Friday, December 28, 2012

Show Me Your Papers!

This is my longest comic by far, approached only by an early work about meeting an Arab girl... that should tell you everything you need to know about who I am.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Staff Infection

This (very abridged) story neatly sums up my experience working in staff. When I was in ROTC, I assumed you commissioned and immediately began leading a platoon. In IBOLC I learned that officers waiting for leadership slots would work in staff, helping run their battalion behind the scenes. But I had absolutely no idea what that actually entailed. And with good reason. A battalion's staff is basically a lot of sad captains running around dealing with an endless stream of challenges that the average line soldier (or CDT Schlep) literally could not imagine exist: Corrections of corrections of Risk Assessments (see previous post), Generals' visits, elaborate treasure hunts to determine the location and ownership of property, slideshow/spreadsheet beautification projects, briefings about briefings, surprise deconflictions (get the S6, Alpha's UAVs are operating on the same frequency as Korean electric toothbrushes!), and many more planning, personnel, and supply issues that I still don't even know about.

Unless you are supremely lucky (which, if you've learned anything from this blog, you know is the most important skill to have in the Army), you will find yourself on staff at some point. It may not be while you're an LT, but the siren's call of staff will draw you in eventually (oh yeah - don't think that just because you're an Armor/Infantry officer or a 2LT/1LT/CPT you won't become your battalion S1 or S4!)

However,  I'm fortunate enough to be working under a group of capable, friendly captains with an interest in teaching (which is called "developing" in the Army) us ambient lieutenants. I only hope they all find their way to company command before staff work completely devours their souls. More importantly, I myself may be getting out of here and into a platoon sooner than I thought. All of my training* on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle will finally pay off!

*I definitely have been inside a Bradley before and am totally familiarized with all the guns and cannons and lasers it probably has. 

Monday, December 10, 2012


This post will mean nothing to you if you're not an officer. That's a good thing. In order to prevent any bad thing from ever happening, all Army operations (training and otherwise) must have a CRM (Consolidated Risk Management) Worksheet. You must list every possible hazard (fratricide, heat casualties, bad weather) on the CRM, then how you will mitigate it. Infantile and redundant, like much of what I do professionally, but it can be helpful in forcing you to think of ways to keep things from going wrong. And nobody's really sure about this, but the implication is that if you assess every possible risk, take steps to mitigate it, and everybody still dies at your APFT, you aren't held responsible. If that's not actually how they work, then I have no idea why we write them.

An example of block from the worksheet:

Handling Weapons with Blank Rounds
Ear injury/ hearing loss
All personnel will wear ear protection throughout mission.
PCIs before mission
Platoon Leadership

However, because "moderation" is not part of the Army vocabulary (like "irony," "tasteful," or "personal responsibility"), a CRM will contain dozens of "hazards," and must be completed for EVERYTHING. We recently received guidance from a very high level that all Battalion social events now require CRMs. I created a pretty good one for our Hail & Fairwell that ensured proper measures would be taken to prevent fratricide incidents from soldiers playing darts in the bar.

However, that's a little too specific to be useful for most of you. So here's a great base CRM for day-to-day operations in cold weather, which might help out you LTs who are freezing your gender-appropriate genitalia off training in places like Drum, Richardson, or even Korea. Feel free to use this!

Click below or here if it was too small:
PS "Slipping on ice" and three other "hazards" listed here have made it on to actual assessments in my battalion (have to credit other LTs for some of them though). See if you can guess which ones in the comments section - I'll tell you if you're right.