“Light on the Right:” Ditch Deployment Dodgers — The Havok Journal

“Bro, is that an O6… with no combat patch???”

The question, asked by a good friend of mine who happens to be a former Ranger NCO, was whispered to me inside a fast food restaurant just off post where we had stopped for lunch. I don’t think his tone could have been any more incredulous if he thought he had just seen Matt Best ride in on a purple unicorn while drinking a warm can of O’Doul’s and singing Michael Bisping’s praises.

The colonel in question was in ACUs, which, ironically, is the Army Combat Uniform, and was sporting a black colonel’s eagle in the center of his chest and a MEDDAC patch on his left sleeve. He wore no badges and no combat patch. It was stunning to an NCO like my friend, who had personally served multiple combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan very early on in his career, that such a senior person had apparently never earned a combat patch by deploying even once in the 13+ years our nation has been at war.

For the uninitiated, an Army combat patch, or “shoulder sleeve insignia for wartime service,” (SSIFWTS) designates service in a combat zone, and is considered by many if not most of the men and women in the Army to be the ultimate professional credential. This is as it should be; if the mission of the Army is to fight and win our nations’ wars, then the credibility of any senior leader should be directly tied to how well he or she performed in combat conditions.

“Light on the right:” that’s not OK for a senior leader in an Army that has been at war for 13+ years.

“Light on the right:” that’s not OK for a senior leader in an Army that has been at war for 13+ years.

Only, there are still a lot of people out there who have never served in combat. I’m not talking about lieutenants fresh out of West Point or non-commissioned officers still on their first enlistment who never got a chance to deploy. I’m talking SENIOR people. Field grade officers. Chief Warrant Officers. Senior NCOs. People who have been in 10, 15, or 20 years. Guys like the O6 my friend and I encountered. Since that day at McDonald’s, I’ve noticed more and more senior people that are “light on the right” (not having a combat patch on their right sleeve). How the hell does something like this still go on, in 2014?

via “Light on the Right:” Ditch Deployment Dodgers — The Havok Journal.

There’s plenty of folks in the reserve components that might not have been called. And there’s a few special active duty types that haven’t been deployed. But for most arms and services, if you haven’t earned a combat patch, you haven’t been trying. And the author is right. That’s a good place to start culling.



8 responses to ““Light on the Right:” Ditch Deployment Dodgers — The Havok Journal

  1. There are some that can’t be easily deployed, like lab workers and pathologists, but they CAN request/ volunteer to go all the same. Dirty little secret is how field grade can get out of deployments: profiles. Hubby deployed twice, and yet there are 05s and 06s in his dept., including his boss, that go out of their way to get a profile just to avoid leaving a cushy spot.

    I may be jaundiced in my view, but I have seen it happen.


  2. ultimaratioregis

    The man has a point. I have heard of worse RIF plans….


  3. Showing my age…you didn’t try to get it and you didn’t avoid avoid it. You bought your ticket and you took your ride. We bitched about whether our cav units qualified for CIB, but you were in the shit or you weren’t.

    But to the point, the “middle management” of the Army has no experience in the function. Why would they? They are encouraged to go to fake grad school and get fake degrees. Sure, many of them learn in spite of the pablum fed to them, but the goal is to get them through to feed the advancement computer.

    In real life, unless you are talking about a government job, for those to whom it matters, we get to it quick. If it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.

    in government, if you are going to out your interviewer, you are toast.
    (Oh, did I write that?)


  4. Stacy0311

    I have heard all the stories/reasons/excuses as to why someone didn’t deploy. Low density MOS? Plenty of O1A MOS immaterial billets. TRADOC? How can you teach if you don’t have experience? Theory is great. It’s even better when it’s backed up with first hand knowledge. Guard/Reserve? Tour of Duty was always a great place to find an IMA deployment. I have mulitple friends who had 3 or more deployments. I only got to do 2. Grad school, ILE/OES/NCOES? For 13 years? All the reduction board need to do is look at ORB/ERB. No campaign medal or overseas service ribbon (yes Kosovo/Sinai/Djibouti should count) and your file goes in pile #1 and you start preparing for your transition to 1st CivDiv, Fort Living Room. I see plenty of deployment dodgers here in the Pentagon. Legions of Merit, multiple Meritorious Service Medals and other flair but no Iraq or Afghanistan Campaign Medals.


    • MY son was an Army reservist who was activated twice post 9/11. First was to Ft. Lost In The Woods right after 9/11. Had orders in less than 2 weeks. No idea why Leonard Wood. After he moved the MO, his unit there gave him an IA deployment with the 500th Engineers (attached 82nd AB. Torques him that his combat patch is 82nd, but they wouldn’t let him go to jump school, which he wanted). He would have had a 3rd in 2007, but he has a inherited spinal condition that was starting to cause him problems and so he didn’t re-enlist. I doubt he would have passed the physical to re-up anyway.

      I think if you were in much of the Guard/Reserve, you had to try to avoid going. On Active duty, in most MOSes, ossifer or enlisted, you would have to try hard to avoid it. If you work that hard to avoid it, you deserve to get caught by the RIF.


  5. Buck Buchanan

    Heck, even the slugs in the Acquisition Corps I work with can deploy to the AFSB/AFSBns. They may be AMC slugs but they can go in theater and pull their weight….and they do. It is rare to see an Acquisition bubba/bubbette with an empty right sleeve.


  6. timactual

    “is considered by many if not most of the men and women in the Army to be the ultimate professional credential.”

    That’s pretty sad, actually. Spending time in a geographical area that is also the scene of actual combat, AKA “ticket punching”, is not much of an indicator of anything. Sure, it may be more uncomfortable and a little more dangerous than commuting to work in the US, but by itself a combat patch doesn’t tell you much about the abilities or character of the wearer.


  7. Tarl

    My Army buddy used to joke in the 1980s that we invaded Grenada because the brass noticed we didn’t have enough guys with SSIFWTS.