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The Manifesto of the League of Disgruntled Majors

by the LDM Grand Poobah at the League of Disgruntled Majors blog in August 2006

We are the League of Disgruntled Majors, a loosely affiliated group of officers in the United States Army. We are comprised [sic] mostly of majors, 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 formations, 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, regardless of the political party in power; past, present, or future. 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 M-4 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 Vehicle leases in a theater of war. We wear 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 lab rats. We are gerbils in a cage. We are doe-eyed white rabbits naively believing the Army will take care of us, as it performs experiments on us with monikers like Task Force 21, OPMS 21, Transformation, and Modularity. When the experiment produces inconvenient results, we, like other lab animals, come to the cold realization that we are to be euthanized. Or at least our careers are.

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 than it will provide to us (paraphrased from the Army Training and Leadership Development Panel Report, lest we be cited for Plagiarism).

We Embrace Ambiguity – Mediocrity – Sarcasm. These are our watch-words. Ambiguity, because if we are lucky, the climate 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 compared to their own. And Sarcasm, because at times the only way to survive to fight another day is through the biting balm of sarcastic humor.

We Look Forward to 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 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.