The Most Unessential Man in America

Air Force lieutenant colonel (designate) Erik Brine is so unessential that it hurts.

FP’s Gordon Lubold (and not The Onion):

You gotta feel for a guy named Erik Brine. Brine, a major in the Air Force Reserve and a C-17 pilot, normally works on the Air Force staff as a civilian general service employee. But for part of this year, he is on loan to Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine’s office as a Presidential Management Fellow. Meanwhile, as a member of the Air Force Reserve, he spends about two months of the year working at the Pentagon’s public affairs shop. Bad week to be so uber. Brine just got done finding out he’s “non-essential” in all three jobs.

It’s tough, said the father of four, “to be non-essential, essentially everywhere I work,” he told Situation Report this morning. Yesterday, he first reported to the Air Force at the Pentagon to fill out paperwork to enter furlough status. Then he went to Capitol Hill to be formally furloughed from that job. (Because of the government shutdown, all three of Kaine’s advisers on national security are furloughed. That’s a tough one – Kaine serves on both the Senate Armed Services and the Senate Foreign Relations committees.) Then Brine headed back to the Pentagon yesterday, only to be told that his orders to report as a Reservist at the public affairs shop had also been cancelled, since Reservists are also not considered essential. In fact, Brine was expecting to be promoted this week to lieutenant colonel at the Pentagon while on duty – by Kaine. He’ll still get promoted, but his plans have to be scrapped. Yesterday was a tough one at the office.

“I spent a very full day getting temporarily canned all over town,” Brine told Situation Report. “So now the joke is that I got the furlough hat trick. I’ve got a bunch of jobs and no income. So much for hard work paying off.”

Really, what use is this guy?

Of course, to quote one unnamed DoD official, ”If you are not essential in supporting the military, what are you doing at the Department of Defense?”

FILED UNDER: Bureaucracy, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ernieyeball says:

    Of course, to quote one unnamed DoD official, ”If you are not essential in supporting the military, what are you doing at the Department of Defense?”

    Featherbedding?




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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Of course, to quote one unnamed DoD official, ”If you are not essential in supporting the military, what are you doing at the Department of Defense?”

    Justice would be him getting furloughed.




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  3. rudderpedals says:

    He doesn’t always drink beer but when he does, he chooses the cheapest foam he can find. Stay anxious my friends.




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  4. Scott says:

    Of course, to quote one unnamed DoD official, ”If you are not essential in supporting the military, what are you doing at the Department of Defense?”

    Great. Idiot comments like that just gets onto Fox and Friends. If that unnamed DoD official (probably an appointee) doesn’t know the difference, in this context, between essential and non-essential, then he should be shown the door.

    Idiot.




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  5. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott: I don’t know how the government classifies “essential” vs. “non-essential”, but having overlap, alternate systems, and redundancy is imperative for robust engineering. Companies who cut back to their “essential people” and try to get more done with less make themselves extremely vulnerable to any shocks. Plus, they aren’t able to take advantage of any opportunities that come their way.




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  6. John D'Geek says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I don’t know how the government classifies “essential” vs. “non-essential”, …

    “Non-Essential” is something of a misnomer. It’s really more like “Long term essential” vs. “Short Term essential”. We can do without JJ teaching for a few days, dont’ have to replace him or anything, but we can’t do without him forever. At some point someone has to teach the classes he teaches.

    But if Base Security doesn’t show, there are serious problems.




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