'If it's not easy, make it easy:' US Army leadership in Korea is sick of the bureaucratic BS

Carrier Strike Group 1 Operates Alongside the Republic of Korea Navy

The bureaucratic red tape found in the U.S. military is so abundant and chaotically intertwined you could accidentally strangle yourself on it if you aren't careful.

But in South Korea, Army leadership is saying "enough is enough," and The Big Lebowski has a small part in turning things around.

Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, Deputy Commanding General-Operations with the Eighth Army, mused in a tweet in May about the meaning of "The Dude abides," from The Big Lebowski.

"The Dude exists in peace with the many things that perturb him. There are issues and problems, and he 'abides' them, which means that he endures them and accepts them," Donahoe tweeted.

Donahoe told Task & Purpose in an interview that in the military, "like in any other bureaucracy, you run into those folks who are ... so married to their own bureaucratic position that they can't see the reasons behind change and why it's required." He said he was looking to The Dude as he considered what he should do — abide, and wait out those that aren't ready for change? Or bulldoze through?

He, along with the other senior leaders in Korea, decided to keep pushing to change things for the better.

In other words, these dudes are not abiding.

Donahoe laid out the many ways leadership in South Korea are cutting through the bureaucratic bullshit — "small gauntlets of humiliation," as he called them — to make adjusting to life in South Korea more pain-free, and PCSing to South Korea more desirable.

"If it's not easy, make it easy," Donahoe said that Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, has told his team.

The driving force behind the call for change is how much being stationed in Korea has changed; Donahoe said it was his first assignment in 1989, and his father deployed there in the 1950s, but Korea is "so much different than what a lot of folks still remember."

For starters, the U.S. military footprint in Korea has grown exponentially. Donahoe said what used to be around 5,000 people has jumped to 30,000 Americans at Camp Humphreys alone. One example of something they're trying to overhaul is the process soldiers have to go through to get cars registered on Camp Humphreys. Whereas having a vehicle may not have been a necessity in years past because of the size of the base, it's crucial now.

When soldiers arrive at Camp Humphreys, Donahoe said, they can register one car. To have a second car registered, you have to receive an exception to policy, which requires a sign-off from any number of people up the chain of command. It could take weeks, or even a couple of months.

"A perfect example would be my wife and I were out in town on a Saturday, and ran into a young couple. Wife was obviously about 7-8 months pregnant, and sure enough they were waiting for their exception to policy to be approved," Donahoe told Task & Purpose. "That's pretty daunting when you know the soldier's going to work at 5:30, 6:00 in the morning ... and we've got a pretty-far-along pregnant American spouse downtown whose got to try and navigate that without having a car."

No more: Donahoe said Abrams made a decision a couple of weeks ago that there's "no more exception to policy," and to make sure that it's an easy process for families in Korea "to get what is substantially something you really need to work and operate and live in Korea."

Other things leadership in Korea are tackling include everything from maintenance in soldier housing and spouse hiring, since he believes that spouses having to give up their careers to come to Korea is "a non-starter." He also said the curfew for soldiers, which was recently temporarily lifted, has been a "pleasant surprise."

Abrams, along with Lt. Gen. Michael Bills, Commanding General of the Eighth Army, Donahoe, and the rest of Army leadership in Korea are setting up town halls around the installation to hear from soldiers and their families about what isn't working.

"If we bubble-wrap ourselves from what's truly going on, we won't fix those things that are the true barriers to getting folks to come to Korea," Donahoe said.

At the end of the day, Donahoe believes the key to overcoming these hurdles is for senior leaders to have "bureaucratic stamina," and the ability to see the holes in the status-quo, and question why and how they got there.

"If you allow your status-quo to just stand, and if you're not willing to just constantly confront the bureaucracy over those things that need to change, you'll never actually implement change," Donahoe said. "You can have all the great ideas you want, but unless you're willing to put in the time face-to-face in confrontation with the status-quo bureaucracy, you will never implement that change."

You might disagree, but that's just, like, your opinion, man.

SEE NEXT: Shanahan says restoring US-South Korea military drills isn't necessary

WATCH ALSO: This Weird Fighter Got The First Air-To-Air Kill Of The Korean War

US Marine Corps

The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.

"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'

"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"

Read More Show Less

At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.

A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.

Read More Show Less

In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."

A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.

In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.

A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.

The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.

Read More Show Less