Nightmare on My Street

Filed under: , — lana @ 8:44 am

The blissful days of my gainful unemployment back in Germany while the greater US Army figures out what, in fact, I am doing here, in addition to bringing along hours of moderate boredom and the occasional interesting article about tigers that escape from their cages only to head to a cafe to snack on a zoo patron have also brought along interesting conversations between myself and my employed-but-really-no-worse-off-because-of-it First Sergeant. It might be general lack of human or intelligent contact, but I have found that our conversations are getting stranger and stranger lately.

The conversation today began when we were discussing some habits of some Soldiers and extra-marital affiars. I mentioned that some of them even talk about starting families and then that evening head out to the clubs. He decided to break it down for me and pointed out that practice makes perfect. He then saw the further need to point out, “Well look at it this way: When you are heading out to qualify on a weapon, you don’t just go out to the range and start shooting, right? You go through basic marksmanship training first. That’s like what they figure they’re doing here. Basic marksmanship for the baby-making.” I stopped him at about the point he started talking about fundamentals like trigger squeeze and steady firing position. It was a birds-and-bees talk I thought I could probably do without. Not to mention the mental images of the Soldiers in question.

And now I can add firing ranges to the list of things that make me a little queasy and sleep a little less soundly at night. I had some PTSD from Iraq already. Last thing I needed was adding fuel to the fire from office time over the holidays… I’ll be sleeping with the lights on tonight.


Politicians (Real Ones, Sort Of)

Filed under: , — lana @ 7:57 am

So as I sit in Germany with no current job and no internet at home, I dilly dally about the workplace and frequently find news items of interest to share with my coworkers and friends.

One struck me as particularly interesting the other day regarding a recent speech from the ever delightful presidential campaign candidate John McCain.

I used to like McCain, finding him to be rather straight-forward and with ideas that didn’t sound, at least for the most part, completely ludicrous. Those being rather rare traits in politicos of any federal denomination, I conjured up something close to a rough tolerance I usually reserve for passing acquaintences and some vegetables.

The article I happened upon changed this somewhat, as it had me scratching my head and wondering just who was paying attention (and money) to the military these days anyway.

McCain came out in some sort of press gathering with a request to build a new interrogation Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). He wanted language training, small teams, and debriefing to be the focus of this MOS. Perhaps there would even be a rekindling of the old Office of Security Services, which was disbanded quietly some years ago amid some fanfare in the intelligence community because it never really worked as it was supposed to. All in all, it sounded like a wonderful idea in this age of torture and destroyed video tapes.

But I, perhaps slightly more involved by default with topics such as these, didn’t quite buy it. Instead I hemmed and hawed about it for a few moments, giggled a little, and happily passed it along to a few friends of mine. The question I attached to the article was “Now correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we already HAVE all of this?” The response, once the sarcasm and cynicism was filtered, was a general agreement that any attempt to figure all of this out was making our brains hurt.

In fact, we (being the Army) do have the aforementioned items. Until just recently we had an entire job function called interrogator (since renamed but the same training). We have debriefer courses for several job functions, we have multiple language schools, and we have multiple forms of small team operations. What our delightful White House candidate was therefore requesting was training items that the Army already spends a decent amount of money for, and coming up with fantastic ideas that, unfortunately for him, someone came up with sometime last century. One would think, given his rather decorated military background, that he might have known about these little hiccups in his plan prior to spouting it before the media.

I suppose I shouldn’t ask too much, however, with my opinion of political intelligence quotients ranking most candidates somewhere between where I have previously ranked the upper echelons of Army beuracracy and a cold noodle salad. Who am I to suggest that one of them might not research a topic, after all? I wouldn’t want to tax anyone’s time or general intellect.

I take comfort each day that I may not be the smartest person I know, but at least I am smart enough to not run this country…


Cleaning Lady

Filed under: , — lana @ 6:23 am

So I returned to sunny if frigidly cold Germany just in time for a cold snap. I am told the day I arrived was the coldest day so far this year. Funny enough, it’s been steadily colder ever since. I am thrilled.

In my absence from the humdrum life in Europe it appears that all has gone to hell. My meeting with the Commander and First Sergeant, which occurred within an hour of my getting off the plane and within 45 minutes of my discovery that the airline had once again lost all of my bags and were busy trying to track down in which country they were last seen, began with the Commander closing the door and asking me which bad news I wanted first. A lovely start, to be sure.

It seems that when I left it took a few weeks and then slowly everything began to unravel. In one office a private and a sergeant had a spat and it escalated to command involvement with the threat of taking rank away from the only non-commissioned officer left in the office. Something about a girl, a bar, a club, and an excessive amount of alcohol. I stopped listening about halfway through the various versions of the story and reminded the command I can only be in so many places at once anyway, so he should keep rank and we can all go about our happy lives with minimal bickering. The Commander agreed and went on to discuss another office, where the drama was continuing to unfold. Between more alcohol, not showing up for work, and a whole host of various offenses, the non-commissioned officer at that office was rapidly ruining his career before the eyes of all present. While it was rather amazing to watch, sort of like a slow-motion train wreck, something needed to be done to stop it.

That something, it was turning out, would be me.

The current plan is to try to send me to Iraq again in the next few weeks. In the interim, since I don’t have a job back in Germany having given it up a month and a half ago, I get to mosey around to the different field offices having Soldiering problems and fix them. For my trouble the battalion has agreed to give me an extra three dollars and fifty cents a day and a barracks room on a remote outpost and the means to travel out there for the work week. All that for being the company cleaning lady, it appears.

Someone else is helping me find a kitten for my trouble, at least.



Filed under: — lana @ 1:47 pm

The last confirmed win for the United States Army was back in the 1940’s in WWII. And thankfully, there we had some help. Frankly, at this point I am confused as to how the US even won the Civil War, and that entailed us fighting against ourselves.

The Army sent me from Germany to the States to prepare to deploy. Then they realized they had goofed and sent me to a different base to prepare to deploy. Then an officer from my pockmarked past reared up and complained, so I was sent back to the original base to prepare to deploy. Over one month later, I got word today that I am going back to Germany instead of Iraq.

I volunteered to deploy. I like deployment. I like my job when I am deployed. I had a perk this time that periodically I might get to see and perhaps even enjoy a chow hall meal with my currently deployed husband. I fought every time they moved me, asking them to please, someone, just send me to Iraq. It is not a request the Army often hears, one would assume. Apparently because the Army doesn’t like people that actually WANT to go to the Middle East. They prefer dragging close to 200,000 people there, most of whom wish they were anywhere but.

The excuse my unit gave was that US Army Europe (USAREUR) once upon a time was tasked to provide someone of my rank and job for a particular assignment. They passed that down to my unit, and I was tasked to go. Then someone in the system said, “Wait… what phase is the moon?” and promptly retracted the tasking from my unit. Chaos ensues, end result being the Army folks in the States see an open tasking on the computer because the unit in Iraq still needs it filled but my unit insists that USAREUR retracted the tasking from their job book so therefore I cannot fill the requirement and need to go back to Germany. It makes not an ounce of sense, because the tasking is still open so one would think a phone call or two from my unit up to USAREUR might fix the problem, but apparently anything even remotely close to easy in the Army borders on impossible.

It did firmly cement my decision to inform my First Sergeant where the Army could shove all reenlistment offers, and he remarked that it sounded a little painful. I am considering reserve assignments if only to get a little more schooling on the Army dollar, but something tells me even that would somehow end up biting me in the ass at a later date, if only because it all seems to make perfect sense on my end.

I intend to spend the next few days researching exactly how the US won the few wars in which it claimed victory in order to determine if I missed something somewhere. Luckily, the track record is pretty bad, so it shouldn’t take me very long at all.

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