I am too lazy to write a real thing, especially since I blew most of my day off on online training for the Army. Much of it was live-tweeted, the results of which I have organized in chronological order and annotated because I’m cool like that. Also, I wanted to play with Storify.
It’s a Navy town. When kids at church contemplate enlisting into the dirtside branch, their parents occasionally ask my input. In describing the components of the Army, I usually describe the National Guard as being more like a family. Whereas Big Army might rotate you somewhere new every 3-4 years, you could easily work with the same people in the same Guard unit for a decade or more. Holding a less common MOS, I could have easily retired from the Guard with 20 years without ever leaving my platoon–the only one in the state in which I am fully duty MOS qualified. You get to really know and work with people over the years, sometimes deploy with them, and have very tight bonds that can last.
The punchline is that like a family, the Guard also has those batshit crazy people that you can’t really do anything about and you pretty much just have to wait for them to die off.
But sooner or later, everybody goes, not just the crazy ones.
So in December I flew over to the East coast for two weeks to tell some people how to do their jobs. I spent most of that time using chat (often with people back home), so really, I’m a little fuzzy on whether it was really worth flying all the way out there and staying in a hotel, but mine is not to reason why.
My hotel was about 10 to 12 minutes from work, so unlike everyone else in the entire time zone, I didn’t have strong feelings about my commute. It literally took me longer to walk to the office from my parking space than it did to drive to the parking space from my hotel. This is important for later.
My initial rental car was a Toyota, but a week and a Check Engine light later, I swapped for a recent model Ford Fusion. I like the Ford Fusion in many respects, except for the entirety of the in-car interface, powered by Microsoft SYNC. It looked just like this:
I don’t reblog, but you should read this.
On the weekend, The New York Times ran an interesting story about how U.S. Army Major General Michael Nagata, the commander of our Special Operations Forces (SOF) in the Middle East, has been reaching out to experts far beyond the Pentagon, the Intelligence Community (IC), and the U.S. Government altogether, to better understand what drives the Islamic State. Since that war is clearly not going very well, and MG Nagata’s elite forces form the point of the spear there, listening to alternative voices is always commendable. As NYT noted:
Business professors, for example, are examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies. “We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it,” [Nagata] said, according to the confidential minutes of a conference call he held with the experts. “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”
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The noncomissioned officer evaluation report (NCOER) is the bane of our existence. I’m sure Big Army magically gets it right, but it is not uncommon for our Guard unit to spend at least one or two drill weekends each year doing nothing but trying to get caught up on delinquencies. I’m convinced there’s no good reason for it, although there are certainly contributing factors (like compelling soldiers to use their own computers with finicky Windows-only software to process them).
What follows is an example of how theory and practice diverge, how my own thinking on the matter has changed over time, and some thoroughly unoriginal thoughts on how I teach my NCOs to game the system (and incidentally become better NCOs at the same time).
I went with the first link, which was the Christian Science Monitor, but it’s all over the news:
Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated National Guard forces in Missouri Monday, saying the state must be ready to protect residents if violent protests follow a grand jury decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in August.
He said the role of both police and the Missouri National Guard will be to maintain safety and protect the free-speech rights of citizens.
I heard a lot of commentary about this on my drive home from work. One of the Seattle radio personalities opined that it was a good thing because the Army was trained for things like this, unlike the Ferguson police. I laughed and laughed.
The reality is: sort of. Ferguson, if the Guard shows up to your party, the rules have fundamentally changed, and you need to understand how.