Correcting some of Chris Matthews Misunderstandings: More on the Fort Hood Shootings

Nov 05 2009 Published by under Misc

The amazing amount of uninformed speculation that's coming out of the mouth of Chris Matthews right now is mind numbing. Speaking as someone who lives and works on a military post, I have absolutely no doubt that I have a better understanding of the dynamics of the military base than he does.

I'm just going to hit some of the major issues.

1: In the United States Army, it's hard to describe a Major as a "high ranking officer". It's typically a mid-career rank. Given that there are somewhere around 5000 officers assigned at Fort Hood, I would be surprised if there were fewer than 500 Majors assigned to the post. I would not be surprised if there were 1000.

2: As one of the guests has repeatedly pointed out to Matthews, it is not yet certain that there was more than one gunman involved. It's possible that the two additional people arrested were involved. It's also possible that the MPs were erring on the side of caution, and grabbed everyone who might have been involved. Any speculation about motives is just that - speculation.

3: Given that Gov. Perry didn't have the updated number of injured when he made his statement, I'd give the 3-star's statement that the arrested suspects are not confirmed shooters more credence than Perry's statement that all 3 were shooters.

4: Regarding the "lax security" question that someone asked in Perry's press conference: there's only so tight you can lock down an active-duty post and still keep things functioning.

5: Rep Sestak is discussing this as a mental health issue, and an issue regarding mental health care available to the military. Whether that's relevant to today's tragedy or not - and it's looking increasingly likely that it is - he's right.

6: Regarding the recent promotion of the identified shooter: the criteria for promotion to major in the medical corps are not very rigid at all. If you don't massively screw up, you get promoted.

7: The more details I here about Hasan, the more bizzare this sounds. He's apparently a psychiatrist who graduated from Uniformed Services University Med School. That's about the least likely person I can think of to be involved in this.

8: Matthews is even less informed this hour than he was at 4. That must have taken some effort.

9: The lack of information about casualties is not a surprise. It's likely that at least some of them do not have local next of kin, and notifications may take some time.


Yeah, Chris Matthews is a flaming idiot. Army Officers, even psychiatrists, are expected to know how to shoot a handgun.


11: Pete Williams has some knowledge deficits, too. Hasan would have been treating patients throughout his residency. And it's entirely possible that he only found out about the deployment very recently. It's not at all unusual for doctors to get last minute orders. Doctors are frequently last-minute plugins for deploying units.

12: No, he got the MD first, then the MPH.


13: I'm somewhat surprised that Olbermann is going with his regular program. But at least it will cut down on the massively uninformed speculation about Ft. Hood.

11 responses so far

  • Terry says:

    Thanks for the informed and useful perspective. Trying to sort through the tragedy.

  • Kermit says:

    NPR has reported that the other two who were arrested have been released without charge.

  • Greg Laden says:

    I was surprised, but pleasantly so, that Olberman went with (a slightly modified version of) his regular program ... It is not necessarily helpful to go on an on and on with uniformed speculation for so many hours.
    Anyway, good summary of what they were all getting wrong. The continuous comment as it happens coverage is probably a good thing in a way but it is rarely done well.

  • Onkel Bob says:

    FYI - in the medical field, getting to O-4 (major, a field grade rank) is a tough row to hoe. Usually medical types top out at O-5 (Ltc) because there simply are few slots available for them and they go to the gung-ho. Most finish their first tour as O-3 and leave for private practice.
    Ft Hood may have a 1000 O-4's but their will be more in C3 or supply than in the medical specialties.

  • Pierce R. Butler says:

    Here's an interesting backgrounder on Fort Hood and Major Hasan.
    Don't expect Chris "Tweety" Matthews to tell you any of it, though.

  • Mike Dunford says:

    @Onkel Bob:

    FYI - in the medical field, getting to O-4 (major, a field grade rank) is a tough row to hoe. Usually medical types top out at O-5 (Ltc) because there simply are few slots available for them and they go to the gung-ho. Most finish their first tour as O-3 and leave for private practice.

    If you're an Army doctor who has been in for 6 years, and have not been court-martialed, you're almost certainly going to be promoted to major. That promotion rate has been in the 95%+ range for years now. The selection rate for O-5 is also quite high at the moment, although not quite as high as the O-4 rate.
    There are some Army docs who get out as O-3s, but most will be majors before they're eligible to get out. HPSP students are committed to serve one year of active duty for each year of scholarship support (and there's a two-year minimum), but they're also obligated to apply for, and accept if offered, a military internship and residency. Time spent in internship and residency is training time, and payback doesn't begin until after training is done. This means that almost every active duty MD will serve at least 5 years, and most will serve longer. Primary zone selection for MAJ in medical happens during the 5th year, and the promotions are usually done before the end of year 6.
    I'm very familiar with all this information because my wife is an active duty Army Medical Corps Major.

  • peter carroll says:

    A couple of other things that weren't immediately reported (and could still be wrong):
    1) He had taken extra courses in small arms weapons handling; probably a bit unusual for a Medic and especially so for a trick cyclist
    2) He was yelling Allahu Akbar! as he started to unload
    What's that, some kind of cathartic, Jungian scream therapy?

  • Brian X says:

    I'm still holding to the idea that this was more or less a Columbine-type shooting, that Hasan had cracked a long time ago (probably before leaving Walter Reed), and that jihad was just an excuse to go on the shooting rampage he would have found another excuse for had he not been a Muslim.
    peter carroll:
    No doubt Eric Rudolph and James Van Brunn said a few prayers before committing their crimes. Hasan just shouted it.

  • KHorn says:

    Rep Sestak has impressed me with every media appearance he has made in the last couple of months. He's running for the Dem nomination for senator against Specter and he's going to have a tough fight as the party establishment has already lined up behind Specter, so if anyone reading this lives in PA and wants an actual progressive to run as the Democratic nominee Sestak needs a lot of support.

  • Onkel Bob says:

    I stand corrected. I was in the USAF years ago. (20 plus now, and got out after 10 years in) Movement through those ranks was not swift at all. The slots from company grade to field grade were all but reserved for the fliers. Times change...

  • Juice says:

    Why do you watch this crap?