Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan - When Senior Airman Jed Thaner witnessed a potential Operational Security (OPSEC) violation, he knew immediately to alert his chain of command.
"We've always been trained that if you see something, say something."
Early yesterday morning, SrA Thaner woke before sunrise for some PT prior to his analyst day shift at the Tactical Operations Center. Rounding the corner to start his jog, he saw an unidentified third-country national (TCN) rummaging through the trash near the center -- a common tactic insurgents use to gain inside information.
Thaner then chased the man off and headed for the TOC to report what had happened. He approached his commanding officer, eager to tell him about the security violation that he had just witnessed.
But Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Nimbus had bigger fish to fry.
"When's the last time you shaved, Airman?" Lt Col Nimbus asked, as SrA Thaner stood tall before him. The officer then dressed down Thaner's lack of appearance in accordance with regulations.
"He was showing five o' clock shadow and that's just unacceptable. For Godsakes, he was so nasty, I almost mistook him for Army! You let that kind of thing slide, next thing you know, Air Force loses its reputation!"
Thaner was upset that he wasn't able to get a word in.
"I don't know how to plead with a Colonel, but I want someone to teach me how," Thaner said, after being reprimanded and heading to the latrine for a mandatory shave.
It was later learned that the potential foreign intelligence agent was really a third country national in charge of cleaning around the trailers, where Thaner's unit is currently staying.
"They're also known for dumpster diving." said Technical Sergeant Tayna Grainer, the senior analyst on Thaner's shift. The TCN, identified only as Mutassa, explained that he just "wanted to score a Playboy. He hadn't realized the military's rules on pornography were close to that of any sharia-minded judge.
The Air Force had dodged a bullet, but SrA Thaner remains unconvinced.
"I'm not even sure what I'd have to do to convince someone if something really did go wrong. I don't want to know." he confided. With that Thaner said he'd had enough adventure outside work for one day and decided to retire to his hooch until his shift to meditate.
No word on whether "meditating" was actually the new Air Force euphenism for rubbing one out or whether that was more important than OPSEC.