The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

E-4 Mafia or the Lance Corporal Underground

I had seen some meme about the "SP4 Mafia", and I decided to do a bit of research on it since I was a proud member of the "SP4 Mafia".  Here are some details about the rank that was called "SP4" to "SPC" or Specialist when I got out.  

Only the lowest specialist grade survives today, as the higher grades were gradually phased out. Specialist 8 and specialist 9 were eliminated in 1968. specialist 7 was abolished in 1978 and specialist 5 and specialist 6 in 1985. At that time, the rank of specialist 4 simply became known as "specialist," which is how it is referred to today. While the official abbreviation was changed from "SP4" to "SPC" upon the elimination of the SP5 and SP6 ranks, the SIDPERS database was initially authorized to continue using SP4 until such time as the change could be made at little or no additional expense in conjunction with other system upgrades. The continued use of SP4 on automatically produced documents (transfer orders, leave and earnings statements, unit manning reports, inter alia), hampered the adoption of the new abbreviation (and, to a lesser extent, the absence of "-4" in the non-abbreviated rank) by individual soldiers who viewed the computer-produced documents as the final word on what the proper term was. While uncommon, SP4 is still used. One reason for the continuance of the use of the "4" is that some soldiers see the SPC as looking too similar to SFC, sergeant first class, and the "4" differentiates it better. Nevertheless, SPC is the Army's official abbreviation.
Today, the rank of specialist is the typical rank to which privates first class are promoted after two years of service, although PFCs may be waived into the rank of specialist after 18 months' time in service and six months' time in grade. It is granted far more often than corporal (E-4), which is now reserved for personnel who have either passed the Basic Leader Course or have been assigned low-level supervisory duties (with two or more soldiers under direct command).
Specialists were informally called "specs" (pronunciation IPA: /ˈspɛk/ ) plus the numerical grade of their rank. Thus, a specialist 4 was called "spec 4". As of July 2016 the rank of Specialist is the most common rank in the U.S. Army, being held by 115,033 of the Army's 473,844 soldiers.  
     The Marine equivalent is "lance Corporal" although it is technically a lower rank, the ability to sham and skate is the same.   The Navy E4 are known as P.O 3rd class.  The Air Force E4 is a "Senior Airman".  I was an SP4 later they called us SPC or Specialist.  I continued using the "SP4" designation while I was in the Service.  I never made "Sergeant" because the U.S. Army used what is called "promotion Points" to get promoted. You have to score so many points from P.T. Test, soo many points for college credits, so many points for awards, so many points for marksmanship, ete,ete.  I had 761 promotion points, the promotion points for my MOS was 998 or "unobtainable".  if I had maxed out every category, I would have had 991.  Personal did it this way to ensure that they had adequate showing thought the rank structures. if I was in any other MOS, I would have been a Sergeant but I wasn't so I was a member of the E4 mafia for 3 years until I mustered out in 1991.  I didn't realize that I represented the E4 mafia until I had taken a Sergeant and several PFC's to an event in another Kaserne or Barracks in Germany.  I was wearing my BDU's, Spit shine, boots BDU hat was Blocked
 Kinda Looked like this one but Mine was "blocked" which means that I used a coffee can when I wasn't wearing it and I used "Fabric Sizing" to make it all stiff or blocked.  

   I also was wearing my TA-50 Raincoat that had a poncho liner sewn into it.  The jacket looked kinda like this one..
  We called them either "Rain Jackets" or "Graf" jackets.  The term "Graf" is related to a training area in Germany.  The people that you saw with those jackets were people that have been stationed in Germany for a while and they knew the score.  We used those jackets exclusively and they were far better than the field jackets, especially with the damp German climate.   But anyway I was taking those people to another Kaserne and the NCO that was leading us was lost and didn't know where to go to get information to get us there.  I was driving a "Non Tactical Vehicle", or a Volkeswagon Transporter
 Looked like this without the Blue lights or the "Military Police" on the side of it. 
I had driven all over Germany and knew where all the Kasernes were so I was taking those people there.  But anyway, the NCO had no clue and this was before cell phones.  I saw a group of soldiers in a corner of the field,  I drive over to them hopped out and was talking to the soldiers and the NCO's there, I was there for a few minutes, then headed back to the NTV climbed in, started the van and drove off.  I explained to the NCO where we were going and how long it was going to be to get there and any scenic diversions.  After I was done, the NCO commented with awe in his voice "Damm, you are the professional specialist. you knew how to get sh*t done"   He knew that he was with a member of the E4 mafia in good standing.  I got them there and kept a low profile until they were ready to depart.  I know that it sounds strange but being in the service there is a lot of different things that makes the service unique.  I was reminded of this story when I saw a few things about the "Sham Shield" and the E4 Mafia.  Those were good times.

Upper-Junior Enlisted Army soldiers with loyalties in protecting all E-1 through E-4 against the seemingly unstoppable power of the NCO support channel.

Often the biggest contributor in spreading false information around the unit, and the leading reason Specialists evade doing mundane dirty work.
PV2: So, this is the fourth time in a row I got called out for K-P duty... I swear, I'm going to tell the Platoon Sergeant.

PFC: Shut your mouth, if any of the E-4 Mafia hear you, you're ass will be toasted. No sergeant could help you then. 

The E-4 Mafia is the unofficial "gang" of the Specialist rank in the U.S. Army. Notorious for knowing more than the E-5 Sergeants and normally too much for their own good. Squad leaders are usually very pissed off when "secret" plans reach the E-4 Mafia before THEY even hear about it. Usually their intelligence comes from untrustworthy sources, but sometimes they get lucky.

A group devoted to the protection of the rights of E-4s and below in the Military to sham, blame problems on "I didn't know " or their leadership. The E-4 Mafia was created to bond lower enlisted against the tyranny that is rank thru tenure and not based on the ability to lead.
Dude the Don call for a meeting of the E-4 Mafia we got to get that new 1SGT fired 

Battles are planned by generals and won by sergeants, so the saying goes. The saying didn’t include anything about who runs things in the meantime. That’s because the people who run things were very keen on ensuring that their names are left out of popular sayings.
Those people are the specialists of the U.S. Army.
   This article I got from another source...

For the uninitiated, specialists are those soldiers that bridge the gap between privates and sergeants. They are not yet non-commissioned officers, and they are not privates. They live in a nebulous zone that everyone finds confusing. And specialists take advantage of that to create an environment of barely controlled chaos.
Who am I? Oh, I’m a nobody. Once upon a time, I was somebody. I was part of something pretty big. But then I strayed and took a commission as an officer, leaving the E-4 Mafia. The Godfather looked at me askance when I left, but didn’t put a hit on me. That was kind of him.
The Sergeant Major of the Army may be a scary man, but he’s got nothing on the Godfather of the E-4 Mafia of the Army. Ever see specialists do work? Neither have I. And yet the Army runs.
It’s spooky.
I’ve only seen the Godfather in action a few times. Once was when a staff sergeant came in and told Specialist Godfather to mop out the latrines. Godfather stared at him for a second, then slowly shook his head, murmuring, “This thing you ask of me, I cannot do it.” The staff sergeant seemed surprised, then confused, and walked away scratching his head. It was the damnedest thing I’d ever seen.
Woe betide to those who crossed the Godfather, however.
I once watched a private first class be hauled in, guilty of some minor crime, such as not sharing tobacco or not stealing 2nd Platoon’s guidon. The PFC was white with fear, and said, “I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your barracks on the promotion of your brother. And may their first child be a masculine child.”
“Is this guy an idiot?” asked the Godfather, looking around. “Rest of you, get out of here. You,” he said, pointing to me, “can stay.” He put in a thick lip of tobacco and got right up in the PFC’s face.
“Now you come to me and say, ‘Specialist, give me justice!’ But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me ‘Godfather’. Instead you come into my barracks on the day my brother is to be promoted, and you ask me to do work. For money.”
The Godfather glanced at me. I looked back, wondering what would happen. The PFC was shaking with terror.

“What will you do?” I asked.
“I’ll do what I always do,” said the Godfather; “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
“And what would that be?”
The Godfather furrowed his brow and spit into an empty water bottle. “Well…if he doesn’t toe the line he could sleep with the fishes.”
“Ah,” I nodded sagely. “KP duty.”
“Yeah; or I could have the other E-4’s give him a sock party,” mused the Godfather.
“That might get the sergeant involved,” I said, never one to rock the boat.
“Sergeant!” spat the Godfather. “The NCOs may tell us what to do, but we have the power. Who cleans the weapons? We do. Who empties the garbage? We do. Who stands roadguard during brigade runs? We do. Who cleans the motor pool? We do.”
I pointed out to him that it was actually the privates who did all that, but he merely looked at me with the familiar pitying glance in his eye. I guess it was then that I knew I was going to be an officer.
E-4’s do run the show. They are the lifeline, the conduit, between the non-commissioned officers and the private soldiers. They are Legion, yet they are rarely all seen at once. Like the Warrant Officers, they have never been spotted working. They will lead working parties, but when you come to check on them, the specialist is somehow nowhere to be found and an enterprising E-2 has taken charge.
If you go out to the motor pool late at night, and are very quiet, you can sometimes catch wind of the secret Specialist’s Creed. It is spoken softly, out of cigarette-clenched jaws, through gulps of Monster energy drink:

“No one is more unprofessional than I. I am a specialist, a shammer of Soldiers. As a specialist, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as ‘The E-4 Mafia’. I am proud of the Mafia and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring no attention to myself, the military service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will totally use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety, preferably all of the above.
Competence is my enemy. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind—sleeping and the messing with other Soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically illiterate. I am aware of my role as a specialist, I think. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will notprovide that leadership. I know my Soldiers and I will always place my needs above their own. I will communicate inconsistently with my Soldiers and usually leave them uninformed. I will be neither fair nor impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.
Officers of my unit will have zero time to accomplish their duties; they will be babysitting me. I will lose their respect and confidence as well as that of my Soldiers. I may be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike, providing it is in my best interest and it comes with controlled substances, such as alcohol or tobacco. I will exercise initiative by making things up in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, but I might forget about it if sex is mentioned. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are shammers, specialists, E-4 Mafia!”

I shared this with you at great pains to my own safety, as behind any officer is usually a gang of specialists, who can make that officer look great, or look like a complete moron.
And what of that PFC?
He’s a specialist now. And is probably sleeping in the back of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle in the motor pool, while some privates do his work. Because that is the way of the specialist


  1. Graf... There is no such thing as warm and dry. Sometimes you can be one or the other, but never both.

    Not even standing in the exhaust of an M1(IP) running at tac-idle. Because it would rain on you for daring to get warm.

  2. I want to make fun of you for a blocked cover. We called those dog dishes.
    SPC (SP4) 2005.

  3. I want to make fun of you for a blocked cover. We called those dog dishes.
    SPC (SP4) 2005.