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Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:31 PM

Hagel would NOT be the first enlisted SoD...or is the media wrongly ripping Obama?

I remember all the manufactured media bullshit over Obama's "You didn't build that" speech as well as my conservative friends' lame Facebook posts ripping Obama when everyone knew deep down in their minds that Obama was talking about the American infrastructure.

Now I found this New York Times article "For Hagel, a Distinction Comes With an Asterisk" that explains:

President Obama declared at the White House on Jan. 7 that Chuck Hagel, his nominee to be secretary of defense, would be the “first person of enlisted rank” to run the Pentagon. The distinction, which Mr. Obama called “historic,” quickly made its way into news media reports around the globe, including in The New York Times.

The problem is that at least four other American defense secretaries — Melvin R. Laird, Elliot L. Richardson, Caspar W. Weinberger and William J. Perry — served part of their military careers as enlisted men.


(And I have yet to see any
2nd paragraph is true. But nowhere in this article quoted the rest of Obama's statements around the "first person of enlisted rank" part:

Chuck Hagel’s leadership of our military would be historic. He’d be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as Secretary of Defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war, and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department.


The NYT article lists a clarification from the WH:

White House officials insisted that Mr. Obama was not in error. “President Obama was precise and accurate in referring to the fact that Senator Hagel would be the ‘first person of enlisted rank’ to go on to serve as secretary of defense, and that experience on the front lines is part of the reason why President Obama chose him,” said Marie Harf, a White House spokeswoman who is working on Mr. Hagel’s nomination.

As Ms. Harf explained it, the use of the formulation “first person of enlisted rank” was meant to signal that Mr. Hagel had remained enlisted throughout his entire military career and to separate him from the other men, who had retired as officers. Mr. Hagel, who was wounded twice in Vietnam, would be the first defense secretary to have served in combat while enlisted. To Mr. Obama that distinction, at least, is crucial.

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Reply Hagel would NOT be the first enlisted SoD...or is the media wrongly ripping Obama? (Original post)
alp227 Feb 2013 OP
MADem Feb 2013 #1
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #2
MADem Feb 2013 #3
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #4
MADem Feb 2013 #7
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #8
MADem Feb 2013 #9
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #10
MADem Feb 2013 #11
HooptieWagon Feb 2013 #13
shadowmayor Feb 2013 #5
MADem Feb 2013 #6
pinboy3niner Feb 2013 #12

Response to alp227 (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 10:56 PM

1. Every line officer, pretty much, starts out "enlisted."

at OCS or the academies, the pay the cadets enjoy is "enlisted" pay. They're called "cadets" or "officer candidates" but they are not "officers" until the graduate and receive their commissions.

I believe they're paid at the E-5 level, without allowances.

I think the medical types come in as officers--they get their commissions before they go to "Oyster" (OIS--Officer Indoctriation School) school and learn how to salute and tell an E-1 from an 0-9!

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 12:40 AM

2. Yes, my father was Public Health Service doctor.

He was commissioned an officer upon graduating medical school. To my knowledge, he never had any military training.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 12:47 AM

3. He might have had a "fork and knife" course.

Those teach ranks, how to salute, proper wearing of the uniform, and things of that nature. Some might even do a bit of light marching. No jogging, sit-ups, or getting yelled at by an old gunny or chief, though!

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Response to MADem (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 01:39 AM

4. Possibly that.

The PHS isn't military, but it is a uniformed service...ranks equal to Navy officers. No enlisted personel or warrant officers in PHS. Original role was providing medical care for merchant seamen and commercial fishermen. Later expanded to include immigration health exams, quarantine operations, healthcare to remote populations like Native American villages, and disease outbreak identification and control. PHS also provided additional medical staffing for military as needed, which was what my father did. He started out assigned to Norfolk Navy Hospital, but also spent much time aboard CG Cutters on North Atlantic ice patrol... Cutters not usually staffed with doctors. Similar at other places he was assigned. In NOLA, primarily treated commercial fishermen, but also was sent out on CG Cutters picking up Cuban refugees in Florida Straights...treating them for exposure dehydration and the like. He resigned his commission in '65 to go into private practice.
Budget cuts in 80s changed PHS role a lot. Many functions were transfered to other agencies, but it still exists. Operates under Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 09:56 AM

7. Who can forget Surgeon General "Old Man and the Sea" Koop!!!

He was probably the most famous and most visible of the PHS crowd.

What was amusing about him was that beard of his--and of course, the USN had, a few years previously, gotten rid of the beards (Excuse: They interfered with OBAs for firefighting) and there were still a LOT of hard feelings about that decision!

They train at the Bethesda campus these days, I think--at least they did the last time I was down that way.

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Response to MADem (Reply #7)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 10:29 AM

8. I have no idea what is at Bethesda...

My father went to med school at U of Chicago. Govt footed the bill. He graduated about '53, was in PHS for 12 yrs. He liked it for the first 10, until they wanted him to be an administrator. He wanted to continue practicing, so he did remaining two years and left for private practice while he was still fairly young (early 30s).

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 11:13 AM

9. A whole load of stuff!

NIH is there, as is the military medical school, Walter Reed has moved over there, Bethesda National Medical Center, etc.....it's a massive campus with a bunch of inter-related governmental medical facilities--very nicely landscaped, and HUGE!

I think the paradigm is still the same as your dad's era--they pay the bill at the med school where the candidate is accepted , and on graduation the new docs go on active duty to "pay back."

http://www.usphs.gov/

Here's the fork and knife curriculum for the USPHS (they even have a somewhat more "advanced" course now):

Officer Basic Course (OBC)

The purpose of the Officer Basic Course (OBC) is to establish a standardized, highly reliable core of basic information, to inspire Corps officers, and to establish an emotional bond to the service. Some of the many topics introduced during the 14-day OBC include:

Uniform services protocols and courtesies
Career development
Promotions
Leave
Compensation
Awards
Resource utilization
Basic Disaster Response Training
When officers complete the OBC, they have the foundation upon which to develop a career in the U.S. Public Health Service and meet the basic requirements needed to deploy as a public health and medical resource. Officers successfully completing this course will earn the Commissioned Corps training ribbon.

Officer Mid-Level Course (OMC)

The Officer Mid-Level (OMC) is designed to prepare the Commissioned officer for successful assignments as an officer and leader in a dynamic public health environment. It builds on the foundations set forth in the OBC and prepares the officers with the knowledge, disposition, and skills necessary to serve as mid-level officers and the future leaders of the Public Health Service.

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Response to MADem (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 11:49 AM

10. Interesting...thanks!

I knew the hospital was there, didn't know that the med school, NIH, and other facilities were there. Info about the "knife and fork" courses also interesting. My father prob had something like that.
As a humorous anecdote...when aboard the Cutters, my father was expected to stand watch on the bridge, with the other officers on watch, if he had no medical duties to perform. Usually he was given a pair of binoculars and told to look out for icebergs. Occasionally, the CG officers would want to leave the bridge (probably against regs) for some reason, and leave my father in charge, as ranking officer even though not Coast Guard. Although a small-boat sailor, he knew nothing about ships. Enlisted man at wheel would ask my father for orders, conversation would be like this:
Enlisted man: "What orders, sir?"
Father: "Uhhhh.... <scratch head> ...What course were you steering?"
Enlisted man: "325 degrees, sir."
Father: "Well, carry on, then"

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Response to HooptieWagon (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 11:56 AM

11. OMG--that's hilarious, and scary!!

Bad, bad skipper for forcing a staff officer to stand watch like that!!! It's not at all uncommon for staff officers to get their surface warfare qualifications, but they volunteer to do it and start out at the bottom rung, doing their JOOD quals and getting them signed off in proper fashion! I've known a few Supply Corps, lawyers and chaplains who have done it; it helps them relate to the crew at sea and it gives them a sense that they are really pulling their weight. It's not mandatory, though--it's entirely optional.

I feel for your father--that had to be a "bad feeling in the pit of the stomach" atmosphere to be abandoned on the bridge on the high seas with enlisted personnel looking to him for guidance! He sounds like a hot shit though, someone who could roll with the punches!

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Response to MADem (Reply #11)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 12:20 PM

13. I doubt it was the Skipper...

Probably junior officers, without Skipper's knowledge, wanting a quick game of cards or to set up a prank.
Probably no real danger...daylight, calm weather, officers able to be called back quickly. Still, probably violated some regs.
Father not to comfortable with it, yes he rolled with the punches. He knew enlisted men at helm knew far more about ships than he did, so for those brief periods my father would take his cues from enlisted men. Yea, funny story.

The ice patrol cutters were ex-Navy ships, WWI vintage. Not DEs, but something similar in size (maybe 180'?). They were in poor condition. One time a couple of enlisted men were sent into the bilge to chip rust, as punishment for some misdeed. After a while, a warrant officer rushed into the bridge to inform captain the men chipped rust right through the bottom of the ship, and they were taking on water. Had to rush back to Norfolk for repairs in drydock.
I think all the ice patrol now is done by satellite, probably with aircraft verification.

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 02:12 AM

5. That's BS

Being a cadet or in OCS is NOT the same as serving in the enlisted ranks. Never saw a single cadet next to me when I was in Iraq, not a one. Enlisted and officers are like cat vs dog, or Cowboys vs Giants or Yankees vs Redsox people - two distinct groups. There's a reason why we referred to the officers (O1 to O10) as zeros.

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Response to shadowmayor (Reply #5)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 09:51 AM

6. Well, aren't YOU a charmer?

Here's the bottom line, pal--if a person dies while in OCS, they die as an E-5. They get paid death benefits as an E-5. Not as an officer. Training ranks ARE enlisted ranks--even if you don't happen to like it.

And only someone with a light grasp on reality would expect "cadets" to train in Iraq. What a foolish notion, and the very fact that you made that statement does reflect on you. Not well, either.

You do know the "E" in the military pay scale stands for "enlisted," do you not?

Your comments are suggestive of a real lack of military professionalism. They don't enhance you in the slightest.

As someone who served in both pay scales, and who understands that the "enemy" is not my fellow uniformed personnel, regardless of their positions, I wouldn't want you in my unit.

Respect is a two-way street. You gotta give it to get it, and that applies to recruits or flag/general officers.

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Response to shadowmayor (Reply #5)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 12:06 PM

12. Wrong

OCS candidates (not 'cadets') normally come from the enlisted ranks (though we had one Warrant Officer in my Infantry OCS class).

Officers commissioned through ROTC, without enlisted service, attend their branch basic officer course, not OCS. iirc, that's normally 2 or 3 months, versus 6 months for OCS, and unlike OCS candidates they already are commissioned officers when they begin that training.

My OCS training came only after I had been inducted as a Pvt. E-1, completed Basic and Advanced Infantry Training and a leadership course, and did a brief stint assisting drill sergeants with training at two posts. Some had more enlisted service, including some of my classmates who had years of enlisted service and were Sergeants or Staff Sergeants (E-5s and E-6s) when they went to OCS.



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