FORT BRAGG — The Junior Enlisted Servicemembers Union, better known as the "E-4 Mafia," announced a new anti-awareness campaign Friday in hopes of reminding fellow soldiers to "see nothing, say nothing" when it comes to the group's shadowy dealings on military bases at home and abroad.
The campaign, says Public Affairs Specialist Anthony DiCarlo, will take the form of posters, fliers, pamphlets, and 30-second television spots on the Armed Forces Network.
Featuring a lost private first class bumbling around a corner to find two specialists unloading gear from a truck, the television spot appears aimed at the very lowest ranks of the Army. As one of the specialists raises a finger to his lips and slowly shakes his head, the private goes about his business while a warm, deep voice narrates:
“The E-4 Mafia plays a vital role in our military. One day, you too may need something fast, with no questions asked. So remember: see nothing, say nothing.”
Posters and fliers for the campaign feature similar situations — a young lieutenant paying a specialist for the answer key to a land navigation exercise; a supply sergeant shielding his eyes from two specialists performing each others' quarterly inventory reports — with the “See Nothing, Say Nothing” slogan superimposed prominently in red.
“In these perilous times of protracted wars, battle fatigue, and diplomatic tension, it's important to remind soldiers they must remain unvigilant for suspicious activities,” DiCarlo explained. “It's easy to become complacent in the workplace,” he went on, “so do it already.”
Not everyone supports the campaign, however. Three times in the last four years, Secretary of the Army John McHugh has voiced support for budget cuts to the E-4 Mafia, which he says “should never have received funding in the first place.” The proposal has consistently failed to get off the ground due to a series of mishaps, notably when McHugh's speech notes were lost (2010), McHugh's driver got lost (2012), and last year, when McHugh himself was reported missing the morning he was to deliver congressional testimony.
To date, he has never spoken publicly about the disappearance, but has announced he is unlikely to pursue the measure again.
Elsewhere, reactions to the campaign were mainly positive, with many soldiers calling the new slogan an improvement over the former “This is happening. Just close your eyes and accept it.”
“I'm not sure exactly what it was about the old slogan,” admitted Staff Sgt. Jason Ruiz, a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention NCO within his company, “but it just never sat right with me.”
In accordance with the updated regulations, materials will be disseminated to every Active, Guard, and Reserve unit armory in the country to assist E-4s as they prepare presentations on the latest policy.
“Of course, the policy changes create some extra work," said one specialist with the 118th Infantry Regiment of the S.C. Army National Guard, on condition of anonymity. "but this new guidance will help get the Army back to operating like a greasy, oily machine — like those ones where you put in a quarter and a penny, and get back a messed-up penny. The way the Army was meant to be.”