Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Quote of the day 
From Professor Cori Dauber:

Now, note to the staff of the New York Times: here's why you have so little credibility with everyone who has the least bit of familiarity with military issues. I'm not talking about military personnel and vets, and military affairs professors. I'm talking about everyone who has the most glancing, the most casual, the most informal, knowledge about the military. Anyone who has so much as read a book, hell skimmed a book, or engaged in small talk over a beer with someone who's even considered going into the military, that little familiarity with the military would be enough to read this paragraph and immediately understand that almost five years after 9/11, and three years after war began in Iraq, at a time when polls show most Americans believe no issue matters more than the war in Iraq, your reporters can't be bothered to have the most passing understanding of how the military works, and what's worse, the editors who are supposed to be responsible for keeping them honest seem to be alright with that -- because those editors don't know enough to realize how little the reporters know, or don't care.

Oh, by the way, New York Times, Corporal York was at no time "the officer in charge" of anything, because corporal is not an officer rank. Corporal York was an NCO.

You've been covering a war for how long, now?

Splash, out


Don't look now - the Wash Post thinks it's simply scandalous that Humvees aren't equipped with spare tires, and uses that facty pseudo-scandal to show how the Administration is yet again shafting the Snuffies.

Discussed here.
Now, this is mainly for my own educational purpose...could you explain why an NCO is not an officer if the last letter in the acronym stand for officer?
Ignoring Warrant Officers for simplicity; the military is divided into two halves: Officers (management) & Enlisted (labor). There is a firewall between the two, NCO is another word for 'sergeant' or 'upper enlisted'.

This link elaborates: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commissioned_Officer
"Now, this is mainly for my own educational purpose...could you explain why an NCO is not an officer if the last letter in the acronym stand for officer?"

It's mostly idiom, and the idiom arose from the chasm that separates commissioned officers from NCOs and junior enlisted personnel.

The commission referred to in the names is a commission from congress appointing the holder to an official position of trust. Even the most-junior commissioned officer rates a salute from all enlisted personnel. Even the most-senior NCO does not rate such a salute. (I'll leave aside the issue of Medal of Honor holders; that's an anomaly and rare enough that for most it never arises.)

There is a technical sense in which an NCO is an "officer", but nobody with military experience would ever call an NCO an officer. As Cory Dauber noted, this is a huge flag marking ignorance of the very basics of military service.

(In itself, and in isolation, ignorance isn't particularly problematic. We're all ignorant about many things. But a writer has an obligation to abate that ignorance before writing about a subject. Nearly five years into a war, this level of ignorance about military matters on the part of a writer about the military implies either wilful ignorance or specific animus to me.)
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