THE PENTAGON — The U.S. Air Force announced a new program Monday for keeping troops safe off the battlefield, and it's already being hailed as so innovative, other services are taking notice.
In a press conference at the Pentagon, acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning unveiled the first inter-service safety campaign, officially known as Senior Trainers Upholding Personnel Integrity Declarations. Unofficially, the campaign has aquired another moniker among troops: Don't Be a Dumbass.
"At the end of the day, me and some other service heads were comparing notes on discipline and criminal trends across our respective forces," Fanning told reporters. "We saw a lot of similarities, and eventually asked ourselves: has anyone just told these kids not to do this stuff?"
Details of the plan include specific instructions for having all members of a unit assemble in a group 'formation' just minutes before being released for a weekend or holiday, claiming that impatience to leave work will contribute to the listener's focus on the safety briefing. Profane, uneducated, slur-filled rants by senior enlisted members will then follow, threatening physical violence, legal action, and all manner of reprisals for violation of the posted regulations. The briefing will then close with a softhearted plea to 'not be a dumbass.'
Fanning and other leaders are hopeful the program will combat not only the rising number of criminal cases throughout the services, but general disorder and lack of discipline as well.
The key drivers of the campaign will come from qualified senior enlisted leaders — E7 and above — due to their extensive experience, and their strong grasp of the English language.
"When we thought, who are a unit's most respected leaders?," Fanning asked, "It was staring us right in the face: senior enlisted personnel. Why don't we get an entire unit together and just have these guys yell and curse, telling them not to do things like drink and drive, beat their wives, or have sex with animals in a Holiday Inn while your fellow airmen film the event?"
Air Force projections have shown that offenses will decrease across all categories of infractions by simply reminding servicemembers to not be dumbasses, and that using senior enlisted leaders to do it will be the most effective form of message retention.
Unfortunately for Fanning, reception of the new plan from other branches was tepid. When the presentation was concluded, Army and Marine Corps staff aides were heard snickering in the background. Army Secretary John McHugh made no comment, simply checking his watch and frowning with impatience.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus however did appear to be paying rapt attention, and was seen taking scores of notes during the presentation.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a former Army Infantry non-commissioned officer, was more vocal in his reaction, staring in disbelief at the beaming Secretary as he finished.
"You're an idiot," he stated flatly.