used to LEAD troops into battle. Since when did we become a country - and a military - where the leaders hide and send their command out to fight on their own?
I don't agree with the wars we're in, and don't want to leave the impression I do. But, damn it, if the U.S. is requiring soldiers to go out there and risk their lives for their country, then every f***ing Sergeant, Colonel, Captain, Corporal, Chief, Lieutenant, Major, Officer, General and any other rank ought to be out there with them. Tell them to take a tent and a folding table, like the officers in the Civil War. Give them satellite phones, laptops with blade modems, webcams. If officers in the 18th and 19th Centuries could run a war from the field, with all our technology, so can we.
There is no excuse for military officers hiding in offices acting like the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, are some for-profit corporation. War is where people die...the innocent and the guilty, the military and the civilian.
If our political and military leaders agree a war is necessary, then military leaders should be right there with the troops, and in FRONT of them, not cowering behind.
Every single one of those SOB's should be ashamed of themselves, not only for firing an officer for speaking the truth, but for having so little integrity they care more about self-aggrandizement than the men and women under their command.
Yes, I oppose the wars we've entered into. Yes, I believe they were based on lies, that no country has any business ever starting a war, disobeying international law, acting as if even the U.S may do as it pleases with no regard for other countries.
I believe we are better than that.
But never, never will I say one word against the troops in the Middle East, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. They have the right to their beliefs, their honor, and their courage. Whether my opinion is the same as theirs is irrelevant. They back their beliefs with their lives.
For that same reason, i have nothing but contempt for any officer, regardless of rank, who is too cowardly to risk his or her own life for what they allegedly believe. What you believe, you do. How can you do otherwise?
What ever happened to true leaders?
Sick at all the deaths and grief, for once with no "cheers,"