As many of you may or may not know, I recently had the pleasure of attending some Army training to attempt to learn a new MOS so that I can deploy with my unit. I must say that Army reclass training is not really that exciting, especially since they send you to crummy places like Parks RFTA, CA, while not totally horrible, there were just not the same amenities that I was used to for a long-term training residence. For example, while we were in two-man rooms and not open bays, would it have killed them to provide a refrigerator or something in the rooms? It would have been nice to buy some water or something and been able to store it somewhere so it wasn’t 75 degrees every time you went to drink it. And having to lug my laptop up to the Community Activity Center in order to check e-mails was kind of annoying, but I suppose that there really is not much I can do about that. If you are heading to Parks RFTA in the next few years though, you may be lucky enough to enjoy wireless Internet in your barracks room, as well as a cable television in the day room! We just came about 15 months too early to experience all that goodness.
The class itself wasn’t bad; I was able to have the second highest score in the class without really trying all that hard. Unfortunately, since I am big-boned, I did not “exceed” the course standards like some of the others in the class. No big deal though. One step down, and while I will still probably be big-boned when I start phase 2 in a week and a half, I should be alright going forward.
My main problem with the course the subject matter. They taught us how to do manual procedures for two weeks, procedures that are not used anymore because the Army has automated most unit supply functions in a system called PBUSE. Instead of changing the Plan of Instruction (POI) to reflect the current operating environment, they continue to teach methods that I will probably not be using. It is important to know some of it in case you are in an environment where you need it, but most likely you will be able to use the PBUSE system to do everything that you need to. If I was in charge of the course, I would teach a week of manual procedures, 3 days of Physical Security/Arms Room, and the rest of the time on PBUSE. But that is just me.
Another problem with the course was the requirement to march to and from class and meals every day. While it sure looks a lot better then having gaggles of Soldiers walking from place to place, it is also very annoying in that half the folks in the class don’t want to do it or take it seriously enough to make it worthwhile. I was at the course to learn how to be a 92Y, not to relearn drill and ceremony all over again. If you must teach D&C, do it at the NCO schools that prepare folks for being senior leaders. Let us focus on getting to class on time in our own way instead of having and extra 30 minutes a day wasted marching around.
Finally, the last issue I had was with some of the classmates that I had. In a class of 44 or so Soldiers, we had around 25-26 NCOs. When I was appointed Class Leader the first day, I thought it would be temporary and I would be replaced by a NCO once everyone showed up. This didn’t happen, which was fine, but leave it to an NCO to wait until the last day we were there to call out all of the lower enlisted types for… what exactly, I am still unsure of. Not wanting to march people? Being in the Army just for a paycheck? I am still trying to figure out his point, other then to separate the class into lower enlisted and NCO cliques and say something about unless given authority by the instructors, we had no authority over the NCOs. It’s not like I was bossing them around or anything, but I WAS given the authority by the instructors, authority that these NCOs ignored whenever it was simple for them to do so. Instead of stepping up and mentoring the junior enlisted types, they decided to use it as an excuse to skate by without having to do anything, and blame us when they would get called out by the instructors for something. they were the ones who wanted to be treated like “adults,” yet they were the ones that were more childish than anybody else. Hopefully, I have a better experience at phase 2 with a whole new class of people. We’ll see.
I must admit, this whole experience kind of soured me on the Army a little bit. If anything, it simply reinforced the fact that parts of the Army is filled with folks who think they are more important than they actually are. I know my place, or at least I like to think so. I don’t try to tell everyone that I am signed for all the property for the state of Missouri, or that I am going to be the youngest SFC in the Texas NG. No matter how annoying this is, however, it is these people who help make the Army interesting as well, so no real complaints. Just not something that I want to deal with again anytime soon… oh, crap. At least next time I’ll be at Fort Knox and can look longingly at tanks.