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News > Commentary: Call me Darius - no more
Commentary: Call me Darius - no more

Posted 8/15/2013   Updated 8/16/2013 Email story   Print story


by Col. Mark K. Ciero
48th Fighter Wing Vice Commander

8/15/2013 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England  -- Call me Darius. King Darius ruled the greatest empire the world ever knew and then was routed. In 331 BC, the Persian King, with an empire stretching from Europe to China, encountered a rogue band of conquerors led by a long-haired Mede named Alexander. Alexander assaulted, retreated and then assaulted again until he crossed the Persian lines. The oblique attack caught the king off-guard and instead of taking charge, Darius fled.

Call me Darius.

Last Saturday night I left the comedy show at our Liberty Club. The opening comedian had been vulgar but funny; he used our yellow bomb threat card (the one by our phones) to poke at the military (take a moment to read the card's questions; they are ripe for humor). The crowd was rolling. Then came the headliner, and he was raunchy.

The headliner started his assault obliquely joking about dating and his newlywed status. He was crude but not across. He touched the line and then retreated until his routine turned south spiraling into sexual subjects. Some cannot be repeated, as he insulted women's anatomies, added a punch line about spiking drinks to facilitate sex, described repeatedly removing undergarments while whispering "she was asleep," and then in his coup de grace, demonstrated how to physically push a lady into oral sex and remove the evidence. The headliner hit the line obliquely, kept assaulting, and crossed headstrong.

Call me Darius.

I left the show. I could have taken charge, upheld the line of our new military culture of professionalism and respect, and interrupted the comedian.

As Airmen and leaders, we are taught to intervene - Every Airman a Sensor - Be a Good Wingman - Intervene, Act, Motivate - STOP! Make the Right Call. On all accounts, I failed to stand up and take the sword from the attacker, the microphone from the comedian. Instead, I departed and reported.

Unfortunately, just one week earlier I stood in the same room and evoked Gen. George Washington's memory as an example to our NCO-selects on how to lead our Airmen and uphold a culture of discipline and respect. In 1778, the defeated Continental Army was encamped at Valley Forge enduring "the times that try men's souls." There, frostbitten fingers penned the first "Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States," or what became known for generations after - and still used today - as the Blue Book.

The Blue Book described how the NCOs' primary responsibilities were to hold the line; they were to defend weakness at the point of assault. My Washington words were silent when I departed the show. The headliner crossed the line and I forgot the book.

We have another blue book now. Air Force Instruction 1-1, "Air Force Standards," is printed with a blue cover. Like the original, this document instructs all Airmen on their nation's principles and their responsibilities to our service. We cannot tolerate among our Airmen anyone or anything that degrades or demoralizes, let alone victimizes. Like the original, this new Blue Book is directive and punitive. Page one reads, "Our standards of conduct define how Airmen should behave when interacting with others and when confronting challenges in the environment in which we live and work."

Call me Darius for failing to confront the challenge. However, unlike the defeated and despoiled king, I contacted others and emerged a better Airman and leader. For those I left behind in the Liberty Club still under assault by the headliner, sorry. No Airman, no human, deserves the depravity shrouded in comedy associated with our military. We are empowered to confront challenges and our commanders are now engaged to ensure sponsored shows are supervised. The Air Force Blue Book, our leaders and your fellow Airmen demand our culture to keep correcting, our integrity to be more excellent and our service to be far superior while foremost to each other.

Together, Darius is no more.

To those holding the line, our doors, phones and emails are open. To anyone in need of help, we encourage seeking our sexual assault response coordinator team located in building 1070 via DSN 226-SARC (7272) or email 48FW.CVK@us.af.mil.

9/2/2013 7:44:04 AM ET
I hope when this colonel calms down and reflects on his behavior that he will provide a public apology to Mr. Fatel. I hope he has the intellectual humility to offer such an apology and restore his image as a leader to his Airmen. These censorship types of leaders tend to encourage book burning parties and allow selective art galleries. We don't need that type of leadership in our Air Force we need leaders to fight the kind of oppression colonel Ciero displays.
Joseph, USAF
8/29/2013 3:51:15 PM ET
Well written. Well said. You have my utmost respect and deepest gratitude Vice Commander Ciero.
Chris Thoma, Michigan USA
8/26/2013 8:03:57 AM ET
This is nothing new. Senior officers on bases around the world hve exercised their powers to stiffle free speech before. What is new is to do so publicly. To stand up for all to see and say LOOK AT ME I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING The reason it has always been done privately...is because you look like a total fool. Mitch is an awesome comedian if he wasn't Darius would have led a mass exodus from the room.
T.K., America
8/23/2013 4:04:18 AM ET
This is a typical response from our so called Air Force leadership now.....especially those who aspire to be flag officers at the expense of those that surround them. Mitch Fatel is a comedian colonel......if you didn't like raunchy entertainment as you put it you shouldn't have been there. Obviously the majority of those there did enjoy the show. Good for them and shame on you I suspect from now on all comedian's material will be reviewed and censored based upon one person's lack of a sense of humor
Travis, Texas
8/22/2013 5:45:11 PM ET
Unfortunately Colonel Ciero's Blue Book story is wrong. Sorry NCO-selects.Regulations For The Order And Discipline Of The Troops Of The United States was written in 1778 and 1779 by Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. von Steuben did not arrive at Valley Forge until February 1778 by which time frostbitten fingers were largely a thing of the past as supplies for the Continental Army were flowing into Valley Forge by that time.As a general rule I would recommend U.S. military officers study U.S. military history before delving into the exploits of ancient Persian kings.Since facts were treated with such careless disregard in a speech to future NCOs I have no choice but to question the accuracy of the Colonel's account of the comedy show.
Rory, Texas
8/22/2013 3:27:08 PM ET
Two things. 1. its a comedy routine. 2. Otis is right. The CV is another fast burner type likely working hard to make GO. Like so many of that ilk he would not make the truly tough leadership action and stop the performance. Why Good question. Probably because he knew that would have caused quite a ruckus. Instead he walked out and then wrote a pompous blow hard commentary. The AF is currently filled with too many of this type of senior leader.
Joe, DC
8/21/2013 5:52:20 PM ET
Why do I believe Mitch Fatel's response instead of this politically-correct yarn Sounds like someone's bucking for flag rank.
Otis R. Needleman, Reality
8/20/2013 8:55:22 AM ET
Please read Mitch Fatel's official response at this link: www.chortle.co.uk(slash)correspondents(slash)2013(slash)08(slash)19(slash)18506(slash)i_thought_we_were_fighting_for_freedom_of_speech Editor's note: This comment has been modified due to formatting limitations in the web link.
Mitch Fatel, USA
8/19/2013 8:06:51 PM ET
www.laughspin.com(slash)2013(slash)08(slash)19(slash)mitch-fatel-responds-to-air-force-colonel-who-called-his-act-depravity-shrouded-in-comedy-exclusive In the interests of providing a balanced perspective I would encourage readers to review the commentary at the link above. Editor's note: This comment has been modified due to formating limitations in the web link.
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