I was just reading about Scott Thompson, the late CEO of Yahoo’s media sites after getting a tip from Feral Jundi. Apparently Thompson had lied about having a degree in computer science on his resume. When the board of directors got wind of it they decided to pull the plug on him. Good riddance I say, not so much due to his lack of integrity but because Yahoo.com is such a horrible site. Everyday I check my mail it seems like half of the front page is dedicated to pretty white girls and women who have gone missing, been murdered, or have been kidnapped. God help you if you’re in any kind of trouble and happen to be a minority or not particularly physically attractive. The media could care less about you. Moving on…
The interesting thing about this is that Thompson was fired for lying, not because the board didn’t think that he was doing his job. What does this say about Human Resources? I guess credentials should not be a basis for making new hires. Maybe it’s time for large organizations to re-think what type of formal and informal qualifications they are looking for. This got me thinking about a bit or recent Special Forces history. The story goes a little something like this:
A Special Forces Master Sergeant in the duty position of Team Sergeant in a ODA (never mind which Group) was up for promotion to Sergeant Major. A current Sergeant Major on the promotion board got a little suspicious upon seeing his name. I’m not sure exactly why, but as they say, it’s a small community. Maybe he didn’t recognize the name, or thought that he should have remembered him from somewhere. Who knows? Whichever the case, he then decided to do some checking up on the promotable Master Sergeant.
As it turned out, he had never graduated from the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Program (SFAS).
For those of you who never served, I think you at least understand that the Army is a big organization. The joke is that you could walk around the motor pool all day with a clip board pretending to do something and no one would say anything to you. It’s easy to get lost of the shuffle at times. Just for instance, I heard about some young Rangers who used to shave their heads and go down to 30th AG on Ft. Benning. They’d wear the gray Army issue PT sweats and jump into lines of brand new in-processing soldiers who literately just got off the bus. Blending in with the new recruits, these Rangers would stand in line to receive the basic issue of Army uniforms, boots, and other miscellaneous items that all Soldiers get issued. Then they’d turn around, take off, and go pawn all that crap for beer money.
I once heard about someone who got caught halfway through the 18D (Special Forces Medic) course. The soldier in question just jumped into formation one day and started the course with the other Q-Course students. Only later was it discovered that he had never passed SFAS and had no business being in the 18D course.
Another time a Q-Course instructor told me about a student who approached one of his fellow instructors. “When are you guys going to send me to Airborne School?” the Q-Course student asked. “I’ve already got six jumps.”
The Team Sergeant who got caught having lied about…basically everything must have executed a similar maneuver by jumping into a formation one day, maybe with some falsified orders or something. I’m not that surprised. When I showed up at Ft. Bragg to begin the Q-Course, the people Student Company didn’t have a roster with my name on it. Rather, they asked me to prove to them that I had graduated SFAS. Thankfully I had a copy of the paperwork I got upon graduating that had my name on it. How hard would it have been to fake that paperwork? Got a copy of Microsoft Word? Got a printer? Congratulations on making it through SFAS, might as well give yourself a promotion while you are at it.
What’s interesting is that you have to ask yourself if the Team Sergeant in question was even really a faker. This isn’t like the dirtbags that Don Shipley punks out on a daily basis who never served a day in their lives. This was a guy who not only deployed as a Special Forces Soldier numerous times but deployed in a leadership capacity. Team Sergeant is a much coveted position in Special Forces, many see it as the crowning achievement of their career. So was this guy a faker and a fraud?
Shake a magic eight ball and find out.