Back when I was in the military, oh so many years ago, I spent time washing dishes during my stint at Lackland AFB in Texas.  In fact, I remember clearly an episode I had in which I was berated not for my inefficiency, but for my over-zealousness in cleaning a bunch of baking sheets.  Apparently I washed them too much, stripping away the lining of cheap non-stick chemical gunk that the government, I’m sure, paid tons of money for.  I stripped it bare!  The kitchen chief was none too happy, let me tell you, and did I hear it.

Over a year later I found myself living on a small island in the Portuguese archipelago known as the Azores.  Working midshift there, I would periodically make a midnight run to the chow hall to get a cheese and chili omelette with fries.  Yeah.  I was supposed to stay fit, too!  There, too, I watched mostly airmen dish my food except for a couple of the Portuguese locals.  Damn, now that I’m thinking of it, I want one of those omelettes.  Anyway, so, predominantly this kitchen was run by my fellow airmen.

Times change, though, my friends.  I found it rather interesting that this is widely no longer the case.  I’m at the very beginning of an interesting book written by Chalmers Johnson entitled, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.  I don’t have an opinion about the book yet, although I picked up the book by reason of his appearance on KPBS radio.  In the prologue I read the following:

“American veterans of World War II, Korea, or Vietnam simply would not recognize life in the modern armed services.  As the troops no longer do KP (“kitchen police”), the old World War II movie gags about GIs endlessly peeling mountains of potatoes would be meaningless today.  We farm out such work to private military companies like KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root), a subdivision of the Halliburton Corporation, of which Dick Cheney was CEO before he became vice president.  It is an extremely lucrative business for them.  Of the $57 billion that was appropriated for Iraq operations at the outset of the invasion, a good third of it went to civilian contractors to supply meals, drive trucks and buses, provide security guards, and do all other housekeeping work to maintain our various bases.”

WHAT?!?!  We can’t make our military take care of themselves?  We have to pay someone to clean and prepare their food?  To drive trucks?  TO PROVIDE SECURITY?!?!?  I knew that KBR/Halliburton had a huge hand in our governmental operations, but at this level I’m astonished.  We hear so much about America’s bloated defense budget, and, basically, it all goes out to contracting and services while our wounded troops get the fucking shaft while they are at Walter Reed.