Monday, August 3, 2009

The First (and Possibly Last) Drill Since My Return

I mentioned in a previous post that I was frustrated on account of my latest drill weekend. Here's a brief synopsis of what happened:

After weeks of travelling around the country and trying to relax, it was time to shave, get a regulation haircut, and dig up my uniform. I finished all of these things for the first time in quite some time on the Friday afternoon before my scheduled drill weekend. That Saturday I woke up in Petaluma at ridiculous-o'clock in the morning so I could drive down to Alameda in time for morning muster. Since I'd been gone for quite a while, I gave myself a little extra time in case I got lost on the way.

Bear in mind that the unit I'd been drilling with since 2005 has been decommissioned. The last thing they were able to do before I shipped out to Afghanistan was to reassign me to a new unit. In the hustle and bustle of being processed for mobilization and deployment, I had just enough time to meet a few of the folks at the new unit, shake hands and trade email addresses, and scoot out the door.

At the time they were meeting at a separate location a few minutes down the road from the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) where I had been drilling for the previous two years. Being a creature of limited imagination, I went to the same location in the hopes of finding the unit where I'd left it some ten months prior.

They were not there.

Not only were they not there, the building was locked and dark and when I asked a passer-by if he knew anything about it he said he'd never seen a Navy person in that building in two years of working there. Suddenly I was in a bad episode of the Twilight Zone.

Well prepared for such an occasion, I headed over to the NOSC to ask WTF. Upon arrival I got the standard runaround during which I learned that A: my unit has been relocated to another city altogether, and B: their drills have been rescheduled and I was in the wrong place on the wrong weekend. So it turns out I'd gotten the world's worst haircut for nothing. Awesome.

Since I was already there and all dressed up, I wandered to the NOSC Admin office and asked if there was anything they needed me to do now that I was back from deployment. This started me on a bonus runaround during which I was reminded of all the reasons I've hated being in the military. I got to stand in a couple of hours worth of lines so that I could have half a dozen different petty officers tell me that they couldn't help me, I was in the wrong place, and the previous person had told me wrong, only to be sent to another line where the couldn't help me because I was in the wrong place and the previous person had told me wrong.

The final straw was when I stopped by medical to drop off my records and the corpsman behind the counter mentioned that they were really busy and could I please come back on Monday. This is a drilling center for reservists. Usually these people have day jobs on Monday through Friday. I told her she could call me if she had any questions, but no, I would not be there Monday.

Added to these little bits of aggravation was a whole shopping list of administrivia that I'm apparently delinquent on. It turns out that being deployed to a war zone doesn't give you a buy on all of the minor stupid shit that they would've had me doing during my routine drill weekends (mainly filling out forms and sitting through powerpoint presentations). So I've got twenty days worth of websites to page through and certificates to print out proving I've been schooled in topics ranging from Alcohol Abuse Awareness to Small Arms Safety to the Flavor of the Week in Naval Terminology.*

While I was there I put myself in for a six month leave of absence. I'm not sure if I'll go back. If I do, I'll have to find a new unit to drill with, a new NOSC to drill at, and start the whole pain in the ass all over again.

So that's that.

I'm thinking of transferring to the Merchant Marine Reserve program so I can still serve in some capacity and at least earn points toward retirement. We'll see how that goes.

*Naval Terminology has an odd way of morphing from something useful to something completely useless. Example: years ago someone coined the term Command and Control to describe systems used for, you guessed it, command and control. Simple and straightforward that. You hear it and instantly understand it. Then some time later, some jackass** decided it sounded cooler to say C2. Okay I guess. But then some other jackass** decided you can't have Command and Control without Communications and it became C3. Add another jackass** and it became Command, Control, Communications, and Computers, or C4. Then, because brevity is the soul of wit, the Navy had to make it longer. With the diligent work of another jackass**, a moron**, a fucktard**, and at least one idiot**, it became Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaisance, or C4ISR. Note that C4SRI has just as many syllables, making it just as ponderous and time-consuming to say, as Command and Control.

While I was gone, the Brits actually took this term one step further, coining C4ISTAR, or Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaisance. With just a few more improvements, this will become the superacronym that includes every single thing the military does.

I figure by the time my six-month leave of absence is completed, it will have grown again into Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Confusion, Telephones, Internets, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Reconnaisaince, HUMINT, SIGINT, Intelligence, Information, Intuition, Indecision, and Special OPerations, or C5TISTARHSI4SOPs for "short." At that point, nobody will be able to understand what it means anymore and they'll commission a study at great expense to find a useful term to describe can be defined as the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commanding officer over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission. I'd help them out, but I'm sick of the process.



  1. Ahh, yes. The military runaround. I still don't have an ID card for my 10 year old because:
    1. The Navy orders to Afghanistan for Vic did not include the ability to get the ID card in advance of her 10th birthday. Apparently (if you believe them???) the Army does include this in their orders.
    2. 4 bases in Norfolk did not have a WORKING ID card printer. One I understand but 4!!!!
    3. All but 3 ID card centers (or whatever acronym it's called) in the Norfolk area closed at 2:00 on Fridays .
    4. The Center that we went to "closed" at 5:00 but no longer accepted walk-ins at 2:00 (hmm, so I guess that means that there was a 3 hour wait?)
    5. The online scheduler for DC area, allowed me to make an appointment at a facility that did not in fact make dependent ID's, refused to help me get an appointment elsewhere, yelled at me for being frustrated (hmm, I wonder why? I wonder why?).
    Honestly, I am amazed that anything gets accomplished rather than a big pile of paperwork being filled out. I hope that you include every second of your time looking for you unit as drill time!

  2. That sounds about right. Government workers/programs. I'm a reservist myself. Almost retired. Been there done that.

    Looking at these examples of how inefficient our government is. Why would we want to have them do much else of anything? Like running our healthcare and/or telling us what to eat, etc.. Why would we want to pay more $ in taxes to the gov so they can definitely waste it in an inefficient way? Small government and let the private sector grow. Free market and capitalism is the way to go.