Just because

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I mistrust all systemizers and avoid them. ~
Friedrich Nietzsche

In the Army, there’s a lot of “Just Because”.

We don’t know why we have formations, we just do. Drives me nuts.

“There’s just so many moving parts, we need to have accountability.” That’s what one 1LT told me.

Here at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, my unit is stationed with the 1st Armored Division: Old Ironsides. You know, only the most powerful ground unit in the entire fricken world. Yeah, the same armored fist that smashed the Nazis at Anzio. It flicked aside the forces of Saddam Hussein in Kuwait, destroying 768 enemy vehicles while losing only four men.

Well, the might 1st AD, many times, has five formations a day. One at morning PT (0630), one at work call (0900) one before lunch (1130) one after lunch (1300) and one at the end of the day (1700). They do it “Just Because.” Fortunately, my unit only has in the morning, sometimes another at the end of the day.

I always hear reasons for all the stuff the Army does, and I might get suckered into buying the proverbial bridge, but I’ve lived a long life before the Army. I know any organization can function without five formations or musters, a day. Has a lot of moving parts, huh LT? Sorry, but my company has far less people in it than a Super WalMart has. Bet WalMart doesn’t mke it’s people spend almost an hour a day (or more) standing around looking dumb and waiting to be told they can go eat.

There’s lots of other needless stuff, too. For instance, today we did a four mile ruckmarch. Look, I can smoke any dude on my base at rucking. Not bragging, just a fact. At the Soldier of the Year competition, I finished so far ahead of the second place guy, that I could even see him, and he was more than ten years younger. Point is, I like rucking. But the Army has to makes what should be a simple and enjoyable little walk so complicated as to ruin the potential for motivating soldiers to be better ruckers. Word was yesterday we were to have a 0600 formation with 35 pound packs. We’d step off at 0630. “Yeah, right, I told Donna, we’ll mull around until everyone’s grumbling and ready to go to sick call from aggrevation.

I was not to be disappointed. We stood outside in -10 degree Celsius weather, for 50 minutes waiting for the “Risk Assessment” to be signed by the company commander. A Risk assessment is an estimate and analysis of potential dangers to soldiers for any exercise or mission. But seriously, could a walk around the base be dangerous? Should I get a risk assessment when I walk the half mile to the chow hall for lunch? This is the damn American Army, the most powerful, badass killing machine this blood soaked planet has ever seen. Yet, by the time we finally started our march, the damn Boy Scouts would have been finished and roasting marshmallows. Oh, but we still had to get a lecture from the 1st SGT about extraneous stuff that was 1) Common sense and 2) Could have waited. One thing I’ve noticed is that anyone who makes it to a position of high authority in the Army really likes to hear themselves talk–a lot.

The minutiae in the the Earth’s Greatest Army would leave Alan Greenspan in a coma. Don’t walk on the grass. Always wear a hat outside. Want to take a day off? Need a commander’s approval sheet, a DA 31 leave form, a driver’s risk assessment. Want to sell your inoperable car to someone who just wants some spare parts? Both people need paperwork signed by the company and brigade commander. What. The. F!@#?. You’re telling that the brigade commander has nothing better to do in a time of war? On what basis would not sign the paper? That the car doesn’t work? That’s why you need the paper in the first place!

Oh–and don’t wear logos on your PT socks lest a Sergeant Major have a coronary and recommend you for firing squad. Why? Just because. I’ve got logos on my running shoes. That’s ok though. Just because.

Meanwhile our Predator drones are being hacked with hardware bought at the local electronic shops in Iraq. Shouldn’t we be focusing on that and defeating IEDs?

It’s too bad.There a re so many good things about being in the Army. So many things about it that I’m good at. I’m this brigade’s Soldier of the Year. That’s out of about 4000 soldiers. Yet, I find there to be massive deficiencies. The Army has it exactly backwards when it comes to how to be successful and happy. There’s ton of dime store self-help books that actually get it right: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Not only does the Army sweat the small stuff, in many cases it does so at the expense of its most important asset: Its soldiers.

May keep me from re-enlisting.


6 thoughts on “Just because

    kernunos said:
    December 18, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    I see a book to be written here.

    Amos Volante said:
    December 19, 2009 at 2:48 am

    The army should every deficient soldier own their deficiencies and grow out of them.

    Your colonel has to sign a paper to sell a non-running car because one soldier sued another and filed an IG complaint because he was sold a car that didn’t run. After that a colonel got angry and passed that policy.

    A colonel with some balls would have said, “Both of you morons grow up – we’re not punishing 12,000 guys because you two are stupid.”

    We can send them to their deaths, we just can’t offend them.

    T. J. Babson said:
    December 19, 2009 at 3:03 am

    The basic problem is that the wrong people are getting promoted.

    magus71 responded:
    December 19, 2009 at 6:26 am

    Yes to all the above comments.

    The thing is, I could go on and on. None of the things I mentioned above would be that bad, except that there are soooo many of these things. Even my NCOIC had had enough at the end of this week. I see how this stuff grinds everyone. You just know that every simple thing will be extremely difficult.

    Bill said:
    December 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Magus – the link about the drone hacking isn’t working apparently and I’ve not been able to find it. If it’s a big problem, they need to check their security procedures and hire some civilian conrators to fix that. It’d be an outrage of the highest order b/c it’s not that hard to stop. If even 1 of tem was hacked (as opposed to comone engaging in cya and claiming it was) heads need to roll. Predators are the most bad ass thing we have going – I happen to be very familiar with them and can’t imagine somoene being able to pull that off without some serious intel and some insider helping out. Even then it should never happen ;-(

    Bill said:
    December 20, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Just found it http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10417247-83.html – This is pretty bad but not as bad as them actually hacking control of the drone. Intercepting the video feeds is pretty bad still. That’s the nature of the beast though – they have to transmit to let the pilots control them so there’s always something to grab onto. IMHO, the drones are a s close to a perfect weapon as we can get. That’s why the Code Pink nuts are so crazy about them. THey are relatively cheap, quicker to train than equivlaent # of solders and in terms of life – a complete steal. THey are amazingly accurate too as many people formerly known as terrorist would attest to if they were still able to talk about it.

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