Army Col. Lawrence Sellin was fired two days after his sarcastic rant was published by the United Press International wire service.
Sellin was fired because he didn’t clear his remarks through public affairs and failed to clear “written or oral presentations to the media” through a designated public affairs officer. Here is what he wrote:
KABUL, Afghanistan — Throughout my career I have been known to walk that fine line between good taste and unemployment. I see no reason to change that now.
Consider the following therapeutic.
I have been assigned as a staff officer to a headquarters in Afghanistan for about two months. During that time, I have not done anything productive. Fortunately, little of substance is really done here, but that is a task we do well.
We are part of the operational arm of the International Security Assistance Force commanded by Army Gen. David Petraeus. It is composed of military representatives from all the NATO countries, several of which I cannot pronounce.
Officially, International Joint Command was founded in late 2009 to coordinate operations among all the regional commands in Afghanistan. More likely it was founded to provide some general a three-star command. Starting with a small group of dedicated and intelligent officers, IJC has successfully grown into a stove-piped and bloated organization, top-heavy in rank. Around here, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a colonel.
For headquarters staff, war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information. Even one tiny flaw in a slide can halt a general’s thought processes as abruptly as a computer system’s blue screen of death.
The ability to brief well is, therefore, a critical skill. It is important to note that skill in briefing resides in how you say it. It doesn’t matter so much what you say or even if you are speaking Klingon.
Random motion, ad hoc processes and an in-depth knowledge of Army minutia and acronyms are also key characteristics of a successful staff officer. Harried movement together with furrowed brows and appropriate expressions of concern a la Clint Eastwood will please the generals. Progress in the war is optional………….