Thursday, January 25, 2007

Civilian / Soldier

The 1st 3 days at Fort Jackson epitomized why I originally got out of the Army. The expression "Hurry up and wait" isnt just an Army cliché - it’s the ground truth. We sat around a building, going from room to room filling our paperwork. Finance, medical, ID cards, etc, etc. I have a decent background in process excellence (Six Sigma) from my civilian job, so I started timing each station and after the 1st day, I determined where the bottleneck of the process was. So on day 2, I finished by 11am. Good thing my parents got me PSP for Christmas, because that’s what I had to do from 11am until 5pm. The next day, I was the only person finished all of the paperwork in processing and I got to stay in the barracks instead of getting on a bus at 5am. Sort of nice, but every time I fell asleep a drill sgt came into the barracks and started yelling at me, asking me where I was supposed to be and why wasn’t I there. It amazed me that once I put on my uniform top, they instantly stopped yelling and began using terms like "sir". I think my next blog is going to be a list of reasons I got out of the Army, because that illustrates another reason - two black bars on a uniform should not make that DS respect me, and I should not have to pull that rank in order for him to listen to me. Respect is a two way thing that should be earned regardless of position or rank, and in the Army people often hide behind their rank. Ok, off my soapbox. I'll write about that crap in another post.

After we finished our paperwork, we were transferred to the training department. No more civilian clothes or attitudes - it was back in uniform and back to playing in the mud. Our first day of actual training included classes on military communication systems, basic rifle/marksmanship techniques, and map reading. Over the next 10 days I would fire and qualify on two different weapons (M-16A2 and M-9 Berretta 9mm), do land navigation, practice convoy techniques, and get back into Army Physical Fitness (another reason I got out - it takes 25 minutes to prepare for 15 minutes of exercise!) Looking back on the two weeks there, I am glad for the training we got. Although I hated getting up every morning at 4:30am, sleeping in bunk beds 2 feet from the next bunk, showering in open showers that looked like they haven’t been cleaned since Vietnam, and an otherwise complete lack of privacy - I am grateful for the justification of my original decision to get out. Seriously though, it was beneficial for everyone to re-train on the common Soldier tasks most of us had long forgotten. On Friday of our 2nd week there, we all got orders sending us to the next stop on our IRR activation tour. Next stop for me: Fort lee, VA. The place I did my Officer Basic Course (OBC), where as a LT I stayed in a nice ass hotel and drank like a college kid for 4 months. Surely my accommodations would improve now that I was returning as a Captain. Boy am I excited!

No comments: