Saturday, November 25, 2006

Judging a Soldier on his/her Patches

The past week has been pretty busy and exhausting. I had a paper due Monday morning, and then I had staff duty Monday night so that was two nights in a row with too little sleep. I also went to one LT's birthday dinner Tuesday night so by the time Wednesday night came around I just wanted to crash.

Let's start off with the fun craziness that is Transportation School. We had motor pool orientation on Monday which involved getting a twenty minute intro to six vehicles. And I guess that's all I actually need to know about trucks. Tuesday and Wednesday we worked on some computer programs the Army now has but the classes were ridiculous. For example, on Tuesday, we did a video game simulation of a route recon and had to send text messages every time we saw a curve in the road. After that, we had to play Kuma War, which is an actual video game. Some of the class found it entertaining, though useless, but since I've never really been into the gaming thing, I was just bored. The system we learned about on Wednesday was actually much more interesting - it helps keep track of the locations of all different types of units, cargo etc. (the Army is impressed with itself, although I'm pretty sure FedEx and UPS have been doing this for years). Unfortunately, BCS3 usually involves a two week course and we had less than eight hours to learn about it. Additionally, even the few things our instructor could show us in that time were very much along the lines of use it or lose it.

That's the thing I really don't get about this place: we aren't trained on anything. We just get quick intros to everything, but when I get out of here, I'm not actually going to be proficient in anything. 20 minutes on a vehicle when 80% of transportation units are truck units? That really makes me feel prepared.

The worst part about the computer systems training was the LTC who was in charge of the instructors. He came in at the beginning of class on Tuesday, and basically acted like a complete dick. I was actually talking to one of the OCS grads that's been in transpo for 10+ years: she is very disappointed by this course and the officers representing the Transportation Corps. Except for the captain in the beginning, all the green-suiters have been complete asses. When I told her I didn't like the Army, she responded that this was the first time in eleven years that she hasn't liked it, either. This is just some perspective on how messed up this place is.

Anyway, back to the newest ass in a growing line up: he came in and had all the prior enlisted guys that had been deployed stand up, and then fawned over their combat patches. One of them had been in during the late '80s/early '90s, left the Army for the civilian thing, came back recently and is now going the officer route. As a result, he had a combat patch from Panama and the image looked like a pirate ship. The LTC asked H about it, and a completely different LT made the comment that H had earned it by sailing with Columbus. The colonel just about had a cow, made the LT come up to the front and gave a big speech about respecting the combat patch, the tradition behind it, and that we'd "all get our chance to earn one." He then let him return to his seat after slapping him hard on the back. One of other guy was standing up as well, but when the colonel asked him about his prior-service experiences, the guy just told him that he was standing so he wouldn't fall asleep. Somehow the fact that he was trying out for Ranger School came up, and that all the Ranger-wannabees had a pre-Ranger physical that day. The colonel first went on to insult Ranger School, and how it wouldn't help him as a logistician, then proceeded to cancel their appointments because his classes (i.e. Kuma War) were too important to miss.

Later on, some people were talking about the fact that Ranger School might not help with logistics but was still the best leadership course around. The theory is that the colonel is just compensating for the fact that he doesn't have one. I have to say I'm kind of sick of all the male ego that is attached to the Ranger tab. While at LDAC, the LTC in charge of the regiment made a big deal about how it was the only patch that mattered because he was trying to make up for the fact that he was Field Artillery, not Infantry, while here, the LTC just completely dogs it. I know one Infantry 1LT who went through Ranger School, and he thought the FA guy was making a complete fool of himself. Apparently, it's easier to see things in a proper perspective for the Infantry guys.

We were also pretty pissed off about the guy's infatuation with enlisted guys and combat patches. No offense, but doesn't at least half the Army have one now? As a result, I wouldn't exactly say it makes you better than anyone else. As some of the targets of the man's love even said - there are some pretty ate-up NCOs out there.

That wraps up all the Army stuff of the past week, but there were also some other odd developments going on. I didn't date in high school, I was involved with someone my freshmen and sophomore year of college, but other than that I didn't date much in college, either. Every once in a while some seriously freaky guys would come out of the woodwork and tell me they liked me (in one case, a guy told me he liked me in the very same conversation during which he told me about his ex-girlfriend who slept with his stepfather and had an abortion - needless to say, there was not a follow-up date), and I would respond by avoiding them. Anyway, the universe apparently decided to make up for this lack of guys by having them all appear last weekend. It's made for a confusing week, to say the least.

1 comment:

LT Nick Craig said...

The badges, patches, and tabs represent an achievement of the Soldier but should definitely not be the measuring stick for quality!