Don’t Make Any Plans

Filed under: — lana @ 10:07 am

One of the first things they teach you at these little non-commissioned officer schools is the concept of backwards planning. You find out where you need to be and when, then work backwards to figure out how to get there and all of the time until you get to something inane like what time to wake up. Everyone in the human race does this in some sense or another, consciously or otherwise.

Which only stands to prove that Big Army is not human.

Big Army seems to do forward planning. Many days, it seems like no planning at all, or perhaps reaction planning when they realize something was supposed to be done last week.

Hypothetical situation, a unit faces a small, short-term deployment. Under normal circumstances, very easy. When do they have to be there? What equipment do they need to bring and how can it get there? How long will it take to move the equipment and the Soldiers? How long will train-up take? All leading back to when does the Operations Order giving them the direction to move get published and previous orders.

The Operations Order, OPORD, is the lifeblood of the Army. Without it, nothing would happen and everyone would sit around twiddling their thumbs and staring at each other. Since I know enough people paid to do that already, it would be a travesty if OPORDs ceased to be. They are what tells a unit to get up and go and how to get there. They tell them what needs to happen and who needs to do what to whom to make it so.

That is, unless someone forgot to backward plan so the OPORD shows up a week after the first items should have already been completed. Those items will still be listed there, clear as day with the “done by” date, which was typed in with precision and gusto by some training shop clerk who is probably embittered that they are stuck in the training shop instead of doing whatever it is they came into the Army to do but now figures “What the hell, may as well do what I can here” and ensures that everything goes into the OPORD exactly as the Commander whispers it into his ear, and which was also a week ago but he didn’t think he should point that out to the Commander.

When things show up overdue in an OPORD, panic tends to ensure. For me, that involves a phone call at some random hour with a midly panicked officer on the other end trying to figure out how to fulfill every obligation on an OPROD that should have been published three weeks prior. Luckily, my job bores me, so I tend not to get excited about much and just figure out how we can best help them. I usually also take the opportunity to get everyone else spun up by making requests with short deadlines with full knowledge that the request probably will not be fulfilled in time. It’s becoming almost a hobby, since I have been working with aviation recently and no pilot plans more than a day in advance. This apparently carries through all the way to whatever mystic Army Pilot In The Sky that controls their orders, because every day we reinvent the wheel as something new pops up that should have been taken care of yesterday.

So while I sat through several classes all about the training cycle and backwards planning and predicting contingencies and all that rot, all it seems to have done is ensured I get up on time for work.

Once I get up, though, everything is subject to change.

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