Times are changing. People used to spin tales about how hard they had it in the military. Nowadays people just upload a video of the events. Stories about horrible weather, leaders, and conditions, are replaced by photographic evidence that is publicly posted. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned is quickly taking a back seat to the disgruntled veteran, a camera, and the internet.
This realism came to define a moment that started on April 27th when the 8th Military Police Brigade’s website was inundated with public posts calling out the senior Command Sergeant Major for blatant disregard of Army Regulation 670-1. Archived photographs were reposted, past, present, and future service members stated their disdain, expressed their anger, and generally made a scene. Instead of the recommended tactful approach to performing on the spot corrections, they would have the combined effect of a cannon ball to the chest. The response was nothing less than equally awkward – a public attempt to delete comments and pictures.
This being 2016, it is hard to believe that people would be unaware of the benefits and risks of social media. People’s momentary poor decisions are commonly reposted by others even after the original is deleted. Pictures that are prejudicial to good order and discipline are routinely uploaded without consideration to what would happen if they were seen. Finally, the truest statement of all, a little humility can go a long way.
It is true that many people crossed lines in their public comments. It is also true that this situation helped to fuel the perfect storm in social media. Take one-part public outrage, mix in two parts denial and mass punishment with a cup of self-indignation, shake it all together and you get a mini-nuclear explosion which catches everyone nearby up in the blast.
Things could have gone a lot differently. A leader could have identified that they were violating a regulation on a daily basis – the very regulation they were supposed to uphold. When this poor judgment was identified, they could have taken ownership and responsibility, just like they would expect of their subordinates. The CSM could have immediately fixed the problem, publically owned it, and supported the Army as a whole by doing her job.
It was the exploitation that could only be done by someone in power that outraged the masses so much. This manipulation fueled the anger, and incited yet more frustration. Coupled with the mass deleting of public postings which quoted regulations, led many to see the entire chain of command and organization as failing to uphold the standard. It should be remembered, that what started with a public on-the-spot correction, could have ended there as well.
The 8th Military Police Brigade will recover. The chain of command can reclaim ownership of the situation and ensure that regulations are properly followed by all. Senior leaders can perform their responsibilities, and subordinates can once again demonstrate integrity even when no one is looking. It is refreshing to see that Army Regulations can still invoke such passion in people. If nothing else comes from this situation, it is that we all owe it to ourselves to make corrections when necessary, and to fix ourselves whenever possible.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.