In all the armed services, the rank before one wears stars on his or her collar is that of Colonel. It’s also customary shorthand to call the next lower grade, that of Lieutenant Colonel, simply ‘Colonel’.
The all-volunteer force has been with us for forty years. The men and women serving did it of their own volition, which I hope everyone remembered over a week ago on Veterans Day. In these United States, about 1% of the population serves to do 100% of the fighting and dying. For those of us who served, we knew it going in.
By the time one attains even the silvery oak leaves of a Lieutenant Colonel, or Commander in the seaborne services, one starts getting command positions of limited authority and virtually unlimited responsibility. It goes with the territory. Hard jobs to get, easy ones to be fired from.
The make or break character trait in command, is judgement. When one is responsible for often hundreds of American servicemembers’ lives, the stakes are far larger than paychecks nosing just over $100,000 annually imply. The one word that I will never forget is “accountability.”
There were three colonels running in the 2012 congressional elections: retired Air Force Col. Martha Mc Sally (R), Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth (D), an Army National Guard helicopter pilot, and retired Army Lt .Col. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).
Col. McSally, a Republican running for wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-Ariz) seat, currently held by Giffords’ ex-Chief of Staff, Ron Barber (D), was the first woman to fly in combat, piloting the A-10 Warthog ground attack aircraft. She even took the career risk to sue ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in McSally v. Rumsfeld over the past policy of forcing American servicewomen to wear abayas, and other demeaning insults to woo conservative misogynists running that crooked, oil soaked family racket called Saudi Arabia. We saw which side Bush, Cheney, and Rummy took, and it wasn’t for American servicewomen.
She ran a tough, smart, and fearless race, which was close in her district in Arizona, but at the end of the counting, she lost and conceded with grace. As an officer and gentleperson should. Democrats beware: it’s likely not the last we see of Martha McSally. A worthy adversary.
Congresswoman-elect Lt.Col. Tammy Duckworth lost both of her legs in Iraq under enemy fire as a Medivac helicopter pilot, yet continued to serve both in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as well as in her national guard unit. Tea Party freshman class clown Rep. Joe Walsh (R-ill.), who never served in uniform, kept sticking both of his shoes in his mouth belittling Duckworth’s service. The moving boxes are probably stacked outside Walsh’s office, after a big defeat at the ballot box. If civilians could stumble onto their swords, Joe would be the poster boy. Yes, Mr. Walsh, women are laughing at you.
Regular readers already know my disdain for that sorry joke named Allen West. Relieved for cause. Fined $5,000. Retired in a big hurry. A loud-mouthed ideologue instead of an elected legislator. After railing about ”activist judges”, West was running out of legal tricks up his sleeve to try weasel victory from the jaws of defeat after squandering $22 million of his Righty lemmings’ campaign donations to try to defeat a 29-year-old Certified Public Accountant. With every counting gimmick, Allen West still came up with the shorter straw. All he really has left is what he started with: empty bluster. West surrendered and conceded in Tuesday’s morning’s pre-dawn darkness.
P.S.: The women pilots have more “cajones” than you do, Allen. They’re laughing.