Murphy's Law: February 23, 2002

Archives

An ancient military tradition, "phantom soldiers" has been uncovered as the U.S. National Guard was mobilized for the War on Terror. For thousands of years, it was customary for the king to give warlords or government officials flat sums to raise and maintain troops. The deal was that, say, Lord Shadowfax would receive a thousand pieces of gold a year to maintain and pay 500 soldiers. If it looked like war was not imminent, and Lord Shadowfax was a little short of money, he would tell the king he had 500 men ready to go, but would be actually paying only 200. The other 300 were known as "phantom soldiers" and Lord Shadowfax would pocket the unused money. This ancient curse has returned in a slightly different form. In the United States, the federal government pays the states a fixed amount per National Guard soldier each state has in service. But recruiting has been tough since the Cold War ended, and the state National Guard organizations could always use a few more bucks. So some states have been using the time honored "phantom soldier" drill. Some of these National Guard officials have now been caught, with some of them having as many as 20 percent of their troops "phantoms." Unlike the hapless Lord Shadowfax, they won't lose their heads because they were caught. But they will receive the unwanted attention of the local U.S. Attorney's office. 

 


Article Archive

Murphy's Law: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close