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Letters to the Editor: Fix the ‘Punisher,’ stop the free ride

Mar. 25, 2013 - 09:21AM   |  
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I think there are a lot of soldiers who are frustrated with the way the Army is headed [“Let us out,” March 25]. The Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report system is riddled with flaws, with incompetent NCOs getting good ratings based on rapport established with senior leaders. When it’s time for promotion to a senior NCO rank, the Army sees only what’s on paper and in your file.

With sequestration in effect and small re-enlistment bonuses, if any at all, it’s young bright NCOs being put on the turtle’s path for promotion. The Army is going to face a hard truth when it wakes up one morning and wonders where all of the good NCOs went. They went to use this lucrative GI Bill and get a job that pays three times as much, doesn’t risk killing you, and promotes and advances you based on your job performance, not how long you have worked there.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Hohenstein

Schofield Barracks, Hawaii


Military disciplinary decisions for sexual assault cases should not be at a commander’s discretion [“Sexual assault victims describe failed system,” March 25]. The decision by Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin to overturn the sexual assault conviction against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a former inspector general at Aviano Air Base, Italy, calls for an overhaul of the military justice system and how it deals with the prosecution of sexual assault cases.

It is my belief that decisions such as Lt. Gen. Franklin’s are the primary reason we have fewer service members coming forward to report instances of sexual assaults. His decision sends a message to the victims that the system is broken and that coming forward would hurt their careers and cause them to be ostracized by members of their organizations.

I am recommending that only a panel of legal officers from the Defense Department or a panel of military judges be allowed to review and overturn convictions against military personnel in sexual assault cases. Senior officers who convene a court-martial should not retain the power to make a final decision on whether to accept the military court’s verdict or impose one of their own in sexual assault cases.

Sgt. Maj. Colin Patterson

New York City


Program Executive Office Soldier did the right thing to pull the XM25 from its follow-on-assessment in Operation Enduring Freedom and to conduct a Tiger Team to precisely identify the mechanical problems and to recommend corrections.

Although this failure was a disappointing setback, XM25 is a revolutionary capability for the dismounted infantry close fight. The Army should persist in making this weapon safe and bringing it to production as quickly as possible.

The technology of loading and ejecting rounds is mechanical, and the XM25’s issue can be identified and fixed with design changes to the cartridge and/or the weapon’s loading mechanisms.

Initial use of XM25 prototypes in Afghanistan demonstrated how this weapon strips away an enemy’s initial advantage of ambushing from defilade. No longer will an enemy retain the advantage by firing from behind a boulder, or a mud wall, or by lying in a wadi, or by firing from the interior of a building. It won’t be safe for enemy combatants to hide behind the corner of a building or engage from rooftops.

Responsive, accurate, lethal, high explosive, direct counter defilade fires can rapidly defeat enemy combatants or terminate their will to fight. This capability ends “troops in contact” events quickly.

The revolutionary parts of XM25 technology work well. The current mechanical problems of loading and ejecting can be fixed. There’s a reason soldiers in combat named it the “Punisher.”

Lt. Col. Edwin W. Mazzanti (ret.)

Virginia Beach, Va.


I have researched the “Army Mass Transportation Benefit Program,” and it is an unfair waste of taxpayers’ money.

I understand that, when this program was instituted, the purpose was to reduce the number of government employees driving to work daily. In other words, go green and get more cars off the street. Good idea. However, this program has been blown out of proportion.

I can understand a person getting subsidized if, because of base realignment and closure, his job moved and he was forced to travel farther to get to work. However, people are now voluntarily taking jobs knowing exactly where and how far they will have to travel to get to work. Then they turn around and collect extra money for travel. In the office where I work, four out of 10 people are enrolled in this program and are being subsidized for merely coming to work.

As of this month, each person who rides the van collects an extra $125 per month to defer the cost of his commute. This amount is scheduled to increase to [a maximum of] $245 at the beginning of May. If we break that down, each van traveling to Fort Lee [Va.] has an average of four people in the pool, and there are 15 vans. That equates to 60 people times $125 = $7,500 per month times 12 months = $90,000 a year that this program costs the taxpayers. When the rate increase takes effect in May, it will average $176,400 a year. Remember, this is just Fort Lee. There are likely hundreds of other pools out there. I’m sure they add up to a sizable amount of waste.

We all work, we all get paid, we purchase our vehicles, and we maintain them. If my co-workers are looking for a cheaper commute, they can carpool on their own, or move closer to the job. There is no reason anyone should have a free ride to work.

With the government drowning in red ink, and with sequestration taking effect, I believe this program is a waste. People have lost their jobs. The civilian force is about to be furloughed, and as a result, training for our soldiers will be curtailed, equipment will not be able to be maintained, etc. How can politicians, in good faith, say it is OK to cut training, thus degrading readiness while paying select government employees to come to work?

The Army Mass Transportation Benefit Program needs to be shut down.

Sgt. 1st Class Gary Houts (ret.)

Fort Lee, Va.


As an active-duty service member, I was recently informed to pack my bags for my fourth combat tour in my 11 years of service.

Every time I’ve had to deploy to either Afghanistan or Iraq, all I’ve ever heard is suck it up and deal with it.

Why does the Army allow people to remain in and ride profiles? If someone has a profile, he can literally never deploy, thereby forcing someone else to take his spot over and over while he rides the rear detachment list.

Why can someone literally spend his entire military career riding a profile? Why can someone remain in the Army with a profile preventing him from deploying? In my last unit, our sergeant major had a profile that prevented him from wearing his [Interceptor body armor], thereby preventing him from deploying.

Maj. Jeff Blackard

Deridder, La.

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