I spent almost seven years working for the government. For those of you who know me well know that those years were spent in the U. S. Air Force and what is interesting to me is the common belief that military service is not government service. Well it is.
I spent my first three years in Japan where I became a Non-com and, when an opportunity opened up for me to learn more about my profession, I opted for an "indefinite" re-enlistment program which offered me an opportunity to leave whenever I chose to do so, once the initial three years were served. It worked well for me as I chose to leave so that I might enroll in college at the onset of a new term.
Meanwhile, I learned a lot about government bureaucracy. My first task upon returning to the States after serving 51+ months in the Far East, was to help in the development of a new Career field for airmen involved in building, testing, installing and maintaining armaments used in military aircraft. My team had access to the latest developments as we were members of the Air Force's Armament Test Centered, headquartered at Eglin AFB in Florida. My first impression was that this would be an exciting opportunity. It would become about as exciting as day-old bread in a convenience market.
The basics for USAF Career fields were established. All we had to do was to follow the format and add the recommendations of the our field personnel as authenticated by their military and civilian supervisors. We sent our first proposals to Washington and they were approved with a few suggestions as to areas where we might make a few minor changes. We made them. prepared finished copy and sent them on to the Pentagon. Then, our team was summoned to the Pentagon where we were introduced to others who were working on new developments in the armament field and it was suggested that we take their recommendations into consideration and re-submit our proposals. When we discussed them with our Commanding General and members of his staff, it was suggested that we all schedule some vacation time as they evaluated the situation. When we returned, nothing had been done and we sat around our office, wondering about our future.
I chose to place a call to an officer I had served with while stationed in Japan, asking if he might know of another opportunity. Within a couple of weeks, I was reassigned to Washington and given a task to investigate cases of reserve personnel called up in the Korean War who had complained of violations in the process. That was very interesting. At least it beat the desk work that had begun to bore me, even though the Gulf beaches had provided lots of adventures for singles in that area.
I conducted seven investigations, found that two were legitimate while the others were not and they kept me out of the field, waiting to testify as to the accuracy of my findings. Talk about boring jobs.
Fortunately, I ran across another former officer friend from Japan and to make a longer story shorter, I left Washington and headed for the Training Command headquarters in St. Louis, MO. I passed their tests to become a Training Instructor and was given temporary duty, reminding supervisors of the lessons that most of them had learned, first hand during World War II.
As September approached, I decided to leave the Air Force and enter college. Within a few days, my application was approved and I became a Freshman at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA.
My dream was to earn a degree, qualify for officer status in the Air Force and expect to retire at an early age, having provided a real service for our nation and of course, the government. It would not become a reality as the bride I had married to become a military wife, relented - but that is another that is best left, unrecorded.
My interest in the government has never wavered and I have to believe, the almost seven years I put in were typical of most government operations. I wound up in the Korea War because of my extensions and it was there that I discovered how inept our government can be when the power to function is delegated to lesser qualified individuals. Everyone in the area knew that the North Koreans were going to attack the South. Certainly, General MacArthur with his experience in combat tactics had to know. When he finally acted and caught the North Koreans unawares, it wasn't long before Washington removed him from his command. In the midst of all of that, there seemed to be no one asking, why?
The same question could be asked of our excursion into Vietnam. The French had tried to fight that war and were completely embarrassed. What convinced our government that we would not be and sure enough, our embarrassment was even worse?
In civilian life I became a personnel recruiter and it was my good fortune to have made connections with officials of American oil firms doing business with the Arabian oil interests. Talk about intrigue; that was the order of the day. The Arabs had need of our technical expertise and it should have been apparent, our government people who were hired to be aware of conditions in foreign nations, either had no say in the process, or our companies sold out to the highest bidders. What an opportunity we had to get inside the Arab mentality and evaluate the real possibilities that we could have formed lasting relationships. Where was our government in those years?
Our historians are very much aware of the intrigue of Middle Easteners over the past few centuries and yet our government has not seemed to have even been aware of the disparate relationships between the religious zealots in just one nation - Iraq.
I have before me, the claims of a segment of our society whining about their claim that they are are being "stonewalled" from knowing the facts of problems within our government - today.
When will we ever wake up to the fact that it is not merely politics that seem to irritate our people, but the practices of our government that actually confuse the rest of the world.