Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Guardians of the Public Trust

This is a rant, so if you are not into this sort of thing skip the rest.


"Guardians of the Public Trust" is a phrase that I have seen several times this week in various bits of reading material. First one was from the Memoirs of US Grant discussing his job as regimental quartermaster in the Pre-Civil War Army and how he was required to account for public property (aka, all US Army equipment his regiment possessed that he was signed for). I have read this same phrase in an Ethics Brief we are required to read ourselves and then brief to our battery leadership, who briefs it on down the line. I used this same phrase when explaining to a West Point Cadet who is training with us over summer break about Reports of Survey/FLIPLs on missing equipment and assigning blame and more importantly liability as to who was going to pay for it or be punished for failing to keep proper accountability of said property.

This phrase is an old one obviously. The US Army (and other uniformed services) have been using this term since prior to the Civil War to explain a fundimental point about the military. We serve the people and Constitution of the US, we are beholden to them, and when we screw up we answer to them. Not just the big media circus shows like Iran-Contra, or f-ups in Vietnam, or not planning Phase Four of Iraqi Freedom. No, we do it every day. Every part, every weapon, every tool, down to the smallest screw, someone is signed for it and is held accountable for it should something go amiss. This week alone my Brigade has had two investigations into missing equipment and I have signed off on a shortage annex (a document that shows that equipment was damaged, worn out or lost due to regular use) for a change of command inventory that involved 6 full days of inspections for every piece of equipment in a battery so the incoming commander knows that when he signs he has every piece he is signing for. And once this is done, he briefs the BDE CO. This is how much detail we go into.

Why? The army's equipment is public property. Not in the sense that every Joe on the street can sign out a tank, but that public monies were made available by the people's representatives (aka Congress) to equip us and that they TRUST us to use it correctly and make every attempt to insure against loss, theft or damage. Every soldier is a guardian in this sense. Even a brand new private who has been in the army less than a week signs for and is then responsible for his personal equipment (helmet, poncho, body armor, etc).

We are able to do this on a regular basis without too much drama.


Or the President's Finance Wizards or "Czars"(boy, what a great name to use huh?)? Or the FED?!?

The army spends a couple billion over on a new weapon system and we get front page on the NY Times and blasted on how this money could be better used in some social program or to save minnows in Oregon. The government passes a bill that in one swoop spends as much as Bush did for 8 years, and can't account for where it is all going to go, and then forces the Independent Auditors who are supposed to keep this whole thing honest to resign or fires them, and NADA.


I am a true Guardian of the Public Trust. Every piece of gear I have ever had I have accounted for or paid for if I damaged or lost it. I am involved with an appeal over a piece of equipment I lost as a BC. But while I am appealing, I am also paying the monthly fine with the understanding that if I do win I get it back. It might take a while to get everything cleared up, but I am not effing around and not paying while I fight it. The law states clearly what I must do and I follow it.

I am trusted to kill for my country, I am trusted to account for millions of dollars of public property for my country. Why can't we get the same out of our government who is responsible for TRILLIONS OF THE PUBLIC'S MONEY?

It can be done, we just need to MAKE THEM do it. Time for forget parties, next time around find the guy who releases his income tax statements and submits to regular audits and is loud about wanting clarity in spending. I will vote for a DEMOCRAT if they can do this (that should give you the idea on how much this is horking me off).


  1. Yeah. The amount of crap we are going through right now for just a couple hundred bucks worth of tools is insane. And then I see the Congress tossing money around like it free...


  2. The High Priest Vulture Elite do not self-identify as guardians of the public trust.