To be honest, I'm not that interested in this story now that it's clearly about something that's more about Army politics than operational effectiveness. (That's not to say that I don't think this is a fireable offense, or that this isn't a big deal, or that it's just "PC nonsense," or anything like that. I just don't want to spend a whole lot of time going round and round with people on the subject of political correctness, because it's boring. And also not gonna change, no matter what you or Bill O'Reilly wants.) So I offer this as a sort of administrative update to the original story rather than a meaningful contribution to the discussion about Afghanistan.
A racially offensive PowerPoint slide meant as a joke led to the removal of two 82nd Airborne Division leaders from their positions in Afghanistan this month, an Army official has confirmed.
Lt. Col. Frank Jenio and Command Sgt. Maj. Bert Puckett were in charge of the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 82nd's 4th Brigade Combat Team. The team has been in Afghanistan since August.
Jenio and Puckett were relieved of command on Jan. 13 after an investigation that was prompted by a slide shown during a command briefing, according to an Army source with knowledge of the investigation and to a friend of Puckett. The two spoke independently and on condition of anonymity.
The slide - a parody of ubiquitous motivational posters - shows a picture of Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo with his arm wrapped around point guard Mateen Cleaves. Izzo is white; Cleaves is black. The text below the photos reads, "Slavery Reinstated," with smaller letters adding, "Catch yourself a strong one."
According to the Army source, the decision to remove Puckett and Jenio came from the top of the 82nd Airborne Division, which is commanded by Maj. Gen. Mike Scaparrotti.
My one substantive comment is that this ought to remind us that we'll all be a little bit better at our jobs (and a lot less fireable) if we remember four simple words: don't be an idiot.