Thursday, 10 September 2009

Another AF Screw-Up Story

Another of my September Air Force screw-up stories.

I was in a civil engineering unit in the early part of my career. The wing commander made a big deal about the entry way to the base (Rhein Main). There was this “island” near the front gate that everyone drove by. He thought it would be nice if a bunch of trees and shrubs were on this 1-acre “island”. So he went out and took about $8k out of the budget and they bought a tractor-trailer rig of shrubs and trees.

Naturally, this fell to CE Grounds to plant. The two NCO’s in the shop....knew nothing about planting. They hadn’t planted a tree or shrub in their entire career. So they dug all these holes and planted well over 200 trees and shrubs over this “island” and dumped the plant into it.

Weeks went by, and almost every single tree and shrub died. It was fairly obvious after two months....100 percent death. Our boss went out there and dug up five....all had the plastic covering around the roots. The two guys didn’t know you had to remove the plastic covering. To say he was furious was an understatement. But you can’t admit something like this. So our boss waited a month...when the old wing commander left...he had us dig up every single one of the dead trees and shrubs in a swift 90-minute operation.

Six months pass, and the new commander had the same idea....giving us another $8k to plant more shrubs out there. None of the leadership remembered the original episode....so this made sense. This time....the wing commander wanted the Officer Wives Club involved. We guys from the grounds shop were supposed to meet there in civilian clothing on a Saturday morning....to help the ladies plant these damn plants.

So here I was....with two other guys....all in civilian clothing to make the appearance of charity-type work. Of the Officer Wives Club....barely four women showed up. They ran out of energy within an hour. We three guys ended up planting all of these, without the plastic covering on the root. It was around three in the afternoon when we finished. It was proclaimed a great success...so said the wing commander.

Fifteen years pass and I’m driving through Rhein Main one day....my first return since 1980....I came to notice the island. It was like some kind of jungle....with five times the number of trees and shrubs on it than you’d prefer. You could have walked into the middle and just hid there if you wanted....never to be seen. No one from the base had ever trimmed the bushes or trees.

Around 1999, I drove through as things were being shut down and closed....turning the base completely over to the Flughafen....and most of the trees and shrubs had all been cut down and some new ones replanted.

That’s how $16k was spent on one stupid “island” on an Air Force base.

Just Billions

Not that you really care, but the Congressional Oversight Panel dudes....finally came out and admitted that there are severe taxpayer losses on the $81 billion we loaned GM and Chrysler.

It’s currently figured that we won’t get back $23 billion of the money back. Course, that's not real money...it’s just government revenue that they invented from a bunch of dimwits across America.

It’s kinda like when Cousin Fred comes over and asks for $100 because he’s low on cash till payday, and six months later, you remind him of the debt and he says he’s broke and can’t possibly pay you.

It’s kinda like Friday night when your Uncle Josh gets arrested at the state line for drugs in the car and he needs you to bail him out of jail with $5k and your momma says you have to do it. Then a month later, Uncle Josh disappears.

It’s kinda like when your momma calls up and says her transmission broke down and she needs you to fix up the situation by giving her $1500 for repairs.

It’s kinda like when school says little Johnny can participate with the football team but they want a $75 donation to the sports fund to help pay for “stuff”.

We all end up going along with that $1500 deal or that $200 deal or that $50 deal...just tossed to the wind. But for some reason....we seem to have heartburn with the $23 billion being flushed down the toilet.

The neat thing here? The government signed and agreed to this deal. You wouldn’t have accepted, nor your wife, or your neighbor, or your fishing partner. We wouldn’t be that stupid. Apparently, your senator and congressman are that stupid.

Another AF Screw-Up Story

Another one of my September Air Force screw-up stories.

At a base, which shall remain anonymous....around February timeframe, the base made an announcement of an upcoming base-wide inspection. This was to be the last two weeks of May. So we all had plenty of time to get offices painted, trim shrubs, and fix files.

Normally, an inspection team will be around for six days....arriving Sunday, inspecting Monday through Wednesday, and then write the report on Thursday, and deliver to the wing commander and base personnel on Friday. This base was exceptionally large, with more inspection items than normal.....so the team would arrive on Sunday and stay twelve days.

As the inspection team arrives, the chow hall went from a 2.5 star menu rating, to a 4-star menu. On Sunday night....the boys from the base all feasted on shrimp and steaks. For twelve days, the base chow hall cooked up the best offerings that anyone could remember. None of us complained about this. I ate almost every lunch at the chow hall for that whole two weeks....even though I could have eaten elsewhere. Steak was a daily thing. For $3, you couldn't beat a meal of steak and fries, with a desert and two glasses of soda.

So the inspection goes well and the team leaves the base. June passes. July passes. And then in early August....reality comes to the chow hall.

The chow hall manager was pushing hard for an exceptional grade and got it. Less than four weeks later, he got an assignment, and six weeks later....he was packing up to leave. He was happy about his accomplishments.

The new chow hall manager was quickly thrown into the mess in the midst of August. He suddenly realizes that the budget is screwed up.

In the Air Force, we plan budgets by the quarter. The money guys give each budget owner his money....and it’s all planned quarter by quarter. Apparently, the old chow hall manager ran out of money at the end of May for his operation. He used up almost two months of chow hall money for two lousy weeks of four-star menus.

The new chow manager was sitting there with ten weeks of requirements and barely four weeks of money in his hands. Naturally, there was a meeting with the commander....who hadn’t watched any of this occur and was greatly confused. He could come up with $10k to dump into the pot....but that barely bought an extra week. So they went to the Wing Commander....who gave them another $10k and the name of the commissary manager. The base had spent a huge amount of money on this inspection business and everyone was turning up short for the last 60 days of the financial year.

The new chow hall manager went over to the Commissary and then arranged for a bulk purchase of chicken. Tons of chicken, in fact. He then fixed up a nifty menu for ten weeks....based entirely on 90 percent chicken meals. Breakfast was the only meal without chicken.

It took us about three weeks to figure this out and start asking questions. By the last week of September....almost no one ate evening meals...they were all sick of chicken.

No one ever said a word about the old chow hall manager....but this guy had corrupted the entire system with his 4-star meals and proven the chow hall system was broke.