Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Hiring Process

Disclaimer: I also know some absolutely wonderful DA (Department of the Army) Civilians, including the Office Manager and Human Resources Rep from my Battalion.

My first week in IBOLC holding company, I learned that everything dear to me was being held hostage by government employees (I almost wrote "workers," but that would be misleading):

1) We can't access our travel pay, three thousand dollars in per diem from LDAC, or 1k-a-month housing allowance because: The finance office was so upset that some LTs came to their briefing without the proper paperwork that they were literally refusing to meet or speak (LTs were kicked out of their office) with any of us until our BOLC began - two or three months away for many of us, and unusually late to try and cash in travel-related pay.

2) The Armor School S-1 (personnel office) helped all the Armor BOLC LTs get their travel pay. When I asked our own S-1 workers to do the same, it... inspired this comic. It didn't help that they also immediately lost my orders.

3) Most importantly to me, we can't go to Airborne School in the 2-3 months waiting for BOLC because: A bunch of Armor students went to the Infantry clinic to get Airborne physical examss instead of their own clinic like they were supposed to. This disrupted whatever abacus-and-sundial system the Infantry clinic was working off of, which upset them so much that they were refusing to give anyone (including Infantry LTs!) an Airborne physical.

Every infantry officer is guaranteed a spot in Airborne after Ranger School, but that realistically means staying at Ft. Benning at least another five weeks (they wouldn't schedule ABN two days after Ranger, and then there's outprocessing from Benning). That's five more weeks away from my unit, away from PL time, and potentially out of the fight in what will already be a shortened deployment (good for the Army, but not what brand new IN LTs who haven't been broken by five consecutive deployments were expecting).

The conspiracy (I assume) of DA Civilians who refuse to do their job didn't count on one thing, though - a Second Lieutenant with way too much time on his hands. I am actively and passionately seeking solutions to everything. Time, and brainpower are on my side. And I'd say I currently have a pretty good record against the bureaucracy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It Started at Fort Benning ... (Welcome to Holding Company Pt. II)

I finished up my last week at LDAC with a four-day paid vacation to Vancouver (took another pass, actually spend more money than I did in Vegas), took leave to see my family, and, most importantly, purchase a car, and moved on to the infamous Ft. Benning.

I thought I was progressive, but it really is fun to be in the Army without any women around, with infantry (don't think I'm quite qualified to say I'm "in the infantry" yet). Cadre address us as "men," and curse at their leisure. The SFC in supervising the holding company lieutenants has so far only referred to the Armor School, which just moved to Benning and has caused some logistical issues, as "those Armor fags." Not a fan of the slur (though I think there's something to its South Park appropriation), but undeniably amused by his candor.

When we had to be addressed because a 2LT had been reprimanded for taking a poop in the woods next to the running track, the instructor cautioned us that when in mixed company we had to make an effort not to offend females or the "soft-skin MOSs," which made me smile.

I'm in holding company (again) until I begin IBOLC in October. There's a chance of picking up some schools (I asked for Airborne, advanced marksmanship (God knows I need it), and combatives), and some work details, but as far as I can tell, I'm just getting paid to go to 0545 PT, shower and change in time to get dismissed at 0900 formation. I did the math, and I'm getting paid $140 per PT session. That's what a professional prostitute would charge for that much physical activity. I don't understand how this is in the Army's interest. There are guys here who don't class up until November, and even some who don't go until January! Don't tell the taxpayers.

It's cool seeing 2LTs who got here earlier and are further along in their training - especially those sporting their Ranger tabs, which makes it seems like a much more achievable goal. Until coming here, I'd only seen tabs on captains and up, and senior NCOs - it's encouraging to see them on people more my equal. Of course, I have also met a few LTs who are outprocessing from Benning without that crucial decoration on their left shoulder. I won't ask what happened, out of deference to them, and because I'm happier not knowing what can go wrong. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Welcome to Holding Company

"Okay, guys, nobody wants to see you having sex in the barracks. Don't do it. Get a room, seriously, I don't care - just not in the barracks. Drinking: No alcohol in the barracks - LT, go grab those bottles - it's not allowed. That's what we set up the drinking tent for, which you are more than welcome to play beer pong in, or whatever - thank you," the admin lieutenant handed the captain two half-finished handles of vodka.
"I found these in the female barracks, and beers in the male barracks just recently. Don't do it," he emphasized with some frustration, as cadets walked by our formation and stared at the slight captain gesturing with one hand in his pocket and the other around the necks of the bottles of vodka.
"Fraternization: Gentlemen, there are a lot of attractive enlisted women out there," I let out an audible snort before I realized that the captain wasn't making a joke, "so ask for some I.D. Don't take her home and find out she's a specialist, that's bad news. Ladies, you might meet some NCO who's all tabbed out with badges and everything, but it's still against the rules."
By the time he closed with a second reminder not to have sex in the barracks, I was absolutely mortified. A number of cadets, who in theory were supposed to look up to us as officers and authority figures, had had passed by and caught parts of the briefing, any of which would have been juicy. It was like when your mom drops you off at summer camp and calls after you to remember to change your underwear - but instead of reminding you about clean underwear, she yells a reminder not to accidentally stick your genitals in an electrical outlet.

I arrived mercifully late to holding company. The lieutenants who had generated the material for my welcome brief, the ones who had been dismissed by their committees earlier, had been sitting around for weeks going to multiple arbitrary daily formations, where they were frequently called up for manual labor details with little notice. By the time I arrived, most real work had already been done. If I can help it, I'll wait out my time at LDAC in a hedonistic blur of passes (allowing me to travel away from Ft. Lewis and thus excusing me from all details), naps, trips to the gym and to the club.

The job I actually came here for, that occupied me before I left my hotel and TTB for holding company, is too entertaining not to draw. Unfortunately, I may not have the privacy needed to draw anything for a while, so suffice it to say that it was a job perfectly suited to my talents and that I touched the lives of a thousand ROTC cadets.