Different faces, same crap
Two men walked into our office this morning. Confident strides, pistol holsters – they were field-grade officers, come in from some far-flung office a block or two south.
I was in the process of preparing slides for a briefing (big surprise) when I noticed their looming shadows.
“You PAO?” one of them asked, his face unrecognizable, silhouetted against the bright green lights of the office. I stood, out of protocol, and recognized him as a major from one of our battalions on Taji.
“Yes sir,” I said, looking for a notepad to scribble down whatever it was he was going to ask me.
“We need a training video made of our briefing area. We were showing it to the general when she was here and she loved it. The colonel said he wanted the video, did he mention it to you yet?”
Mention it to me “yet”? That implies he wanted it, which is suspect for two reasons. First, he has talked to me about 12 times since the general was here, and no mention. Second, if it was locked in, why did two majors need to walk to our headquarters, into the public affairs office and stand before an E5? They had tipped their hand with a big opening bet.
But, I digress.
“No, he hasn’t said anything about a video,” I said.
“Well the general wants about a 30 minute video and she wants it by the 20th.”
This sounded like a kiss-up project. ‘Hey, we’ll get the sergeant to do it, ha ha! Then we’ll give it to the general to show off.’
Wait a minute! The 20th?! That’s a week and a half!
“Sir, we don’t have a video camera. We’re going to have to interface with another unit.”
“So?” his eyes got wide, annoyed.
“So…it’s not going to get done by the 20th. There’s only one video camera on Taji, and the unit who owns it uses it for their mission.”
“Look sergeant,” the other major countered. “When the general says she wants something done, it gets done.”
“Wait, the general wants it?” Ha! Caught ‘cha! You guys aren’t gonna bully me into it that easy.
“Well…the…um, colonel wanted it by the 20th. You better get on finding a camera.”
They were off-balance. I decided to flank.
“Sir, a 30-minute video will take a hours of raw footage, and then days and days to edit. You’d need a script, graphics and voiceovers. And your briefing area is classified. We aren’t supposed to film that stuff – maps, routes, procedures, rehearsals and all that.” And that’s not to mention a training video was completely outside of our news-gathering mission.
“That’s okay, as long as it’s finished by the 20th,” one first major said. Afterwards they turned and left.
This one was easy. With no camera, no mission mandate, no clearance to film, and no time, I have no problem watching this one crash and burn.
Sorry sirs, I didn’t “just get it done” this time.
News flash to leaders: You’re not God. Sometimes the laws of the physical universe do apply.
Otherwise, everything is swell.