'GOOD FELLAS' GUARD AMERICA
DAVID H. HACKWORTH

The Army National Guard is a vital component of the forces that defend America. They're no longer the second team that follows the regulars into the breach. Today our Guard soldiers stand tall in hot spots all over the world.

A decade ago, Secretary of the Army Mike Stone asked what I thought of the Guard. Having served in that outfit in both combat and peacetime, and having observed them in action since, I replied:

"Great soldiers with a lot of hands-on experience down at the bottom and corrupt porkers up at the top," I said.

Stone asked, "What would you do about it?"

"I'd give 'em back to the states to do floods and fires, and transfer their federally underwritten assets to the Reserves," I replied. "That way, the Army's got the clout to shape 'em up without fighting city hall."

"Hack, getting rid of God would be easier," Stone shot back.

And he was right. The Army National Guard has powerful friends in Congress and state governments who work overtime protecting the pork, keeping billions of federal bucks pouring into state coffers.

I'm besieged with reports from Guard soldiers giving me chapter and verse about who stole what from where and whom and the sad status of readiness of many Army NG units. I could write a weekly horror report.

This week's mailbag brings the following dirt about what's going on in the Garden State of New Jersey:

*An out-of-shape major who hadn't taken the required Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) for years -- which made him ineligible for promotion -- was promoted after a master fitness trainer gave this officer a private test and passed him. Of course, it just so happens that the new lieutenant colonel's secretary is the master fitness trainer's wife.

*A lieutenant colonel who was so out of shape he couldn't pass either the Army's weight or APFT -- and thus didn't qualify for promotion -- was made a full colonel anyway. Maj. Gen. Paul J. Glazar, the state adjutant general, apparently did the deed because the officer is instrumental in getting money from the feds and the Guard Bureau.

*A warrant officer has a debilitating disease, making him unfit for Guard duty, but he's allowed to remain on the active rolls until he can retire at the taxpayers' expense.

*A senior commander carried ghost soldiers on his unit's books. These are soldiers who don't show up for training and aren't listed on the unit's rolls, but they're still shown on the overall state strength. These ghost soldiers receive their pay while AWOL, and the colonel involved makes brownie points for having the division's best overall unit strength. The South Vietnamese army was famous for ghost soldiers, and look what happened to it.

*Many of the state's armories are falling apart because there's no money for repairs, but half a million bucks is being questionably spent at the Sea Girt National Guard post for campsite and bathhouse renovation. Glazar has a National Guard-provided summer house there that was renovated with funds earmarked -- yes, you guessed it -- for armory rehabilitation.

*A lieutenant colonel used a military credit card for gambling in Atlantic City but didn't have to sweat it when his losses ran into big bucks. His pal, the general, allowed him to retire with full pay and honors.

*Funds that could have been used for the improvement of Guard facilities for the soldiers were used for what the general calls a "classroom," although it's never served as such. Instead, the "classroom" has a full bar and has been used on many occasions for entertaining. In fact, the "classroom" had to be completed by a date that coincided with the general's daughter's wedding shower, which, of course, was held in the so-called "classroom."

These charges would be easy to check out. All the Army inspector general has to do is to visit New Jersey and have a look for himself. Hopefully soon.

America can no longer afford this kind of waste and abuse. The Guard must either soldier or fold, and the Pentagon must set up an IG hotline so good Guard soldiers everywhere can blow the whistle on the crooks and porkers who too often end up in charge.

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Http://www.hackworth.com is the address of David Hackworth's home page. Sign in for the free weekly Defending America column at his Web site. Send mail to P.O. Box 5210, Greenwich, CT 06831.

(c) 2001 David H. Hackworth
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