Most people go through life never having enough for everything to be ideal. You don’t have enough money, there aren’t enough people at your work to do the job efficiently, you don’t have the proper tools, you have the proper tools, but not enough of them, the list goes on. There are times when you need to learn to make do and then there are times when you need to learn how to get ahold of the things you need. In the military, the mission comes first. Accomplishing the mission and getting home safely are your primary objectives. You are not always given everything you need to ensure the highest probability for success. This is where tactical acquisition comes in handy.
To put it bluntly, I am talking about taking what you need from others who either don’t need it, or it is not as mission critical to them at the given time as it is to you. It seems like stealing, but the further I get into this explanation, the more you will understand that in many cases, this is not technically true. The equipment is being taken by the people it is meant for to be used in the way it was meant to be used, and by the people who are supposed to be using it. The problem comes down to things getting lost in the bureaucratic shuffle that is the military machine. The military does a great many things efficiently. Supply and logistical mastery are not among them. Things get so easily lost, misplaced, improperly allocated, etc. and the men and woman that need these things pay the price.
There is no set level, rank, unit, theatre, etc., that this specifically applies to. Sometimes the things in question can be cleaning chemicals, mops, brooms, mop buckets, or other things that are not combat related, but still important. Sometimes, it can be bullets, rifle and pistol magazines, night vision, vehicle parts, medical supplies, or other equipment that is essential to the survival of the people you serve with. The point here is that the things people need don’t always get to the people with the most urgent need for them. It often happens that along the way, members who see the items don’t need them, but decide they look cool, or they MIGHT need them and rather then continuing the items transportation down the logistical path towards where they need to go, they hang on to them. Other times, the items get where they need to go, but approval is not given to have them, for whatever reason.
If you ever find yourself in a situation that you are ill equipped to manage, you have several choices. You can take on the task anyways, under equipped and with a greater potential for failure, you can take the time to try going through the proper channels to get ahold of the gear, or you can attempt to locate what you need on your own and take it. I am not saying that I endorse theft, but in an organization that does not accept excuses for failure, you must learn when and where certain rules apply and when there are exigent circumstances where certain things will be overlooked because the mission will always come first. It will always come down to individual judgment and morality. What is it that you value and what are you willing to do to do something even better?
If you get caught stealing in the military for the sake of stealing, you will be punished. Thievery for personal gain is not tolerated and you will be subjected to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Your leadership will determine how best to enforce military law for your actions. With that in mind, there will come many times when you have orders. An example might be a night operation to search a town for a person of interest or there is a terrorist meeting taking place and the window to deal with this threat is small. You weren’t issued night vision, but you know there are some in the supply unit’s building. Typically, items need to be signed out. There needs to be some paperwork to track everything. Are you really going to wait until the next day to go through the proper channels to sign out night vision? That is your call.
Life is full of messy choices. Things are not always black and white. Sometimes, the lines get blurry, and it is difficult to tell what the best choice is. Spend enough time in the military and the time will inevitably come when you must make a choice between two bad choices. Take my night vision example. Do you steal equipment from another unit that is not using that equipment at the time? Do you go on the mission lacking equipment that gives you the best odds for survival and mission success? Do you think it is a bigger problem having to explain stolen night vision or a failed mission?
I am talking about appropriation of equipment for military use, not personal. If you take anything from anyone and it is not for official use, you are a thief and a dirt bag. Theft of military equipment for personal use is a crime for which there is no excuse and if this is you, I hope you get caught. I am referring to doing what is in the best interest of the military and its members. Take what you need for mission success. Mission success is the best chance for everyone to come home safely and if the price of safety is having to steal needed equipment from time to time then that’s what it takes. Night vision is replaceable, human life is not.
Real talk. If you don’t get caught taking the equipment (in most cases), and the mission is a success, no one cares. If you try blaming a failed mission on lack of equipment, you are going to lose. Period. It wont matter if you are right or speaking the truth. It wont matter if you were blocked by paperwork or bureaucracy. All that will matter is that you failed, and you now must explain yourself. Your leadership will hear it as nothing more than excuses. With honor and morality in mind, you do whatever it takes to complete the mission.