THE PENTAGON — An administrative review of military records has found that despite serving as the top civilian leader of the Pentagon for almost two years, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is actually still an Army Specialist, Duffel Blog has learned.
Sources confirmed what many had suspected, as Hagel has been known to shrug off senior leadership and converse with junior enlisted troops whenever possible.
"Goddamn four-stars just ramble on about 'strategic oversight of combat' and 'stability operations at the theater level,'" Hagel said in a phone interview. "I just want to know what the fuck we're doing on Friday night."
The review, conducted by Army Human Resources Command, found that then-Sgt. Hagel was promoted in 1967 but the paperwork was filed incorrectly. Although he wore the rank of sergeant, Hagel was still an E-4 specialist, and through some glitch in personnel systems, continued in that capacity despite his belief he was discharged in 1968 after serving in Vietnam.
"I always wondered why he avoided coming to my office," said Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Joint Chiefs Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia. "Every time I saw him in the hallway he'd look at the floor and mumble some kind of weak greeting. It drove me nuts."
Hagel, 68, has already been nicknamed "the grand old Specialist of the Army" by some officers in the Pentagon. Some have even proposed the creation of a new rank of Specialist of the Army, to be above Command Sergeant Major of the Army, in order to solve the administrative and chain-of-command issues.
"I've portrayed this image of a veteran, a businessman, and a senator and respected leader in political circles over the years," Hagel said in a mea culpa to reporters. "But really, I've just had FNG privates taking care of all that stuff. I've been hiding under my desk in my various offices reading Penthouse and drinking beer this entire time."
Lee Ho Fuk contributed reporting.