What in the hell is going through the mind of the most senior commanding officer at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (AFB) anyway? Well, my friends let me tell you. U.S. Air Force Colonel Mark H. Slocum, the Commander of Seymour Johnson AFB’s 4th Fighter Wing, has gone rogue in the name of “the Lord” in a clear violation of USAF regulations and that most beloved and sacred of documents to Americans – the Constitution of the United States of America, and its foundational Bill of Rights. Slocum is marshaling his officers, enlisted troops and AF civilians stationed at the North Carolina F-15 fighter base to fight the good fight – a veritable new Crusade, in fact – against ISIS, under the banner of his “Lord’s” heaven.
Forget the love of country and freedom that is denied to the people of Iraq and Syria by this cancer spawned by decades of tyranny and instability, ISIS. The counteroffensive being waged against the forces of radicalized, sectarian jihadism is being frightfully framed at Seymour Johnson AFB as a clash of competing deities. That’s right! Our brave warfighters are being fed an extremist narrative whereby a ghastly, caricatured version of Allah (as envisioned by the twisted extremist fringes of Wahhabi Islam) is pitted against Slocum’s ultra-sectarian Judeo-Christian god (aka “The Lord”) in a mano a mano clash of the titans akin to an epic torn straight from the annals of Greek mythology. The theocratic Col. Slocum peppers his command briefings with a rallying cry that mirrors – in brimstone-tinged, southern fried, fundamentalist form – the rabid religiosity that has poisoned the minds of the bloodthirsty ISIS. What is the goal of both contending forces? To unleash their respective “holy warriors” upon the Middle East, enveloping the Cradle of Civilization in a ferocious conflagration for the purpose of bringing its people under their heinous yoke? For ISIS; clearly yes. For the USAF to adopt the same goal; outrageous, treacherous, and treasonous beyond description.
The neo-crusader Colonel at Seymour Johnson AFB (which trains and readies USAF F-15 fighter squadrons assisting the fight to annihilate ISIS, among other tasks) is telling his officers and their subordinates that the base’s fighter wing is “over there doing the Lord’s work.” Sound familiar? The power-crazed leaders of ISIS like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are drilling fanatical memes into their followers as a means towards placing a misguided faith (or rather, a chauvinistic and militantly sectarian zeal) into the hearts of their minions. Disingenuously cloaked behind the Takbeer – “Allahu Akbar”, a wholly mainstream phrase meaning “God is great” or even “Good God” – these Salafi jihadist extremists have twisted Islam beyond recognition, spawning horrors on a scale we’ve never witnessed until today. Ill-advisedly taking a cue from the ISIS playbook, Col. Slocum is using a modified vernacular – think of it as the Dominionist Christian edition of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s teachings, a “Weaponized Gospel of Jesus Christ” – to win the hearts, minds, and souls of the multiple thousands of those airmen under his direct command at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina.
How does he do it? By peppering his command briefings with the odious idea that the U.S. Air Force and support staff from Seymour Johnson AFB are bombing the bejeezus out of ISIS strongholds in the name of, and clearly pursuant to, “doing the Lord’s work over there.”
Think this is no big deal? Think again. Our Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is representing 24 active duty USAF officers, NCOs and civilians (16 of whom are practicing Christians) in this pathetic matter of command-directed proselytizing by Wing Commander Col. Slocum. They rightfully fear reprisal if they come forward on the record to protest Slocum’s actions of sectarian shame.
Oh, but it gets better – and by “better” I mean worse, of course. Seymour Johnson AFB is the base where the Royal Air Force of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a Wahhabist regional powerhouse, is trained! Now come on, in polite society religion is considered one of the most divisive of topics for discussion. Often, in the name of civility and keeping the peace, even the most outspoken of us will shy away from a discussion of religion (or politics) at our dinner parties and family gatherings. Yet here comes Colonel Slocum, treating his Air Force command briefings as some sort of venue for sermons. Imagine the potential for tension, alienation, and possibly a divorce from our ultraconservative and highly austere geopolitical bedfellows in the House of Saud. You should know better, sir! What IS your major malfunction? After all, you have personally and repeatedly beseeched all those under your command in the 4th Fighter Wing to be especially careful about what they say and do in order not to create rancor with our Saudi Air Force trainee allies. Hypocrisy, thy name be Slocum!
Military regulations be damned, the Colonel is proselytizing and inveighing against the spiritual enemy as if his USAF podium is a Sunday school lectern. He is preaching that the F-15s under his command, equipped to carry conventional, laser-guided and even nuclear weapons, are engaged in a holy mission from the Lord in the bloody fight against ISIS. Most importantly, in the process of all this, he’s trampling on the precious civil rights of the USAF officers, NCOs, and civilians under his command. His subordinates fear a command-directed witch-hunt to uncover who “ratted” Slocum out to MRFF.
However, for the time being, the Colonel can rest secure knowing that he’s being shielded by the Pentagon’s own Omerta, as the mafia called it – “The Code of Silence.” In correspondence between MRFF and the Public Affairs Chief of Seymour Johnson AFB, the base considers “this matter closed.” The Base has actually informed several inquiring media outlets that “appropriate action has been taken” as a result of MRFF’s complaint on behalf of its 24 USAF clients. When repeatedly asked by media sources to elaborate on that term “appropriate action” the Air Force has refused. Hmmm? “Appropriate action has been taken”? For all we know – based on how the “spirit-filled” U.S. Air Force works – Slocum, in all of his theology-infused glory, could well be on his way to early ascension from the rank of Colonel to the flag rank of Brigadier General!
Lawlessness shouldn’t be rewarded; it should be publicly and aggressively punished – yet Slocum seems to have a “guardian angel(s)” in the top brass. This travesty is a blatant violation of Air Force Instruction (AFI) 1-1, Section 2.12, which clearly states: “They (Air Force leaders at all levels) must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.” Tragically, in today’s Air Force, that absolutely critical directive (AFI 1-1, Section 2.12) is honored FAR more by its breach than in its compliance.
Slocum’s own officers, NCOs and USAF civilians know well the standards, and they rightfully deserve a commander who’s capable of focusing his leadership talks and directives on the mission at hand – the mission of warfighting, a mission requiring martial sobriety and a profoundly secular (i.e. temporal, earthly) grasp on questions of tactics and logistics, doctrine and strategy. The Air Force slogan has been “Aim High … Fly-Fight-Win“, NOT “Deus Lo Vult” (God Wills It). In hardcore truth, Slocum’s messianic “vision” of his F-15 fighter wing performing “the Lord’s work” for halting the radicalized forces of jihadist extremism overseas, poses an ominous threat not only to the long-term national security interests of the United States of America, but also to the security of the entire world community.
When will Americans take notice and put a stop to this mounting peril?
We clearly cannot depend on senior USAF leadership to do so.