FORT HOOD, Texas — An informal poll of III Corps headquarters at Fort Hood has revealed that not a single member on the staff knows what Mike Toland, the 58-year old Defense Department civilian assigned to the G-3 section, actually does.
Toland has been a familiar face around the headquarters since shortly after the War of Terror began, moving into a large corner office and lining the walls with photos of himself and prominent military and political figures, as well as certificates of appreciation from units no one knew existed.
Since then Toland can be found at most high-level staff meetings, drinking coffee and rarely contributing to the conversation.
“Occasionally he’ll shake his head or sigh when an officer says something he particularly disagrees with,” says one officer who requested anonymity in case Toland actually is important. “But he won’t ever actually offer a solution or alternative idea.”
“I just assumed he did something well above my pay grade,” explained Maj. John Robinson, another officer who works with Toland. “He’s always included on these email chains from the generals, and occasionally he’ll forward me something from a meeting I wasn’t invited to, just to keep me in the loop.”
When not attending meetings or forwarding emails, Toland can usually be found walking through the various clusters of cubicles and desks in the building, making small talk with junior staff officers or telling them anecdotes about the “pre-war Army.”
“I’ve only been here a few months, so I didn’t want to rock the boat,” added Capt. James Brodrick. “We were all in a meeting and the boss gave an assignment to Toland. Ten minutes after the meeting ended I got an email from him saying that it would be a good development opportunity for me to take it.”
Even Toland’s nominal supervisor, Col. Jake Howerton, seemed unclear as to what the civilian actually did around the office.
“He was here long before I transferred in,” Howerton said. “Toland also refers to the generals by their first names, so I figured he had to be a former flag officer, even though he never talks about his time in the service.”
“He also has a shitload of challenge coins on his desk. The guy has to be busy though. He forwards about 30–40 emails a day. I wish my junior captains were as productive as him.”
At press time, the rest of the G3 team had been waiting three hours for Toland to return from his lunch meeting with some “top men.”