I wasn't sure quite how I'd address this... or even IF I would mention it at all. But, what the Hell:
August 19, 2009—"Joking" comments of Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US Central Command, during his presentation at the Marine Corps Association Foundation dinner on July 30 belittled the contributions of the Air Force to the joint force.
In his prepared remarks, Petraeus said: "Then, of course, 25,000 feet above them [soldiers and marines], an Air Force pilot flips aside his ponytail and looks down at them through his cockpit as he flies over. 'Boy,' he radios his wingman, 'It must be tough down there.' "We reviewed the video to get his actual remarks and found he embellished his "joke," changing the altitude to 30,000 feet and saying, "… an Air Force pilot flips aside his ponytail—I don't know how that got in there; I know they haven't had ponytails in a year or two—and looks down … ."Petraeus, as leader of CENTCOM, the joint force charged with running operations in Southwest Asia, should have known better than to make such disparaging remarks, even in jest. Certainly, his handlers at CENTCOM finally realized the effect they would have—they excised that part of his remarks from the version on the CENTCOM Web site. (We found the original version—along with the video—still posted on Aug. 19 at the Marine Corps Association Web site.)In all fairness, early in his actual remarks, Petraeus did offer this joint praise, saying, "The best examples of true importance have been found in our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have deployed in harm's way."However, those words do not alleviate the offensiveness—and un-jointness—of his later comments. They are symptomatic of the long-held belief of many ground commanders that airpower is no longer, if it ever was, relevant. (Read Fraudulent Flak from the September 2000 Air Force Magazine.)
Well, now. It seems USAF's senior leadership is not only politically-correct to a fault, but they're a bit thin-skinned, too. The title of the piece in Air Force Magazine is "Beyond Outrageous," but I'd like to suggest to those taking offense that a joke is sometimes... just a joke. Or is it just me who finds this sorta affected outrage to be excessive? I hope not.
Update, 08-22-2009: Just for snark's sake... would you look at all the frickin' HARDWARE on The Good General's uniform?
Ridiculous. Our generals look like Panamanian dictators these days; our admirals much less so, Thank God. Marine generals are much like our admirals... so I'll give them a qualified pass, as well. All this embellishment on our military uniforms is strangely reminiscent of a culture in decline. Just sayin'.