They say that rank has its privileges, and Marine Brig. Gen. Rick Uribe certainly benefited from that mindset — until he was investigated for effectively using his aide-de-camp as a personal servant.
A report from the Pentagon's inspector general released Thursday substantiated allegations against Uribe that he “requested or permitted” his aide to use official time to pick up his laundry, grab meals, carry around personal items and snacks, write non-official letters, and reserve equipment for him at the gym, among other no-nos.
Between May 2016 and June 2017, Uribe was deputy commanding general for operations in Baghdad, and director of the Combined Joint Operations Center, Baghdad, Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command, Iraq — which, he reasoned to investigators, was an incredibly busy assignment that didn't afford him much time to go to the chow hall or drop off his laundry.
Except, of course, his predecessor, Maj. Gen. William F. Mullen, had the same job during a similarly intense period and didn't make his aide do bullshit work. In fact, Mullen's aide said his boss “always carried his own stuff” and “made it a point to always pick up and drop off his own laundry.”
Not so for Uribe, who goes by the callsign “Rico,” according to his LinkedIn.
Uribe’s aide told investigators that he “only did personal matters” for the boss while in Iraq — which included picking up his laundry and dropping it to his quarters, occasionally changing his bed sheets, picking up his meals, carrying around a “huge backpack” filled with the general's sweatshirt, snacks, toiletry items, and sometimes drafting personal correspondence.
On a number of occasions, according to the aide, they'd be in the gym when someone would come by and ask for “Uncle Rico” at the operations center. Uribe would leave to go take care of the problem… and his aide was ordered to keep other people from using the general’s gym equipment, sometimes for more than 30 minutes.
Uribe denied the aide ever waited that long, but did concede that “more often than not” he would ask his aide to stand by the equipment until he returned. Investigators asked him what purpose this ultimately served, and he replied, “Nothing.”
Then there were financial dealings. The general's aide paid for WiFi internet access in their quarters, which was $60 a month. The general never paid his share.
Uribe told investigators that he was “more focused on the combat operations” rather than using the WiFi “once in a while,” but, he said, “I guess I wasn't thinking. So, guilty as charged.” (It's worth noting that the general makes more than $12,000 a month on just his base pay.)
The report recommended that “Brig. Gen. Uribe's supervisor take appropriate action” against him. He's currently the deputy commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Calls to 1 MEF Commanding General, Lt. Gen. L.A. Craparotta, went unanswered.