29 April 2119
Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you’ve been waiting to hear how I’m doing in the war and it’s been a few years since you’ve heard from me. I just completed the newest version of our operations security (OPSEC) training and the new papercut prevention training yesterday and only got the authorization to write this letter this morning.
When we first deployed out, I had the latest smart phone with system-wide long distance included and a the latest Panasonic Toughbook computer with system-wide net access, but there were some complications upon arrival at the current location preventing previous contact.
It seems a lieutenant from the finance office got bored and wandered onto the flightline and used his smart phone to take pictures of the latest stealth dropships and aerospace fighters. Then he wandered over to the ground force staging area and took pics of the stealth tanks, subterranean personnel carriers, and missile artillery. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then emailed those pics to his fiancé, who’s the daughter of a Russian Colonel. Even though the colonel was an exchange officer who worked on all of those programs while assigned with the U.S. Space Command, it’s an issue because Russia and China are the enemies in this war. Within 24 hours of the LT’s email going out, they collected the phones and computers of the enlisted and limited our access to a handful of computers on the training network. They also increased our computer-based OPSEC training requirement by one hundred hours. The lieutenant, on the other hand, is now the captain in charge of the intelligence office for headquarters.
Shortly after that, our new unit Colonel and Chief arrived. The new colonel met with all unit members, told us of her faith in us should the shooting part of the war kick off any time soon, and replaced within 48 hours by the headquarters general for loss of confidence. That colonel’s replacement announced his new program to have everyone run a 5K on a weekly basis to keep in shape for our power armor. When the chief tried to explain to the colonel that’s not how power armor works, he was promptly replaced by an E-9 personnelist whose only experience with power armor is putting his own on backwards twice since he got here.
About six months after that incident, it looked like the shooting part of the war might actually start up. Then a Russian, drunk on vodka, wrecked the Russian equivalent of a Humvee. That resulted in all forces, on all sides, including the Russians and the Chinese, being required to attend another hundred hours of driving-under-the-influence training, which delayed the start of the war by another three months.
Around the time we were expecting the war to start, a pilot, borrowing a work truck, ran over two of our maintainers outside one of the maintenance hangars. The pilot was reassigned to the standards and evaluations office and promoted two months after that. For the maintainers, all of our power armor was repainted to fluorescent pink and fitted with fluorescent pink lights to ensure we’d be seen day and night.
Over on the ground forces side of the base, there were concerns about the environmental impact and personal injury danger of the ammunition in use. Ultimately, the decision by the general was to have all explosive ammunition replaced by paintballs to lessen personal danger. So far, this change has only resulting one serious injury after a couple of the infantry troops took turns shooting at each other and one of them managed to shoot out the eye of the other one.
I know back on Earth the Secretary of Defense talks about shock and awe, but so far, the only shock and awe we’re experiencing out here is the shock of all the training requirements that multiply by the week and our awe of the faster computers the Spec Ops troops are using.
Fortunately, if the shooting part of the war ever starts, it looks like it will be relatively safe and see minimal casualties. Assuming we all survive the peace to see the shooting side of the war, that is.
So, as you can see, while people want to believe Joe Heller was writing a fictional satire of the military, he was actually writing an accurate history. Somewhere along the way, the top brass decided to turn it into a how-to and training manual for U.S. military officers and then through the School of the Americas and officer exchange programs succeeded in exporting it to the rest of the Earth’s militaries.
Clipart stolen from Clipartmax.