THE PENTAGON — In the fight against plummeting morale, the Army's top leader announced Tuesday that most soldiers would be receiving additional unit awards to bring their spirits up, sources confirmed.
According to a new study, thousands of hours lost in additional mandatory Equal Opportunity, Sexual Assault Prevention, and Social Awareness training have brought the collective morale of the Army down to the lowest levels since 1974.
"Obviously when we saw the results of the study we were concerned," Gen. Martin Dempsey told assembled reporters.
"The Secretary and I take this issue very seriously, and are determined to stop this trend before it leads to other issues within our ranks, such as additional sexual assault cases," Dempsey told the audience, while momentarily envisioning his upcoming retirement when he doesn't have to deal with this shit anymore. "The solution was obvious: More unit awards!"
The four-star general beamed as he stepped back from the podium and pulled the cover off a mannequin to his left, exposing an Army Service Uniform (ASU) festooned with dozens of badges, several brightly colored cords, multiple unit emblems, and stripes that ran up both sides of the arms all the way past the elbows.
"We realized that the core issue for soldiers is unit pride. Division mandatory sports days, brigade pride runs, and battalion weekend barbecues were all steps in the right direction, but they didn't go far enough."
He turned to the uniform, flashing under the glare of the stage lights. "By having soldiers wear additional awards that have no direct correlation to personal achievement, they can truly feel pride in being a part of the unit that they were arbitrarily assigned to."
Dempsey began to list the various improvements to the ASU.
"First we started with the cord. Sure every service gets their own color, but we have two shoulders. Why not use them both? We've combed the historical records to ensure that every brigade has been given some type of obscure award to honor past service in a conflict that has no living veterans. For instance, the 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division will wear the French fourragère for their service in World War I, seen here."
He pointed out the green cord on the opposite shoulder, resembling the Infantry Blue Cord with the addition of an expensive metal end-piece.
"We've also changed the rules so service members will now have to wear the new metal combat insignia for each unit they've deployed with. Which leads me to combat stripes. Originally you received one stripe for every six months in combat. That doesn't look very impressive, even for our more senior veterans. Now we've altered the regulation so that you will receive one stripe for every two months of service overseas. For enlisted personnel we've also lowered the service stripe time requirement to four months."
When asked the if the Army would be increasing the soldier's basic pay to account for all the additional awards — which according to the press packet totaled almost $450 per uniform — Dempsey balked.
"Of course not," said Dempsey with a chuckle. "That's the whole point of individual pride. These soldiers are given the privilege of going to the AAFES Clothing and Sales store to purchase the awards themselves at incredibly marked-up prices."
"We've found that soldiers really take ownership of an award if they have to go and buy it first," he added.