The commandos who had formerly been led by Lieutenant Karl Mankey were very unhappy with his demotion. Perhaps nobody was more unhappy than Gary Thibodeaux.
Behind his back, Gary called Lieutenant Mankey "SpongeBob SquarePants". Karl took his job, and his men’s lives very, very seriously. It was also clear that Mankey was fully invested in his job.
The replacement hand-selected by Wokes-Cold did not impress Thibodeaux. Wokes-Cold selected Lieutenant Josie Burns for her videotography skills, not her skills in keeping men alive in combat
Wokes-Cold was a member of the "Selfie" generation and took a thousand selfies a month. Selfie segued into self-promotion. The only self-promotional tool more vivid than a picture is a moving picture. Wokes-Cold had the stripes to get any Lt she wanted and she wanted Burns.
There were many things about Wokes-Cold that the old-guard found baffling.
These men and women were commandos. Their job was to penetrate enemy territory and to blow-up strategically important targets before the main attack. Lt Menkey put them into electric, battery powered vehicles for the invasion of Livingston County. Battery powered vehicles are quiet and quiet is good
Wokes-Cold refused to be seen in a quiet vehicle like a Prius. A Prius projected “Wuss” not Alpha predator. Image was everything.
Wokes-Cold wanted trucks. BIG, bright trucks. Big, bright, loud Alpha trucks. And what could be more “Alpha” than a Ladder Truck? That also played into the decision to off-load the bridge off the front of the ladder truck. “Alpha” never backs up.
The all-Gurl leadership team drove a wedge between the troops and leadership. Before Karl Mankey left, one-commando-in-five was female which was the lowest ratio allowed by Washetenaw County’s board of governance. Every one of those women earned their place on the team. They could shoot. They could scoot. They knew when there was time to push-back and they knew when it was time to break shit and get things done.
The newer women members of the team all sided with Wokes-Cold and Burns. They did not respond well when the male members scoffed and dismissed Wokes-Cold’s arbitrary and capricious demands. The women objected “How can you know that won’t work?”
The handwriting was on the wall. Conflicts that floated to the level of Burns invariably resulted in the male being transferred out to a shit-details.
Some commandos decided it was a great ticket out of a mission that was looking more-and-more like a suicide mission. Cleaning a latrine with a toothbrush is not that bad as long as you are not required to brush your teeth with it afterward.
The other commandos bit their tongue. When they saw something that could have been helpful, they kept their mouths shut. Wrong oil being put into the tank for the hydraulic pumps? There was no up-side to pointing out the problem. The wrong kind of shielding gas being used to weld aluminum? Let it roll. They will figure it out.
The step from nonfeasance to malfeasance is a big step. Nonfeasance can be rationalized. Maybe somebody else will see the problem and report it. Maybe somebody is already fixing the problem and more attention will slow things down.
Malfeasance is deliberate sabotage. For most people, the step from nonfeasance to malfeasance is a big step. Commandos, at least the old guard, are not most people.
Thibodeaux did not leave. While a great believer in Karma, Thibodeaux wanted to be there when Karma landed. He even believed in helping it along, every now and again. For instance, tugging just a tiny bit on one of the wires to the sensor that measures the fuel level disables the fuel gauge. Techs invariably look for broken or cut wires. They almost never find the wire that looks like it is still in connector block but the conductor is no longer guillotined by the contacts.
The commandos who transferred out were replaced with gung-ho soldiers from the general ranks. The replacements were an even mix of men and women. Word circulating through the ranks was that the “new” commandos were chosen for their unreserved devotion to leadership. The increased status and better food were a big draw. There was no shortage of applicants.
The loss of the seasoned commandos came with a cost. The new commandos had to be trained in explosives and demolitions. Wokes-Cold was all about modern management techniques. If it could be measured with a stop-watch, Wokes-Cold was taking data.
The instructors were very unimpressed with Wokes-Cold. When they suggested she not attend the training, she went over their heads and came anyway.
Explosives are very unforgiving. Doing anything wrong will result in the user not get the desired effect. Det-cord not seated in the charge? No boom. Runs of wires with the conductors not twisted together at the ends can pop the cap you are pushing into the charge.
Explosives are a discipline where individual self-expression is not condoned. There is only one right way to do things.
Wokes-Cold made it clear to her team that she, not the classroom instructor, was in charge after the commandos left the classroom. When they left the classroom it was going to be all chop-chop while the video was rolling.