The Rest Of The Story

The plot thins... (via KJ)

On Wednesday, the Army said Rebrook would not have been asked to pay the money if he had filled out two required forms.

Those comments drew an angry rebuke from Rebrook's father, Edward Rebrook of Charleston, West Virginia.

"That is a lie," the soldier's father told CNN. "It's a case of CYA by the Army."

William Rebrook was told the 18 items were missing and that he could pay for them or fill out two forms saying that the equipment had been lost, damaged or destroyed in combat.

Inexplicably, Rebrook's father then goes on to confirm the Army's account:

However, Edward Rebrook said his son would have had to stay in the Army, continue to live on base at Fort Hood and wait possibly weeks while those forms were processed. Instead, he chose to pay cash for the missing items and get out of the Army.

Well imagine that...

Choice is a wonderful thing, isn't it? We live in a free country, and time and money have always been freely exchangable commodities.

Do you suppose that a large organization like the Army might have an obligation to the U.S. taxpayer to ensure government equipment is accounted for before servicemen issue out? Does that seem unreasonable?

Here we have an officer who decided he did not want to follow the same rules everyone else has to follow, then thought better of it and complained to the media, making his service and his command look bad when the Army had a perfectly good procedure in place for getting out of the requirement for paying for lost equipment.

He simply was in a hurry and didn't feel like filling out the required forms.

UPDATE: Frodo posted a great comment under my original post, and I'd like to pull it out because I think it's instructive. For those of you who don't know him, Frodo is an old friend of both mine and Greyhawk's from our ScrappleFace days. It's kind of ironic b/c I just happened across two old threads of ours here and here (Bambi S/H - I wonder who that is - is in rare form) and was reading them with great enjoyment about an hour ago. Anyway, Frodo just returned from a stint in Mordor (Iraq):

Well, when my wife mentioned this story to me last night I initially thought it was some poor E-3 or 4 who didn't know any better. When she told me it was a LT, my first reaction was "he's an idiot"!!! So getting past that I will try to explain my problem with this story as someone who till recently was in that neck of the woods ... hopefully as clearly as Cass breaks down her arguments.

The LT states that they wouldn't absolve him of the loss of the body armor because a report of survey wasn't performed so he had to pay for it.

The first part of the statement is true in the fact that an investigation must be done but, it's no longer called a report of survey (except by old farts like me), but instead a Financial Liability Investigations or Property Loss (FLIPL). They could also accomplish this with an AR 15-6 investigation - This is usually done when there is a possibility of criminal conduct but the results of which can for the basis for the FLIPL. . In either case, an officer is appointed to investigate the loss of property and to make a determination if negligence (willful or otherwise) was involved in the property loss.

What isn't true is that they could force this LT to pay because one wasn't performed. Performance of a FLIPL is the responsibility of the unit commander under which a property loss took place, usually at company level, not the individual who lost the property. In an instance like this, if the individual accepts responsibility for the loss he may sign a statement of charges agreeing to pay for the loss, usually in the form of a payroll deduction. Since he was being discharged, I could see that they might require cash. However if the soldier doesn't accept responsibility, then the losing commander has to initiate a FLIPL. Something a LT should know quite well as they are usually the ones appointed as the investigating officers.

I also share Cass' trouble with the comment that the battalion commander wouldn't sign a waiver ... which battalion commander, the one in Iraq he served under or the REMF commander of the unit in charge of demobilizing soldiers? If it's the battalion commander in Iraq, the man has shown a complete lack of leadership; on the other, if it's the demob unit commander, I doubt he had that authority as he wasn't the commander suffering the loss.

He also says that they told him he couldn't get out unless he paid, if they had to perform a FLIPL it's possible that they might extend him until the investigation was concluded ... so what? He stated he supposedly didn't want to get out of the Army to begin with? As a matter of principle, I would have stayed in until the investigation was completed.

If it were me and they were trying to make me pay for something I lost as a result of getting wounded, I would have refused to pay and if they pressed it I would have gone through the chain ... My commander, His commander and if that didn't resolve it then to the Inspector Generals Office ... failing that, I would go the congressional route ... and if all else fails to gather attention, yes maybe to the press as a last resort ... in truth I would threaten to do so first ... just the threat of going to the press would shake even the most intransigent or apathetic commander into action, if for no other purpose then to cover his own butt.

In the end, I suspect this LT is mad at the Army for some reason, the discharge, the way he was treated after being wounded... whatever ... so instead of fighting the property loss 'properly' thru the channels he decided he was going to use it to get back at the Army by going to the press.

To Eric's comment: 'And anyway, I thought body armor was an organizational issue, that is, its issued at the organization, which means that there should be extra lying around, because there is ALWAYS extra lying around. Especially in the Army.' That may have been true 20 years ago when I was in Germany with the old 'flack vests' we had stored in the unit supply room. But with the IBA we drew for Iraq, the unit had to submit a list by name and size of all members going over, and that was the exact number we got ... no extras. Once the unit got them, they were all in turn sub-hand receipted to the person who was going to wear them. Not to say there aren't a few lying about, but it's not that common of an item and I would venture to guess the extra some folks have is the result of someone helping themselves to someone else 'unattended' IBA. We saw a few of the new kevlar helmets disappear that way.

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