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The Facebook Incident

The Facebook Incident

By Joseph Kassabian

Once upon a time I was a Corporal, also known as a E-4, A ‘non-commissioned officer’ (NCO)in name only, still getting regular soldier pay, but shit on by everyone over you. It’s not really a promotion so much as a ‘check the block’ for leadership over you. The way the promotion system works in the U.S. Army these days makes absolutely no sense. To get promoted, you need to get ‘points’, you get various amounts of points from various different things, like classes, training courses, medals, and deployments, and how many points you need to get promoted to Sergeant varies from job to job. Now if you’re stuck in a leadership role, like I was, but don’t have enough points to get promoted because your lazy, don’t care, or just have shitty luck, they stick you with Corporal stripes and say you’ve been ‘promoted’. Mostly so the sergeants who got off of their ass and made points can relax and pawn off some of their work on you. Me? I don’t care. I stopped caring about the military sometime around 2008 when I re-classed from being a Tank Crewman to my current shit job, in the hope I would have to do less work, which did not end up being the case, I was lied too.

Finding garrison work so mind numbing back on Fort Hood, I volunteered for another deployment. Sitting stateside it was only a matter of time before I got drunk and ran my car into a wall, or ran through the company area naked with a head full of acid and got demoted. Deployed I am a decent soldier believe it or not. So I volunteered, and the new company seeing I deployed before gave me a fire team assuming I knew what the fuck I was doing. After some sad excuses for pre-deployment training they stuck me with Corporal stripes and we got sent to Kandahar.

Generally I always got along better with everyday soldiers than with the other NCOs, so I ended up making friends with our new medic named ‘Gong’, he was as sarcastic, jaded, and as bitter about being stuck in the Army as I was at the time so we got along great. This was a problem to the Army see, as he was a Private First Class and I was obviously on my NCO fucking mountain top, therefore above his friendship. It didn’t bother me, and he ended up being in our squad anyway, so no one cared, least of all Two, the squad leader. We lived at a place called ‘PR’ at the time, and everything was grand. Mostly because we were away from the company’s higher powers, meaning the Commander and First Sergeant, as far as they were concerned, we didn’t even exist. Then our paradise was taken from us, and we were moved into a shithole called ‘Camp Grizzly’.

Things went south pretty quickly at Grizzly, under the microscope by the company, we looked like shitbags. And before long we all started taking it out on each other. First and second squads, once pretty close comrades started getting at each other’s throats. I generally didn’t give a shit, and kept hanging out with my friends from both squads, I liked being in second squad, so I was happy. Then a soldier named ‘AWOL’ ruined everything for everyone.

The Army is crazy about accountability of everything. From soldiers and equipment, down to the smallest piece of bullshit. Only problem was, what AWOL lost, was not one of these small pieces of bullshit, he lost a pair of night vision goggles (NVGs). Normally if this happens we tear everything apart and do nothing else but look for it until it’s found. Losing a pair of NVGs is a pretty big deal, being able to see at night is a major advantage we have when fighting the Taliban, now put a pair of those in the enemies hands, and you put the lives of everyone you work with in danger. Now, while AWOL was a big enough fuck up for things to end this way, what really happened was the idiot just misplaced his soldier’s NVGs he was in charge of, and we found them a few hours later. But our Platoon Leader ‘Six’ chalked this whole incident up to shitty leadership, so AWOL, being a team leader in first squad, was switched with me, a team leader in second squad, thinking that sending AWOL over to the iron fisted leadership of Two would do him some good. What really happened is I got stuck in fucking first squad, and AWOL…well he earned his nickname. About two months after being given to Two, AWOL went on leave and never came back, forever being labeled a coward and a bitch by all those still in Afghanistan. But on the bright side, Gong was also switched to first squad with me.

Working with first squad was a lot different then what I was use too, almost like totally switching companies or something, the only good part was that I already knew everyone, so at least it wasn’t awkward. I was constantly chided and yelled at for being too mean to locals, other soldiers, and other units, I was continually told by ‘One’ the first squad leader, “that I was no longer in second squad”. And to “calm the fuck down”.

It was about a month after I switched squads when ‘the incident’ occurred. Somewhere up the army chain of command someone decided that the reason the ANP were so useless was because no Americans lived at their checkpoints. Makes sense right? Yeah didn’t think so. Anyway, they came up with this great plan to have us move into a checkpoint that was about the same size as a one car garage, near the city. You know the city teeming with Taliban? Just making sure we were on the same page. We were too move in, and build defenses up, rather than call in contractors like every other god damn base in the area, we would get no giant cement walls or dirt embankments, the ANP didn’t even have a damn guard tower from which to fight from. What did we get? Waist high burlap bags called ‘HESCO baskets’, only problem is we needed dirt to fill these, and we were in the middle of the damn city. You’re probably wondering how this has anything to do with me being demoted, or Facebook. Well, unlike many of us who had been in the army for a long time, when Gong heard something stupid he didn’t just ‘grin and bear it’, he openly complained. He just so happened to openly complain on Facebook. Normally this isn’t a problem, as whenever you type something on Facebook only your friends see it, that is assuming your smart enough to turn your profile’s privacy settings on, which Gong was not.

I saw his post, and thought it was hilarious. A well thought out, two solid pages of bitching. He used his words like a whip, lashing out at the people he thought had wronged him, and whether he was wrong or right, soldier or not, he had the right to voice his opinions. Now the Army trusts their soldiers as much as the U.S. trusts Russia, therefore they always spy on us. Somewhere in our company someone was looking at those few unsecured Facebook pages, Gong’s was among them, and next to Gong’s two page long bitch was my ‘like’, that stupid little button you press when your too lazy to comment on someone’s status. When they saw this they totally lost their shit.

The Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Leader cornered me and showed me a print out of Gong’s writing and asked if I read it before, I laughed a little bit and said I did. There was no point in trying to lie to cover my ass, because they had my stupid ‘like’ right there on the paper. They started throwing around words like ‘disappointed’, ‘unprofessional’, and ‘retarded’ about my conduct. They said what Gong wrote was not only incredibly disrespectful to senior leadership, it violated ‘Operational Security’, meaning he put things on the internet that could have given the enemy information they could have used against us. They had some valid points, generally calling your Platoon Sergeant a ‘useless fat ass’ is considered pretty disrespectful, but the second part totally blew my mind. Nowhere in his post did Gong even mention he was in Kandahar; let alone what district we were living in. He just said there was an ANP checkpoint we would be living at. Whatever, take the ass chewing and move on right? Not so fast.

Before I could even crack a joke at the whole thing we learned Gong would be switched platoons, One was getting relieved of command, as was I, and I was getting busted back down to Specialist. Gong was going to be investigated, and possibly was going to get busted all the way back down to Private, forty-five days loss of pay, and forty-five days hard labor. What started as a joke, exploded into a cluster fuck of epic proportions. Then as the final little bit of punishment I was switched back to second squad, the same squad I was a leader in, but now I was going to be a soldier with the people I use to be in charge of. Wonderful.

One bright side to the whole thing was I did get to go back to second squad, whether I was a soldier or an NCO, It was good to be back with them, there is no one else I would rather serve with.

Another thing I should point out, about four months later I was made a Team Leader again. No stripes this time though.

  1. Sandi
    January 24, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss Joe. I am really praying that this was an “isolated” incident! As well, I know God has bigger plans for you! I’m sure this was so hard on you, but know this, keep your eyes open for the “window” that He has opened for you! Every thing bad that we feel happens, God works in mysterious ways to right the wrong! Maybe not in the time we want , in His time.

    So please keep your eyes open for that WINDOW!

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