Sunday, April 17, 2005

Friendly Fire

When you have been working your butt off to try to please everyone and succeed at your job, the last ting you want is to have someone from "your side" stab you in the back. My guys and I have spent over three months busting our butts to get this package up to speed. We have had to deal with everything from equipment failures, to incorrect and insufficient information to install our circuits. We have met every test and passed with flying colors, but these knuckle heads that we are supporting seem to be out to get us, and now it seems that the OIC (officer in charge) that has been placed over us is working for the other team!

We have repaired all of the faulty equipment, built spares of anything that we could possibly build spares of, helped get all of the information for the installation of our circuits straight and helped engineer the network. Most of this is above and beyond what the guys of this package should be expected to do, nevermind even know how to do. How have we been repayed? They made us tear everything down and start over for time. Nevermind that the equipment that we are supporting still hasn't gotten their stuff straight or that us tearing down will impede their progress, just execute. So we did. They gave us 24 hours from the time we rolled on to site to have our site set up and all circuits reinstalled. I knew my guys could do it, even though apparently these "evaluators" who really had no idea how to evaluate us because they don't even know what we do didn't think we could do it. Well not only did we do it, we beet the allotted time by....12 HOURS!!! You would think there would be some kind of congratulations in order. Not the case. They gigged us for having our generators too close to the shelters. Well I tried to explain to them that the area that we had to work in did not allow for us to put them as far away as they were supposed to be. Didn't matter. Then they gigged us for not having everyone in the same uniform. The guys that were setting up the antenna had their helmets on and the rest of us did not. This is strictly for safety, because they were dealing with large metal objects that were overhead and there is the danger of possible head injury. Regardless how nit picky can you be?

About three weeks have gone by since the evaluation and I guess Chief (Our OIC) was bored so he asked a buddy from his unit to do him a favor and come out and check out our grounding. This guy shows up on site one day and starts looking around and taking pictures of our grounding. He found some deficiencies of course. There is always room for improvement. If we were perfect every time would any of us really be in the Army? So this guy leaves and tells me he will email chief a report of his findings and suggestions for improvement. I thought that was very nice and helpful of him. Well this nice and helpful guy, then wrote up this monster report making us out to be incompetent idiots, and sent it to everyone in our chain of concern all the way up to our first general officer! oh yeah but didn't bother to send anything to us. Now they people who have wanted us to fail since the beginning are all in a buzz with the new fuel they were just supplied by none other than our very own OIC. I'm sure glad this guy isn't in my unit back in the rear.

I can't wait until this mission is over and I can leave all of these backstabbing petty people here in their wonderful little desert paradise to bicker and backstab among themselves.

Friday, April 15, 2005

A Little Predictability Please!

For as long as I have been in the Army, I have heard commanders talking about how they intend to make our lives (their soldiers) as predictable as possible. I'm not sure exactly what they are doing to accomplish this, but it seems as a whole the Army needs to rethink it's strategy here.

This deployment has been a perfect example of the vast number of shortcomings we are having in this arena. I graduated BNCOC (A school required for the rank of Staff Sergeant) in September of 2004, when I got back my 1SG called me into his office and told me that my team was to rotate into theatre and replace a team on the ground. "Oh, and you are leaving in two weeks." Hey congrats, I know you just spent two months away from your wife and son, and all of last year deployed, but here you go again. That's ok. I have been in long enough to know that this is what my job is, and I can accept that. What has got me riled up is, they knew when they sent that team out they were going to have to replace them, so why are my guys and I getting two weeks notice?

Well two weeks turned into two months as Thanks Giving was approaching. What the heck is going on? All of us have put our lives on hold to prepare for deployment and we are sitting on our hands waiting for a decision to be made. Who makes the decision? What is it they need to decide? and When are they gonna tell us what is going on? Soon word comes down that "you won't be leaving until after Thanks Giving so if you and your guys want to take leave you can, but we need your leave requests by the end of the day." Hmm, it's 1400L and end of day formation is at 1645L, great I have a little less than three hours to find out if fourteen guys want to take leave for Thanks Giving and then get all of the requests done for them.

After we all return from spending time with our families for Thanks Giving, it is back to the waiting game. What is going to happen now? Time went by and time went by. Before we knew it we were a little more than ten days to Christmas. The word comes down again, "You won't be leaving until after Christmas so get your leaves in ASAP." Wow. Nothing like last minute. So I get all my guys psyched up to go home for Christmas and enjoy the biggest holiday of the year with their loved ones, and then....Psych! Your plane leaves in four days. Can you jerk us around a little more?

I guess I shouldn't have asked that, because as I have stated before the people we work for out here have managed to pick up right where our unit in the rear left off. Now with our replacement team on the ground, and right before a major exercise we are being jerked around again. The team they sent has ISSUES! First of all one of the team chiefs they were gonna send with the package doesn't have a security clearance so he had to be scratched the day before they flew. That means I have to leave my guy in his position to fill the gap. He was none to pleased about that. Now we find out that another soldier in the package doesn't have the proper security clearance and will be going home. More than likely I am gonna have to leave someone for him to.

Now the magnifying glass is on the new team. The Package NCOIC is brand new to the unit and does not know the equipment so there is little faith in him, even though he is a competent NCO capable of doing the job. They don't have anyone trained on a crucial piece of our equipment, so they might need some one to stay for that too. "Maybe we should just keep the old team and send the new one back." Gee, that sounds great. We are supposed to get an answer in a matter of days. I'll believe that when I see it. That means that myself and another NCO on my package will be back up over 500 days deployed in a two year span for the second time in three years.

At least I am making a tax free buck.

I want to clear something up really quick. On my losing weight post, the weight loss is not intentional. It is entirely accidental. My goal weight has been and still is 205. I just want it to be mostly muscle mass not flab.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Losing Weight Like Crazy

In June of 1993 there was a fairly long haired 18 year old kid who was graduating high school and ready to move on to bigger and better things. He stood just over six feet tall, but only weighed about a hundred and twenty pounds. People were forever asking him if he had a tape worm, or if he had been sick when he was a kid. He really did look skinny. He WAS skinny. Yes that kid was me. Who would have thought that I would ever weigh about one hundred and eighty five pounds (which I know is by no means large) and be worrying about my weight. Not that I think I am fat, but the extra weight does make it harder to perform well on your PT tests.

When I joined the Army I weighed a whopping one hundred and twenty five pounds. I was so light in fact that the recruiter had me drink as much of a gallon of water as I could on the ride from Yuba City to the Mepps station in Sacramento. Let me just say that I had no problem performing when it came time for the urinanalysis. As a matter of fact I was begging for it. Can you imagine trying to duck walk with an over full bladder. OUCH!!! Since then it has been a constant struggle for me to try and gain weight just so I didn't feel so much like a walking toothpick. When I left Germany I weighed one hundred sixty five pounds and was in the best shape of my life (I still hated running). When I left to come out here this time I weighed between one eighty five and one ninety, and was by no means in the best shape of my life. In fact when the platoon sergeant they put over us out here met me he asked if I was a chunky kid growing up, because of the weight I carry in my face. "ME? Really, are you talking to ME?"

I have cut back on the junk food. As a matter of fact I have cut back on food period. Really I am eating one good meal a day and a couple of snacks or light meals through out. I know that is a dieter's night mare, but you have to remember I was a hundred and twenty five pound twenty two year old... I don't sweat that stuff too much. I really hadn't even been thinking about my weight until the other day I ran into a girl that I went through AIT (Advanced Individual Training, It's where you learn your job after basic) with. The first thing she said to me was, "Wow! You look totally different." I wasn't sure how to take that but my response was, "Yeah I guess sixty five pounds will do that to a person."

But having been thinking about my weight since then I have noticed I am much skinnier again. I had to get a larger size pants before I came out here, because the four sets of DCU (Desert camouflage Uniform) pants I had gotten four years ago at Huachuca were getting a little/lot small through the waist, AKA Gut. I went from a Medium Regular to a Large Regular. For those non-Army types, the first size is for gerth and the second is for height. So I came out with two Large Regulars and two Medium Regulars because I couldn't get them both exchanged at once. To my surprise this morning, my Large Regulars felt really loose around the waist, so I put on a set of my Medium Regulars. THEY WERE LOOSE TO! Uh oh. I am not trying to get back to the bean pole days. I checked my belt and the bend of my normal wear was about an inch and a half farther across the skinny side of the buckle.

I made a comment about my double chin to my wife today, but I guess if I keep going the way I am I won't have to worry about that either. At least I'll be thinner than I am used to for the PT test tomorrow.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Good News and Bad News!

As I was walking up to the office tonight I ran into a bunch of the guys that had just gotten off shift and were coming back to get some sleep before they have to go to work again tomorrow night. Smiley, one of the guys on that shift had this big old grin on his face. Nothing new really, how do you think he got the name smiley anyway?

Smiley has been expecting the birth of his son for the past several days, so I put two and two together. Today was the day. Apparently he had received a Red Cross message and was sure that it was the news of is son's birth. As we walk into the office Rod is already inside on the phone. It didn't take much to get him to realize his phone call wasn't quite as important. He got off and Smiley called the Red Cross to get his message...His girl friend had indeed gone into labor. He called her father and got the number to her hospital room. After a short conversation with the tired mother, all had been confirmed. He was a new Dad, the baby boy is strong and healthy and Mom is ok and recovering from labor nicely. Now he is calling all of the loved ones he can think of to give them the news. I only regret that he had to be here instead of home to be with his girl friend for the birth of their son.

That's the good news. The bad news is actually why I came back to the office. I had to write about it or I felt like I was going to explode.

I thought I was gonna get by without one this time. For some reason it has happened every single time I have been deployed, but this time the chances were slim so I wasn't too worried about it. Besides, I didn't want to think about it because I was afraid I would jinx it.

No one on the data package is married. In fact Triple H has just gone through his divorce. I am the only one on the Tri-Band team that is married and Joyce and I are going as strong as ever. That only leaves PS from the Tac-Sat team, and they have been kinda shakey ever since he joined the military from what he has told me.

He came by my room this evening to tell me that our platoon sergeant had been trying to get a hold of me all day and had some questions for me, then he paused. "By the way, I am going to need to set up a JAG appointment." My heart sank. I knew what was coming next before he even said it. Tonight his wife told him she couldn't take it anymore, and she wanted a divorce. I wanted to scream. I have seen this too many times out here now. I know his heart is breaking and there is not a damn thing I can do for him except be here to listen to him and try and be as big brotherly as I can. I get very attached to all of my guys, even the ones that I want to kill sometimes, so it hurts my heart when this stuff happens. I can only imagine the kind of pain he is feeling, and I just wish I could make it all go away.

The sun will still come up tomorrow and hopefully he will know what his next move is going to be. If not I will try to help him make the best decision for himself and then I will do everything in my power to make sure it happens.

A Day Off!

I hope everyone like my new page format. I do. It is much easier to modify. I have never been one to sit and write in HTML and this one is easier to do that in than the last one. Thus the change.

I'm off today! Can you believe it? A day off. I got back to my "personnel storage area" last night about 1am and almost immediately fell asleep. Joyce can attest to how immediate, immediate really is, and I didn't wake up until Wil came barging into our Pod at around 11:30am! It was wonderful. Almost immediately I got a phone call from the XO in the company I am attached to and he needed to see me in his office. Now that that is over I am in my office checking my email and writing this post.

My deployment here is already almost over. It really doesn't seem like we have been here as long as we have. When we come out of system somewhere around the end of this month we will have a couple of days rest before we head out for our big deployment culminating exercise, and then it is only a matter of weeks until I get to hold my son and wife again! Our replacement team should start trickling in any time. It will be nice to have them here so far in advance. We will get to give them a much better hand shake than we got from the previous team. The poor handshake from them was no fault of theirs however. My unit is notorious for piss poor planning and they only gave us an overlap of about five days with them. Nowhere near enough. They made a valiant effort however and did a much better job with the time we were given than anyone should have expected, but I think you all know how that works.

I have made some really good friends out here and strengthened some older friendships so the deployment for me was a success. I hope my guys got something out of it all. I know I have watched several of them grow up a lot, and some I have watched stagnate, but that is to be expected to.

One more day off and then it's back to the rat race. I'm gonna enjoy my time and even go to church again tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Changes and Additions

I just wanted to post a quick note to let everyone know I will be changing to a different template in the next couple of days, so don't freak out when the site looks totally different.

To make a long story short I was trying to add some stuff to my links column and this template is just not user friendly so it's FIRED. By the way I linked to another Military Blogger. Here Blog is very entertaining so you should check nit out. Otherwise I wouldn't have linked to it...Duh.

Monday, April 04, 2005

A whacked Couple of Days

It was several days ago now and I meant to write about it sooner, but you read the title of this post so you get the idea. I got to see my son and my wife in "real time". I bought a Web Cam out here and we had a mini video tele conference over yahoo messenger. What a joy that was. Joyce said that when Reid saw me on the monitor he smiled and said "Ohhhhhh, Daddy!" He then began to wave at me. Talk about getting choked up! I was wondering if he would even remember me when I get home. We talked for about an hour and he showed me his new and favorite toys and his new "Cheese" face. I guess when you tell him to say cheese to a camera he scrunches up his face and gets this big cheesy grin. It is really cute.

The next morning my guys and I got issued a bunch of new equipment that I for one desperately needed. We got new boots, a new helmet, and some more really high speed gear. I needed the boots like you wouldn't believe. One of my pairs of desert boots are going on five years old and are well past the point of broken in and well into the broken down stage. Which means I only had one pair that I could really wear, and any one that has been in the military and had to wear these combat boots can attest to the fact that if you can't rotate your boots your feet can get really ugly really fast. I was starting to have a really hard time keeping my feet in good shape because of that. Now I have two more pair that are in great shape and a lot better than my others were even when they were new.

Well when that morning ended so did the "good times". Since then I have been working my butt off and had very little time to myself. I usually call Joyce everyday and talk to her for a half an hour or so. She has only gotten 10 minutes of my time in the last three days and it is starting to get to me that I am not getting to talk to her. Partially because the last time I talked to her I had to tell her that the rumor she had heard about us coming home early was just that, and that I would be coming home exactly when I was originally scheduled to. She didn't take it to well, as she never does when this happens, and yes it happens every time. You would think she would get used to this. I try to keep her shielded from the rumors, but some how I always fail, she gets her hopes up and I have to crush them. Yeah.

I have gotten so tired that this morning I slept right through my alarm and didn't wake up until an hour and fourty three minutes past when I wanted to get up so I could call Joyce before I had to get on the road for the fourth time in three days. Needless to say I didn't get to talk to her again. I was doing laundry after I got off work (four hours after my shift was over) the night before last and luckily there was no one in the laundry room so I got my stuff straight into the washers. The washing part went off without a hitch and by about 12:45am I had my stuff in dyers. I sat on the floor by one of my dryers and started day dreaming about going home and where Joyce and I are going to go on vacation when I get back. Then I woke up...Literally. I had fallen asleep with my head against the wall. It was 03:20 in the morning and my laundry was well past done. I groggily gathered up my clothes and wandered back to the bay where I sleep, set my alarm for 06:30, and slipped off into another couple hours of uncomfortable deployment sleep so that I could be semi rested to start another wonderful deployment day in less than four hours.

Hopefully I will be able to get myself and my guys some time off soon. We have all been working at least twelve hours a day, some of us much more for going on three weeks and we are all getting really worn thin. At least time is passing fast.