Articles

Suing the president and other forms of military professional suicide

The headlines lit up today with the news that Army Captain Nathan Michael Smith (sounds like a cross between a Revolutionary War icon and a Christian pop music star) has sued President Barack Obama, who also happens to be Smith's commander-in-chief, because he believes that the war against ISIS is unconstitutional and illegal.


"To honor my oath, I am asking the court to tell the president that he must get proper authority from Congress, under the War Powers Resolution, to wage the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria," Smith wrote.

As reported by The New York Times, the White House has countered that its position is legitimate because the Islamic State used to be a Qaeda affiliate in Iraq during the Iraq War.

Regardless of how this plays out on other fronts, one thing is for sure: Smith, an intelligence officer currently stationed in Kuwait, won't be making major. There are few things those sitting in offices along the nice part of the E Ring in the Pentagon hate more than a smarty-pants zealot junior officer getting all constitutional-law on them and making them look like they don't have any control over their people.

So, basically, Smith has just committed professional suicide, which got us here at WATM thinking about a few other effective means to terminate active duty pronto:

1. Snort heroin but claim you ate a couple of poppy seed bagels

This one's good because you'll most certainly pop positive on your command's next whizz quiz, and you'll be processed for an "other than honorable" discharge, which -- depending on your legal team -- can show you the door in a hurry. The beauty of the poppy seed excuse is it induces just the right amount of doubt that you'll be thrown out without all the associated ick of being a scumbag druggie . . . just some of it.

2. Have classified information found in your home

This happens to aviators more than any other warfare specialty. Here's the usual scenario: A pilot packs his flight gear, including his kneeboard, after his last hop in a squadron right before a PCS move. He fails to notice that a couple of the briefing cards clipped to his kneeboard are labeled "SECRET NOFORN." During the move one of the packers stumbles across the card, and she winds up showing it to one of her neighbors at the apartment complex who happens to work at the local NCIS office.

Or these days you can have secret stuff found in your private email account . . .

Nice knowing you, Classified Breach Maverick.

3. Have a messy breakup with someone under you in the chain of command

Notice we didn't say "have an intimate relationship with someone under you in the chain of command." Relationships aren't the problem. Breakups are. So if you're already involved with someone doing things that you shouldn't be, keep it going. And if you can't keep it going, creep away with the attention of a GI easing out of a German minefield (cause if you don't it's not your legs that are going to get blown off).

"Hell hath no fury . . ." and your CO will see that you're thrown out in a hurry, but only after your photo is splashed on the front page of Military Times.

4. Talk to the press without running it by your PAO

(Photo: U.S. Army)

He who dies with the most Facebook friends wins, right? Well, there's no better way to get people to think you're all kinds of awesome than getting quoted in the paper or having your face on the news. And speak your mind about foreign policy and national security; it's a free country.

Actually, if you do this you'll be hammered after your CO gets a call from the guy or girl in the chain of command above him. And let's just say you're next eval or fitrep won't be the vehicle that launches you to the next rank, more like one that launches you out the door.

History

This pilot shot down an enemy fighter at Pearl Harbor in his pajamas

Comfort is important when doing a hard job. If it's hot on the work site, it's important to stay cool. If it's hazardous, proper protection needs to be worn. And comfort is apparently key when the Japanese sneak attack the Navy. Just ask Lt. Phil Rasmussen, who was one of four pilots who managed to get off the ground to fight the Japanese in the air.

Rasmussen, like many other American GIs in Hawaii that day, was still asleep when the Japanese launched the attack at 0755. The Army Air Forces 2nd Lieutenant was still groggy and in his pajamas when the attacking wave of enemy fighters swarmed Wheeler Field and destroyed many of the Army's aircraft on the ground.

Damaged aircraft on Hickam Field, Hawaii, after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

There were still a number of outdated Curtiss P-36A Hawk fighters that were relatively untouched by the attack. Lieutenant Rasmussen strapped on a .45 pistol and ran out to the flightline, still in his pajamas, determined to meet the sucker-punching Japanese onslaught.

By the time the attack ended, Wheeler and Hickam Fields were both devastated. Bellows Field also took a lot of damage, its living quarters, mess halls, and chapels strafed by Japanese Zeros. American troops threw back everything they could muster – from anti-aircraft guns to their sidearms. But Rasmussen and a handful of other daring American pilots managed to get in the air, ready to take the fight right back to Japan in the Hawks if they had to. They took off under fire, but were still airborne.

Pearl Harbor pilots Harry Brown, Phil Rasmussen, Ken Taylor, George Welch, and Lewis Sanders.

They made it as far as Kaneohe Bay.

The four brave pilots were led by radio to Kaneohe, where they engaged 11 enemy fighters in a vicious dogfight. Even in his obsolete old fighter, Rasmussen proved that technology is no match for good ol' martial skills and courage under fire. He managed to shoot down one of the 11, but was double-teamed by two attacking Zeros.

Gunfire and 20mm shells shattered his canopy, destroyed his radio, and took out his hydraulic lines and rudder cables. He was forced out of the fighting, escaping into nearby clouds and making his way back to Wheeler Field. When he landed, he did it without brakes, a rudder, or a tailwheel.

There were 500 bullet holes in the P-36A's fuselage.

Skillz.

Lieutenant Rasmussen earned the Silver Star for his boldness and would survive the war, getting his second kill in 1943. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1965, but will live on in the Museum of the United States Air Force, forever immortalized as he hops into an outdated aircraft in his pajamas.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

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