Defending America
David Hackworth
26 February '97

MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY

Here's more of an edited version of a quit letter that's buzzing around the Air Force.

"Dear Boss,"

..."In short sir, I'm tired of getting lied to and having the guys in charge think I'm too stupid to notice the lies."

"Sure, the rules change on the outside too, and the business world is notorious for being cutthroat... but ...in the civilian sector, I'll get lots more (money) so I can build financial security for my family. There, if I put in 65-70 hours a week that I do now, I'll get paid or compensated for it."

"In the business world I expect to be used and abused if it'll help the bottom line."

"I expect to have to deal with the politics and petty in-fighting and some pretty poor decisions. In the business world, however, nobody dies because of poor decisions."

"I've paid the price... I've done the jobs that needed to be done so others could dash up the path to fame and glory. I've got the scars and wounds and the nightmares of friends who did it all right and still wound up dead."

"I've got the grey hairs from worrying about the new kids, and bald spot from pulling my hair out over some of the old heads. I've left a trail of blood, sweat and tears behind me."

"I look at the best of my peers and see them getting passed over, and non-selected for schools, while the guy who was too busy to fly or go on deployments or take the thankless, non-glory jobs ... gets his masters (degree) got selected for major and school and is on the fast track. We can't make him a flight commander because he has zero credibility, but he's what the USAF wants."

"Job performance as the primary promotion factor? Minority promotions on the June 1995 major's board were 94 percent while the overall rate for the promotion zone was 74 percent..."

"I've been told that you are not black or white or male or female in the USAF, and I totally believe that. If the members of the Air Force who are minorities are really all that good to achieve as a group 94 percent promotion rate, then we should all be proud."

"Of course, the minority officer at Langley AFB who is pending a General Court martial, but got promoted anyhow makes it difficult to believe the promotion system is working as advertised..."

"Not all the commanders and units suffer from the problems I've been describing. Some commanders are like a dream - they care ... work hard and take care of the people who get the mission done."

"Some, not at all. The problem is, the guys that aren't doing the job reflect on all of us... As a result, the credibility and veracity of all of our commanders and the system as a whole suffers."

The sad part is the ones who read this letter and take it to heart are the ones who are the 'good' guys. The ones who say, 'this is all BS," or "we need to find this guy and straighten him out before he spreads more dissension' are the ones who need this info ..."

"We haven't had to test ourselves too toughly lately... Someday, someone will. When that day comes along, the USAF will once again call on all of those poor fools who the system is gonna use up and discard. They'll save our bacon and get the job done right, despite the higher headquarters ... I'm sure we'll abuse those folks like we've abused and misused the ones who went (to the) last (fight)."

To those who read this and stay in - good luck. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Just watch your back, don't be blind to the workings of the system, and understand what you're getting yourself into. Take care of each other, because no one else will."

"Remember that those of us who went before are still there with you, if only in spirit, and proud of you - even if the system doesn't show you that anyone cares.

This heartbreaking letter can be found unabridged on the web at WWW. Hackworth. Com. I hope the high brass read it and goback to the basics: LEADERSHIP 101.

the end