Opinion | Hamilton: Remembered: The cuckoo CODELS
January 30, 2019
This former member of the Intelligence Community (IC) had to laugh when that clearly marked U.S Air Force bus was on Capitol Hill loading up Speaker Pelosi’s Congressional Delegation (CODEL) overseas junket. At that point, even Inspector Clouseau would know a CODEL was leaving and, probably, its itinerary. And had President Trump not postponed the Speaker’s CODEL, they would have been flying in a posh Special Air Mission (SAM) 757 airliner stocked with all the top-shelf beverages Speaker Pelosi demands for her guests. All courtesy of you and me.
During 20 years on active duty, this former infantry officer recalls two CODELs. Both occurred during pre-Christmas Congressional recesses. My mechanized infantry company, based near Augsburg, W. Germany, was tasked to put on a live-fire demonstration at the Hohenfels Training Area for a CODEL. So, during a cold winter night, we had the W. German railroad load up our armored personnel carriers and some tanks for the trip to Hohenfels.
Our division’s mission was to protect Bavaria from Soviet attacks coming out of E. Germany and/or Czechoslovakia. We made a huge sand table so we could show the CODEL one of our defense plans. (We knew better than to tell the CODEL the plan we would probably use.) Next, we practice-fired about a half-year’s worth of our allocation of anti-tank, mortar, and artillery shells. Think big bucks.
At the last minute, the demonstration was canceled. Seems the CODEL preferred to examine (of course, for their strategic value), the castles built by mad King Ludwig II, and also to strip the Augsburg Post Exchange (PX) of the tax-free cameras, stereo gear, and cuckoo clocks put there for our troops. My apology to the troops that we had to be nice to Congress if we wanted better vehicles and weapons fell on deaf ears. The Bavarian cuckoo clocks some troops planned to mail home were all gone.
Years later, when this writer was commanding an armored cavalry squadron based along the E. German border in Fulda, we got word of another CODEL. No problem. We were used to all kinds of high-ranking civilians, even celebrities, coming to look through the wire at the E. German and Soviet soldiers in their guard towers. We already had a sand table for every sector. And a faux defense plan to brief.
So, it was no surprise when we got last-minute word that the CODEL would not come to the border, but rather, enjoy a briefing at V Corps Headquarters inside Frankfurt’s IG Farben Building. Cutting out the Fulda excursion freed up time for a cruise on the Rhine River which, of course, has been a strategic defense barrier since the time of the Roman invasion of Gaul and Germania.
In fairness, one must assume that some CODELs actually take time to see what our armed forces are doing overseas and try to make an informed assessment of their needs. Because military appropriations must begin in the U.S. House of Representatives, let’s hope Speaker Pelosi and her entourage do get overseas, someday. But, during the partial government shut down, Speaker Pelosi might consider taking that Air Force bus out to Walter Reed Hospital to visit our wounded warriors.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: the Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017). “Central View,” can also be seen at: http://www.central-view.com.