By John Hughes, MD, USMA ’96
Most who have served in the military have done police call at some point in their time in service. Some more than most. Sometimes it was done for punishment. Many times it was done as a routine task.
Whatever the motivation to clean the military areas, it was invariably done to keep the areas around government buildings clean and free of weeds, trash, and other debris.
Enlisted, NCOs, and officers alike could then take pride in a clean area to live and work in.
Its real purpose, at least in the old military that still functioned correctly, was far more important. It was about taking care of government property, discipline, and attention to detail.
I recall, as a paratrooper, picking up cigarette butts and painting rocks to beautify the unit area.
We were also expected to have immaculate uniforms and…immaculate weapons and combat equipment. The one keeps the soldiers’ focus on the other.
Our mission was to be ready to deploy anywhere in the world in 2 hours to go to war.
Yesterday, I went to the Lackland Air Force Base Ambulatory Surgical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX.
A decade ago, the US government spent over $3 Billion constructing this new building and a myriad of other new buildings and performing renovations as part of the Base Realignment and Closure of 2005.
This new clinic is a beautiful concrete, metal, and glass building sporting a modern, open design.
As I approached the building two sights caught my eyes.
First, at 10am in the morning (not mealtime) I noticed a dozen USAF NCOs at a Hawaiian/Asian desert food truck out front.
Each had the newly authorized hair styles with hair going down nearly to the waist of each one.
Right in front of them, was a half-acre of weeds over 2 feet high in the rocked in flowerbed lining the sidewalks that led to the entrance of the hospital.
This struck me as the epitome of what is wrong with GEN Brown’s new USAF.
Personnel flocking together by tribal identity which is contrary to the concept of single unified Air Force where the individual is subordinated to the larger USAF entity. It should be: airmen first, individuals a distant second.
Then, there are the dirty, overgrown entrances to the hospital at the “Gateway to the US Air Force.”
Lackland is the home of the basic training for all USAF enlisted with nearly weekly graduations and very high public visibility.
Worse, NCOs were standing around and seemingly not caring that their place of work looks like an overgrown, abandoned lot in front of a building that cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
This is why the military cannot win wars.
This is why recruiting is down – why do young people want to join a service that focuses on racial tribalism, has no apparent pride in its bases, and neglects its property?
The attention to detail to maintain a clean area will invariably extend to other more pertinent areas – aircraft readiness, training, etc.
Multiple articles in the past few years have discussed declining aircraft readiness rates for the USAF.
While multiple factors are at play (aging aircraft, etc), their failure to complete sustainment reviews last year while they have been aggressively promoting pronoun training, relaxing uniform standards, and encouraging tribalism hints that the USAF core priorities are out of synch with its essential mission – trained airmen and operational aircraft.
It starts with unity and pride in installations.
The general in charge of this mess, General Charles Brown, is now being considered to take this sort of leadership, which is obviously focused on DEI and not on mission or national security, and be the head military officer for all military branches.
Even worse, General Brown wonders why the Senate is holding up promotions to spotlight the disaster that DEI is inflicting on the military.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of OIF/OEF
1996 West Point graduate (#1 in class)
3rd generation West Pointer
4 combat tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan
When clicking on the 59th Medical Wing website, the first thing shown is this large graphic: