When Faisal Gill was up in front of the PWCRC on Monday night giving his candidate speech, a I was pretty amused at how he was on the defensive, talking about irrelevant things like the last time he had visited Pakistan and mentioning twice that “things have been written about me”, without addressing what they were. As funny as it may be to see a candidate clearly off-track and crashing through the bushes when confronted with some tough questions, that’s not what really caught my attention. I looked at this guy, this pretty substantial-looking guy, and wondered to myself “Is this guy eating his way out of the Navy?”
I served as a non-commissioned officer in an infantry unit up until 1998, and every once in a while we’d have some random private who would decide that the military life wasn’t really that appealing to them, and they would belly up to the trough and pork up until they failed enough weigh-ins to get discharged. It usually took a few months for the process to work. First they’d fail a weigh-in and have to go on the weight control program. They’d get counseling. And they’d have to be weighed-in on a periodic basis and show progress. If they didn’t, they got a general discharge, which would usually revert to honorable after six months. So if you wanted out, all you had to do was eat enough twinkies, and your path to the exit door was pretty much consequence-free. We called it “eating your way out of the Army.”
Faisal’s campaign literature says that he’s “currently a Lt. Commander in the US Navy Reserve.” As a member of the Navy, he’s required to meet Navy height & weight standards. I’d guess that Faisal is about 5′ 9″ (maybe I’m generous here), which would limit him to 186 pounds. What was in front of us the other night sure didn’t appear to meet that standard. Maybe I’m wrong, and he does meet the standard, as I don’t make my living estimating how much people weigh. But to this former Sergeant, if Faisal Gill isn’t on the weight control program, someone is seriously failing to enforce Navy regulations somewhere.
Why would this seeming trivia be worth noting? Meeting physical readiness standards is a duty and an obligation, and it’s pretty serious. For an officer, that duty and obligation is critical as officers are required to demonstrate the highest standards to those who serve with them and those under their command. Being an officer is not an excuse to slack off, professional ethics require them to work harder than anyone who serves under them. Even if you’re a JAG officer and do personal combat with nothing more than file folders and paper clips, the standards for you are the same standards that a front line Marine officer who carries a rifle every day is required to meet. Those of us who have served under an officer’s command in the past aren’t too impressed with leaders who don’t seem interested in following the rules they enforce on their subordinates.
Instead of seeing dedication demonstrated here, there’s an affinity for twinkies. How can you continue to be a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy, when you are beginning to look like William R. Shafter, the infamous commander of American ground forces in the Spanish-American War who was so unfit for duty his troops carried him around the field of battle on a door? While Faisal Gill is eager to claim the honor of his rank and position in the Armed Forces, is he as eager to fulfill the obligations required of that rank and position?
It doesn’t look like it.
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