Readers have asked what I think about the Fort Hood massacre. There seem to be three questions:

1. Was the murderer directed from outside the U.S.?

2. Is he insane?

3. Was the Army’s response to warning signs proper?

Directed from outside the U.S.?

I have not seen any evidence that indicates he was directed by foreigners. He did contact foreign jihadists. But he seems more like a wannabe who was never successful in getting his al Qaeda secret decoder ring—like Lee Harvey Oswald.

Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy on 11/22/63. Before that, Oswald was a U.S. Marine who defected to the Soviet Union. He generally tried to impress the Soviets from then until the assassination. In the 1960s, the Communists were the al Qaeda of the day: America’s main enemy. He was a frequent demonstrator in support of Communist Cuba when he undefected back to the U.S. The Soviets considered his various offers and dismissed him as a loser.

The Fort Hood murderer also reminds me of John Hinckley, Jr. Hinckley was another loser. He wanted to impress Actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley’s method of impressing Foster was to try to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. An idiot judge began letting Hinckley visit his parents in their home from prison in 2005. Seems to me their visiting him in prison is all he deserved if that.

The Fort Hood murderer apparently wanted to be directed from outside the U.S., but he was such a loser about how he approached it that they apparently did nothing overt to accept his offers. They probably thought he was CIA or FBI trying to entrap them.

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Is he insane?

Fox News liberal Alan Colmes said he must have been insane or he would not have done this? O’Reilly correctly pointed out that all murderers would be not guilty by reason of insanity using that logic. Some people murder because they are evil, not crazy.

If he pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, we will have to wait for the evidence on both sides. It may not be clear cut. Generally, psychiatrists are supposed to be the most sane. I believe they have to be screened in ways that other doctors are not to make sure we do not have the batty counseling the batty.

He sounds more like a loser than a nut to me. There is no not guilty by reason of loserness.

Murderer’s history

This 39-year-old guy was born in the U.S.A. (Arlington, VA) His parents’ ancestors were from al-Bireh which is in the West Bank.

He attended Wakefield H.S. in Arlington and Fleming H.S. in Roanoke, VA. His parents have a restaurant in Roanoke and the murderer and his two brothers worked there.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately after high school and was in the Army as an enlisted man for eight years—around 1987 to 1995. The U.S. military history of that period was:

1991 Desert Storm 100-hour war to rid Kuwait of Iraq invaders
1993 U.S. military sent to impose order in Haiti
1994 U.S. forces in Bosnia to protect Albanian Muslims

He attended college part-time while in the Army and got a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Virginia Tech in 1997. Virginia Tech was the scene of another massacre by a Tech student in 2007. I wrote an article about it at My main point was that victims in such situations need to fight back more. I have the same comment about Fort Hood, especially when you take into account the fact that the Fort Hood victims were generally military personnel with much training and experience in self-defense. Some were combat veterans. The murderer was not.

Why two different former Virginia Tech students committed such massacres is beyond me. I assume it is only a coincidence.

The murderer graduated from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences which is apparently a medical school that is part of the Army. Graduates have a seven-year active duty service and a six-year inactive ready reserve commitment after their internship and residency. His medical specialty was psychiatry.

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The murderer, like all his classmates, was a second lieutenant in medical school. He had received routine promotions to major by the time he massacred 13 people at Fort Hood.

There have been some reports that he was harassed by fellow military because he was a Muslim. The military says their records show no such thing. They are not trustworthy. Neither is he. He was trying to get out of the military based on the harassment claims so he had a reasons to lie or exaggerate complaints. I would not rule it out, but generally I would expect most active-duty personnel would be afraid of getting in trouble for any political incorrectness like harassing a Muslim for his religion.

He also reportedly was opposed to the current wars. He claimed he was going to be deployed to one of the war zones and that he was opposed to that deployment.

Military record

The murderer never did well as an officer as far as I can tell. His Wikipedia writeup is an unbroken series of bad reports and complaints about him. The problems involved just doing a lousy job as well as repeated indications that he publicly sided with the enemy in the war on terror. As far as I can tell, no military person ever said anything favorable about him with regard to his military service. He was waving red flags, blinking red lights, emitting smoke, and sounding warning sirens the entire time he was an Army officer.

He was awarded a medal called the Global War or Terrorism Service medal. He also got two National Defense Service medals (I got one of those while I was a West Point cadet. We called it the “I was alive in ’65” medal because it was for being the military in 1965 and thereafter.) and an Army Service Medal (never heard of it).

The Army Service Medal is apparently a medal for being graduating from your specialty school (the thing you do after you complete basic training).

See my Web article on military medals for more on all the stupid stuff that goes on with regard to medals in the military.


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Army ‘reaction’ to the warning signs

The Army’s reaction to the warning signs from the murderer, or more accurately their total non-reaction, was zilch, which was absurdly irresponsible. I would not go so far as to say that the Army should have seen the massacre coming. The warning signs, such as they were, never got that specific. They were more like the warning signs about Pearl Harbor. I read many books on that. We could see the Japanese were building up to war with the U.S. But we could not tell where and we could not tell when until hours before the attack.

But they surely should have done much more and I expect appropriate response would have reduced the probability of the massacre.

If you had a tiny company and this guy worked for you, you would have gotten rid of him pronto. If you have a large organization, with a human resources department, you probably would have hesitated, afraid that the American Trial Lawyers Association (part owners of the Democrat party along with the unions) would sue you for illegal religious discrimination.

But what about the Army? They cannot be sued. What were they afraid of?

Very simply, the officers in question did a look-out-for-number-one calculation. They concluded—repeatedly—that their chances of suffering careerwise from getting tangled up in some political-incorrectness complaint against them were greater than their chances of getting in career trouble for ignoring all the warning signs.

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A tale of three Army employees

Regular readers of my headline news articles may have recognized that I do not bother writing about a headlines news story unless I have something to say that the general media has not said about the issue. With regard to the Army’s nonreaction to the murderer’s warning signs, I have a unique perspective. I want to tell you about three Army employees: the Fort Hood murder, me, and a woman who worked in my roommate’s office at Fort Monmouth when I was stationed there.

The Army took multiple, swift actions against me and no actions at all against the Fort Hood murderer or the civilian Army employee at Fort Monmouth.

The civilian employee at Fort Monmouth is a short story. She was a clerk or typist or some such in an office base at Fort Monmouth. My roommate worked in the same office. The woman rarely came to work. When the boss dared complain to her about it once when she made a cameo appearance, she said,

I’m black and I’m civil service and you can’t do nuttin to me! So shut up!

And she was right. They did absolutely nothing. That was in 1970. For those inclined to blame Barack Obama and his cohorts for the political correctness above all that led to the Fort Hood massacre, Obama was nine years old and living in Indonesia when that black woman refused to do her job and dared her boss to try to do anything about it. Obama did not invent affirmative action or political correctness. He just rode them into the White House. Political correctness has been around since the black race riots in 1967. Additional races and categories, like Latinos, Native Americans (I’m part Cherokee), gays, and Muslims have since been added.

Now let’s compare the Fort Hood murderer and moi.

category Fort Hood murderer your humble correspondent
Voluntarily entered the Army
age 17
age 17
Pre-officer time
enlisted man and part time college student
West Point cadet
First officer rank
2nd lieutenant
2nd lieutenant
Final officer rank
1st lieutenant
Assignments volunteered for
stateside psychiatrist
Ranger School; Paratrooper school; Pathfinder School (guys who parachute in advance of main paratroopers to prepare directional beacons and scout if enemy has rendered dop zone unusable), 82nd Airborne Division; Vietnam tour specifically D Co 75th Rangers Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol unit; Fifth Special Forces Group (green berets) Vietnam
Dishonorable if not executed first
Crimes committed
Premeditated murder of 13 people
Opposition to war during service
Opposes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Agreed with need for the Vietnam war; refused invitation to join Concerned Officers Movement which opposed the Vietnam war
Commitment from military education
7-year active duty & 6-year inactive ready reserve
5 years active duty

I said the Army took multiple swift actions against me. Why? Regulations said they were supposed to tell me, but they did not have the guts. So I’m not totally sure, but my best guess is the following:

• About half way through West Point, I decided I would get out of the Army as soon as my five year commitment was over. I told my superiors that. My superiors for the first two levels above me were always non-West Point graduates. They hated the idea that a West Pointer would get out short of a 20-year career and told me so and retaliated against me for it. 58% of my West Point classmates got out of the Army before the 20-year retirement benefits vesting point. The vast majority of them lied to their superiors claiming to be planning to stay for at least 20 then revealing the truth at the last minute when they turned in their resignation.
• I refused to sign false documents. Signing false documents is a routine, daily event in the military. One example: In Vietnam, I was named battalion motor officer. The next day, my first on the job, the motor sergeant handed me a false document to sign. It said 95% of our vehicles were in great shape and 5% deadlined. In fact, 85% were deadlined and the rest were “walking wounded” at best. I refused to sign. I was immediately relieved and transfered to a more dangerous forward post. I did not mind such a post. I had volunteered for worse and there were plenty of American soldiers there when I arrived. But the motivation for the transfer was to punish me, increasing the risk that I would be wounded or killed, thereby showing the other officers what happens to one who refuses to “play the game,” and showing me who’s boss. See my article on military integrity for more. I call signing false documents and other similar activities in the Army O.P.U.M., that is, activities that are Officially Prohibited but Unofficially Mandatory.
• I also refused to participate in what I called O.V.U.M. That is, activities that are Officially Voluntary but Unofficially Mandatory. The most common example was so-called “command performance” parties. The battalion or brigade commander would host a party on Friday or Saturday night, typically at the officers club. Officially, they were not mandatory. Unofficially, they were, thus the name “command performance.” I refused to attend them. I do not drink. Drinking was the main activity at the parties. At one I attended, they had an open bar, then billed everyone for “their share.” This caused the others to try hard to get their money’s worth. I had two Cokes. I got hit with a huge liquor bill. I never went again. They were also suck-up-to-the-colonel evenings. If you ever were dumb enough to bring a date, the other bachelor officers and some of the married officers would hit on her. I actually did not think the colonels hosting the parties wanted to be there anymore than the lieutenants, captains, and majors. But it was expected of them to do it regardless of whether that was the kind of person they were. My refusal to attend “command performance” parties was probably the main reason by far that the Army gave me lousy efficiency reports, no medals they did not have to give me, made me assistant to guys who were not authorized to have an assistant (assistants do not have to sign documents), assigned me to less desirable posts and jobs, stopped my promotion to captain, and discharged me 11 months early from the Army. In short, they took every action against me that was available. They never court martialed me, but the JAG officers on my posts often told me the brass tried to court martial me but the JAGs talked them out of it. On what charge? Refusing to follow a direct order to attend a Saturday night party at the officers club. The lawyers explained it was probably not an in-line-of-duty legal order like a combat order and that the worldwide press, which was extremely anti-U.S. military and anti-Vietnam War at the time, would have had a field day making fun of the case. (The daily newspaper near Fort Monmouth tried to interview me for such a story when I was being administratively “tried” leading to my discharge. I declined because I did not want it to look like I was refusing the things I refused in order to draw attention to myself.)

About 98% of my West Point classmates were promoted to captain on the second anniversary of our graduation. That was standard throughout the Army then. I was never promoted to captain which meant I spent three years and nine days at a rank almost all of my classmates only spent one year at. My first lieutenant days ended with my honorable discharge, not promotion. Contrast that to the Fort Hood Murderer who was promoted to major—the rank above captain—in May, 2009, years after he had been publicly misbehaving and six months before he murdered 13 people including 12 fellow soldiers.

Only refuseniks did not get promoted

My dozen or so classmates who also did not make captain were all for “refusenik” reasons unrelated to job performance: conscientious objection to all wars, protest against the Vietnam war, one desertion to Sweden, that sort of thing. As far as I know, lousy job performance never prevented anyone from being promoted in the U.S. military. There may have been some such somewhere, but I never saw such a thing or even heard of such a thing. I am talking about officer promotions up to lieutenant colonel. To go higher than that, you have to be a successful politician. Not making full colonel does not reflect on your substantive job performance, only on your suck-up performance.

You may wonder how I got promoted from 2nd lieutenant to 1st lieutenant. Here you go:

Time period What I did
June July, 1968
graduation leave: worked as a bartender at the Dolphin, a singles bar at the Jersey Shore (Sea Isle City)
August September
Ranger School; I graduated and was awarded the ranger tab at the end of the school; a large percentage of my West Point classmates never got the tab or were awarded it by Army fiat after the normal graduation because they felt the graders in the school had an anti-West Pointer bias; I later learned that I was recommended by our ranger instructors to be brought back to the school as a ranger instructor
October November
Signal Officers Basic Course at Fort Gordon, GA; I passed all the tests first time; half my West Point classmates flunked the final exam and were taken into a room, read the answers, and allowed to take the test again, at which time all passed
Paratrooper school; I graduated; one of my West Point classmates who was a starting linebacker on the Army football team flunked the chin-up test; you had to do six; he could not do any
January through May, 1969
radio officer school which I passed along with all of my classmates (You had to be relatively high in our class at West Point to get into radio officers school which was the most desirable of the various Signal Corps specialty courses)
Graduated in the first class of the U.S. Army Satellite Communications Officer School; commended for correcting the teacher regarding orbital calculations (he said the greater the mass of a satellite, the faster it had to go to remain in orbit. I said, “No, the mass is irrelevant. The required orbital velocity is solely a function of the radius of the orbit.); I was right; he was impressed; one of my classmates from West Point flunked the satellite commo course; no retest for him that time
June 5, 1969
first anniversary of our graduation from West Point. All of my West Point classmates and I were promoted to first lieutenant except for one of my Signal Corps classmates who deserted to Sweden from the Signal School at Fort Monmouth. He later returned to the U.S. and was court martialed, sentenced to hard labor in Leavenworth, and dishonorably discharged after he completed his sentence.
June 5, 1970
All of my classmates who had not refused on principle to do various things were promoted to captain

In other words, when I was in schools, which are objectively graded and lack requirements like signing false documents or attending “command performance” parties, I was arguably performing in the top half of my West Point class. If I had been in a school when I came up for captain, as many of my classmates who went to two-year grad schools were, I would have been promoted to captain.

Any chance I did not make captain and got discharged early because I did a lousy job? Not really. For one thing, as the Fort Hood murderer and the Fort Monmouth civilian clerk show, the Army does not give a damn whether you do a good job. You can see the details of my jobs, such as they were, at my article on whether young men and women should go to West Point.

Bunard operation

I’ll give you two pertinent stories that I have not told elsewhere. None of the units I was ever in in the U.S. or Vietnam really had anything to do. They were generally like garrison duty in the U.S. or Germany or Korea. That was true of most non-infantry, non-armor units in Vietnam. But on two occasions, my battalion or brigade commander was assigned to do something that would be seen by his boss—a general. Each of these assignments required one company grade officer (lieutenant or captain). The nature of the projects was that one officer from the unit would represent the unit outside the unit. When they looked around at all the officers in the units in question, guess who they decided they’d better give the job to. Me.

One was shepherding a radio teletype squad and equipment out to and back from a forward area assignment (losted several months as I recall) working with the U.S. Special Forces A-team there and a battalion of Vietnamese Army rangers in a remote outpost called Bunard. Do a search for “Bunard” within my domain (using the little search box at the top of all my Web pages) to see the details of that.

In that project, a four-star general (II Field Force commander Julian J. Ewell) might be judging my battalion commander through the performance of me and a squad of men from the platoon where I was assistant platoon leader (a non-existent job). My boss, the platoon leader, was a draftee who went to OCS. He was not West Point, not ranger, not airborne, and getting out of the Army on the second anniversary of his being drafted a couple of months later.

Because of good men (draftees) in the squad and good preparation before the mission (like driving the truck-size radio teletype box over rough road to see what would shake loose in the process of delivering it to Bunard by C-130 airplane and forklift. Certain things had a propensity to shake loose. We figured out which they were at our battalion home base. Got spares of those. Then promptly found and fixed them after we set up in Bunard.). It went off without a hitch.

Armed Forces Day Parade

On the other occasion, At Fort Monmouth, NJ, the U.S. Army Signal (communications) School, I had been relieved of my company commander job and recommended to be discharged for “defective attitude.” I then was working as an assistant to an assistant in Brigade HQ. One day, a colonel came to me sheepishly, sort of hat in hand. “What the hell is this about?” I wondered. “These guys are in the process of throwing me out of the Army.”

Lieutenant Reed, do you know what the adjutant does at a parade?

Yes sir,” I said. I thought, “I’m a freaking West Point graduate, Colonel. What the hell do you think? I marched in hundreds of parades.” If you click on the 4:30 point of this video, you can see the adjutant all by himself marching onto the field to await the rest of the corps of cadets. In the parade video, you can also see that each company has a guy carrying a gray and gold flag. I was one of those guys (guidon bearer) in the summer of 1965 and the winter of 1966. Disneyland used to show a movie in a 360-degree theater. It included a West Point parade. I was marching in that parade. I remember the goofy jeep with eight cameras on the roof zipping around among us during the parade and wondering, “WTF!?” We had not been warned or told it would be tere.

The adjutant is the single officer in charge of the entire brigade (about 6,000 men in a school brigade) parade until the “pass in review.”

Be the Brigade Adjutant

He asked if I would agree to be the Brigade Adjutant for the Armed Forces Day parade.

Sir, you already have a brigade adjutant.

The brigade adjutant, who is mainly the human-resources guy on a day-to-day basis, was a non-West Point captain who got his commission by going to law school. Of course, there were also about 40 other officers in the brigade who could have done it, too. None of them were West Pointers or rangers or paratroopers. Also, none of them were in the process of being thrown out of the Army because they had “defective attitude.” Given my alleged “attitude,” you would think I would rank last of the 40 for such a duty.

Why would the brigade commander demean himself to ask this favor of little old three-year first lieutenant me? Because the commanding general of First Army (four stars, the most you can get) would be coming from the Pentagon to watch the parade. Our brigade commander who asked me to do the job was a mere full colonel. Unlike 99% of the shit the brigade did on a daily basis, the Armed Forces Day Parade had to be done right because a second highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Army would be there to see it. (The only guy higher than an Army commander is the Army Chief of Staff.)

Adjutants usually walk very fast to their spot where they command the parade. I always thought that looked stupid and unnecessary. I did not do it that way. They asked me to do it that way. I politely refused. Don’t push your freaking luck, guys. You are going back to throwing me out of the Army as soon as the parade’s over.

Also, after I commanded the pre-pass-in-review portion of the parade, I was to about face, salute the brigade commander and report, “Sir the brigade is formed!”

Instead, I said, “Happy Armed Forces Day, sir!”

How did the parade go? Piece of cake. It included me ordering the battalion commander who had relieved me from my company commander job and my former company around, e.g., “Battalion commanders, order your battalions to present arms!” And he and they damned well did what I ordered them to do.

‘Am I missing something?’

Then the First Army commander went back to the Pentagon, where he later approved my discharge over the protests of his own JAG officers.

The First Army JAG read the transcript and called my JAG laweyr and asked, “Am I missing something, or are we throwing a West Point, Airborne, Ranger Vietnam vet out of the Army for refusing to go to parties?” My lawyer said, “That’s it.” The First Army JAG said he was recommending the general overturn it. The general did not overturn it.

The brigade commander went back to throwing me out of the Army. I’m sure the First Army Commander never knew I was the adjutant he saw at the parade. It would not have mattered.

Only act when serious matters are involved, like parties

Anyway all that is a long story to prove that the U.S. Army can take, and has taken, many prompt, severe actions against an officer when they want to. What you may not have known is that such things as refusing to come to work and daring the boss to do something about it or publicly siding with the enemy during a war, do not inspire the Army to want to take action. Refusing to attend a party or sign false documents, on the other hand, are extremely serious transgressions to the United States Army officer corps.

If the U.S. Army had reacted to the Fort Hood murderer the way they reacted to my refusing to attend parties, they either would have prevented the massacre or they would not be criticized for lack of prompt action. This is an extremely telling illustration of the true priorities of U.S. military career officers. They take care of Number One.

Was Obama administration political correctness at work in the failure to take action against the murderer when he gave them tons of warning signs? I’m sure Obama and his people have made all that a bit worse, but the U.S. Army has been ignoring soldiers and others who do a lousy job for at least 40 years and probably long before that. It’s not an Obama-caused problem or a Bush-caused problem. It’s a military-bureaucracy-caused problem. The U.S. military has long been well known to be SNAFU and FUBAR. The Muslim murderer at Fort Hood is just the latest evidence of it.

Indentured servitude

Another aspect of this case that I think few understand is what indentured servitude does to a person and his masters. People think indentured servitude ended over a hundred years ago. It did, everywhere except the U.S. military. Indentured servitude is where a person voluntarily enters into an employment contract in which the employer pays the worker’s travel expenses to come to America or provides training. The worker, in turn, agrees to work for little or no salary, plus room and board, for a period of years until the debt is paid off.

When you think about it, that is the deal I had with the Army for going to West Point. And it is the deal the Fort Hood murderer had with the Army as a result of graduating from their medical school. Half way through West Point, I figured, well, I do not want to make a career of the Army, but I have to do the five years so I’ll make the best of those five years and be gung ho, then get out. I knew my superiors would not be thrilled with my plans to refuse to sign false documents and attend mandatory parties, but I figured they would not dare do anything to me because of it. I thought if they did to a West Pointer any of the stuff they did to me, wich generally would be in documents sent to the Pentagon, the Pentagon would call the commander and say,

What the hell is going on with you and Lieutenant Reed? You know we have five years of 24/7 evaluations of him in every way at West Point and in the training he went through during his first year after West Point. We also investigated his life before he went to West Point including having military intelligence interivew many people in the community who knew him. He has a top secret security clearance, which, by the way, you never got, colonel. Now you seem to be saying that he is below the standards of a weak 90-day wonder, non-ranger, non-airborne, OCS officer. Either you’re going to tell us that Reed turned into a drug or alcohol addict, or suffered some brain trauma, or you have a whole lot of explaining to do.

Boy, was I wrong!

In a cage being poked by sticks

Being an indentured servant felt like being in a cage where my captors amused themselves by poking me with sticks every day. First, they would try to persuade me to “play the game” like everyone else. See the scripted “counseling” session they used for that purpose at my military integrity article. It’s in a box format so you can scroll down and find it quickly in the article.

When that did not work, they would tighten the screws on me with the retaliation stuff I listed above. They ultimately discharged me 11 months early because they ran out of screws to tighten. They figured they were powerful colonels and I was a weak 1st lieutenant and I could not do anything about their tormenting me. In my case, they were right. I just endured it as if I were a P.O.W. rather than a platoon leader in a war.

Here is a paragraph from the Wikipedia article on indentured servitude:

On the other hand, this ideal was not always a reality for indentured servants. Both male and female laborers could be subject to violence, occasionally even resulting in death. The large number of servants who ran away or committed suicide suggests that the conditions of life during the period of bondage may not have been so different for the servant and the slave. Female indentured servants in particular might be raped and/or sexually abused by their masters. Cases of successful prosecution for these crimes were very uncommon, as indentured servants were unlikely to have access to a magistrate, and social pressure to avoid such brutality could vary by geography and cultural norm. The situation was particularly difficult for indentured women, because in both low social class and sex, they were believed to be particularly prone to vice, making legal redress unusual.

You may remember Bacon’s Rebellion from your history classes. Many of those who rebelled in that incident were indentured servants.

Like bad marriages when divorce was illegal

It also seemed to me like a bad marriage back when divorce was more or less illegal. In the 60s, so-called no-fault divorces were allowed for the first time. The usual grounds for no-fault divorces are “irreconcilable differences.” Before that, one party had to commit adultery or some other crime to get a divorce. That was especially awful when both members of the couple were extremely moral people who would never do such a thing, but were forced to by the laws that prohibited divorces except for cause. The Army and I had irreconcilable differences and needed a divorce, but it was not allowed because of my commitment. Same may have been true of the Fort Hood murderer. He tried to get out of the Army, including offering to pay the Army back for his training. They refused.

Now, overlay that template on the Fort Hood murderer. And add his religious zealotry to the mix. And remember my commitment was five years, one of which was school where I had no problem. His commitment was seven years active duty and 6 inactive reserve. Also, if I understand correctly, his commitment obligation vested when he graduated from medical school, but the years he spent in internship and residency did not count toward working off the commitment.

You agreed to it

People who have never been in the situation say, “Well you and the Fort Hood psychiatrist knew the deal when you signed up.” Yes and no. I was 17 when I signed that agreement. It was four years not five. Then the Army unilaterally changed it to five afer I was a freshman at West Point. “You could have quit” you say. Not so clear cut.

Things charged dramatically over the many years involved

After I entered West Point, the Vietnam war started. There had previously been a peacetime draft. That’s how Elvis Presley got into the Army. They stepped up the number drafted greatly. If I left West Point, I would have been drafted.

After the mid point of the four years at West Point, if I quit, I would have had to go straight into the Army. If I quit junior year, I would have been a corporal in the Army with a four-year commitment. If I quit when I was a senior at West Point, I would have been a buck sergeant with a five-year commitment in the Vietnam-war-era Army. At age 17 I knew neither who I was nor what the Army really was. And I never dreamed how I would be treated until I got to Vietnam. Turn back the clock to 1964 with me having the knowledge of myself and the Army that I later acquired and there is no way in hell I would have agreed to go to West Point. The same may be true of the Fort Hood murderer. That if he knew when he entered the Army medical school what he later learned, he would not have gone there to begin with.

Major Jihad joined the Army as a Muslim when we were not at war with any Muslims. By the time we were at war with militant Islam, he was trapped inside the Army by his medical school commitment.

You don’t understand unless you have been in the situation yourself

I am not making an excuse for Major Jihad. I am just explaining that the people pontificating about the case on TV and talk radio do not understand the fact that many in the military are indentured servants and what it means to be an indentured servant, especially when the masters use their power and your inability to get away to amuse themselves and show their power by tormenting you—the Lucifer Effect.

Was I ever mad enough to kill my colonel tormentors? No. I also did not have a loose screw or a religious cult mind set. I must add that the colonels did seem to be mad enough at me to make me do risky stuff where the probability that I and/or my seregant would be killed, wounded, or captured by the enemy was increased. (My sergeant had not pissed them off, but he had to drive me because officers, even the lowest lieutenant, are never allowed to drive themselves in the military. They have people.)

Many in the military do have loose screws or cult mind sets. The Army is full of fragging incidents, intentional friendly fire, suicides, and a lot of poor quality soldiers like those who were convicted criminals and such before entering the Army. There are also a lot of grudges among soldiers for slights, comments, hitting on the wives or girlfriends of others, bullying by higher ranking NCOs and officers, and so on. It is a volatile, dangerous mix. As a result, the Army needs to be far more watchful for any warning signs than the vast majority of organizations that readers are familiar with.

I am not surprised that one of the Army’s many indentured servants would lash out violently at his masters. I do not excuse it, but the military “plays with such fire” every day. For them to claim to be “shocked, shocked” by suicides or military-on-military violence is bullshit.

The U.S. military needs a “pressure relief valve” on the indentured-servant relationship. They need some sort of no-fault divorce rule so they do not have to accuse model citizens like me of having a “defective attitude” in order to dissolve a relationship that is in the best interests of everyone to dissolve.

I have simpler advice to young people considering entering into an indentured servant relationship with the U.S. military. Don’t do it. You have too little self-knowledge. You do not know what the world situation will be throughout the period of servitude. You do not know who your commanders will be from the Commander in Chief on down. There is a good reason indentured servitude was outlawed outside of the military.

Feedback from recent West Pointer

Here are excerpts from an email I received on Thanksgiving from a forward deployed member of the Class of 2007 from West Point.

I just finished reading your article on the Ft. Hood Massacre.  Great, straight-forward writing as usual.  I regularly visit your website to steel myself against what I know that I have to face on a daily basis. …thank-you for saying what every person in the military knows but can't/won't say.

My "sponsor," (the other PL in my company) has been relating his experiences to me ever since I arrived.  What stuck out to me was how similar they are to what you experienced in the military, even though our experiences are almost forty years apart.  He related how, in meetings with the battalion commander (which he attended when the company commander wasn't there), when he told the truth he was admonished for it by the first sergeant, and later by the commander for doing so.  The CO's regularly lied in their briefings in order to make sure that the battalion commander heard what he wanted to hear.

There is still a great deal of pressure to attend those parties that you got kicked out of the military for not attending. 

Army Chief of Staff General George Casey

A number of people have responded to this article by raging against Army Chief of Staff General George Casey who made a public statement shortly after the massacre talking about avoiding anti-Muslim feelings.

My son wrote a post about Casey’s statement at his blog: He asked me to suggest a title. I offered:

General Casey is more concerned about hurting the feelings of Muslims than he is about Muslims hurting the bodies of American soldiers.

How did Casey become Chief of Staff, the highest position in the U.S. Army? Same as Vietnam era generals Westmoreland and Abrams. He went to war, failed, and got kicked upstairs. Petraeus and the surge replaced Casey who did nothing but preside over the deaths of thousands of U.S. military personnel on his watch there. I note that Abrams, who fought under Patton in World War II, in the Korean War, and in Vietnam, has only five rows of ribbons. Casey, who was too young to have been in Vietnam and was too old to have done anything but be a lard ass brass hat in his only war—Iraq, has nine rows of medals. People call him “highly decorated” and he does not correct them. He’s as phony as a three-dollar bill.

His instinct after the death of 13 of his men at Fort Hood was a politically correct career-protecting speech. That, when you think about it, is the instinct that got him to the position of Chief of staff of the Army. When he was commander in Iraq, thousands of his men died. Those deaths did not stop him from becoming Chief of Staff. His response should have been to say taht heads were going to roll from the failure to prevent thais and that there damned well never be another such incident in the U.S. Army. But the Army is what it is and the way it is. It attracts and promotes the empty suit, political George Caseys of the world and drives away people like me and most of my West Point classmates.

Casey is no soldier. He’s a politician first and foremost. Paradoxically, you do not get to be a high ranking leader in teh U.S. military by how well you do as a leader. You get promoted to leadership positions by how well you do as a follower and ass kisser. That is the inevitable result of an evaluation system that is 100% controlled by your superiors and takes no input from your peers or subordinates. At West Point, we were evalutaed for leadership by both peers and subordinates. They should add subordinates there and everywere else in the military.

When we were at West Point in the late 1960s, they told us that if you, “were a West Point graduate and kept your nose clean,” you would make full colonel before your retired. (The correct version turned out to be if you “played the game and were never in the wrong place at the wrong time,” you would make lieutenant colonel—which is one rank below colonel.)

To make general, we were told, you had to become an olive drab politician. (When my West Point class was in the Army, it turned out that you had to become a politician to make full colonel or general.)

Casey is the top general in the Army. See my article “The 30-year, marathon, single-elimination suck-up tournament or how American chooses its generals.” Casey is the gold medalist in that suck-up tournament, the number one boot licker, the guy with the brownest nose, the biggest ass kisser, the number one sycophant. Those skills are what he got his stars for—and all nine of his rows of medals.

I have written about Casey a number of times in passing. To read those posts, search for the name Casey in the search box at the top of any of my Web pages, not your browser or Google search box, the one that searches my Web domain only. I regard him as an empty olive drab suit. See my dismissal of his nine rows of ribbons at my military medals article.