Certain things in life are simply not meant to be understood. On that list are things like the meaning of life, how many stars are in the sky, and why female undergarments and bathing suits are so expensive and get more so the less fabric they have.
Another of life’s great mysteries is how exactly an entity (I refuse to use the term organization any longer, as that is clearly not in their vocabulary) like the US Army can actually win a war when they can’t seem to find one piece of paper on a given day.
I was called today, after attending a class sponsored by the Army, by my platoon sergeant. He asked how the first day of the two-day class went, and then proceeded to tell me that I may want to swing by the battalion because there appeared to be some sort of security clearance discrepency and, oh yes, I had missed two levy briefings and the company had gotten a nasty-gram from the battalion on my behalf.
Brief pause: a levy briefing is the brief several months before you are supposed to move to a new unit, in my case Germany, and get all of the information about transportation, reporting, outprocessing, and so on. Not something you want to miss.
To resume: I commented to my platoon sergeant that this was impossible, as I hadn’t been scheduled for a levy briefing, much less two. He said apparently this was not the case, though it was in fact the first he or my first sergeant had heard of either of them. I told him I would investigate and headed to the battalion headquarters.
I stopped in the S2, where they handle security clearances, and asked the sergeant there what the problem was. It was, of course, the first she had heard of it. She looked it up and there was no discrepency, so we puttered around in confusion for a few minutes until someone from the S1, Personnel, shop came in and said, “Hey someone in here needs to verify your clearance and make the phonecall up so it can get over to our people to cut your orders to leave.” I responded with, “And this involves me personally standing here… how?” to which there was of course no good answer. Please note that these two shops are down the hall from each other. Apparently this was the first time someone actually got up and wandered down the hall all day. Maybe ever. So while he was in there, I asked him about the levy briefings. He said that apparently I had been scheduled, and that no one had told me because their shop hadn’t called my company for reasons he didn’t know (he’s only a specialist, the poor guy). I told him that was evident, so I would go the following week. He said that I couldn’t do that, because once you miss two briefings you aren’t allowed to schedule another one. I counted to ten, started over, started over again, cursed, counted one more time, and gave up and asked him about awards instead. He forwarded me down the hall.
Upon going down the hall and finding the sergeant who was supposed to know about some awards that are now several months old, I made the discovery that two awards of mine are completely lost and one award had been “renovated” and downgraded without proper downgrade authority by someone, though no one seemed to know who. They also lost a submission for a badge for combat, as well as another soldier’s paperwork for a badge, and another NCO’s award paperwork. They also said that before I go to Germany I would need to do force protection training, which I said I did before I went to Africa and had attached the certificate to my leave form. They looked at me with the blank look that reminded me that oh yes, they had lost that particular leave form.
It amazed me so much that one office could lose so much paperwork, when their office is the paperwork mecca of the battalion, that I had to go outside and beat my head against the steering wheel of my car for five or ten minutes to try and understand. No luck. I must not have done enough damage to my brain. I need a hammer.
Some questions, I fear, may just never be answered. Ah well. I’m off to look at and not buy from the latest Victoria’s Secret catalogue.