15 December 2008

Chasing Soldiers

Time doesn't stop once you get to Iraq, and so one of the things we (and by we, I mean I) have to keep track of is my Soldiers' career progression.

As deployed Reservists, administratively controlled by our parent company (which now reports to a totally different CA battalion than the one that owns us stateside) but operationally controlled by an active-duty armor battalion, this boils down to a tremendous amount of chasing paper and generating paper and trying to transmit paper.

We're trying to get my senior buck sergeant promoted. This means we need to get a "packet" to the CA brigade conducting the "board" (packet screening and selection) somewhere else here in Iraq. My sergeant needed a current Army Physical Fitness Test.

Here's how that works.
1 - I take a thumbdrive and go to an unsecured computer so I can download DA 705 (PT card) and FM 21-20 (Army Physical Fitness handbook).
2 - I then take that thumbdrive to one of the two people on the FOB who have a printer that's connected to a computer one can plug a thumbdrive into. I print the objects.

(this is whole entire additional nightmare. Thumbdrives, which are pretty much what the modern deployed Army runs on, are now pretty much forbidden)

the order to stop using flash media was issued by U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for operating and defending the .mil and .smil domains.

That memo, directed at Washington, D.C., Air Force offices and dated Nov. 17, ordered “immediate suspension” of the use of such devices on all NIPR and SIPR networks

You have no idea what a pain that makes everything.

3 - We measure a two-mile run course, the sergeant runs the PT test. We fill out the card.
4 - I find the only scanner on the FOB, scan the PT card, put it on my thumb drive, email it to Higher (company HQ).
5 - Higher emails it to Texas so my sergeant's 2a can be updated.
6 - Texas emails the updated 2a back so it can be printed out, put in the packet, and sent to the board.

And active Army guys (who appear, in person, before these "boards") say Reservist promotions are simpler.

All the running around notwithstanding, my sergeant looks good for the January board, if everyone else holds up their ends and his papers get updated. If not, he's a shoo-in for February.

In the best news of all, my high-speed corporal is no more. His packet made the cut last month and we promoted him to sergeant him this morning. He's a very happy camper right now.

I suppose, as a good NCO, I should ensure we get him in front of a retention NCO before the promotion afterglow fades. As I recall, we've got a couple of weeks.