Monday, March 31, 2008

Beyond the Sea

It is the first day at sea for the SFC B family on the Voyager of the Seas.This ship is incredible. There's a mini-golf course and an ice skating rink!Anyways, the weather is incredible. Low 80s, but the breeze from the ship moving across the water makes it feel like the mid 70s. There are just enough clouds in the sky to provide passing shade, but no where near enough to reduce the dazzling brightness of the sun. We have another day at sea before we arrive in Montego Bay, Jamacia. If you happen to be at one of the resorts in Jamacia on Wednesday, look for me. I'm the tall guy with the unhealthy, pasty white skin who has a woman on his arm who is WAY too hot for him.

Unfortunatly, I cannot upload pictures from my camera to the computers on board, so I'll have to borrow Mrs. SFC B's laptop and use the ship's expensive wireless to upload the pictures.

Anyways, hope everyone is enjoying their Monday.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Flying Away and Hurting "Them"

Mrs. SFC B and I are flying to Houston today to meet up with my family. On Sunday we'll be taking the Voyager of the Seas out of Galveston for a trip through the Carribean.


This morning I was trying to pour some coffee and I managed to, somehow, hit my "boys" against the top edge of the refrigerator door. It hurt. A lot.


Anyways. I spent a few minutes resisting the urge to throw up my guts while Mrs. SFC B laughed and laughed and laughed. It's good to know that if I'm ever seriously hurt my wife will laugh, the puppy will lick my face, and the cats will attempt to kill me and then eat me.

Well, I'm outta here. I have pictures of the room toput up, and then maybe some vacation photos later.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I heartily recommend Behr Paint. It goes on smooth, and doesn't go all over the place. Plus, we'll only need one coat of paint. Minus some areas that will need touching up because of the nature of the texture in the room.

Mrs. SFC B and I are in the process of painting our house. It is looking AWESOME! I'll have pictures up sometime tomorrow. But we just finished the bulk of our living room and it is looking terrific. Eventually most of the rooms in the SFC B Palace will be painted, which will be nice and make the place more like "ours".

Anyways... my wrist is sore from having to hold a brush in an awkward motion for about three hours so, I'm off to bed.

Life out of USAREC continues to be AWESOME!

Friday, March 21, 2008


So, I get to the airport in El Paso expecting to have a flight waiting for me.


Apparently, five days after I bought my ticket and flew to El Paso, some automated "feature" of DTS canceled my reservation.

I wish to repeat this.

My flight reservation was canceled AFTER I had started my travel.

Initially my ire was directed at the poor dude at the flight counter. It was redirected after he explained, and I comprehended that when a customer's travel agent contacts them to cancel a flight, they'll do it. So I called the folks at Carlson Wagonlit to try and set them on fire though the phone. It was then I discovered that DTS will automatically cancel flight reservations if they're not "paid for". I offered to email the travel agent a picture of my ticket that I paid for, that had sent me to El Paso. I even helpfully suggested that I'd take the picture standing near a "Welcome to El Paso" sign so they could see that I did, indeed, purchase a flight that I took on approved travel orders.

She was not amused.

I hate DTS.

I hate it with a deep, deep passion. I don't know who at DFAS, DoD, or whatever alphabet soup agency thought DTS was a good idea, but a pox on all their houses. I'd love to see a per capita report on the expenses on military travelers before DTS and after.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


This is something I've been mulling over since SSG Rage told me about it.

A former recruiter, and someone I knew personally, was killed in Iraq last week.

SSG Laurent West
, formerly of the Prescott Army Recruiting Station, as killed by an IED in Kishkishkia, Iraq on 11MAR2008.

I wasn't friends with him by any stretch of the imagination. However, he was someone with whom I served, and ran police checks for. He was a professional who, while unhappy to be away from the Soldiers in the field, did his best to accomplish the recruiting mission to which he was assigned. However I do know that, when his tour in recruiting was finished, he was very happy to be returned to the cavalry scouts he missed.

SSG West was a consummate professional who gave his all to the task at hand, whatever the mission. There is a family that has lost a son, husband, and father, and there is an Army who has lost one of its brothers. We all mourn that.

ENDEX and Mike Charlie

I got zero sleep yesterday. I don't know what I did to aggravate it, but the tendonitis in my left elbow kept me up until about 3am, at which point I basically said "to hell with it" and started packing.

The exercise which I have been supporting for the past two weeks ended. It was, without a doubt, the best training I have ever seen a unit receive. I have no question that, elsewhere in the Army high-speed units get far more realistic training. However, what is being done for Soldiers in an unheard of installation in New Mexico on the Texas border is incredible. The Soldiers in the supported units received training that is going to help them accomplish their mission in Iraq. Common sense OPSEC means that I'll give no further details on an open source, but I finished each of my shifts in a state of awe over what these units were doing and how they were preparing.

With as much time as this nation has spent at war, the line between "Active" and "Reserve" has blurred. There were "reserve" Soldiers at this training who have spent more time on active duty than about half of the Regular Army enlistees who have signed up since the start of Iraq. For some of the mobilized Soldiers, they'd have spent less time on active duty if they had simply went RA. Now, for the vast majority of them, it is a voluntary choice. Even for those who are involuntarily mobilized, many of them "volunteered" for it (it's "easier" to involuntarily mobilize than to volunteer for mobilization). However, four years in the high desert of New Mexico can have an adverse affect on people.

I turned in my linen today and have checked in to the Army Lodging hotel on Ft. Bliss. Although it's questionable that I'll be reimbursed for my stay tonight, honestly, I was sick and tired of that Korean War era building and a mattress that was new during Reagan's first term. I have a TV with cable, free internet, and a mattress and box spring tonight. That is well worth the $42 it cost me. I even took a shower in a facility where I wasn't turning off the hot water with my elbow when I turned.

One day during the exercise I went to the Troop Store and hung out in the internet cafe eating a sandwich. At the table next to me were a handful of young Soldiers in one of the units we were training. I sat there and listened to them talk about what they had done today. The training they received late that night and early that morning was a combination of real-world with live roleplayers and some notional exercises for their higher command. These Soldiers had no idea what their command was doing, but they were there for the live action. Each of them were talking about what they had done during the event, how they, and their immediate leaders, had handled it. And one of them remarked to the group that it was "the best thing they'd ever seen" even though they actually didn't handle it very well. However, these young Soldiers knew that they learned more from the errors they made than if they'd lucked in to doing it right. Another even remarked how "it didn't feel like training, that it was real." I was proud to have had a very small role in providing that for them, and am confident that they are going into harm's way better prepared to, not just survive, but to thrive and help accomplish the mission they will be assigned.

Anyways, I picked up some reading material for the trip home tomorrow. It's only and hour flight, with about two hours at the airport, so I picked up two books to read. Baseball Prospectus 2008 and God Save the Fan. I read a couple chapters from God Save the Fan, and I'm impressed. This is a book I'd often thought about writing myself if I had the ability. I'll enjoy it I'm sure. BP2008 isn't really a "read it" book so much as it is a "Who is this guy?" resource while I'm watching Spring Training.

Speaking of which, baseball season starts for real soon. I'm excited. I'll actually be able to enjoy having Extra Innings again since I'll be home in time to see Astros games! Yay to being out of USAREC! My fandom was another, silent, victim of my time in recruiting. I just couldn't enjoy the Astros, who I've followed since the early 90's as much, because USAREC sucked all joy out of life.

While on the subject of USAREC, while I was here I ran into another former recruiter and we had a bit of a conversation. Even though this NCO had been out of recruiting for over two years, they still had the nightmares of missing appointments and forgetting to take someone to MEPS. Although I don't have it that bad, I still go into full-on panic mode that I misplaced my government cell phone. I also have "phantom rings" where I swear I heard the "Asian jungle" and feel my shoulder pocket vibrating.

I don't miss it at all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From the comments

I'm on a lunch break and fgured I'd hit up the ol' Cyber Zone in the Troop Store. I've seen a couple of comments on some posts which deserved a bit of attention.

From SSG K reference the "Stop Loss Movie". Apparently Kevin is now selling scripts to MTV Films. Good for him if so. Seriously though, here we are in Year Six of the War on Terror, and we're approaching Year Five of Iraq, and the "best" story that MTV Films can think to make is one about a personnel and manning action? Just looking at the preview at the film's website I'm going to bet that the main character (the former Mr. Reese Witherspoon) will be a guy who did great things in Iraq, but saw a couple of his squadmates get blown up and has unresolved issues from it. He gets home, thinks he's out, and gets some orders in the mail. He gets upset, he and his hot wife/fiance/girlfriend have a graphic make-out session. Then a friend of his with some undiagnosed PTSD will do something to hurt himself. And then we'll see Ex Mr. Witherspoon have a speech. Credits will roll.

Continuing with SSG K, I wish I could say I was surprised to hear that USAREC did a horrible job of Force Protection, but let's face it, I'm not.

SGT H, you'll get through it the same way everyone else has. Cynicism, alcohol, and either an unhealthy increase in blood pressure or an ulcer.

Guardsman, update your page bastard!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Where is SFC B?

Howdy folks. I'm currently TDY to lovely Ft. Bliss/ Camp MacGregor. It's effin' cold here at night, but it sure beats recruiting.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Soldierly Things

Today I did something I hadn't done in nearly a decade.

I qualified on the M16 and the M9.

Yes. The last time I qualified on the M16 was in the summer on 1998 during Annual Training. That was also the last time I fired a real bullet. In the interceding 9 plus years I did have a couple of opportunities to go to the range, but something always came up. USR reporting, issues w/ getting the ammo for the range requiring it to be rescheduled, etc etc. It's not like I avoided going to the range, after all, I'm in the Army and it's expected that I can shoot something. However, it's not like I've been busting my ass trying to get myself to a qualification range. It's just one of those things that just never got done.

Anyways, while the rifle hasn't changed much my skills have though. I wasn't quite "new" to the M16, but there was a learning curve I was way behind. Way behind. It took some work but I did manage to get the scores needed to qualify. I'm not proud of my performance, not at all. However, I'm grateful for the chance to finally get back out there and get the chance.

The M9 was something I'd never fired before. I didn't even know how to drop a magazine when I went to the firing line. I just kinda reached around until I felt something that felt like a magazine release, and it was. But I did manage to put enough rounds into the target to get me a whole new bar on a qualification badge the first time through. Oooooooooh.

I want to feel animus towards recruiting. I want to continue to hate it. But I can't. It's just not worth it. I miss the people with whom I worked, and I do my bet to keep in touch, but, honestly, while I consider most of the close friends, they're now doing something of which I am not a part. It's something I've moved beyond. I'd like to talk with them more, really. However, I don't want to reminisce about the time spent in recruiting because, well, I despised it. Not the way I despised the high infiltration portion of Basic Training where, afterwards, it was something I was pumped up from doing. No, I actually despised recruiting. Sure, I did manage to accomplish something, but it was never close to being enough. Night Infiltration was exilherating because, when it was done, there was a sense of accomplishment. Recruiting lacked that sense. Nothing was ever accomplished at the micro level. Contracts never meant anything to the organization beyond a number. And even meeting the number meant nothing because there was some other number that needed to be met too.

I was going to leave the service if I had to remain in recruiting one day longer than necessary. I've got nearly 13 years in, and I was going to throw it all away to get out of USAREC. I've hated watching it break up marriages. I've hated watching it slowly destroy the Soldiers assigned to it. And I really hated all these things being blamed on the Soldier exclusivly. No matter what the personal issues that affect a recruiter are, it will always be cast as their failure as a Soldier. That, somehow, if you were a better Soldier, you'd be able to recruit better, which would mean you get home earlier so you can spend that time with the family your spouse has been nagging about.

This past month has been a slice of heaven. I have been sleeping better at night. I wake up rested and ready to go. I get to the office early so I can do PT. If I'm not busy, I can even take off a second time during the day to do more PT. When 1600 rolls around I'm closing out my stuff for the day and rolling home. Even with a commute nearly 4 times longer than my previous one, I still get home two hours earlier than I was in recruiting. I have my life back and I have a chance to resume my career.

I'm sure my orders returning me to USAREC are in the mail.

God I'd hate that.