A morning press conference was led by General Ray Odierno, who broke the news and answered questions.
The audience was composed of a select group of Majors and Lieutenant Colonels chosen specifically for the test panel.
“The officer corps has always been a middle-class welfare system. History shows that 95 percent of Captains get promoted to Major and 94 percent of Majors are promoted to Lieutenant Colonel,” said a Lieutenant Colonel who wished to remain anonymous. “I’ve kept my nose clean and maintained a very solid mediocre career for 18 years now and only have 2 left. How the hell am I supposed to get a job on the outside?”
Another Major who had reentered the combat-Army after a seven year stint as a West Point instructor was just as incredulous.
“You’re telling me a captain with six years in the Army who’s been deployed three times could be doing my job as a battalion XO or S-3? Impossible!”
General Odierno responded to the criticism.
“We’re not saying you’re getting kicked out. You can still go get your Ivy League Masters Degree and teach 19 year old kids, but I’ll be damned if I put you all in a position to actually affect combat operations. I’m tired of you witless ass clowns getting soldiers killed simply because you stayed in the Army.”
The crowd of nervous and slightly overweight field-grade officers seethed, but the General continued.
“A proven performer will now take your place. Some of these stand-outs will hold down battalion executive or operations officer positions, once they’ve demonstrated their ability to handle the job. They’ll also be promoted accordingly. Just like in the real world.”
A major with 16 years in the Army stuttered while looking at the franticly scribbled notes from his diary.
“I was a company commander for 2-2 SBCT eight years ago! I’ve been in countless ‘broadening assignment’ positions since then. I know these postings haven’t necessarily prepared me for operations, but I can still remember how we did things. Where else was I supposed to spend my time before getting out at 20 years? You realize I’ve only had 3 years of key development positions and had to come up with extremely creative ways to waste the other 13? This is bullshit!”
The General nodded to his two aides and the burly young sergeants gleefully escorted the fuming major from the conference room. When his feminine shouts had faded in the distance, Odierno completed his presentation.
“Our revised promoting system will allow high-caliber officers to be placed on a fast track. Given their proven ability, if they’re ready and willing to command a battalion after an S3 (operations officer) position-that individual will be allowed to do so.”
Another double-chinned field-grade cried out, “You’re saying I might have a boss who’s younger and has spent less time in service than me?”
The General looked at the man with a chuckle and replied, “In your case I’m absolutely sure of it. Yes, we will promote similar to the methods of a successful corporation. I know it seems crazy, but if someone is better than you, he will actually be ranked and have a level of responsibility higher than you. Welcome to the new Army.”
The General departed to stunned silence as a room full of mid-level officers were left to contemplate a career built on ability and success, rather than longevity. Many wept.
Others had already used their smart-phones to download job application forms for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).