CONUS Replacement Center (CRC) Part II

December 1998 - January 1999

  

Following the submission of the CRC 'Op/Ed' to the Army Times and no apparent response or publication, I opted, as I generally do, to take my concerns directly to the top and, thus, directly emailed the US Army Chief of Staff, General Dennis Reimer.  Imagine my literal suprise when approximatly one hour later, the CSA replied.  Gather he was a bit bored with few people emailing him directly?  :)

 

The result was not only a most interesting email trail of communication but, also, a 'small world' coincidental face-to-face meeting in Bosnia.

 

E-Mail ‘Trail’ with General Reimer, Chief of Staff, US Army:

 

NUMBER 1

From:   Lock John [SMTP:LockJo@sfor.nato.int]

Sent:    Wednesday, December 23, 1998 2:45 PM

To:       Reimer, Dennis J.

Subject:  Ft Benning CRC

 

Sir:

 

I write out of professional courtesy and to bring to your attention a serious mobilization and deployment deficiency that is an embarrassment to the US Army.  Attached you will find an editorial I've written and submitted to Army Times in reference to the subject above.  I also have photos to document what I have written and can submit them for your review, should you request.

 

Hope your holidays are happy.

 

V/R

 

LTC John Lock

SFOR Eng Chief of Opns

Sarajevo, Bosnia

 

<<ArmyTimeEd_95 CRC>>

 

NUMBER 2

From:   Reimer, Dennis J.

Sent:    Wednesday, December 23, 1998 9:43 PM

To:       'Lock John'

Subject:    RE: Ft Benning CRC

 

THANX---APPRECIATE U SHARING WITH ME---WILL BLOW INTO IT

 

NUMBER 3

From:   Lock John

Sent:    Wednesday, December 23, 1998 5:19 PM

To:       Reimer, Dennis J.

Subject:     RE: Ft Benning CRC

 

You're welcome, sir.

 

If I may add, it is so bad at CRC, I've heard from Navy officers that they've actually had  orders annotated that they will NOT stay at the CRC and will be authorized to rent a room because the conditions are so unhealthy.  That hurts.

 

Have a great holiday, General.

 

LTC JD Lock

 

NUMBER 4

From:   Reimer, Dennis J.

Sent:    Thursday, December 24, 1998 7:07 AM

To:       'Lock John'

Subject:     RE: Ft Benning CRC

 

THANX----HAVE ASKED STAFF TO LOOK AT IT--ON WAY TO BOSNIA---HAPPY  HOLIDAYS

 

NUMBER 5

From:   Lock John

Sent:    Thursday, December 24, 1998 2:07 AM

To:       Reimer, Dennis J.

Subject:    RE: Ft Benning CRC

 

Airborne, sir.  Rangers Lead the Way.

 

Out here.

 

PS:  Great e-mail etiquette, sir...I cannot even get SSGs and MAJs to respond to a receipt, yet I can have a four-star general do so.  Something I will continue to work on.

 

NUMBER 6

From:   Reimer, Dennis J.

Sent:    Thursday, December 24, 1998 9:47 PM

To:       'Lock John'

Subject:    RE: Ft Benning CRC

 

THANX--GREAT TO SEE U TODAY---STAFF IS LOOKING INTO ISSUE AND WE WILL CORRECT

 

NUMBER 7

From:   Lock John

Sent:    Friday, December 25, 1998 11:08 AM

To:       'Reimer, Dennis J.'

Subject:    Thank You

 

Sir:

 

It was a pleasure meeting and speaking with you, also, and the fact that you opted to spend your holiday with the soldiers in the field rather in the comforts of home are not lost on me...and, I hope, those around us.

 

In closing out this topic, I must admit I am saddened by the apparent inability of fellow officers and NCOs to voice their concerns about those grievances they feel should be corrected--CRC, in particular.  Prior to your arrival to speak with us this morning, there were many a brave comment about how those assembled were going to 'let you know' what they thought of the CRC...especially from one Reservist who told me over half his unit of 30 or so officers were going to resign their commissions as a result of their CRC experiences.  Of course, when you provided them the opportunity, twice, to speak and air such issues, none proved as brave in action as in word.  Not a single soldier could utter a single word.  To say I was most disappointed would be an understatement.  One field grade commented to me later that he felt "the first one to raise the topic of CRC will have his head chopped off."  We may be warriors on the field of battle, sir, but we are, sadly, sheep when standing before our senior leaders concerned with our own well being and not 'making waves.'   I thought we were training officers of integrity and intestinal fortitude but, after today's display of 'cowardice' before you, I am no longer so sure.

 

In September, I attended your classmate's retirement ceremony in the AOG Building at USMA, BG James Kays.  I must admit it was the classiest retirement I have ever attended.  He did well for your class, sir...and I understand you are now the last to carry the colors.  Best wishes and God bless your efforts as you continue to guide and shape our Army.

 

>LTC Lock

 

PS:  My sincere apologies for even having had to bring the CRC issue to your attention, sir, for I know you are an exceptionally busy officer.  I also apologize for the 'long' message above but, as with most I do, I feel compelled to do what I feel is right..."the harder right than the easier wrong."   My 'log' is closed on this issue and you will hear no more about it from me.

 

REFERENCE EMAIL NUMBER 7:

December 24 – Christmas Eve (Thursday) Day 139 & a butt (D40):

 

The day was ending as it had started, a fog lying about on the ground. Called home, hit chow—curry brauten which, along with Glehwin now reminds me of Christmas in the ‘Old Country,’ then made my way back to the hotel, to change.

 

As I walked into the Serbia, I thought, “wouldn’t it be funny…” The voices past the front desk and just in the corridor prompted me to look. Yes, it was funny…but it was also true. In over twenty-four years I had neither contacted nor met the Chief of Staff of the US Army. Last night I established e-mail communications with him. And, now, here he was just ten meters from me, walking towards me. I began to walk ahead, up the stairs, then hesitated on the first landing. Why should I not introduce myself? We’d already ‘met.’ I turned and waited.

 

As he approached the landing, he was speaking with an American Major General…probably Sylvester, my senior rater whom I’ve never met, nor he, me. I stepped forward and everyone looked up. Hand outstretched, I offered it to General Reimer.

 

“Sir, allow me to introduce myself. I’m LTC Lock. I e-mailed you last night about the CRC?”

 

“John, nice to meet you. I told you I’d be in Bosnia,” he stated as he shook my hand.

 

Yes, I knew he’d be in Bosnia, but he hadn’t mentioned Sarajevo and I had only learned an hour or so prior that he would be here.

 

We talked a bit as we walked up the stairs, about the CRC. He acknowledged he’d been notified once before about it—a fact I knew but had not conveyed to him—and failed to follow up on it then. Now, he would.

 

Inside the HQ corridor on the second floor, we stopped. He apologized to me for the conditions of the CRC and assured me his staff would be looking into it. I emphasized that my only agenda was to take care of the soldiers for they deserved something much better than what the CRC offered.

 

For a few moments, he seemed to be walking in circles, needing to leave to attend a briefing, probably, but also wanting to finish the conversation with me. I stayed near the door, not presuming to be invited along.

 

Finally, he looked up.

 

“You know, I wish you had sent that article to me prior to writing the Army Times.”

 

“Maybe you’ll get lucky, sir, and they won’t publish it.”

 

For a moment, he hesitated and started to walk away.

 

“No chance.”

 

As he walked off, I apologized to him for making his job a bit more difficult and for having sent the article to Army Times.

 

“Don’t worry. It’s good you did.”

 

Talk about a small world.

 

NUMBER 8

From:   Reimer, Dennis J.

Sent:    Saturday, December 26, 1998 9:28 PM

To:       'Lock John'

Subject:    RE: Thank You

 

THANX

 

---WOULD ASK THAT U ASSURE THOSE WHO WANTED TO BRING THE CRC TO  MY ATTN THAT I WILL LOOK INTO IT AND GET IT SQUARED AWAY

 

---I TRULY ENJOYED MY  VISIT TO BOSNIA AND WOULD NOT WANT T0 SPEND XMAS ANY OTHER WAY

 

---WILL MISS  THE SOLDIERS WHEN IT IS ALL SAID AND DONE

 

---ALL THE BEST

 

NUMBER 9

From:   Lock John

Sent:    Saturday, December 26, 1998 10:32 PM

To:       'Reimer, Dennis J.'

Subject:   RE: Thank You

 

I know you will miss the troops when all is said and done, sir, for I, too, will miss them when that time arrives.

 

Will pass along your assurances.

 

Take care, sir, and may the joy of the holidays be with you and your family, always.

 

>LTC Lock

 

NUMBER 10

From: Reimer, Dennis J.

Sent:    Wednesday, December 30, 1998 5:00 AM

To:       'Lock John'

Subject:    RE: Ft Benning CRC

 

INTERIM REPORT BELOW---WILL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THRU

 

The Benning CRC was a first class operation that fell apart over the past 6 months.  Some things remain OK.  The SRP, mess, and transportation pieces are working well.  But we've had an increase in complaints about the quality of life; some of which were voiced to visiting VIPs in Bosnia.   We've sent teams down there to find out what was going on.

 

What caused a previously-successful operation to fall apart?   In my view, when we went from the rotation of drilling reservists from the mobilized USAR CRCs to the full-time AGR force that MG Baratz offered to put down there, the folks at Benning stepped away from ownership of the CRC.  About this same time, they moved the operation in order to tear down WWII wood, but the cinder block buildings now occupied are pitiful -- plumbing doesn't work and amenities are scarce.  Unfortunately, the AGR detachment commander was not very aggressive, so problems festered.

 

Now, BG Honore (Note JDL - see Part III) and his Bde Cdr have regained C2, and things are getting better.   MG Le Maude and I are working on some residual manning issues. These improvements are too late to influence the experience of the soldiers who went thru Benning in the past couple of months, but I assure you that the quality of life issues are getting attention now and things are getting better, i.e. we had no complaints from the BIDS soldiers who passed thru there.  

 

If I didn’t know better, it would appear that the General wrote that memo specifically to me…as though he needed to explain anything to an LTC.  It would appear as though Lock has had some minor impact on the quality of support for our soldiers at the CRC.  I suppose I should feel good about that but…just another Groundhog Day, though.  Don’t feel much of anything.

 

AN ASIDE EMAIL OF INTEREST:

----------

From:   karsten E.

Sent:    Saturday, January 30, 1999 5:42 PM

To:       LockJo@sfor.nato.int

Subject:   Re: SITREP

 

John...

 

1)  I am a major short-timer.  Barring weather, I am out of here Monday morning.

2)  I was told by an individual who went through the CRC recently that your letter to the Army Times caused quite a stir.  Allegedly, there have been many changes.  I will let you know when I git' back home.

3)  Working out often, but still a chow-hound |:-)

 

And with you, how is LTC John Lock, author and future politician doing?

 

Later!

Karsten

 

NOTE JDL:  Ha…it will be most interesting to see ‘their’ reactions when I pass back through the CRC on my redeployment.  Wanna’ bet they will be ‘pretty nice’ to me…if they realize who I am?  (:>)

 

NUMBER 11

From: Lock John

Sent: Friday, January 08, 1999 7:00 AM

To: Reimer, Dennis J.

Subject: Pvt Newell

 

Sir:

 

Had your message about Pvt Newell passed on to me--the story is receiving wide circulation...as it should. It IS good to know we have such soldiers still being produced from society.

 

I've written of a similar man (less the injury) who was commissioned Infantry from ROTC and who had completed IOBC. When informed the only way he could be assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment was as an enlisted man, he resigned his reserve commission and entered as an E4. Winning a slot to Ranger School, he was recycled through the Desert Phase three times--the only survivor of his fellow Regimental mates to last that long--and still not passed on that phase. He was literally forced from the course...having fought leaving. Back at The Regiment, he earned another slot a few classes later--impacting on his own wedding—and completed the course as Honor graduate.

 

His story continued, also, for he received a second commission through OCS, served a tour with the 10th Mountain, and is now headed back to the 75th as a platoon leader.

 

His name is LT Ed Caraccilo...and as long as we have new soldiers such as him and Pvt Newell in our army, the nation will be 'safe.'

 

V/R

 

>LTC Lock

 

NUMBER 12

From:         Reimer, Dennis J.

Sent:          Saturday, January 09, 1999 3:38 AM

To:             'Lock John'

Subject:      RE: Pvt Newell

 

THANX---VISITED CRC TODAY AND THEY HAVE MADE GOOD PROGRESS---NOT SURE WHAT IS WAS BFOR BUT IT IS CLEAN AND TALKING TO SOLDIERS NO GREAT COMPLAINTS---WE WILL STAY ON IT BUT DON'T INTEND FOR IT TO B TOO PLUSH---IDEA IS TO FOCUS ON TRAINING AND KEEP THE STAY TO MIN BUT WILL ENSURE PROPER QOL---THANX FOR BRINGING TO MY ATTN