Monday, April 4, 2016

Humor in Uniform : Dead Wood


A Spoof


In the Navy – there is a saying: 


This expression was first used in the U.S. Military during World War II. 

When a soldier was told to shape up or ship out – it meant that he needed to do a better job  or he would be shipped overseas to a combat zone.

A soldier was told that he better follow regulations and do his job properly (shape up”) – or he would be sent overseas to a war zone (ship out”)  

Later – this expression started being used after the war for any kind of poor performance – like if you are considered unfit for promotion and superseded – it was best to ship out of the Navy.

Long back – as a matter of honour – the moment an officer got passed over for promotion  he would immediately “put in his papers” – and quit the navy.

Nowadays – with antiquated concepts like “honour” having taken a backseat – it is not considered “smart” to quit in a huff – especially from the financial angle – so most of the “honourable” superseded officers complete the minimum pensionable service of 20 years  before putting in their papers for premature retirement.

Others – who have “fallen by the wayside” after 20 years of service – can – theoretically quit the Navy the moment they are “passed over” for promotion on grounds of supersession.

Please note – I have used the word “theoretically”.

Here is a story of an “honourable” superseded officer...

PULLING STRINGS – A Spoof by Vikram Karve 

In the civilian world  you “pull strings” to get a job.

In the military  you “pull strings” to quit your job.

A good friend  a witty Naval Officer  once quipped:

“It is easier to get into the Navy – than to get out of the Navy” 

(I am sure it is the same with all the 3 Armed Forces)

This witty officer had put in his papers a few months ago  and was patiently waiting for his papers to get through  as his papers bounced back-and-forth for various “queries” and “clarifications”.

Another brilliant Navy friend was passed over for promotion – he was an ex-NDA officer who had excelled in the 20 years of his Naval career.

This officer had done the required “criteria” appointments – and he had qualified the right courses.

In fact  he seemed to have bright career prospects in the Navy  so  we were quite surprised that he had been superseded for promotion.

However  he took his supersession gracefully in his stride.

He decided to quit the Navy  and try his hand at a second innings in the “civvy street”.

He had just completed the mandatory 20 years pensionable service  and since he had been superseded for promotion  he thought his request for premature retirement would be easily approved.

His boss recommended and forwarded his papers through proper channel – and his boss told him that his papers would be cleared within two months.

The officer applied for jobs in the industry  and got a good job offer.

Asked when he could join his new job  the officer said he would join within 3 months  as he expected his papers to be cleared within 2 months.

Two months passed.

Nothing happened.

Reminders were sent to expedite his Premature Retirement (PMR) application.

Suddenly  one day  a bombshell arrived from the “powers-that-be”.

His papers were not accepted since he had not been “permanently superseded” for promotion.

“But I have been superseded,” the officer protested, “My course-mates are already wearing one more stripe than me.”

“Yes  but you have not been permanently superseded – you still have two more “looks” left – next year  and the year after that – and if you don’t make it in both attempts  only then will you be permanently superseded after all your 3 “looks” are over – so put up your application for premature retirement at that time  after 2 years  and we will approve it.”

“Are you saying that I have a chance to get promoted in my 2nd or 3rd attempt...?” the officer asked the concerned “powers-that-be”.

“No – I don’t think you will be promoted – one of your ACRs is so screwed up that you have no chance of promotion.”

“Then please let me go now – I have a good job offer – and they won’t wait for me for two years,” the officer pleaded.

“Well  I cannot help you – there is a shortage of officers – and there are already plenty of officers in the queue to get out – the only way you can get out of the Navy now is if you know someone at the top who can “pull strings” at the highest level.”

Luckily for the officer  the Captain of one of his ex-ships was now a powerful Admiral – so the officer approached him  “strings were pulled” – the officer’s papers were processed – and he was relieved from the Navy just in time for him to take up the job offer.

During my naval career  I met many such young officers who wanted to quit that Navy – and they were running from pillar to post  “pulling strings” – to get their papers through (resignations approved) – so that they could get out of the Navy.

Of course  there were some exceptions.

There was a Commodore whose papers were accepted in double quick time  and he was out of the Navy within a month of submitting his application for premature retirement.

A young officer was waiting for almost one year in the “queue” to get out of the Navy.

He wondered how come the Commodore’s papers were accepted so fast. 

The “powers-that-be” told him: 

The Navy has become too top heavy. There may be a shortage of junior and mid-level officers – but there are too many surplus Commodores and Admirals in the Navy – and thanks to the generous pay, perks and benefits they get  not a single senior officer wants to quit. So  if any Senior Officer wants to quit and puts in his papers – his resignation is accepted at top speed  lest he change his mind.” 


What an irony? 

Navy does not promote an officer – he wants to quit – but Navy tries to hold him back. 

Navy promotes an officer – he wants to stay – but Navy wants him to quit. 

So – who is really the Dead Wood”...? 

And now – with the “No OROP for PMR” rule – the so-called Dead Wood” will be motivated” to keep serving in the Navy even after supersession right till their superannuation. 

In other Navies  shape up or ship outmay be the norm – but here – it is shape up and ship out” – and even if you do not shape up” – you will not be allowed to ship out

Is the situation similar in the Army and Air Force too...?

Or – are officers allowed to quit easily...?

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Revised Version of my story PULLING STRINGS posted online in this blog earlier on 08 Dec 2014 at url:  and 

No comments: