JOINT BASE ELMENDORF RICHARDSON, ALASKA — The U.S. Army's top brass is planning to add at least two hours of classroom instruction to Captain's Career Course on how properly embezzle money and commit insurance fraud, sources confirmed today.
"We all recognize that it's unrealistic to expect a person to support a family of four on an O-5's roughly $11,000-per-month salary, so it's an unwritten understanding that as officers and gentlemen, we find ways to get our side hustle on,” said Maj. Gen. Mark O'Neil, U.S. Army Alaska commanding general.
The addition of training in the art of "the side hustle" was added in response to the case of Lt. Col. Christopher DeMure, who was recently charged with allegedly defrauding insurance providers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Frankly, it's astonishing to me that someone could make it to field-grade rank without figuring out how to bring in under-the-table cash on the sly," O'Neil said. "For God's sake, I've known E-4's who were better at running scams without getting caught."
For example, DeMure allegedly claimed to have lost an expensive designer-brand backpack filled with thousands of dollars' worth of high-end electronics and personal belongings in some public place. Then he filed an insurance claim supported by a police report which, investigators say, was a bogus report authored by DeMure himself.
"See, it's this kind of penny-ante crap that's exactly what I'm talking about," said O'Neil. "How are you going to claim, as a lieutenant colonel and a battalion commander, that you can't maintain positive control of a backpack full of iPads and jewelry? What would you say to Joe if he walked into your office with a sob story like that? You'd say, 'Tough luck dude, bet you'll secure your gear next time.’"
The problem, O'Neil and other senior leaders say, can be traced to the military's assumption that attaining a bachelor's degree is functionally equal to real-world life experience.
"Unlike the legendary scammers and hustlers on the enlisted side, who came up through the school of hard knocks and have a lot of street smarts, our officer corps is composed entirely of college graduates," one senior defense official said. "Every year we commission a new crop of second lieutenants who for the most part are very book-smart but have a level of common sense roughly equivalent to that of a third-grader."
In an effort to remedy this shortcoming, the Army is restructuring the common-core curricula being taught at the various branches' Captain's Career Courses for company-grade officers. The new curricula will feature such courses as:
Money Laundering in the Modern Army
The Do’s and Don’ts of Drug Rings
Loan Sharking for Nice Guys
Slumlording: The Basics
The Good Girl's Guide to Bad-Girl Sex Trafficking
Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Insurance Fraud (with required practical lab work)
Army Acquisition and Procurement: Workarounds, Shortcuts, and Loopholes
Army Property Disposition: The Back Door of DRMO
Private Party Car Sales At Any Interest Rate
Ponzi Schemes: Lessons Learned and Best Practices
Army officials say they're hoping to take junior officers that are still learning to function in their daily duties and give them a new set of skills that will help them as they move up in rank.
"When they move into higher-level command positions, where they're expected to have a more flashy, ostentatious standard of living, they'll be able to bring in the funds to support the lifestyle that every officer deserves, but in a way that is both lucrative and discreet," said a spokesman for the Ft. Benning-based Command and Tactics Directorate, the proponent agency of the Maneuver Captain's Career Course. "At the end of the day, the goal is to produce officers with the skill set to run low-key yet profitable scams, because, let's face it, those fleets of brand-new, fully-optioned SUV's don't pay for themselves."