By Whiskey Fueled Tirade
KABUL – The Taliban’s lightning-fast victory over Afghan National Security Forces following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has proven one thing, according to top Pentagon planners: the U.S. Military focus on dental readiness has been a complete waste of time and resources.
“A guy with about three teeth led an army of guys with about three teeth to defeat our well-equipped partner force whom we trained over the past 20 years— all in the course of about a week,” said Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command. “So yeah, I think it’s safe to say dental readiness wasn’t the panacea we were promised.”
McKenzie, the officer in charge of all military forces in the Middle East and parts of South Asia, was referring to the cult-like power dental readiness has held over the military for the past five decades. Since the early 1970s, failure to report for annual dental exams resulted in servicemembers receiving adverse action such as extra duty, non-judicial punishment, and in rare cases, death by root canal.
“Those dental soldiers don’t play around,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston told reporters. “I had a yuck mouth soldier no-show his annual dental exam three times when I was a squad leader. When he finally made it to an appointment, we never saw him again.”
“Legend has it, he’s still in the dental chair, the tech poking and scraping at his teeth,” continued Grinston with a shudder.
With the Afghan revelation, as leaders are calling it, military readiness will now be determined by more tangible metrics such as number of personnel on hand, critical equipment in for service, and by having commanders evaluate their own unit’s training status.
"Dental readiness was the cornerstone of our Afghanistan strategy for almost 20 years," Gen. Mark Milley told reporters. "Or was it the keystone? Anyway, turns out all those stupid dental categories didn't even matter."
"Hell, I haven't brushed my teeth since we pulled our troops out of the country."
Though many military leaders like Milley met the news with ambivalence and some with quiet satisfaction, leaders who built their careers on the promise of dental readiness have grown disillusioned by the revelation.
“My whole life has been a lie,” Brig. Gen. Shan K. Bagby, the Army’s senior Dentist, told reporters as he slowly packed his office. “Countless years wasted, and for what? A few shiny teeth and a star on my chest? Pathetic.”
Still, others maintain the focus on dental readiness was a Cold War-era Soviet program, designed to make the United States military expend resources on extraneous priorities like people.
“And it worked,” Milley told reporters. “We spend about half a billion dollars annually on dental readiness. But not anymore. We’ll spend that money on something way more useful like the future of vertical lift.”
At press time, sources reported Taliban fighters mocking coalition forces by pretending to brush their teeth after finding a cache of toothbrushes left behind on an undisclosed military base.
Whiskey Fueled Tirade is an Army guy, small time strategy grifter, and command climate change denier. He’s a trailer park ex-pat living large in a house without wheels. Follow him on Twitter @FueledTirade.