Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
Tuesday, April 20, 1999
By Smokey Briggs
Marines know how
to teach respect
Whoever is supposed to be standing guard duty fell asleep and a bunch of
morons have slipped past the gate.
These infiltrators have apparently disguised themselves as competent
human beings and infiltrated many positions of bureaucratic importance.
Some of these infiltrators apparently have some influence over our armed
I received proof of this in the mail yesterday in the form of a military
Newspapers receive a lot of press releases. Many are from the military
announcing the enlistment of a local youngster just out of high school,
or announcing a local boy's promotion and transfer in duty station.
We print every such release we get — with pride.
Most of these releases are simply short briefs that detail the new enlistee's
name, home town, where he will attend boot camp, and often a short recital
of the main topics of boot camp instruction — military courtesy, physical
fitness, first aid, marksmanship, history and traditions, special training
in human relations...
Special training in human relations?
I had to reread the release three times to make sure my eyes weren't
playing tricks on me.
Much to my dismay, the old eyeballs were relaying the words back perfectly.
One course of instruction this young warrior is going to receive is,
"special training in human relations."
There is an email address for the service that provides these press
releases so I dropped them a line asking for an explanation of, "special
training in human relations."
I got a prompt reply:
"Human relations is essentially teaching everyone to survive in an atmosphere
of mutual respect in a world where everyone comes from different cultural
backgrounds. Or, in the words of Rodney King, `Can't we all just get along?'"
I had to reread this response a couple of times as well. I really thought
it might be a joke.
It was not.
Now the basic theme here is hard to argue with. Respect for our fellow
man is an admirable goal.
It is the probable methods of teaching that I have the most heartburn
Some how, I don't think that the course of instruction instituted by
the Army does anything more than pay politically correct lip service to
I would bet that the entire program was created by a slump-shouldered,
weenie of a guy with the mental fortitude of a field mouse. The kind of
guy that couldn't earn the respect of a girl scout troop, much less that
of a bunch of 18-year-old kids training to kill this nation's enemies.
Hence, I doubt he knows much about what it takes to instill respect
in these same young men. (I am intentionally leaving out reference to women
serving our country simply because they do not serve in the combat arms.)
From the reply I received to my email, I imagine that the whole program
consists of a politically correct chanting of, "I'm okay, you're okay,
we're all okay," or something like that.
From what I've seen of the world, this is nothing more than a waste
of valuable training time.
Respect is a concept that can be taught to some degree, but generally
must be earned. There are different types of respect, some teachable if
the student is interested or if the teacher has a big enough stick, and
My wife earned my respect as a person early in our relationship although
I was taught to respect women at an early age. It was one of the things
that drew me to her.
My father earned my respect early in my life and continues to do so.
Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Wilson earned my respect early
in our relationship as well. As did most of my fellow boots at the Marine
Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.
Staff Sergeant Wilson and his brother drill instructors were very knowledgeable
in the earning of respect. I do not doubt that within one hour of their
introduction to our platoon that every boot in the platoon held them as
deserving of the greatest degree of respect.
Over the next three months I was privy to their teaching techniques
on a daily, and nightly, basis. In the end, they had instilled a hearty
degree of respect in all of us, not only for themselves, but for ourselves,
our brother marines, our Corps, and our nation.
And yet, not once did we receive instruction on "human relations."
Rather, we received instruction on how to be good marines. We learned
to shoot with a degree of accuracy envied by every other conventional fighting
force on the face of the planet. We learned about the history of the Marine
Corps. We learned how to maintain our equipment. We learned how to be marines.
In the end, we learned that there were really only three ingredients
to leadership and respect — know your job, take care of the people you
are in charge of, and act like a man.
Hardly a politically correct list of goals. But a very effective one.
I have never seen it fail.
No matter the culture or race of other marines, when they accomplished
these three, simple objectives, the respect of their comrades was always
The same principles seem to work just as well outside of the military.
Whatever the principles taught in "special training in human relations,"
I doubt it will be nearly as effective.
If it is simply a whining chant of, "Can't we all just get along?" —
with no basis except an appeal to their humanity, it will be an abject
failure. Because human beings don't come pre-programmed with an innate
since of respect for each other.
And those most needing to have respect ingrained in their bodies will
only sneer at such a weak appeal.
For the rest, it will be an exercise in preaching to the choir and a
waste of training time.
In the end, it will simply be a waste.
Waste is not something the military can afford.
When the enemy is charging up the hill in such numbers that there are
not enough bullets to kill them all, and the platoon sergeant screams,
"Fix bayonets," over the din of the battle, I don't think that our soldiers
will get any service from their "special training in human relations."
However, their confidence in their comrades, created during hours of
practice with bayonets, may prove its worth.
Come to think of it, maybe Staff Sergeant Wilson did give us a couple
of classes in "human relations," — my memory is a little foggy but I think
it went something like this:
"Private Briggs, step into the ring, pick up that pugil stick and try
to kill me." (Pugil sticks are semi-padded sticks used to practice bayonet
I learned a lot about human relations that day and a few things about
respect as well.
Not in my backyard
Many times the choices offered up in life are not perfect. Usually when
confronted with a less than perfect choice, we look for a better one. Sometimes
there just isn't a better choice.
After 25 years of conflict, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad,
New Mexico officially opened for business this weekend.
The plant is designed to take delivery of radioactive waste products
that were contaminated during everyday operations at nuclear facilities.
Once delivered, the waste is to be stored underground — virtually forever.
WIPP is probably the best solution we've got to a problem that demands
Everyone agrees that this sort of waste has to go somewhere. The problem
is always where?
The usual consensus is that such a facility is great, but nobody wants
it in their backyard.
After 25 years of research and development, the residents of the region
can rightfully hope that WIPP is a safe facility.
If it is, and it should be, then the WIPP site is a good solution to
a serious problem.
Military officers intimidate people at meetings
Peggy McCracken's characterization of the interruption of my testimony
by the presiding Air Force Officer at the low-level bomber public hearing
was one-sided. I had opened the third time at the podium by stating that
I was going to read a letter signed by the Reeves County Commissioners'
Court and mailed certified on April 1, 1998 in response to the request
in the scoping process for statements relating to environmental concern.
The letter stated that the "Council on Environmental Quality Regulations
state that local governments and the public have equal authority in the
decision making process relative to all government actions relative to
the natural and human environment. Therefore, we ask and require that you
respond to the following requests for information and take account of our
requirements stated in this letter regarding methodologies and perspectives
on issues to be developed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and
in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. We are, by this letter, notifying
you that we require you to let us participate in approving methodologies,
selection of studies, selection of organizations doing the studies, development
of the DEIS, and approval of the FEIS." The Air Force has ignored this
letter and our Reeves County government.
The presiding military officer disrupted my statement because he did
not want further statements in the verbal testimony or in the hearing of
the public clarifying that the Air Force is required by law to follow all
the requirements of the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations and
not narrow the interpretation of them to get the result they want. The
presiding officer used a number of ploys to try to intimidate me: primarily
the statement is too long, some of the audience had previously left, and
the letter could be filed rather than read. Nine minutes in response to
the inadequacies of several hundred page draft written by the Air Force
is not "too long." Limiting the public to three minutes is a means of controlling
what the public can say in response to the Draft regarding environmental
issues. Mrs. McCracken's characterization that the officer "allowed" me
to speak misses the point. Had he tried to prevent my speaking subsequent
judicial review would have found he had compromised the process.
At the subsequent hearing at Alpine, an attorney challenged the rules
the presiding Air Force officer tried to impose on the hearing. The presiding
officer began to shout at the attorney over the microphone, and she continued
to refuse to concede to his "rules." She told him that he knew less about
the process required for these hearings than she did. An Air Force colonel
tried to have her arrested, but after she told the police officer the facts,
he did not choose to arrest her. It was a strategy of intimidation on the
part of the presiding officer. It is difficult to have a fair process where
the Air Force has both the role of advocate for its goals and judge over
Some of the comments made to me by local people asking about the issue
imply that "since it doesn't directly affect me, why should I care about
the people under the noise and pollution?" The people of the Trans-Pecos
are a part of each other. The well-being of the people of Saragosa, Balmorhea,
Toyah, Orla, and Mentone in some measure affects you. Some may look at
the well-being of these people as a sense of fairness and community, Others
can view what is happening with a sense of self interest. These people
have historically shopped and obtained services in Pecos. Loyalty runs
I urge those who are able to state issues of concern regarding environmental
impacts should do so in writing to the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative
office at Dyess Air Force base.
Trucks are important part of the Pecos community
I would like to comment on the last city council meeting regarding the
parking of cantaloupe trucks on private property.
There are twenty-one family families which own produce hauling trucks
in Pecos. That's twenty-one families that live, work, vote, and pay property
We also pay property taxes on those trucks. We also provide jobs during
the harvest season to a few drivers. Now we have two City Council members
who voted against letting us keep these trucks on private property.
Thankfully we still have three council members serving the whole community.
Randy and Danny, did you ever ask any of us truck owners or drivers about
this? Did you ever think about how your decision would affect us? Did you
base your decision on one person's complaint? Do you serve the whole community
or just a selected few?
Not all of us can afford a place out in the country just to park our
trucks. Pecos is a farming, ranching and oil field service community. Trucks
are one of many essential pieces of equipment needed to live and work here
for some of us.
What eye sore is somebody going to complain about next? Housetrailers,
utility trailers, tractors, oilfield roustabout trucks, etc...
Air Force keeps citizens confused and in the dark
Well, they did it again. The Air Force used their "open house" format for
the public hearings to continue to keep the impacted citizens confused
and in the dark on what the military has planned for West Texas. By not
holding a real meeting where everybody can ask questions and hear everyone
else's opinions, knowledge and experiences, the attendees only source of
information is the smiling, charming public relations personnel whose job
is to sell these proposals to an uneducated public.
The Trans-Pecos Protection Group attended the hearings in Snyder, Big
Lake, Pecos and Alpine. The only areas that had sufficient notice that
the hearings were even going to be held were where there was an active
group of citizens in opposition to the flights that got the word out —
the job the Air Force is required to do by the National Environmental Policy
There were about 450 of us in Snyder, 41 in Big Lake (unorganized),
51 in Pecos (unorganized), and about 60 folks trickled in and out in Alpine
where there was no advance notice of the format other than it was from
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Some people came all the way from
Sierra Blanca to attend only to find the Air Force had packed up, changed
clothes and were loaded up to leave at 3 p.m. Over 700 people attended
the Angelfire and Taos hearings.
Congressman Stenholm spoke at the Snyder hearing and a representative
from Congressman Bonilla's office attended the Big Lake and Pecos hearings.
Impacted counties were well represented by comments from county officials
in Snyder, Big Lake and Pecos.
By the way... on April 19, a B-1B Bomber caused a sonic boom that "rattled
windows from Idalou to far South Lubbock County, startling residents and
prompting a flood of calls to emergency agencies." "...a few buildings
sustained broken glass and dislodged signs." The boom shook cars and nearly
knocked people out of their chairs.
We urge everyone to submit written comments to: Maj. Brent Adams, RBTI
EIS Project Manager, HQ ACC/CEVPP, 129 Andrews Street, Suite 102, Langley
AFB. VA 23665-2769. Your comments will become part of the Final Environmental
Impact Statement and will greatly help future litigations to stop these
unreasonable Low Level Realistic Combat Training Flights over the human
For more information, please contact the Trans-Pecos Protection Group
at (915) 364-2323.
Alpine, Tx. 79831
Eyesores in Pecos need to be cleaned up
It is so sad that once again the City Council has disilusioned me with
their vote to reject ban on parking.
We need to take pride in our community where does it start? I think
it should begin with our town leaders. Does anyone really think that these
big rigs parked around our community enhance the beauty of Pecos? This
is definitely not the only eye sore in our town. We as a community should
begin to look around and start trying to make a difference. I have heard
many comments being made by people who have come back to Pecos after being
gone for awhile. They wonder what has happened to our town. You look around
and see broken beer bottles and trash thrown on our streets, play-grounds
and parks. You see yards with weeds and trash.
It's a shame to see good leaders leave office because they cannot get
the support they need to make a difference which would benefit our community.
We wonder why no one wants to run for office. I wonder why anyone would
Many good citizens are leaving Pecos. What can we do to bring people
here and to keep good people. What happened to the plans to bring industry
Trying to have a town to be proud of is not only for one person or one
group but, for the whole community.
I do think we should show appreciation and recognition to those groups
who came together to clean up certain parts of our town. These are people
who care and are willing to make an effort. If enough of us would follow
their example we would have a community to be proud of.
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Peggy McCracken, Webmaster
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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