So while we have been doing the ever-essential Post Deployment Slack Off, which consists of a formation at 0630 in the cold, then run away before anyone makes you do anything resembling physical activity, and another formation at 0900 where their primary purpose seems to be those of higher ranks reminding us that we have to be at the field for formation at 0630, then allowing us to scatter, there are still people around that have to work. I feel for them, because it reminds me that while we were overseas, they got to deal with what I feel might be the true bane of the Army existence: Rear Detachment.
Rear-D, as it is known, is something I have luckily avoided thus far. It is when they take all of the people who didn’t deploy for one reason or another, lump them together, and spit them back out into jobs that they are not only probably not trained for, but jobs that no one in their right mind really wants to do anyway. They are the detail masters, becoming the errand boys for whomever is left in the brigade and, by proxy, whomever those left in the brigade want to impress. They get stuck doing personnel tasks when they have little idea of what form is used for what. They get stuck doing supply jobs and counting paper clips for a week. And, above and beyond, they get significant lawn mowing experience.
This week was Clean Sweep. For those of you not from the lovely Fort Bragg area, Clean Sweep is a formal, post-wide operation. We have yet to find another post that does anything even close to this operation. There are reasons for that. Above all, it’s not very bright. It is where the entire post, two weeks a year, takes all of its enlisted personnel and hands them a rake and says, “Go forth and do great… yardwork.” And so as you drive around the roads you are dodging soldiers in green uniforms and reflective belts with rakes, shovels, and the occasional lawn mower. I saw the Special Forces guys, as usual, were doing things the smarter way. They had a leaf blower out this morning. As I got to the area cared for by our fearless Rear-D guys, I saw a line of dejected and rather chilly people with neat little rake piles and a lot of fine words about the battalion and Fort Bragg in general.
Thankfully, I think, two deployments in as many years has gotten me out of every Clean Sweep on Fort Bragg. I did, however, take a picture of a fun hand signal a friend in Rear-D gave me when I asked him if he was going to re-enlist. I don’t think it will be used for a motivational poster anytime soon, but it might serve as a training aid for when people start asking me about my military career…