HUMOR IN UNIFORM
Fiction Short Story
PEACETIME “WARS” and “BATTLES”
A warrior needs an enemy.
During war – the enemy is clearly specified – the adversary against whom the war is being fought is the enemy – and – all military personnel know who the enemy is.
The ambiguity arises in peacetime – when – officially – there is designated as the “enemy”.
But – as I said – a “warrior” always needs an “enemy”.
So – in peacetime – military personnel use their imagination to find their own “enemy” – some imagine that politicians are the “enemy” – some feel that bureaucrats are the “enemy” – and some find their “enemy” within the service (or services).
Hence – if you have served in the Military (Army, Navy, Air Force) – you must have witnessed various peacetime “wars” (at the macro level) and “battles” (at the micro level).
During my long military service in the navy – I have observed these “conflicts” – within the Navy – in inter-service institutions – and – at higher levels too – Personality Clashes – Ego Battles – Turf Wars – Power Struggles – various types of rivalry – resulting in all sorts of internal friction and internecine “warfare” that sometimes can be most debilitating for day to day functioning of an organization as it generates internal stress which affects discipline and saps morale.
This tendency to engage in “peacetime wars” sometimes continues even after retirement.
Don’t we see Veterans “fighting it out” on Social Media…?
As it happens in all wars – innocent victims suffer “collateral damage”.
I have written about the WAR OF THE MESSES of 1981/82 which was “fought” between Generals and Admirals – but – it was the junior officers who suffered “collateral damage”.
If you were in the Navy in the end 1980’s and early 1990’s – you would surely have seen the “succession war” – between the “East” and the “West” – which was ultimately won by the “East”.
During those days – the “East” had declared “West” as the “Enemy” – and – vice versa – and – though there was an operation going on in the South – the major “conflict’ in the Navy was the internal “War” between the “East” versus the “West”.
Though this “succession war” was being “fought” between two Admirals – the antagonistic feelings percolated to lower levels – especially among “more loyal the king” type sycophants – resulting in antagonism and “ill will” among fellow officers who were on opposite sides – some of them were probably course-mates.
Though this East versus West “War” was a “Succession War” – it was reminiscent of the “Turf War” between fellow American Generals Peckem and Dreedle described in the classic war novel Catch-22
If you have read Catch-22 – you may remember this hilarious episode (p 316):
A Colonel (Scheisskopf) reports to General Peckem’s HQ as a Staff Officer.
General Peckem briefs him in front of a large map of the combat zone – showing him various enemy positions. Then – General Peckem comes to the point (let me quote from the book – suitably paraphrased):
“…Our immediate goal is right here…” General Peckem said to Colonel Scheisskopf – and General Peckem swung his pointer south to the island of Pianosa and tapped it significantly upon a large word that had been lettered on there with black grease pencil. The word was DREEDLE.
(At that point of time – Colonel Scheisskopf does not know that Dreedle is a fellow American General fighting on the same side. Colonel Scheisskopf probably thinks DREEDLE is the name of a place in enemy territory…)
Colonel Scheisskopf said:
“I think I understand – our first job is to capture DREEDLE away from the enemy…”
General Peckem laughed benignly and said to Colonel Scheisskopf:
“No, Scheisskopf – Dreedle is on our side – and Dreedle is the enemy. General Dreedle commands four bomb groups that we simple must “capture” – to expand our jurisdiction (in order to win the “Turf War”)
Story to be continued in Part 3...
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