CAUGHT IN THE WAR


A LESSON in COMMUNICATION

FINALLY EXTERMINATION
In Tora Bora, the cave that Osama Bin Laden lived in,  case in point, probably had CNN or possibly the Internet via satellite run off a portable generator powered by steam burning sheep dung or a portable Honda generator. 

We know he had cell phones but prohibits personal calls.  We also know he is more up on world politics than most of us even with all the communication devices found in the average home.  

He was a student of survival living right under the nose of those looking for him.   Something we have to learn.  Possibly the antique payphone, non-digital and hard to track was used.  All you need was a supply of quarters.   

We have all these electronic devices today not as our learning tools but as our pacification tools. We use them as distractions or our channeling to forget all the things we find upsetting our way of life. 

Babies have nipple shaped devices they can suck on and we older though not too much wiser walk through traffic, in traffic and die in traffic from our cellphones.

Worse we become oblivious to the manners of the world and we don't smile at people anymore, nor say good morning or hello to strangers.  We can't seem to live without that communication connection.

With TV, it's worse, worthless and wasteful. That’s because we usually are tuned to the sports channel, soap operas, sitcoms, reality shows and Hollywood gossip, which dominate the airwaves. Or and it's a good one, we are tuned into fantasy games on our Wii, the 360 or the other gaming devices. 

And if you tune into cable news you won’t get much of the truth either.  “FOX  aka FAUX NEWS”   is not capable of truth. Their entire Mantra is paid and written by clever propaganda experts for by the GOP and every guest is a certified stooge.You’ll get lop-sided opinions, most times not the truth and the worst bunch of fake politically paid actors the world has ever seen.  And our organization got caught up in this mess for seventeen years.   Delay after delay due to the war.


CAUGHT IN THE WAR, ENSUING POLITICS

AND GOVERNMENT RED TAPE, 

Today the longest war in American History has killed (KIA)  more than 7000 plus and the wounded count is at 52,000 plus. When we started the Centcom Memorial Project in 2001, the count was 148.   And today, with Syria, Yemen and just about every country there it seemed the Arab spring turned into a long hard winter.  911 is and was more than three numbers, it dictated a change in the way we do things and a horrific learning curve.

Our project represented one side of the heavy price the troops have paid.  It also means some original plans had to be scrapped midstream twice and the project changed in terms of the finishing to reflect the “ The mission statement of CENTCOM” and the significant changes physically to the base, the Command and the Mission which grew and grew.  

Close to a billion dollars were spent by the Government to upgrade the base to facilitate the new marching orders for the war which never got called a war till it was a war.  Innocent people die, towns turn to rubble, beheadings and other gross acts of cowardice, more civilians and soldiers die, and the wounded count goes up.  I suppose it finally got called a War against an ideology. Perverted but an ideology.

But it needed a whole new series of buildings for the Central Command, the Joint Operations Command, the base Hospital and other ancillary facilities like roads and gates and security lots of security.

They simply had no time for us, we were not on the priority list though we asked them for nothing.  Being in a war with no name takes priority.   I got every excuse as to securing my base pass which I  have been in possession of yearly,  in the system for two other projects for almost twenty years.  I served in some capacity with four Generals, From prior service I have aTPQ Clearance.  I have been checked out more times than the FBI and the DOD can count.  But with the changes and deployments in effect suddenly , I was not in the system.  I was sent to the base engineers.   We should have pulled the plug then.

Totally ignored by the base, a simple request for a bucket truck for ten minutes, working with the base photographer, so we could secure photography for fund raising was denied.  Big mistake, somehow the base JAG via the base Commander got wind of my simple request and that opened a year and a half investigation to see if our paperwork with all the new rules and regs were applicable.  It was a breaker, 50,000, escalating costs due to the housing boom, in time and 50,000 in money.

In retrospect I should have rented a bucket truck drove it on the base and took the pictures or borrowed a twelve foot ladder.

What a waste of time and consideration on an approved project.  At that point I lost all respect for the process and dealing on DOD property, or a base.  Then it became aware an  Air Force project since Centcom was a guest ( again, literally a renter on MacDill)  on Air Force property.  

Everybody had an excuse.  Even though the Memorial was meant specifically for the Centcom AOR getting someone to stand up for us was impossible. We are gifting the base to the tune of a million dollars and the both the Air Force and the Central Command could enjoy it and got treated like outcasts.   

They were simply guided by their war efforts and six-month performance forms. The military simply went political.  And if you sense some bitterness, you are correct.  The next page will open your eyes...


TIME LINES - MONTHS DRAGGED ON

  1. In Feb 2001, the United States Central Command was approached by the founders to discuss the possibility of building a Memorial to honor the men and women who served CENTCOM.  The Commander at that time was Gen. Tommy R. Franks who felt the idea was both commendable and necessary.  
    And then soon after, he retired, his support for the project vanished since he built his own Memorial and Institute back home and he relished in his own glory.  In actuarial he left us stranded and promoted his own legacy and Memorial Museam of Greatness.  My friend Gen. Schwarzkopf was right about him... Read Tom Hicks book, the Generals.

  2. We were formerly incorporated the 10th of October 2001.   The Foundation immediately had meetings with the base engineers who gave us guidelines for the construction and the approximate location and direction the memorial faced.

  3. We received our Tax Exempt Status 501(c)(3) in June 2002.  We started fundraising.  At receptions community leaders were then presented with the Memorial Foundation’s Introduction and it was warmly received.  And that was the last we heard of them and their support.  Talk is big, actions much smaller.

  4. Ceremonial Ground Breaking took place in January 2003. Attended by local dignitaries, past honorary board members and Gen. Tommy Franks. The process to achieve Congressional Approval started and then so did the war.   It was a race and the war won.  

  5. After the plans were approved in 2003, they were reviewed in Washington for approval by the House of Representatives, the Secretary of Defense, the Department of Defense and the United States Senate.  This is the procedure that needed to be followed even though we are not using government funding.  

  6. More delays.  Adding insult to injury, our paperwork, somehow got lost on at that time during the tenure of the  21st SEC of Defense,  the highly regarded stand up comic Donald Rumsfeld.   The initial paperwork got lost or it just got ignored in Washington.  Resubmitted as rules were changed as to what the funding could, can, or must be.  No one could get answers or direction. Our project simply did not fall into anyones “In” basket, thus it never arrived at an “Out” basket.   

  7. The only thing that never stops is time.  In 2005-2008, after Congressional approval, came through, again it had to be resubmitted and then resubmitted, changed and altered, redrawn and redesigned, the newly designated site area was approved.   Because of an amount change. Normally the ceiling was one million, now the government decided to cut by 20% to around 800,000 dollars.

  8. Another meeting with changes to the construction because of new rules and costings.  The architectural design and plans are by the late and renowned Architect C. Randolph Wedding of Wedding and Associates, Architects, Inc  were modified to update the new cost limitations imposed by the government and finally approved.  Instead of being grandfathered in, they were putting us in diapers.

  9. This was to be a classic error later on/in the construction using the tiles instead of granite since the tiles were a temporary fix and on a schedule for removal,  engraving with name of the fallen and then permanent emplacement.  That no one paid attention to despite conversations to that effect.  No one at the base took this into consideration nor offered advice, a means or a way to help us nor aid of any sort.

  10. The DOD and the game changers meant we had to re-draw and re-design since the materials we had originally planned to use [Black Granite and a slab configuration] went over the government gifting budget to a less expensive option of tiles and held in place [temporarily] with removable clips and screws with decorative washers called rosettes.  It cut the cost to meet the DOD budget but meant this would be an ongoing project into perpetuity 

    We had no other option but to meet the cost reduction to comply with Washington.  Had the work been approved with years 2003 to 2005 we were within budget.  The rosettes had a shelf life [maybe a year or two]  and their purpose was to temporarily hold the inscribed tiles in place till they were inscribed and then epoxied permanently into place. We completed what we could do up to that point.

  11. Finally, The Board of Directors of the CENTCOM MEMORIAL FOUNDATION are pleased to announce that on Friday the 18th of January 2008, after five years of “ BOON DOGGLING”  the contract to build the CENTCOM MEMORIAL was awarded and issued after .GOV took five years to get paperwork they knew nothing about in place.   The joke was we supposed the Carrier Pigeons they used to send messages might have flown through a  Dove shoot.

    Finally so we thought.  Construction began immediately as we didn’t want to get bumped again.  We moved and started building.  It was a costly wait while Washington fiddled as concrete and rebar prices burned upward.  The housing boom went back to full speed and supplies were tougher to get.

    Our labor costs doubled.  The security levels at the base started to get stricter, passes became impossible, increased, raising the costs and time spent on clearances.  Our laborers received base passes easier then members of the foundation.  It was starting to get frustrating.  Getting jerked around for eight years was enough, but more was coming and not good for us.

  12. Numerous attempts at various departments at the base to facilitate matters resulted in what I call “Not My Job Syndrome”, because we did not fit under any command.  Unbelievable, had we known what we had gotten into,  we would have never started the project on a military base.   We would have opted for a civilian off base site in downtown Tampa or the Airport area. In the book I’m working on, I carefully wrote down the names of every on of those who were involved.   

  13. From 2008 to 2011 the basic construction was completed to the point of the initial phase. It also meant back to fundraising as the delays and money expended expotentionally forced us to raise more income and required changes as the recession hit full force and the housing bubble busted.  Also many of the tiles were on a time bomb as the temporary attachment point were not the permanent plan. 

  14. Money became tight, and we had to look to other sources.  Also as the construction began on the two new buildings for the Command headquarters and the Joint Intelligence building, it really hindered things for us.  Fences and getting to the project became tougher.  Our costs doubled and under regulations could not get an approval for more funds as it would take another five years.  Plus if the process took this long the tiles would be on the ground.

  15. The billion dollar upgrade, huge state of the art complexes, mirrored in design and prominence, but it brought new issues of security, regulations, access and communication.  The Joint Command Headquarters building was completed in 2011 and some of the construction barriers and security options still made it very difficult to get done what we needed to do. 

  16. It was a joke one day it rained and the secure comm center with all the mainframes and computers flooded.  Billion dollars and all we asked for was access to our project and to be left alone and finish the job.

  17. We wanted to go further and update our ten year old project but got no where, mired in mud, we didn’t even have a point of contact.  Like we were forgotten.  

  18. Then we got the news about security measures being upped when after some bad publicity surfaced about Macdill, some local personalities and the Generals.   You probably saw the articles about a certain frat party atmosphere amongst the hierarchy at Macdill. Including but not limited to Command Officers.   Par-tee, Par-tee, party.   READ THE SCANDAL

    The DOD has upped the security at the base, understandable in lieu of bad press over various non-professional indiscretions by the four star senior staff,  which made the front page of most newspapers and the TV for months.  It involved some really bad press about a few beautiful ladies from the Tampa Bay Area, with base passes, palsy relationships with parties and high ranking officers,  and it made the national news ad nauseam.  The gals got liberties and base passes and we had to fight for ours... 

    It made the front pages and every news tabloid at your grocery store.  
    The press was literally camped in front of one of the houses of people involved which was Mrs. Jill Kelly, a “Macdill AFB Civilian Community Liaison person”  and the rest of the entourage.  And the FBI got involved, including an agent friendand that led to investigations and the Petraeus Scandal.

    It lasted quite a while, embarrassing the high staff big time and it forced the security issue on base to literally cut base access.  The  access for other good support civilians who were not taking advantage of the situation and helping to support the troops  got screwed.   Dedicated local Tampa Bay friends of the Military were dismissed.

    Our organization and affiliation with Richard Leandri,  built the Ranger Memorial at FT. Benning, The Socom Memorial at Macdill,  The Largo Military Memorial and sponsored and developed the Ranger games.    The entire civilians on base issue blew out of proportion and we were suddenly without any help, nor an agency that would issue us passes or allowing us to bring potential new donors to the site.  WE were screwed by those who we wanted to help and serve.

  19. In addition, after several incidents involving attempted breaches of the base,  a shooting at the main gate, and gate security in general, homeless excursions onto the base, one gal got caught two or three times making it onto the base, the real tabloid killer surfaced and it was pretty but not that pretty.  That forced the DOD to review the entire civilian base pass privileges.  They killed our efforts... 

  20. The DOD stepped in, with new rules and made it impossible for us to continue.  We were as “Friends of MacDIll”, placed on the same list as the scandalizers.  It basically killed us.  Just getting a base pass became a nightmare with personnel restrictions, layer upon layer as the threats increased, whereas access became more difficult.  The Command did not back me up, my base pass was turned over to the civil engineers good for thirty days, restricted and no guests.  I ripped it up.

The DOD and the game changers meant we had to re-draw and re-design since the materials we had originally planned to use [Black Granite and a slab configuration] went over the government gifting budget to a less expensive option of tiles and held in place [temporarily] with removable clips and screws with decorative washers called rosettes.  

We had no other option but to meet the cost reduction to comply with Washington.  Had the work been approved with years 2003 to 2005 we were within budget.  The rosettes had a shelf life [maybe a year or two]  and their purpose was to temporarily hold the inscribed tiles in place till they were inscribed and then epoxied permanently into place. We completed what we could do up to that point.


WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED

•   In the interim, after we lost our architect and friend who gave so much, when he passed away.  Our staff  became smaller, friends vanished, most ran out of networking... the twenty people on the board were reduced to three, Ellie Scarfone, David Troup and myself.

On to other things, we (the three of us) are all way over retirement age now, and seventeen years of red tape is enough, thus we have scrapped plans for any further future upgrades to the Memorial and will turn to other projects.  We will not forget the troops.   We will also remember those who were not there for us to continue.  

•   The Central Command Memorial structure is complete at MacDill AFB.  It is a far as we can go.  We cannot devote any more resources nor time to those not appreciating it or working with us.  What they envision in completion of the project is in their hands.  They tied ours up, a shame.  And we did what we could to finish things and could not raise additional funding for a Memorial to serve the Military on a base that did not permit Civilians to visit and pay their respects.  It’s a  simple as that. 

•   We were different from the other charities who secured large and free TV budgets.  We represent those who have paid the ultimate price.  We don’t have the right pictures, military coffins are not pretty...nor MEDIA support, or Hollywood personalities and episodes to show who we care for, since our final shot would be a flag draped coffin and a burial unit.  

•    We had no control on bringing guests to the base.  For me to bring a prospective donor to the base or contractor involved too much hassle, a one hour meeting took a day or two  at minimum.  

•   No one came forward from the Central Command, the Air Force Base Command, and we got passed off from the Command to the Base Command who moved us to the Engineers.  

•    When we were transferred to the base operations the CENTCOM project had to be reviewed by the JAG.   This was a complete waste of our time, our money and our efforts. With again no help no return phone calls... 

•   Spending over a year, 15 months,  with the base Commander not helping at all, CENTCOM having problem finding north, the base Engineers  and paperwork...the JAG as to paperwork and Congressional cost controls on a fully civilian funded operation, which was already approved years earlier, no government money needed was another setback.  
It took fifteen months to make sure the “I
’s dotted and the T’s” crossed.  
They (JAG)  found nothing wrong, except we found we lost fifteen months and our costs went up and exceeded 50,000 dollars wasted.    
These delays and changes were killers financially and plans for a phase two were scrapped.

•   We had enough...

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