The Duffel Blog, a site the provides satirical takes on the US military, has posted a life could imitate satirical art post entitled: “Troops Sour on Mattis Nomination After He Releases 6,000-Book Reading List“.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A large number of active-duty troops once enthusiastic about the choice of James Mattis for Defense Secretary have since soured on the pick after the retired general released a 6000-book reading list he plans to implement for the entire DoD after he is confirmed, Duffel Blog has learned.
Referred to by some as the “Warrior Monk,” the 66-year-old sent his reading list to the military’s entire email distribution list over the weekend. Most service members who received the 200-page email reported they were still in the process of reading it well into Monday morning.
Almost every senior commander issues a reading list. Its sort of become the in thing to do and Foreign Policy writer Tom Ricks (full disclosure: I know Tom and have written guest posts for him) collects and publishes them or links to them at his Best Defense blog. Gen. Mattis’s preferred nickname, or, at least, the one he doesn’t seem to dislike – he does not like being referred to as Mad Dog – is The Warrior Monk. The sobriquet is derived from a couple of the realities of Gen. Mattis’s life and career. The first is he is considered by many to be an outstanding warfighter. The second, that like many military senior leaders, he aspired to become what the Army refers to as a Soldier-Scholar. This means that as a Soldier’s career progresses they try to move beyond just being warfighters, increase the breadth and scope of their understanding of operational and then strategic matters through both Professional Military Education and civilian higher education, and become thoughtful, reflective, and (hopefully) strategic thinkers. The third basis for the nickname is because Gen. Mattis, unlike most career US military personnel, is not married. As in never married, hence the other root cause for the Monk.
The Duffel Blog also did a good job accurately capturing just how a lot of personnel would respond to receiving such a reading list – long or short:
Marines, however, were only assigned four coloring books.
“Four? Good Lord, that’s unfair,” said Lance Cpl. Anderson Malcolm, a Marine infantryman who proudly displays his “good enough degree” on his barracks room wall.
A number of troops expressed reservations about the nomination of Mattis to the Pentagon’s highest post after they read the email. While some expected a reading list of some sort, most did not realize just how many books they would be required to get through.
“How are we going to go out and kill the enemy if we have to sit around reading all this shit?” asked Sgt. James Fritter, an Army squad leader.
Its funny, because it could be true!!!!
PS: Last week the Duffel Blog lampooned the US Army’s insistence on having personnel forward deployed on its bases wear reflective safety belts at night (so they don’t get run over when going for chow in the dark, no I am not making this part up, yes I did have to follow this as a member of my BCT’s special staff in Iraq in 2008, and yes, I still have the thing – mine’s the orange one). They did this by picking on a former student of mine, who is the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman and colonel in the US Air Force. John was an excellent student, is a sharp strategic thinker, and an excellent public affairs officer. And the satire is funny, because it could be true!