For those of you who have read this blog for a while, my involvement with -- as well as distaste for -- the U.S. Army is not news. Recent developments, however, may be.
Due mostly to the fact that I should have my head examined by professionals, I am back in the big green machine. But this time it is under the banner of the auspicious Army Reserves. Which, as I am becoming aware, is not really the Army, but not really...anything else, either. It's a land where everyone involved has a "real" job, yet they still go off to war. Regularly.
To be quite honest, my involvement is multi-faceted: For starters, I still had one year and nine months left in what is called the Individual Ready Reserves. That meant that I could be called up at any time to do any job for the needs of the Army. Not cool, especially considering a good friend of ours got pulled under this same action to do who knows what. This means the Army could turn me into a cook or a truck driver or...whatever. Maybe even an Infantryman. Yikes. That's scary. Oh wait...
At any rate, this was a major concern of mine. One of the major reasons I joined the Army instead of another branch was because I had more control over my own destiny (and because of those snazzy berets. Touche!). With the IRR, that control was completely taken from me.
This left me with a dilemma: I could rejoin the regular Army and go back to my old job of jumping out of planes and carrying a lot of weight on my back for a really long distance (I think I just threw up a little, in my mouth), or find a new way of applying myself for Uncle Sam. After doing some searching and a lot of talking with guys who have been around for a while and experienced different parts of the military, I settled on Psychological Operations. Not a very well-understood end of the Army, PsyOp is conjoined with Civil Affairs as their own command in the Army Reserve, as the vast majority of their personnel are made up of weekend warriors. Essentially their job centers around morale; both of our own troops and of the enemy. This could mean blasting some Pantera from a helicopter while the good guys kick in some doors or playing some anti-hajji propaganda from a loudspeaker to convince the bad guys that they are losing. Badly. So give up, already. Losers.
After speaking with the First Sergeant of the unit (never go through recruiters, go directly to the source), this seemed like a pretty decent opportunity. I will get some good training out of it and even some employment (not having a job rocks, but the bank doesn't like it nearly as much when the monthly payment for the SUV that I just *had* to have is due). Once I go to the school to qualify as an actual PsyOp guy, then a few doors to other training opportunities will open. Namely, the chance to be a tuba player. Which is, after all, a lifelong dream of mine.
I have already done my first drill with the unit (that ought to be its own post, really) as well as a 3-day Combat Life Saver class (battlefield trauma medicine -- i.e. shoot back, stop the bleeding, and get the %&$! out of there). It is a different place than what I was used to on active duty, to be sure. For instance, I have never seen a meeting take place where a Major -- commander of the unit, mind you -- asks a lowly E-5 what he thinks the unit should do for training next month. Also of note should be that this same E-5 didn't even have a uniform at this time, and was sporting his latest REI shirt and pants rather than the ACUs that everyone else was wearing. You want to know my opinion, sir? Oh heck yeah, I like where this is going. Do we have access to any gunships? Predator drones? Supermodels? Yeah well, it didn't hurt to ask, right?
Things run a might different here in Reserve land, but... to be honest, that suits me just fine right now. I'm sure that at some point I will say "man, I sure wish I was wearing an 80 lbs ruck sack and walking 20 miles right now" but I sure ain't saying it now. And this whole "sleep in every day except for one weekend a month" thing isn't too bad, either. I'm guessing that when I leave for training in a month that I won't have that, but that means I will be learning the crafty art of PsyOp. And there's no way the Army can make that boring, right? RIGHT?!?!!
So, in the next few months (about 19 of them, to be exact), there should be a lot more material on here for you to get a chuckle out of. I do have somewhat of a renewed desire to write, so who knows what may happen next.