“I own the provost marshal,” boasted the then-garrison commander of Carlisle Barracks, LTC Mike “NO COMBAT” Colpo.
His words, captured some years ago on tape for posterity, are still true today. Colpo’s arrogance and assurance that whatever happened on the central Pennsylvania military post would always, shall we say, be “under control,” is absolutely correct.
Colpo, a West Point graduate, Infantry branch, “chairborne” Ranger, was speaking a great truth. This officer, who in nearly 30 years of commissioned service never made it overseas for even one tour of duty, much less anyplace – Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Gulf War I, Afghanistan or Iraq – where actual “combat” was going on, certainly knew what he was talking about.
You can’t beat those cushy jobs at the Pentagon and PERSCOM “officer assignments” where one can “network” and make lots of helpful buddies to further your career. Colpo is highly intelligent. He knows a nice comfortable chair in an air-conditioned office Stateside beats a muddy hole or hot patrol in some other part of the world, every time.
So while we can’t “salute” him as a fellow combat veteran, we do stand in awe at his ability to “succeed” as the years go by.
Maybe you end up with pathetically few ribbons on your chest for an Academy man, but at least you’re safe and sound. That shows good sense, we suppose.
Certainly the present chief of staff at Carlisle Barracks knows his turf, having shuttled back and forth from the Barracks to the Beltway the past decade. And when he says something – we don’t mean that “poor boy, up from the coal mines” tale – one should pay attention.
THE “BOTTOM OF THE BARREL”
At Carlisle Barracks, not all, but most of the PMO’s in the past 15 years have been, in the words of one veteran officer there: “straight from the bottom of the barrel.”
“It’s almost as if they send us the most vain, pompous, assholes available,” the retired senior field grade said. “These top cops use the U.S. Constitution as their personal toilet paper and selectively enforce the law at the whim of the Commandant.”
Getting back to the cogent remark by “NO COMBAT” Colpo, when any brass hat “owns” the PMO, real “justice” goes out the window.
It doesn’t take long for an under-performing provost marshal to realize his future lies in keeping his big boss “happy.” That means making sure the general’s pets (or fellow “ring-knockers”) – even if they get drunk and drive after dark with no lights on their red pickup truck – escape any discipline or punishment.
In one well-known case during the reign of “Pathetic Bobby,” a certain officer actually was promoted in his job position after getting caught DUI in town. Nothing like that sort of “special treatment” to strengthen morale and esprit de corps on post and send a clear, unequivocal message to one and all that the top man at Carlisle Barracks will always “take care” of his pals.
Too bad for the lower ranks or those non-sycophants, without kneepads, who aren’t members of the inner circle. They don’t get a free pass after committing misconduct.
“LAWMEN” BREAKING THE LAW
Even worse, a compliant and corrupt PMO can “target” perceived enemies of the Command and pull a “frame-up, set-up or cover-up” with all the efficiency of the Nazi Gestapo. And they do.
There’s an old saying: “The fish rots from the head down.” A sub-standard commandant breeds people just like him. His underlings will “ape” his likes and dislikes and, if indifference to honor and justice are the order of the day, it doesn’t take long for CID agents and well-intentioned military police to turn into pseudo “storm troopers.”
We remember one unfortunate CID agent who called a retired major at his home, trying to “lean on” him with threats of a “possible investigation.”
The bumbling gumshoe was obviously on the speaker phone, and perhaps old “Pumpkin Head” himself was in the room listening in, hoping for some entertainment. He got something else instead.
A few minutes into the call, the target of harassment fired back. Both barrels. “Where did you get my telephone number, agent?” he snapped. “This is an unlisted phone number. I just got it recently. So how did you obtain it? Do you know what the penalty is for violation of the Privacy Act of 1974?”
Faster than you can say “I think I just stepped in a cow flap,” the agent started stammering and backtracking. Assuring the officer that “no harm” was intended, the CID man ended the call with apologies saying the field grade phoned was certainly a man of high character and that no offense was intended. Like hell it wasn’t!
That little “conversation” was captured on the automatic recording system and takes it’s place in our audio archives alongside the tape-recorded telephone call where “NO COMBAT” Colpo can be heard to shriek: “That’s none of your business!” when we tagged him about the pornography still available on the post’s computer system.
We even have preserved some arrogant and obnoxious comments uttered by the “fast-track,” former Pentagon flack LTC Merideth “Bumbling” Bucher. You remember her, the PAO without a basic DINFOS diploma.
A “DOUBLE STANDARD OF JUSTICE”
Misusing military police assets is an old abuse. But that doesn’t make it any more tolerable.
At Carlisle Barracks, crimes that would land a lower-ranking officer or enlisted member in Purgatory – or perhaps Hell itself – are “winked at” by those who know the offender is a particular “pal” of the commandant. From traffic infractions to sex offenses, the Barracks is well known for having a “double-standard of justice.”
May we say what we did when quoted in U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT (December 16, 2002)? “Different spanks for different ranks.”
We haven’t forgotten the predatory former garrison commander who tried to “come on” to our shapely girlfriend in the post commissary. “Have you ever been with a black man,” he inquired, and he didn’t mean “in church.”
The classy lady he was trying to seduce quickly let him know that kind of talk was “unacceptable,” from a so-called “officer and gentleman,” and so the future bird colonel slunk off to try his wiles on other white women.
Was he ever disciplined for his many offenses? Of course not! It would have been – “politically incorrect.”
OUT OF CONTROL
Worse than some of the “guilty” getting away, is the most terrible abuse of authority – “targeting” and trying to destroy innocent individuals.
“We’ve heard stories of planting of “evidence,” midnight raids on quarters with the post photographer in tow, illegal searches of possessions, every type of violation of the right of privacy, all done in the name of “law and order.”
When CID-MP’s can operate with impunity, “jumping” a field-grade officer from behind in his workspace and going for their guns – what a perverse “sexual thrill” that must have given “Mad Dog” and his nerd-like partner, to say nothing of the PMO and his drinking buddy, THE KENTUCKY RUG MERCHANT – then things clearly are out-of-control.
We’d like to think that the Pentagon would send someone up to Carlisle Barracks to “clean up” the mess. Gen. Robert Ivany had some success arriving in the wake of two of the worst post commandants in memory. But Huntoon has already shown where he is coming from. We certainly hope he won’t “flounder” and end his career at Carlisle Barracks, not only failing promotion, but leaving the Army at the end of his tour, like the last two commandants who preceded him.
It would be nice to see the general spend his energies on other things than overseeing a “witch hunt” on post for our legions of confidential informants. Has it occurred to this pompous two-star – “Pathetic Bobby’s” buddy, we hear – that the best way to run a successful post is to address the honest needs and concerns of the garrison and workforce? Any idiot can swing a club like a caveman and “sic” the PMO on voices of honest dissent. It takes “leadership” to create a proper climate of mutual respect on a post where “scandal” and “cover-up” are often mentioned in the same sentence with “Carlisle Barracks.” And Huntoon just doesn’t have what it takes.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: In the interest of fairness, we invite “NO COMBAT” Colpo, Huntoon, “Pathetic Bobby,” “Bumbling” Bucher, or any others discussed in this editorial column, protected under the First Amendment, to give us their response. We promise them equal space for their ruminations.)