A TRAGICOMEDY OF BOOTS


This, from the April 29, 2012 edition of The Virginian-Pilot

African troops fighting al-Qaeda associates in Somalia need jungle boots.  Someone decides to provide them.

Makes sense, so far.

A Washington nonprofit (two warning flags right here: “Washington” and “nonprofit”) named Bancroft Global Development (another warning flag: “global development”) agrees to provide the boots, hoping to make a healthy nonprofit from the $1.4 million deal.  Bancroft contracts with the Atlantic Diving Company, a Virginia Beach military gear contractor (warning flag: you get what you pay for in these places), to supply the boots.

If you’re not laughing yet, worry not.  Here’s where the story takes a hysterically funny turn.

The jungle boots go to Africa, onto the feet of the troops — and promptly fall apart.

It turns out that:

a.  The supposedly military spec boots, known as Ultra Force 5081 Jungle Boots (warning flag: kiddie computer wargame moniker!) were purchased in China (warning flag: world’s largest purveyor of shoddy and often toxic goods), and

b.  The boots were intended for use with Halloween costumes and are even offered in children’s sizes (warning flags: the highfalutin’ nonprofiteers don’t know how to read, and unscrupulous sellers see no need to instruct them).

Now the two sides are in court, battling each other over what to do with the boots, most of which are stored in Entebbe, Uganda; who has to pay who and how much; what was really ordered and what was really delivered; and so forth.

Apparently, no one is discussing the need for remedial English classes for all parties.

And here’s another funny part.

There apparently never was a real contract.  The two schmuck-entities reportedly formed a “deal,” mostly via telephone and e-mail.

I’m guessing that, in addition to no provision for remedial English, there is also no call in the lawsuit for a cure for the “wired generation’s” terminally stupid faith in digital (as opposed to hard-copy) communications.

In the meanwhile, African troops are fighting barefoot against an extremely well financed enemy, or possibly not fighting at all.  And, frankly, I can understand that.  Feet are an infantryman’s best friends – or worst enemy.  It’s hard to go on the attack when your feet are falling off due to jungle rot.

Where do they get these people?

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About Michael J. Kubat

I'm a grumpy Czech-born clinical social worker who is vitally interested in the survival in the United States as a viable democracy and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
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