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Posted: 9/13/2004 5:14:17 PM EST
Perhaps some ex or current AF guys can confirm this?

From: Allah is In The House

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I just got an e-mail from someone calling himself "JFH" which raises an intriguing question about an acronym used in one of the Killian docs. Jeff Goldstein wrote a post yesterday about a reference in the August 18, 1973 memo to something called an "OETR". Two people familiar with military terminology e-mailed Jeff to say that the acronym the author of the memo meant to use was "OER" -- an abbreviation for "Officer Effectiveness Report". Read Jeff's post and you'll see that his contacts are quite adamant that "OER" is a commonly used term and that no one familiar with military jargon would botch it in a memo. Or click here and see the listings for "O" on a webpage devoted to military abbreviations. "OER" is listed. "OETR" is not.

Enter JFH, who agrees with Jeff's contacts.

I wondered how could the forger [be] so clueless on using a made-up acronym of OETR when every officer in the Air Force and Army knows the acronym is OER. . . . The acronym OER is so pervasive in the Air Force community that every officer's wife and kid (as I was during this period) knew what it was. These are the most important documents of an officer's career. It is worth much more than it weight in gold as it drives the promotion process. How could anyone ever call this thing an OETR? . . . .

It was only after a commenter to Jeff's post pointed to an anti-Bush website called the "AWOL Project" that it all became clear.

J's point is a simple one (and please note that he's not saying the webmaster of the site is the forger). If you click the "AWOL Project" link and scroll down about three-quarters of the way, you come across a cache of documents underneath a header entitled . . . "The OETR Scam". The same faulty acronym.

How did the AWOL Project webmaster get "OETR" from "OER"? J thinks he knows. He says if you click the document entitled "Notice of Missing or Correction of Officer Effectiveness Training Report (6-29-73)" you'll see a heading at the top of the first page that looks like it reads "Officer Effectiveness Training Report." But, says J, it doesn't:

Because of a hole punch in this document, the website authors missed the fact that the name of the form is actually: Notice of Missing or Correction of Officer Effectiveness / Training Report. The slash which you can barely make out (and trust me, there is a slash there… as I can explain my certainty if you need me to) show that this form is used for notifications for both an OER and a Training Report (don't have a lot of detail on this report yet; but it makes sense that training reports that record success[ful] completion of formal training are almost as important to get corrected or added before a promotion board meets). But if this document is your starting point in an investigation into your biased AWOL story, you may have [missed the slash and] thought that this form was for correcting "OETRs".

J points out that the correct acronym -- "OER" -- is actually printed right there on the form in boxes 4, 8, and 12, but the print is small enough that the webmaster might have missed it and followed the (apparent) acronym in the heading instead. J also notes that the three other documents listed under "The OETR Scam" as "Officer Effectiveness Training Reports" are, in fact, OERs (see the bottom right of the first page of each).

J wonders if perhaps the header on the AWOL Project used to read "The OER Scam" and was recently changed after the August 18, 1973 memo came to light to make the terminology conform to that document. Answer: no. Here's a Google cache of the site from August 20th that includes the "OETR" acronym. And here's another one from September 6th. The new Killian memos weren't released by CBS until September 8th.

So what does all this amount to? Two things. First, the fact that the August 18, 1973 memo bungled a commonly used bit of military terminology suggests that the author wasn't Killian and, therefore, that the document is a forgery. That's assuming, of course, that J is right about the usage of "OER" versus "OETR", which I think he is; if anyone disagrees with him on that point, e-mail me or leave a comment below and I'll mention it. Second, the fact that the author of the document made the same novice mistake about the same acronym as an anti-Bush website suggests that he might have visited the site before writing the document and picked up the "OETR" acronym for them. Needless to say, this would also rule out Killian as the author while shedding a little light on the real author's motives.

I want to emphasize again that neither J nor I is accusing the webmaster of the AWOL Project site of being the forger. On the contrary: A pamphlet posted on the site written by Gerald Lechliter uses the correct heading of the "OETR" form ("Officer Effectiveness / Training Report", replete with slash) and avoids using the erroneous aconym. All we want to know is how that strange, apparently unknown abbreviation ended up first on an anti-Bush website and then, later, in a primary source document purported to have been written thirty years ago.

One more fact for you to chew on as you digest all this. A Google search of the phrase "officer effectiveness report" returns over 400 results. A search of "officer effectiveness training report" returns only 10. And every last one of them has to do with George W. Bush supposedly being AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard.

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