Rank Has Its Privileges

The privilege of commissioned rank in the military is undoubtedly undisputed. Privilege to the extent of a double standard can be undeniably recognized, the unit’s status notwithstanding. I’m one to recognize and take note of an instance of that very occurrence and recount it to an interested audience because I’m a recounter of events… or at the very least, I fancy myself as such.

I’m put squarely in mind of an interesting time for my unit when the son of a highly revered former Delta Force member came to join the ranks and pick up on his father’s path. The son was a Major; his father, a Colonel and vaunted operant with a thoroughly storied past serving in gallant capacity. It was a stalwartly prideful event for the unit to embrace the Major as one of its own.

The entry-level training course at the unit was several months long and very tedious, with strict rules governing performance; violation of the performance standard was taken in all seriousness and was ground for dismissal. Subject to the performance standards was firearms discipline — any accidental discharge of a firearm was an automatic dismissal from the unit.

Negligent versus Accidental Discharge

It was the dreaded AD — Accidental Discharge — that was the buzzword in my unit. Most law enforcement circles term it “Negligent Discharge” which is totally acceptable, or so you might think. Both mean you fired your weapon when you were not supposed to or did not intend to.

I was always at peace with both terms until I read a spat between two entities in an online forum over “accidental” and “negligent.” The exchange was truly a thing of solemn wonder, of joy and pain… of apple and orange. Neither side would relent, though they should’ve if they could’ve. Their argument over adjectival nuance brought me to finally understand the rub between the Sunni and Shia, Johnny-Reb and Billy-Yank — the Hatfields and McCoys. I get it now:

The Hatfield Clan.


With regard to the two terms in question, it mattered not that you were a distracted pensive brooder or a sloppy flaming asshole, both terms meant you let the hammer fall at the wrong time, and therefore were headed to reassignment with the 18th Airborne Corps to be a punk and eat shit. So… JUST DON’T DO IT — BANG!

Commissioned Major M. Couillon was the son of the famous commissioned Colonel R. Couillon and now making his way through the entry-level unit training course as best he could. As it so happened, a non-commissioned brother (Sergeant) in that same course was so unfortunate as to suffer a (dreaded) AD: