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Joint Rules for the Army-Navy-Air Force-Marine Corps Game

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New SecDef Directive: Joint Rules for the Army-Navy-Air Force-Marine Corps Game.

The Pentagon announced new rules for the fall 2005 Army-Navy-Air Force-Marine Corps football tournament:

Recently the Pentagon announced new rules for the annual Army-Navy-Air Force-Marine Corps football tournament. It is now known that fully integrated teams will take to the gridiron only after negotiating the following:

1. Only flag football will be played. The Joint Chiefs of Staff deemed tackle and touch football too dangerous. First, because of the CNN factor, the public will no longer tolerate even one field casualty. Second, touching another player today -- even the congratulatory pat on the behind -- is court-martial bait.

2. The phrase "making a pass" will be changed to the less ambiguous "throwing the ball." And the Army, Navy and Marines will be blocked from throws beyond 5 yards because of Air Force protests that it alone owns the long-range air attack mission.

3. The Marine Corps may run with the ball, but no more than 25 yards per quarter, the Pentagon ruled. It was prompted by Army objections to long-range naval ground operations.

4. The Navy may not use tailbacks. The term is too sensitive and should be avoided.

5. To promote inter-service cooperation, all teams were ordered to use the same game plan, after receiving suggestions from all four services.

The Army's plan, called "The Game After Next," called for handoffs of a digitized football to the fullback, up the middle, on every play. The Army plan's last chapter, titled "Exit Strategy," was oddly blank, which would leave players with no choice but to set up bunkers and temporary housing on the 50-yard line.

The Navy's "Forward... From the Bench" plan called for players -- each called a ball "carrier" -- to be surrounded by other Navy football players in a pack called "carrier groups." These units would establish a roaming "presence" all over the playing field. Less important than crossing the goal line is the Navy strategy of being able to protect the carrier group wherever it patrols the gridiron. So threatening are these carriers, the Navy strategy goes, that no one would be foolish enough to even mount a defense.

The Marine's "Three-Yard War" plan was predictable: Seize ground, every down, no matter how, regardless of the price, preferably while on the playing field. The linchpin of the Marine game plan called for packing the audience with members of Congress to ensure that the Marines' performance did not go unrecognized.

The Air Force's "Field-Wide Engagement" plan kept calling for very long, accurate throws on every down, during huddles, time outs, halftime, between games, in the parking lot and even in the showers. So fast and accurate would these throws be, went the Air Force strategy, no other team should even bother to take the field.

After examining each team's playbook the Secretary of Defense ruled that none was suitable, leaving each service to its own devices.

The Navy decided victory could be had by not taking the field at all. Instead, its players patrolled up and down the sidelines in breathtaking formation, hoping that would sufficiently deter the other teams from leaving their benches. Likewise, the Army decided against taking the field, at least until several conditions were met: one, that vital U.S. national interests were at stake; two, the conditions for victory were concrete and easily defined; and, three, the president would activate 550,000 reserve and National Guard Army football players if the game actually were to be played.

The Air Force felt victory could be achieved also by not showing up. Secret plans were later leaked to the press that the Air Force had spent $38.7 billion on a system able to fire the football into the end zone from space.

Bolstered by congressional resolution to be the "most ready football team when others are the least," the Marines stormed the playing field and declared themselves the winners.

And there was joy in Mudville.

You may wonder why the Coast Guard didn't participate in the game. Well, the Coast Guard originally suggested a game plan which would save tons of money by using a 35 year old football (painted white with a red stripe, for easy identification on the field); they would also play with hand-me-down uniforms from the Navy. Then, in order to economize, the Coast Guard proposed to play with only six players who would act as both offense, defense, first, second and third string. In order to provide value for service, these same six players would also sell concessions at halftime and sweep the stadium after the game. If asked, the Coast Guard players would also wipe the game ball for the Navy between plays. In order to reflect the right proportions of the smallest U.S. military force, four players would be designated quarterbacks, two as wide receivers, and one as left tackle. Oops, forgot they�d only field six players: forget the tackle.

However, the Coast Guard never made it to the game because Secretary Rumsfeld said the Coast Guard couldn't win on their own; the Coast Guard was told to confine play to the practice field from now on.

Little does the Secretary know the Coast Guard managed to sneak the six players in to the game anyway: dressed as cheerleaders!

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