BY: LT. COL. (PROB.) ANNIE MERGENCIE
Mar 16, 2011 USA (SUN) The grey Ford Crown Victoria pulled to a decisive halt outside the Pentagon. In the back seat, much-decorated Gen. F. William Paisley, Chief of Staff of the United Armed Forces Committee, tossed down the edition of the Washington Times that had broken the story that caused such concern amongst the military brass. Throughout his brilliant career he had kept it secret that the F. in his name stands for "Ferdinand," and he was satisfied that this little fact had never emerged in the newspapers, either.
"Good God!" the general snapped half-jokingly to his driver, Lieut. Peterson. "What's that?" Coming from the opposite direction a long black Lincoln limousine surrounded by Federal Policemen mounted on shining Harley-Davidsons eased up to the entrance.
"Oh that." Lieut. Peterson responded obligingly. "That's the Vice-President, Sir."
"Hmmph!" the General snorted, "He's just a second-in-command figurehead and look at all the glitter. Anyway, let him take the heat. We know who's in charge here. Well, we've got work to do."
"Right, Sir. Here are the files. The meeting begins at thirteen hundred hours, so we've got only five minutes."
The general greeted the vice-president pompously and together the two of them strolled into the opposing concrete structure and made their way to the chamber where the meeting was being held. Opening the oak door, they found the heads of each of the divisions of the armed forces seated around the long oblong table. Some of them were rustling through papers. They were all nervous. The mood of the room was electric with tension.
The vice-president nodded curtly to the group. "Forgive me for abandoning formalities, gentlemen." He began. "But we've got a real emergency here. It seems that every officer ranking above lieutenant and below general or admiral whether in the Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and even the National Guard has abandoned his post. Just walked away. Disappeared. We're left with a bunch of second lieutenants and ensigns in charge of platoons of sergeants, privates and enlisted high school drop-outs."
"Correction, uh, Sir." The voice came from the Admiral at other end of the table.
"There's one senior officer left. I think he's somewhere out west. Claims he's been trying to explain to us the problem for some years now and he's very vocal about it."
"Well, what did he say?" the vice-president demanded.
"We're not sure, Sir," the Admiral replied. We didn't like the tone of his voice or his attitude, so we had an ombudsmen take a report and stash it in a circular file.
"Hmmm." The vice-president considered the situation as his eyes met those of each one in the room. "Well, that's the situation and what are we going to do about it? We've got to come to a decision immediately without bothering the President. We don't want to interrupt his basketball game."
"Then, Sir, I'll tell you what to do here and now." General Paisley was never one to mince words at meetings, and he could care less for politicians. "We've got to put the one last remaining officer on probation."
The VP was astonished. "Probation… what does that mean? There's nothing like that in our charter. Besides, he's done nothing wrong except try to tell us why all the other officers packed up and left."
"I could care less if we are authorized or not, Sir." Now General Paisley was turning his trademark crimson red, something he was known for whenever he confronted a politician. "Authorization is a detail, and an unimportant one. Now listen to me, Sir, and I'll tell you how to do it. Just get an official-looking seal and stamp it on some important-sounding document. Then have the lowest-ranking remaining members of the Staff sign it. Once this man is on probation all the other problems will go away."
"But wait," the stunned VP contested, "Probation' implies placing someone under the supervision of a superior officer. All the other officers have left, remember?"
"I could care less what it means," the General responded authoritatively. "It sounds intimidating, and that's all we care about."
He looked around the room, challenging each pair of eyes to respond. "Now all in favor of this plan say ‘Aye.'"
As the room filled with obliging "Ayes", Gen. Paisley turned to the Vice-President and smirked. "Sorry, Sir, you're outvoted!"