November 13, 2008. After finding out from our HQ that it was to be our team tasked to go handle a situation with some MRAPs at JBB, I talked my team leader into staying behind so he could work and I took our PsyOp Specialist to help me take care of it. What I thought would be a five minute operation (I was told to “hand off the keys” to three MRAPs and that was it) turned in to a two-day operation involving more headache and stupidity than I thought possible.
It worked like this: our team had the keys to three MRAPs, which I was instructed to give to the transportation unit so they could load them on trucks and take them to FOB Speicher where our HQ is located. This would allow the other teams to pick them up as well as get all of our drivers trained on them. However, when I arrived at JBB, the transportation people looked at me like I had a weiner growing out of my forehead; there was nothing whatsoever scheduled in terms of moving these vehicles. And what was more, the locks had already been cut off of them so that they could be moved. This meant that my entire reason for being there was pointless. Never the less, I decided to try and get them moved, anyway. The people who ran the MRAP yard (where our vehicles had been sitting for over a month) kept reminding me how bad my chain of command “screwed me over” by dumping all of this on my lap. You see, most of the information required to request a movement of vehicles like this is privy only to a command element. So, why didn’t I just pick up the phone and call them, you ask? Here’s where it gets fun: A) I didn’t have their number, B) if I did, the only type of phone they have is a secure line (SIPR net) and the MRAP yard doesn’t have those and C) even if they did have them, they are down most of the time. Or no one answers. Needless to say, I had to pull a lot of things completely out of my butt to make this happen. Which is great, because it’s only about 3 millions dollars worth of vehicles that are now… somewhere. And they may get to their destination… sometime. No matter to me, as I did everything I could do, and with the help of some seriously great civilian contractors I managed to get everything on the right track. They saved me, for sure. At any rate, after about 20 hours worth of hair pulling it was all set. I hope.
To say that all of that sucked even more of my already low motivation out of my body would be an understatement. And I paid the price for my ambivalence over the past couple of weeks. After going to the range with our team, the team leader became rather pissed off that I had not been training our young soldier on some relatively simple tasks, and that I was not up to speed on a couple of issues, either. He was right; I had lost so much drive due to the last two months that I put no extra effort into anything at all. I faulted myself (and still do) more than anyone else, and so it was that Playstation 2 Hockey would have to go on hold for a bit. Back to the physical fitness regime I had stuck to in Colorado and back to being a mentor to a kid who has a lot of potential to be a great soldier. Check that, he is a great soldier; he just needs to be given the tools which can help him succeed no matter what path he chooses to take his career. That is my job to do and since being in country I have failed miserably at it.
The one part that bothers me about all of this is that my team leader is in much the same boat as me; a former active duty infantry guy who is less than impressed with the Army Reserves. He is an intelligent guy, but a number of the things he got bent out of shape over, guess what? He’s not any better at it than I am. Granted, two wrongs do not make a right, but I prefer not to be treated as a child by someone who can’t do the job right, either. Where my screw up counts is that his job and mine are different, and I said early on that I would take it upon myself to train our guy up. I had not. Nor have I done everything he has done in his job. I think the issue is that for the last two weeks, I have been doing a lot of menial crap-work that has kept me from doing what needs to be done. Spending 5 days at JBB to un-screw a command issue and 2 or 3 days burning trash does not lend itself to a lot of training time. I realize now what needs to be done, but I must put my foot down in regards to other tasks –especially those that are not mine – when they come my way if it impedes my ability to do what is right. That coupled with the fact that most of what he was pissed off about are things that he is unable to do any better than me (and the fact that he is in worse physical shape than I am) put me in a foul mood yesterday. But today is a new day; we are training, Iraq is slowly slipping into chaos around us, and I have a machine gun. It’s gonna be a great year.