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DUFFEL BLOG PRESENTS: Jane Austen gives your weekend safety brief



jane austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single company in possession of a good four day pass, must be in want of a safety brief.

However little known the feelings or views of such a company may be on first entertaining the notion of such an enterprise, the truth is so well fixed in the minds of the first sergeant and commander, that they are considered the rightful property to some one or another of their mandatory briefings.

“My dear first sergeant,” said his commander to him one Wednesday, “Have you heard that we are to have a four day pass, at last?”

First Sergeant replied that he had not.

“But it is,” returned he; “For Maj. Long has just been here from battalion, and she told me all about it.”

First Sergeant made no answer.

“Do you not want to know who is on the pass?” cried Capt. Bennet impatiently.

“YOU want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it,” replied the first sergeant, amenably.

That was invitation enough.

“Why, my dear first sergeant, you simply must know, Maj. Long says that we are to have a four day pass and it is to be, command being delighted with us, the whole company! Indeed, I agreed immediately with Maj. Long, and we are to take possession of this leave at once. Oh! And we are to have a special guest, I am assured, to present to us our mandatory briefings on how to keep our soldiers unsullied by the blemishes of vice.”

“What is this guest’s name?”

“Capt. Bingley.”

“Is he staff or line?”

“Oh! Staff, my dear, to be sure. A staff officer of the highest virtue. What a fine thing for our company!”

“How so? How can it affect them?”

“My dear first sergeant,” replied his commander, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of the integrity and virtue of our troops, and this briefing can only further their happy fancies.”

“Is it his design to settle in for a long brief to them?”

“Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he MAY take a fancy to the company and give the whole of the safety brief, and therefore you must attend to him upon his arrival.”

“I see no occasion for that. You and the XO may go, or you may go yourself, which perhaps will still be better, for as you are as capable as any of them, Capt. Bingley may like you the best of the party.”

“My dear first sergeant, you flatter me. I certainly HAVE had my share of excellent evaluations, but I do not pretend to be anything extraordinary now. When an officer has a full company, he ought to give over thinking of his own career.”

“In such cases, an officer has not often much of a career to think of.”

“First Sergeant, how CAN you abuse me in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion for my poor nerves.”

“You mistake me, my dear sir. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these last twenty years at least.”

First Sergeant was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make officers understand his character. THEIR minds were less difficult to develop. They were of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When discontented, they fancied themselves nervous. The business of their lives was to make life more complex for their troops; its solace was found in PowerPoint and doctrine.

An invitation to the safety brief was soon dispatched; and already had the commander planned the order of briefs, by type and length and topic, that were a credit to his organizational style. Thus when Capt. Bingley entered the assembly area — accompanied by a Capt. Darcy, a fine and handsome man — the entire company was gathered in rows pleasing to the eye. That had been the work of first sergeant. The company remarked quietly to itself on its vexation and the disagreeable circumstances that required it to be there, rather than a pleasant and noble romp to the horseless carriages, whence they would speed to the public houses, surely to blemish themselves and sully their names.

Capt. Bingley had soon made himself acquainted with the company; he was lively and unreserved, briefed every brief, was angry that the safety brief closed so early, and talked of giving one himself back at battalion. What a contrast between him and his friend! Capt. Darcy briefed only once, and that badly, with a forbidding and disagreeable countenance, and the company hoped that he would never come there again. Indeed, the company hoped never to see another staff officer again, although all agreed upon what a fine and striking countenance that Capt. Bingley had.

“Tell me for once and for all, shall you engage in vice or drive as to endanger your very whole and perfect selves or put off the good and cleansing garment of the yellow belt?” asked Capt. Bingley of the assembled company.

“We will make no promise of the kind,” came back the company, throwing distasteful looks towards the ground.

“Company, I am shocked and astonished. I expected to find a reasonable troop. But do not deceive yourselves into a belief that I will ever recede. I shall not go away till you give me and the safety office the assurance I require.”

The company was of a good and solid stock that did not distress itself over the feelings of officers, nor did it hold truth to be of a sacred nature when speaking with said creatures, and so assented readily to Capt. Bingley’s entreaties. The company cast sidelong glances at each other and then to the ground, mirthful with delight.

Captains Bingley and Darcy departed and scarce could Bingley contain himself over the merits and virtues of the company. Both men were quiet on their return to battalion; Bingley thinking of the pleasant qualities and wholesome nature of the company, and Darcy thinking of breakfast.

Happy for all his feelings was the day on which the commander got rid of his deserving company for the weekend. With what delighted pride he afterwards told the first sergeant, may be guessed. I wish I could say, for the sake of the Army, that the accomplishment of his earnest desire in the final safety brief for his company produced so happy an effect as to make them sensible, amiable, and well-informed soldiers; though perhaps it was lucky for the first sergeant, who might not have relished domestic felicity in so an unusual form, that the company still bound itself to being loutish, loud, and decidedly without common sense.

The first sergeant did not miss his company exceedingly; his affection was for his bottle of bourbon, which drew him oftener from home than anything else could. He delighted in going to the tavern, especially when he was least expected.


Command and General Staff College ranked among nation’s top 500 community colleges



FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – Faculty and staff at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, known as CGSC, are celebrating the school’s debut appearance on the U.S. News and World Report list of the nation’s top 500 community colleges, sources confirmed today.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our professors, students, and alumni,” said Army Combined Arms Center Commander Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy. “We almost beat Webster University, and we tied with the University of Phoenix Junior College. Even better, none of the other service staff colleges made the list!”

Lundy directed his staff to apply for regional accreditation last year as part of the Army’s broader effort to translate military skills into civilian credentials. After receiving a community college charter, the school began offering associate degrees in operational planning, business micromanagement, and reimagining historic military treatises.

Alumni have long considered CGSC the “Harvard of mandatory professional military education” due to its selective acceptance, rigorous curriculum, and near 100% graduation rate.

The school’s curriculum is designed to prepare senior captains and junior majors to become operational level staff officers by teaching them to skim or ignore volumes of doctrine, overanalyze simple problems, and brief senior officers while nursing crippling hangovers.

To many students, it is no surprise the institution was rated the 492nd best community college in the U.S.

“Yup, sounds about right,” said Maj. Joe Muto, a former Rhodes Scholar and current CGSC student. “I’m often stunned by the level of intellect and depth of my peers and instructors. Honestly though, I couldn’t think of a better way to train a few top performers on how to lead an inept staff through military planning for a pointless operation. It would be brilliant if I actually believed they planned it that way.”

At press time, sources heard Lundy calling the other service staff college leaders to console them and wish them better luck in 2020.

Duffel Blog reporters W.T. Door and Lieutenant Dan contributed to this article.

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Air Force

Fans excited for final season of Afghanistan



BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Fans of Afghanistan, already America’s longest running drama, are excited for the premier of the final season of the conflict, whenever that may be.

A media darling at launch, Afghanistan has suffered from low viewership since the first season but remains a powerhouse moneymaker with an annual budget of almost $45 billion. Producers initially promised large, exciting battles and decisive story lines but thus far have had issues delivering consistently. Fans of the show place the blame for many of those issues on producers insisting the show split air time with spinoff drama Iraq.

Despite the small TV audience tuning in, a large number of Americans (about 14,000 at present) physically attend the conflict every year hoping to take part in events as they unfold.

However, many of these participants express discontent over the direction the show has taken and feel the program has been dragging for the last decade or so.

“I was skeptical at first because there had been a Russian drama about Afghanistan, but in the first few seasons, this felt very different. And when they surprised everyone by killing off Bin Laden in season 10, that was amazing,” said Capt Mike Watt, currently deployed to Sharana. “But l feel like lately it’s been the same story line every season. Just lazy writing all around.”

A quick audit of recent years supports Watt’s argument. Plot devices like COIN, blue on green insider attacks, and meeting with local leaders that end up accomplishing nothing have become repetitive. Despite these issues, there remain a strikingly large number of subplots and unanswered questions. So many in fact, that writers and executive producers have expressed that they can’t imagine wrapping this up even if they have 10 plus more seasons.

Regardless, fans remain excited for the final season whenever that may be. An online poll among attendees on who will end up on top received hundreds of thousands of votes and came back with a landslide victory for write in candidate “I don’t give a fuuuuuuck.”

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Army leaders channel wrong Clausewitz in Pentagon seance



WASHINGTON — In a bizarre Pentagon ritual, Army leaders accidentally summoned the wrong spirit when attempting to channel famed Prussian military theorist Maj. Gen. Carl von Clausewitz to help them counter growing threats from China and Russia, sources confirmed today.

“Complex problems require creative ideas,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. “It turns out we liquidated most of our out-of-the-box thinkers during the last NCO and officer retention boards, so we had to reach deep into our past military geniuses to come up with solutions.”

Recent Chinese threats in the South China Sea and Russian threats in Ukraine and the Baltics forced the hand of Army strategists to come up with unique ways to justify the Army’s growing budget. To counter these challenges, the Army gathered a panel of soothsayers, mystics, and government-funded think tanks to divine the way ahead for future ground combat. Army leadership ultimately chose to hold a seance to channel the long-dead Clausewitz, the father of modern Western military strategy, in an attempt to glean workable solutions.

Eyewitnesses claim the group of officers was successful in channeling a spirit, though not the one they intended. After asking the Ouija board how Clausewitz reconciled his principle of the culminating victory, the strategists were confused at his answer, “I reconcile culminating feels better.”

In an embarrassing turn of events, the group had been seeking advice from Pvt. Chadwick “Chad” Clausewitz, a Civil War deserter from the 56th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Pvt. Clausewitz was executed in 1863 for abandoning his sentry post after he was caught masturbating to a tintype of a woman’s bare ankles.

“I knew something was wrong when the spirit told me to ‘talk it off,’” said Pentagon psychic Gwendolyn Mabry. “After we continued to pump it for answers, the spirit covered our group with a large amount of what appeared to be ectoplasm.”

Milley was last seen wiping his face and grumbling to a subordinate that they would probably have to consult the think tanks for a solution.

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Air Force

Service chiefs really tired of this Congressional committee’s crap



The military’s service chiefs have been tired, but never tired like this. (Source: National Guard Bureau)

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s service chiefs are massively weary of this stupid Congressional committee hearing, sources confirmed today.

Although the hearing on force readiness in the mid-term began moments ago, it has “nose-dived faster than Congressman Schiff’s reputation,” according to a military legislative affairs officer. 

“I put on a service dress uniform for this?” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein asked his peers, apparently unaware he was wearing a hot microphone.

The Committee chairwoman — no one knows her name because she did nothing notable before Democrats took control of the House —asked Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley for his assessment of Navy readiness.

Milley appeared confused by a question on a separate service and paused before saying, “I would like to respond by stating that the readiness of Congress to hold this hearing is a complete shit-show, ma’am.”

Rep. Slay Z. Lewks (D – possibly Queens but she doesn’t know) followed with a freshwoman attempt at putting the hearing back on track by asking about mold in military housing. The chairwoman informed Lewks the topic was not related to force readiness.

“Then what about mold readiness in the mid-term?” Lewks asked.

Rep. Sea H. Ag (D – San Francisco) then interrupted Lewks to repeatedly stammer over the word “the.” She finally finished her question on the best place in D.C to meet sailors, which was met by the audible sighs of the testifying service chiefs.

Before Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson could wipe the stunned look off his face, Ag told him “I’m a cougar, John, in case you didn’t notice, John — rawwr.”

The chiefs then appeared to be studying their notes, but they were actually playing sudoku on sheets in their briefing books, except for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller. 

“He doesn’t know how sudoku works,” says a Marine Corps public affairs office. Neller instead repeatedly snapped a can of Copenhagen under the desk while glaring at Lewks and anyone else who lewks at him for more than a second.

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Air Force

Space Force already restricted to Earth liberty



MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — Military commanders have barred potential Space Force members from engaging in any liberty activities outside of Earth’s atmosphere, sources confirmed today.

The decision came after several hours of deliberation between key military leaders at the Pentagon. Expert testimony on the issues included representatives from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Air Force Space Command, and Christopher Nolan, director of “Interstellar” who described outer space as “totally nuts, man.”

“There’s just too many variables right now,” said Gen. Timothy Grey, commanding general of the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. “Are liberty periods measured in the 4th dimension of spacetime? Are space suits issued gear? What happens if an alien entity lays eggs inside your libo buddy? I don’t even know where the settings in DEERS are for that.”

What was once thought to be just an idea in passing, the Space Force comes closer to reality with the February 19th issuance of the Space Policy Directive-4 that organizes the new unit as a sub component of the Air Force. What it fails to clarify however, are significant details concerning financial bureaucracy, the international consequences of militarizing outer space and whether or not there will be sexy coed showers for soldiers before and after defeating an alien species.

“It’s just important to preempt any liberty issues we may have before any incident arises,” Grey continued. “I know what kind of stuff goes on in space. Trust me. I’ve seen Avatar.”

Spc. Kyle Julliard, a satellite communications systems operator-maintainer with the Army Signal Corps, was disappointed to hear the news.

“I was really looking forward to marrying an alien stripper,” he said. “Where am I going to find a stripper now? Earth? The Marines already married them all!

Not every soldier was as pessimistic about their options. Pfc. Daniel Shaw, an imagery analyst with the 344th Military Intelligence Battalion, was reportedly seen working on a method of turning Mars water into toilet wine.

“They’ll have to lift the libo restrictions eventually,” he said. “And when they do, I’m going to get the first space DUI.”

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Saruman the White selected to oversee implementation of Army-Palantir contract



ISENGARD, Middle-earth — Shortly after revealing that Palantir would be implementing the new Army intelligence system, the service announced a partnership today with stalwart ally and pillar of the intelligence community, Saruman the White.

Head of Palantir’s defense business Doug Philppone praised the move.

“We were just thrilled for the opportunity to take the reins of the most massive intelligence gathering system outside of Barad-dûr and tapping Saruman to oversee the transition is just smart business,” Philppone said. “Truly a win-win-win for all the peoples of Middle-earth.”

Philippone, who is definitely not the first of many clones of a man named Doug Philipp, was initially surprised at Saruman’s familiarity with proprietary systems, but he has since come to expect nothing less from the leader of the white council.

“It’s true that Saruman has been recently branching out into other areas, such as munitions development and recruiting demi-human capital, but he has always been primarily focused on intelligence gathering,” Philippone added. “Truly, it was a wise decision to join with his power. I really couldn’t see it happening any other way.”

Saruman expressed thanks for the Army’s trust in him and vowed that he would help them usher in a new world.

“Who can stand against the might of the U.S. Army and Palantir? Surely not those horse-riding fools in Rohan,” Saruman said. “I hear they transmit all their comms in plain text.”

This is not the first time Saruman has assisted the Department of Defense as a sub-contractor, although previous instances were coordinated by long-time defense contractor Raytheon.

A spokesperson from Raytheon expressed disappointment at the decision to award the contract to Palantir, citing their previous successes in modernizing the Army entrail reading program and referencing their extensive history working with Saruman. Raytheon also wanted to assure its shareholders that this would have a minimal impact on profits and reminded them that Raytheon was still the contractor of choice for the armies of Gondor and the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood.

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Newly promoted Colonel Dole immediately flagged as non-deployable



Washington, D.C. — Newly promoted Col. Bob Dole has been immediately flagged as non-deployable following a review of his official personnel file, a spokesperson from Human Resources Command confirmed today.

This action comes on the heels of legislation, co-sponsored by Viagra manufacturer Pfizer, promoting the former senator and presidential candidate.

“We really appreciated the assistance from Pfizer in getting this recognition for Kansas’s favorite son,” reported Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) “The support that they gave my staff was just incredible.”

Headquarters Company Commander for the National Capital Region Capt. Jared Wyman expressed dismay at receiving yet another senior officer who is below standards in every category of medical readiness and fails to meet pretty much every other annual training requirement.

“Usually, we get guys who haven’t been to the range for a while or are a few years behind on anti-terrorism level one training, but this is ridiculous,” said Wyman. “Where has this guy been for the last 15 years? I asked him to upload his SAMS graduation info, and he faxed me a copy of his Sam’s Club membership card.”

“At least he’s already got the new Army greens,” Wyman added.

Dole was spotted shopping at the Fort Myer Military Clothing and Sales, searching in vain for service ribbons for his numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal. He seemed irritated and confused about having to update his uniform along with his defense travel system profile.

“I don’t deserve it, but I’ll take it” said Dole when asked about the promotion. “But I’m not doing any of this online training crap.”

Dole said he understands the importance of being ready to deploy but doesn’t see the merit of learning survival skills from the internet.

“I told that Wyman kid that I already know how to use a TARP. Colonel Dole has better things to do than listen to a computer tell him how to tie down a damn canvas,” he said.

President Donald Trump was reportedly thrilled to have the promotion bill come across his desk and expressed hope that signing would guarantee an invitation to at least one prominent funeral this year.

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Inclusivity FTW! After this man was fired from every job he ever had, the Army gave him power over life and death



Getting rejected from job after job can be frustrating. So when the US Army found out that 35 year-old Craig Foley had been fired from every job he ever had, they stepped up and gave him a job wielding absolute power over life and death!

Wow! Talk about selfless service!

Although most Americans are enjoying some of the lowest unemployment rates in nearly 50 years, some Americans don’t have the necessary interpersonal skills or impulse control to succeed in a 9-to-5 job. Foley himself was literally sitting outside of the building where he was fired as a sanitary napkin tester when local recruiter Staff Sgt. Sandra Colton found him blankly leering at passersby. Anyone else would have called the police, but luckily Colton saw Foley’s raw, untapped potential to decide who lives and who dies in a mortal imbroglio halfway around the world.

“We believe everyone has a place in the U.S. Army,” said Colton. “People who normally have trouble finding steady employment because of felonies or mental disorders can find success making split-second, life altering decisions for combatants and non-combatants alike.”

“Including women and children!” she added.

Amazing. People with no skills or prospects can always depend on the Army to give them the training to reflexively kill complete strangers that will narrowly serve them for months, yet affect every aspect of their life profoundly for decades.

Can you say “yes please?”

Let’s give our armed forces a round of applause for being part of the solution to rid America of unemployment and help people like newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Craig Foley play God in morally ambiguous situations across the globe.

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