In support of our Warfighter Creed

Perception

 “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

Google “Contractors Creed” and this is what you get from http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?57037-Contractors-Creed

THE CONTRACTORS CREED
I am a contractor. I look out for myself, the operators to my left and right, and no one else.

I will always take advantage of the fact that I can finally tell Commissioned Officers to pack sand, and will do so at every possible occasion.

I am my country’s scapegoat, the “plausible deniability” warrior, and I love it.

Less than 700 dollars a day is Unacceptable.

I am trained to eat things that would make a Billy goat puke, but will refuse anything less than 60 dollars Per Diem because I am greedy.

I care not for ribbons, nor awards for valor. I do this job for the opportunity to kill the enemies of my country, and to finally get that boat I’ve always wanted.

I will be in better shape than 99% of the active duty personnel, although this is not hard.

I will equip myself with the latest high-speed gear, and will trick out my M4 until it weighs more than 24 lbs, not because it works better, but because it looks cool in photographs.

I will carry more weapons, ammunition, and implements of death on my person, than an infantry fire team, and when engaged I will lay waste to everything around me.

In any combat zone, I will always locate the swimming pool, beer, and women, because I can.

I will deploy on my terms, and if it ever gets too stupid, I will simply find another company that pays me more.

How complicated…  or Maybe not

While this particular writing is referring to contractors that are serving (yes I said that) in the field alongside our finest.   It is a common theme heard in any situation where defense contractors are present.

According the NY Times “There were 113,491 employees of defense contractors in Afghanistan as of January 2012, compared with about 90,000 American soldiers, according to Defense Department statistics. Of those, 25,287, or about 22 percent of the employees, were American citizens, with 47 percent Afghans and 31 percent from other countries.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/world/asia/afghan-war-risks-are-shifting-to-contractors.html)

If that is true, which I believe it was at the time and still is, than contractors are part of our fighting forces and moreover they are part of our planning forces.   What this means is that

  • Contractors are people.
  • Contractors have a stake in war fighting personal and professional.
  • Contractors and Government Civilians are similar in a lot of ways.
  • Contractors and military service members can operate under the same conditions.

Captain Obvious

Good ethics and values are not bound by our uniform or contract.  In other words, whether I took an oath and wrote it down as a human to human kind of activity or I took an oath on my own the result is the same.   In contracting documentation and presentations given to government workers there is a note on the fact that a government worker took an oath.  Here is  an example ethics handout it is public via google.

(http://www.doi.gov/ethics/docs/Dangerous%20Liaisons,%20Dealing%20With%20Contractors%20Handout.pdf)

More on this www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/ccap/…/gov.ctr.relationshipaf.doc (Air Force document).

What the documents say is “do the right things” and they tell you what those things are by law.   Interestingly enough,  I have worked for years with contractors and leadership has told us over and over what the right things are.   The point is that WE should be ethical in OUR behavior REGARDLESS of whether we are government or contractor.  More often than not in my experience a lot of contractors are more inclined to do the right things because they really have more to lose.

Let’s think about this for minute..

  • Contractor does something wrong the result is termination of the contract.
  • Government worker does something wrong the result is an inquiry, after years the government worker is either terminated or promoted.

Isn’t this true?  Or do I just have a great imagination?

Point – If you are bored by now

We need a creed on behalf of our war fighter.  We need to be ethical and have integrity because.. JUST BECAUSE folks….  Politics are for politicians and there are a lot of them.  One thing I have learned over the years is that politicians don’t stop bullets from the boardroom.  I don’t really care what they are doing frankly, I care about what I am doing.  Am I doing what is right for my friends in the field?  Whether they are paid for by the government through one color of money or another doesn’t matter, the result is the same.  We are fighting for freedom; our freedom and democracy; our democracy. I am **ANGRY** because I am an American and I love this country and want it to exist and I want my kids to have choices in their lives.

I am tired.. of hearing excuses from individuals that they can’t do the things they need to do because of someone else.  I have mentioned in posts before that I know people that don’t give up but they are few.  So, here it is.. the short of it…

In Support of our Warfighter Creed 

I support our Warfighter. I think about my country and my family and the extension of those around me, I consider operators regardless of uniform and title.  

I will work to have faith in those around me and build trust with those whom I don’t know well in order to protect and preserve our existence as we know it.

I will lead from where I am and seek to be better every day knowing that if I excel those around me excel. 

I will look to practice being selfless and empathetic of others. 

I will be strong and take a stand when I have to. 

I will share information to benefit everyone that shares my cause.

I will reuse and recycle process, methods and tools anywhere and anytime I can.  

I have a code and recognize that others do as well, I will respect them as I expect them to respect me. 

I will collaborate, cooperate and communicate every opportunity I have as I understand together we are stronger. 

I will work to sharpen my body and my mind to be strong and ready. 

I will be concerning with my actions and take responsibility for me. 

I will be honest.

I will be loyal. 

I will deliver results and prove them when possible through measured success. 

I will not always know the mass effects of my work but I will recognize that results are independent of intent and results will vary while intent is consistent.  

I am accountable for my actions and I hold myself responsible and expect others to do the same. 

I know and understand right from wrong and if I am challenged to understanding the difference or I feel as if I am uncertain, I will ask a trusted agent to help provide clarity. 

End 

More ?

Some people can easily tie this to religion.. it can’t be about religion because we will differ.  This has to be for the purpose of our shared values.  Religion is divisive, that being said… if your faith is aligned with these concepts.. this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

I don’t expect people to take this idea and run with it or change their behavior overnight but I do want people to think about and recognize that our failings are our enemies strength.

The reason why American’s are so good is because we have shared values sewn together as a diverse tapestry with drastically dynamic and different roots.  In other words, we are all very different but when we come together these differences melt into something very powerful, common and known.  Ask anyone who grew up in a place like Coop City in the Bronx, we were all different but we were so tied together that we have been bound in friendship for almost 40 years.

Take a stand and share this creed..  letting people know that you care is a step towards building trust. 

For Those Who Serve (Forgotten Troops)

In my office I have a plaque that Kenny Williams gave me when I decided to leave Joint Forces and move on to work with DISA.

From One Warrior to a Cyber Warrior

I see this almost every day, sometimes I am facing it for hours.    What does it mean? What does it mean to you?

What does it mean?

As I have stated in earlier posts, Ken for me is a personal living hero.  He is a man of honor and integrity, he is a man of purpose, and he is a true leader.   Most people talk about “the warfighter” and don’t know anything about war or service for that matter.   Ken doesn’t just talk about people in the field, he actively works to help them.   This year as shown in his dispatches from the field, he chose to go out and help them in person.   To me it is no different from a firefighter or a police officer or anyone else who serves our community and makes sacrifices for the GREATER GOOD of our country and our way of life.

It is a volunteer military but what would this country do if people didn’t volunteer?   These people are making a choice and a sacrifice.   In some cases they make the ultimate sacrifice.

I am responding to those of you who can’t deal with what Ken has been writing and to those of you that have told me that it is by choice that our service members are serving.  You are RIGHT!  It was their choice, and their choice made it so that you or your children or grand children aren’t sitting in a festering pit wondering what war they are fighting and why.

The common saying by service members is “I would rather fight the enemy on their land as opposed to ours.” The young men and women of our country are doing us a service and they deserve not only our respect but they deserve our support and our attention.

It is my personal responsibility as an American and as a person who recognizes that people are putting themselves in danger for ME and my family to do everything I can to recognize them and support them.

What does it mean to you?

I am sharing my plaque with you.  I can’t write a blog every week saying the same thing as you will either stop reading or ignore me.  This is reality.   What I can do is share with you this reminder,  copy the picture, print it do what you want but know that this plaque is for all of us.   This is what it really says to you.

You may not be a Marine, but the Marines love you.  They would give and have given everything to protect you and our way of life.   You don’t have to be there with them to help.   You can be where you are and lead/follow from where you are to help them.   Although this plaque says “Semper Fidelis”  the blade this plaque holds is not bound to one service .   Take a moment at some point everyday to remember that good people are working for and fighting for you today.   Find ways to stand up for them and protect them and remember them,  think about them because they are certainly thinking of you.

Final Thoughts

There are American troops in everywhere, if you are serving them in some way as a government employee or contractor don’t fail them.  Don’t make excuses either, excuses don’t stop bullets.   If you are a citizen, please take some time to think of them.  If you are service member, Thank You.

Dispatches from the Front: 29 July 2012

… From Ken

Friends,

In some of the return e-mails, several have asked I not include or discuss the “un-pleasantries of war” in my “Dispatches”.  To those kind souls, my advice is to simply delete all future e-mails from me.

Unfortunately, I am not in a pleasant place to accommodate such a request.  The truth often is not pretty.  It matters not how eloquently words are strung together, daily death and destruction is difficult to mask.  I will try harder, but there is little in the few local Afghan merchants, third world mess hall workers, the barren landscape with its’

oppressive heat, the three separate species of birds [(1) mourning dove;

(2) black and white winged starling; (3) small body sparrow], the mice and rats, that are available to write nice things about.  I promised myself to record what I have seen and not made-up fiction.  I have

always believed, “to thy own self be true”.

Your’ Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Air Force, and Coast Guard, our coalition partners, and the civilians, both DoD and contractors are doing a terrific job with their tasks.  Never have I seen any of them appear weary in doing their duty.  They are the doers of good and doers of the right thing.  I have never seen them afraid or discouraged, only strong and courageous. Sure they bitch, but I remember the same grumbling heard during any deployment or any place I have ever worked or traveled.  It would worry me more if I heard nothing.  They all have and draw from an inner strength securely put in place before their arrival.

To each, it is different; as it should be.  A life lived is determined by circumstance, luck, timing and your beliefs.   Surely there are other qualifiers, but without the benefit of a glass or two of a fine ancient single malt whisky to stimulate the senses, those are enough.  For me my inner strength comes from my absolute belief in God and His Son Jesus.

I believe in Them as much as I believe there is a United States Marine Corps.  I make a sorry Christian but I learned early in life, “once you trust in the Lord, fear not what others can do unto you”. I was also taught that “a man’s true worth is what he has done to help others”.

Every day is a gift and you only are given so many.  How you consume each daily gift is totally up to you.  I promise you, a day does not pass without reflection on just how lucky I am to live in the day and time I do and to be blessed with the people I know and have known.

Sadly, I am confident my enemy believes in Allah as much as he believes in the Taliban. That is why I have to help and do all that I can to kill him.   Negotiations, peaceful resolutions, let’s meet and sing “kume bye aye” are for the diplomats and politicians.  God bless their work.  A warrior’s work requires a more direct solution.  I never liked it years back when I first read it, but now fully understand, “From the ashes of the vanquished, the victor is able to build unencumbered”.

Unfortunately, we will not see victory in Afghanistan.  Also, the last I checked, we are not here to make Afghanistan the 51st state.

Counterinsurgency warfare or “COIN” operations is our current strategy.

Winning the hearts and minds of the people is a good thing.  I am from the old school and new techniques come hard to me, especially when a “time line” is put in place and when reached; you declare “success” and leave. COIN will indeed work as long as the people you have “won over” feel protected and free from retribution of evil.  I simply do not believe the Afghanistan military and police will be able to maintain good order and discipline throughout this miserable country once we and our coalition partners depart. My opinion and my opinion alone, their success will be short lived and “good order and discipline” is not going to happen. The evil that awaits the Afghan military, police and peoples still exists and patiently waits.  My advice if asked by the Afghan military or their government would be simply what I was taught as a young Marine officer; successful warfare requires the identification of the enemy, massing all available weapons and firepower and then close with and destroy them. I would also recommend they concentrate their remaining time and efforts on mastering all fire support weapons and the ability to deliver accurate artillery and mortar fires whenever and wherever needed. I would include close air support (CAS) but Afghan air force does not exist.

You cannot blame the Taliban for their tactics.  Even our forefathers shot from behind trees and harassed the British and with deadly accuracy.  When combined with determination, luck and tenacity they overcame the odds of winning against the mightiest military of that time.  The IED is the Taliban’s tree.  And yes there are volumes written on what really caused the Colonial victory.  However, I bet you, not facing a superior force on the grounds of their choosing, army against army, will be mentioned as a factor.

Daily routine has settled.  I am up at 0330 and complete the causality report by 0700.  If there are no US KIA’s, I decree that day as a good day. The report covers from midnight to midnight the day prior.

Unfortunately, someone has died every day for 41 days since I started this task.  Whether US, Coalition, Afghan military, police, innocent civilians; someone has been killed due to this war.  Compared to the bombing of London, Dresden, Tokyo of wars past, civilian causalities are very small.  But to the family of the one killed, it is as tragic as it was back during any time period.  The enemy also pays a toll.  I read and write those reports too.  I hate to say it, with each EKIA, the same glee that comes from catching, rolling and then crushing a Tsetse fly stirs within the black chamber of my heart.  May the Lord forgive me.

For those who have never hunted in Africa: The Tsetse fly has a harden exoskeleton that when he bites you and you slap him as you would a mosquito; once your hand is removed, it flies away to bite again.

The rest of my day 2200+ is crunching data sent in from the outlying US and coalition commanders concerning their assessment of the Afghanistan military’s and police’s ability to maintain good order and discipline.

Make no mistake; it was 46 partner nations who took from the Taliban their position and influence in this country.  Those nations are the same ones who trained and supplied the Afghan security forces.  These newly trained units are holding their own in the “cat and mouse” campaign being conducted by the insurgents.  I have observed, as soon as the “mouse” is recognized as a “rat”, the “cat” extends its lethal claws and calls in coalition fire support to neutralize the threat. The “rat” is quickly terminated but most often sent back into its hole.  For those times, congratulations abound and medals issued. Once close air support and effective artillery have been taken out of the equation, it is easy to predict the future as well as outcome.  The Afghan military and police may now own the nice shiny watch given to them by the coalition partners. Unfortunately, we all know, it is the Taliban who owns the time.

Oh look!!! There goes a little mouse scampering across the floor with a bit of cracker!  Isn’t he cute?  I will name him Marroof.  What else do you want to know about that mouse?

Semper Fidelis,

Ken

CJTF-1, ID, CJ5 Assessments

Task Force Defender

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

APO, AE 09354

“Shut up”..! That was the best advice I got this week.

About a month ago I changed jobs.   I went from a military component organization to a DoD component organization.  Don’t know the difference?  Don’t worry it doesn’t matter, that much.  Well, at least that is what I think after a month or so.  I am not writing about the job though as much as I would love to start putting key to board on my thoughts.  I am writing about what one person told me this week that I thought was interesting and important.

I changed positions not only from one company to another but from one government organization to another, I started to look, listen and learn about the culture, the job itself, the organization etc.   In my head I started to see a picture, it was becoming clear and I was convinced that my coming in would CHANGE things for my new organization.  After all, I have experience with my ABC’s and 123’s.   Where I left people would say “ask Howie” and I would come to meetings with my trusty notepad and pen with various process and methods to help whomever has a problem.   You could say that I was there long enough to be a known commodity.  I have spoken and written about Joint Forces in the past, it is no secret that the Joint world has a certain flavor / culture that is based on the Joint lexicon and taxonomy and fundamentally like the rest of the world you are who others perceive you to be.   In other words,  if someone in leadership says “that is the smart guy” then that is the smart guy.    Now, I wasn’t the smartest guy in the room and I wouldn’t pretend today that I should have been labeled as such.   What I did have was “trust credit” which means that leadership knew if I read something or wrote something or better yet attended a meeting, that they would get my honest opinion but I would back my perspective with some facts (where possible).   This is important, because YOU have this too in some degree.

I left my position at what was Joint Forces because I felt strongly that I can help more people from the DoD enterprise.   What I didn’t count on was that it is going to take a long time.  

I thought I would come in and start looking at the situation, perform analysis, make assessments and start to ask questions that would challenge my new leadership into thinking in ways previously undiscovered.   What I found was different from what I thought.   It doesn’t really matter why but it has really challenged my thinking in ways that were previously undiscovered.

I miss my friends and co-workers at what is now Joint Staff and I miss the others that have since left and moved on to other positions due to the Joint Forces disestablishment.  Looking at my work today, I see connections between what I did and what I do.  I have asked both my current leadership and my past leadership if I can find and bind these connections and thankfully they both agreed.   Which brings me to this past week.

There are days that I am sitting in my old office not far from where I used to sit, hanging around the people I grew up with career wise.  It is nice to see them and spend time with them knowing that they mean a lot to me and that I mean something to them.  This past week I had some things to do in the office and went down to take care of them.   One of the civilian leaders came down and saw me sitting there.   Immediately he was interested in what I was up to and sat down to have a chat.   I explained that I am working hard and running on the old hamster wheel trying to figure out the best ways I can help my new organization in ways that made sense to them.   He knows me pretty well and he understood clearly what I was going through.   He looked at me and said “You know what your problem is?”  “No sir” I said .  Then he paused and said “shut up.”    He went on to explain that I have been in my new position for a very short period of time.   He said “I know you, you are a great leader and after 27 years I know who will be leading and who will be left behind.”  He continued “You need to listen for at least 90 days, you need to LISTEN not speak, not write, not know, just listen.”   My first class when I took my MBA was about “effective listening” and of course, he threw me back there in a blink.   I thought I was listening and taking note and looking and learning, but maybe not.   It wasn’t a punch in the face or anything, it was simple truth and I like to say that when I am talking to people who I am giving them the same.  It was a good dose of my own medicine and I think I needed it.   He didn’t just leave it at that, he gave me a plan to execute after the 90 days and he asked me to follow-up with him to see how I was progressing.   I have that plan written and I have my listening ears on.  All this time, I thought I was going to just go in there and help them but really my helping them is helping me.

I don’t know what the results will be 90 days from now for the people I am currently working for but I do know that 90 days from now I will have practiced better effective listening skills and I will look make every attempt to “shut up” unless there is something I have to say.   With all the talking and communication we have to do today it does seem that we do a lot of this wha wha wha something important wha wha wha something something and really the only thing we needed to say was the something important part.  All the wha wha’s are just to hear ourselves.

“Wha Wha”