Military Times Article 11FEB09
After reading the above article, several times due to disbelief, and letting it sink in a few days, I got mad. Real mad. Mad enough to write three letters to my US Senators and Representative!
Here is what I wrote to them:
"I am an Air Force veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served in the United States Air Force as a 1C4X1 Tactical Air Control Party Radio Operator Maintainer and Driver (TACP ROMAD) for six years and eleven months. My duties required that I be collocated with US Army combat units from Corps level headquarters on down to the Battalion level headquarters for the command and control aspect along with filtering down to the battlefield to work with US Army Forward Observers, Scouts, Infantry, and Tankers to control fixed wing Close Air Support. From 02AUG00 to 01JUL07 I have served in many places; from Ft. Riley Kansas where I deployed with the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment in support of Intrinsic Action and Operation Southern Watch at Camp Doha Kuwait from APR02-JUN02, to Camp Casey Korea, and finally to Ft. Wainwright Alaska where I served with 172nd Stryker Brigade and 4th Brigade 25th Infantry Airborne Brigade Combat Team. My entire career revolved around supporting the Army, which entailed training and deploying with them to the battlefield as a Battlefield Airman.
Because of this background, I was deeply disturbed by an article I read on the Military Times website dated 11FEB09 (http://www.military.com/news/article/February-2009/deployments-scrubbed-from-af-promotions.html?ESRC=airforce-a.nl also see attached). Having spent so much time on the battlefield and on the training fields with the US Army as part of my career, I enjoyed the benefits of using those experiences for my promotions; however it appears that this will no longer be the case for those of my comrades who are still in the service. For whatever reason, the US Air Force has seen fit to 'scrub' a significant portion of my old career fields PRIMARY occupation from any promotion board. This is simply unacceptable. This is insulting.
There are many ways in which the US Air Force can make promotions for Airmen who never deploy to the battlefield more competitive, most especially when they compete with Airmen within they're specialties! 'Scrubbing' battlefield deployments is a slap in face to the Airman who voluntary have placed themselves in harms way to carryout their daily duties, all because somebody feels left out because they didn't deploy for six months on the ground with Army and sat in an air conditioned trailer on Nellis AFB looking at a screen figuring out what a Predator UAV was seeing? What kind of military organization is this? I understand that staring at UAV feed is incredibly stressful, especially watching people die real time knowing its not a movie, Lord knows I've spent hours doing that myself within the Tactical Operations Center on FOB Kalsu with 4-25 ABCT! But its not combat, and its certainly not the same as my brothers in arms who were outside the wire that night! They have earned the honor, and they have earned the right to use those experiences whenever they face a board for promotions or anything else!
Please look into this! Please get answers from the Secretary of the Air Force if you must to figure out why this is taking place! I've seen the Battlefield Airman program grow from infancy just prior to 9/11/01 when all we got was the new PRC-117 multi-band man portable radio through two invasions and the much needed influx of newer tactical vehicles to replace Desert Storm era equipment that was no longer reliable! We have seen Air Liaison Officer (ALO) tours go from being a dead end career in the USAF for pilots to having one of our own former ALOs become the first female Thunderbird Pilot! Yet now, this. This is a step backward that is completely unacceptable and must be corrected. Non-combat positions in the USAF have always been competitive and viable for promotions, and taking away the ability of those who have shed sweat, blood, and tears on the battlefield shoulder to shoulder with the Army is no way to improve the chances of non-combat promotions.
Michael “Sudsy” Sutherland
OIF 172 SBCT 15SEP05-15FEB06, 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron
OIF 4-25 ABCT 01NOV06-05MAY07, Det 1 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron"
Yeah, I may be out now, but I'm not going to stand for guys in my old job getting screwed in the anus by a bunch of assholes who fly desks all day then bitch about not getting promoted because someone who has had their ass shot at got the stripe or oak leaf before them. Boy it feels good to say that! YUP, couldn't get away with it before, but now I can! Even if its just the SNCO's and ALO's who are getting screwed, right now... I've had my share of bad ones in both categories, but that doesn't justify this bull shit! I'd rather see a dirtbag TACP MSGT who was outside the wire in Iraq get promoted over some spit and polish desk admin jockey who save the Air Force 'xx manhours of labor and xx dollars during his TDY to Al Udeid AB Qatar'. The worst part of "Big Blue" strikes again.
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