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August 17, 2006

The League of Disgruntled Majors.

Count me among them. Brothers, Sisters, we March!


We are the League of Disgruntled Majors, a loosely affiliated group of officers in the United States Army. We are comprised mostly of Major’s, though we are certain that there are Lieutenant Colonels and some senior captains who align themselves with our beliefs. We have even found we have compatriots of similar grades in the other armed forces of the United States. We are mostly those who work behind the scenes of an operation to make it successful. We seldom march at the head of formation, kick in doors, fly aircraft, or drive tanks, though we support those who do daily, with little fanfare. We are planners, logisticians, communicators and coordinators. To steal a phrase from the special operations community, we are “quiet professionals” who do our jobs well, though are seldom recognized for it. For our efforts, we are infrequently praised, and frequently disdained by those we support and those we help make successful.

We are patriots. We serve because we love our country and because we agree with most of its policies, though some may be flawed. We agreed to give up personal comfort and personal freedom to serve a cause which we believe to be a higher calling. We serve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the necessarily the political party currently in power, regardless of their ideology. We serve the American Ideal.

We have forgone Glory. Many of us used to be Soldiers who kicked in doors and took the fight to the enemy, though we do it no longer. Those we support use the M4 Carbine and up-armored Humvee gun-truck as their weapons. We use MS Office, a laptop, and an internet connection. You will not see us in a Time-Life photo spread on images of war. We will not be interviewed for TV, unless it is on a 3:30 AM C-SPAN airing of a congressional subcommittee meeting investigating US Army expenditures on Non-Tactical Vehicles leases in a theater of war. We wear the combat patches on our right sleeves, but those who go off the installation to patrol the streets wonder if we actually deserve them. We are certain we do.

We are “They”. We are the shadowy “They-people”. When something goes wrong or a new policy is released, and those around us say “They screwed it up” or “They said we have to do it this way”, we are “They”. We work in invisibility…until something goes awry, then we are in a spotlight hued red by anger and frustration. Those we support don’t necessarily know what they want, but they will know when they see it, they want it yesterday, and lots of it…They don’t care how much it costs, until they get the bill.

We are Cannon-fodder. When we do our jobs well, we are frequently found at fault for it. When we fulfill our obligations, we are deemed “roadblocks”. When we are successful, we are viewed as unsuccessful. Those we report to don’t understand what we do, and have no intention of trying to. As a result, when it comes to advancement, evaluations, assignments, and awards, we are frequently at the bottom of the heap. We are perpetually “center-mass” in order to help build the profile for those our raters do understand. We have reached the point where this surprises us no longer. We will simply keep our heads down, keep working, and see what happens, come what may. We will fulfill our obligations and do our jobs, expecting no accolades from those we support. We know that the army expects more commitment from us then it will provide to us (paraphrased from the Army Training and Leadership Development Panel Report, lest we be cited for Plagiarism).

Ambiguity – Mediocrity – Sarcasm. These are our watch-words. Ambiguity, because if we are lucky, the climate will we operate in will be Ambiguous at best. Mediocrity, because regardless of the quality or timeliness of our output and contribution, those we support will view our efforts as mediocre, at best, compared to their own. And Sarcasm, because at times the only way to survive to fight another days is through the biting balm of sarcastic humor.

Our Pay-off. Why do we put up with it and why do we continue? Why not hang up our seat-worn uniforms and join the civilian sector? Because in the end we know our jobs are important and that that our Army would not be successful without us. But more importantly, we know that prior to leaving the Army and entering the retirement rolls, we will be in the most powerful positions in the Army. No… we won’t be generals or commanders, or even high powered staffers. We will likely still be majors, passed over twice, sitting in dimly-lit offices in the basement of the pentagon, with longer than regulation haircuts, rumpled uniforms, unkempt mustaches and a bottle of scotch in the bottom right-hand drawer of our desks. We will be the most powerful men in the army because we will be majors getting ready to retire with nothing to lose by telling you exactly what we think, consequences be damned…We will be the most dangerous men in the Army.

©2006 LODM

Oops! I need to add, *I* did not create this. It came from Disgruntled Majors in Iraq, via email to a brother here in the land of the Big PX! Don't want anyone getting the wrong idea. [Update: I have been in contact with the Grand Poobah of the LODM, however.]

Update: The Legion of The Damned, also known as the League of Disgruntled Majors, numbers many fine folks who retire with a Silver Oak leaf. Not on their shoulder, but on their MSM ribbon. While that punk LTC they work for gets a Legion of Merit for suggesting that they change UAV to UAS.

There have been Disgruntled Majors throughout history. Colonel W.C. Hall describes one such - with The True Story of Horatius At The Bridge.*

*H/t to Jim C for good timing on the Horatius link.