April 10, 2009
Preparations for deployment continue. This week I was issued two car trunks full of Army gear. I’m impressed by the efficiency of the Fort Bliss Central Issue Facility (CIF–clothing warehouse). In & out in less than one hour.
Later in the week I participated in the Rapid Fielding Initiative and received the latest individual equipment and clothing for the upcoming deployment. Of note is the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) this replaces the IBAS that I wore in Iraq a few years ago. Just trying it on I feel far more confident in this system. It’s a bit more comfortable and offers more protection (52 sq. inches to be exact) particularly around the ribcage. Read an article about the IOTV here. Unofficial Video of a Soldier demonstrating the IOTV to his German Shepard. You will see the quick release about the 1:30 mark.
Another item was the Army Combat Shirt. This flame-resistant, lightweight breathable shirt is designed to be worn under the IOTV in lieu of the ACU coat & t-shirt. Brilliant! Soldiers in my brigade were issued two each. I wish I had four. Oh well. The last time I was in Iraq I was only issued two sets of Desert Camoflague Uniforms (DCUs). The green BDUs worked just was well in the desert. Rest assured you won’t see me sporting the ACS with jeans in airports and shopping malls. (Note to self: Find that link) Nice wikipedia entry about the ACS here.
April 2, 2009
After a harrowing landing in 40mph winds at the El Paso Int’l Airport, I’m here. Fort Bliss. Kudos to the crew of American Airlines Flight #555.
Lovely location. Nestled in the shadow of North Franklin Peak, the weather is lovely in the spring.
North Franklin Peak viewed from Ft. Bliss lodging
Real Estate here is dirt cheap. A dollar goes a long way. Gas, today, was $1.96 for regular.
El Paso is a long way from Washington, D.C. (1,965 miles according to Google maps). But I find it interesting that many of the streets that run East-West are named after presidents.
Here is a handy reference list for newcomers to Fort Bliss. The post’s wikipedia entry is here.
I’m staying in the post’s hotel. Free Internet, swimming pool, and continental breakfast until 9:30am. It’s conveniently located withing walking distance of the MWR ticket office and Hertz rental car. The base PX and Commissary are nearby too.
In-processing for officers is efficient. You will need a car or someone to drive you around. But many of the functions are in/around Building 505. Be sure to have addresses of family to update SGLI and registration info to register a POV or personal weapon.
No worries…I won’t be making any forays into Juarez, Mexico. Hope they’re safe from drug gangs South of the Border.
March 18, 2009
Soon, I’ll be headed off for another tour of duty in Iraq this spring. The process of deploying is unique. But in many ways it’s like going on a long vacation–expect you take extra steps to prepare for the worst-case scenarios.
Here are some references for servicemembers who are facing the prospect of lengthy deployment. They are also somewhat useful for civilians who are going to study abroad or work in a foreign country:
Military.com’s Guide to Deployment
USAA’s informative guide to deployment (.pdf)…linked from the official DOD Web site
A variety of publications from AUSA can be ordered in limited quantities.
Soldiers going through predeployment processing at Fort Hood, Tex
While I’m in Iraq I will keep this blog going. In fact, I intend to post more frequently. I’m making an assessment of the ability to use commercial applications/sites in the MND-C area (Southern Iraq). I might get an iPhone or something I can use overseas to post and upload pictures.
My role in the Brigade Combat Team is to maximize the information the public receives about our missions. But the majorman blog will be focused on my personal insights and experiences.
Here are some thoughts and analysis on the drawdown of the Iraq mission:
Larry Korb: The Promised Withdrawal from Iraq (Video here)
Center for American Progress: How to Redeploy (Aug. 2008) This report details a hypothetical flow of troops in a less this 18 month window.
If there are topic you’d like me to address specifically in this blog or questions you have post in the comments section or drop me a line major_man4 [at] yaho o
January 6, 2009
This is the opening paragraph of a Commentary piece (A major problem: Cent-sible solutions for the Army’s major-retention dilemma) I wrote for the Armed Forces Journal (December 2008):
Majors — the Army’s future senior leaders — are exiting the service at increasing rates during a period of military growth. A recent article in The Washington Post indicated the Army is about 15 percent short of its goal of 15,700 majors. Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said, “Retention of battle-tested majors should be the Army’s highest personnel priority. These are the future Pattons, Powells and Petraeuses who will lead soldiers into combat over the next two decades.”
Cost-effective solutions are available. These include financial incentives, leveraging Web 2.0 to enhance mentoring and the personnel assignment process, and uniform vouchers. All could be adopted almost immediately to shore up the ranks.
It generated limited discussion among officers. Some supported my ideas specifically, or at least the concept that something must be done. Others disagree with my solutions and assertions; I can only surmise that they don’t think shortage of majors as a problem worth addressing. Either way, talking about problems is the first step to solving them.
Do you think more money should be allocated towards retaining the future senior leaders of the Army? How does your corporation retain managers? What type of incentives have you seen that were successful to keep employees with talent? If your employer gave you a $500 bonus would you accept it? Would you make good use of the money?
You can read more about military personnel in the Building the Military for the 21st Century report.
December 15, 2008
This fall I was afforded a great opportunity to co-author (views expressed were my own and not DoD…see disclaimer in the “About Me” section) a report on Building the Military for the 21st Century: New Realities, New Priorities. I learned a lot in this process and have a better understanding of how Think Tanks are able to influence public discussion and policy action.
The public release of the report included remarks by Rep. John Murtha and Rep. Joe Sestak (both retired military officers); and a panel featuring lead author Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow at CAP; LTG Stephen Speakes, Army G-8 (Programs Director); and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Dunn, Air Force Association.
(L-R) Lt. Gen. Speakes, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Dunn, Lawrence J. Korb after panel discussion
I encourage you to take a closer look at the report and the fun interactive that was developed by the Center for American Progress editorial team.
There are numerous stories and blogs that are discussing the report and it’s recommendations. You can find blog posts here, here, and here (last link is about our interactive).
Articles here, here, and here.
“It’s said that a nation’s budget reflects its values and its priorities.”
President-elect Barack Obama
“Given that resources are not unlimited, the dynamic of exchanging numbers for capability is perhaps reaching a point of diminishing returns. A given ship or aircraft, no matter how capable or well-equipped, can be in only one place at one time.”
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
Other authors included: Laura Conley, Sean Duggan, Peter Juul
they can be contacted for further information.
October 15, 2008
On October 6th, the Army unveiled new doctrine on Stability Operations (Field Manual 3.07 download). It’s good to see lessons learned incorporated to update doctrine. The new manual will be immediately pushed down to officers schools so our leaders operate with the same concept of how we organize and win wars. Another key element of Army doctrine is standardizing language (jargon) used that transcends from unit to unit, post to post. Long live the nit-picky SGLs who shout “USE DOCTRINAL TERMS” to students during MDMP briefings.
Col. Stephen Twitty demonstrating his cultural awareness for effective diplomacy
Jack Kem provides a good explanation of doctrine here:
To be useful, doctrine must satisfy a number of criteria. To begin with, it must be vetted, accurate, and acceptable, all of which is ensured by the deliberate process involved in developing doctrine before it is published. Second, it must be well known and commonly understood, which the Army’s training and education programs function to accomplish. When all of these criteria have been met, doctrine forms the common language and shared professional culture throughout the Army. As Mr. Clint Ancker, the Director of the Army’s Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate says, “Doctrine is sound military advice prepared in advance.”
It’s important to understand this doctrine was developed by the U.S. Army inconjunction with a variety of Governmental Agencies and NGOs. This is a good sign as we long ago realized that Soldiers alone are not suited to win wars and rebuild countries without assistance from the civilian sector. Here’s an article about the development of FM 3.07 from March 2008.
Here is the link to the Combined Arms Center’s (CAC) page for the rollout of FM 3.07. Normally, new Army doctrine goes unnoticed by the general public, however, the CAC’s Commanding General is a master of the media and used a variety of dead tree and Web 2.0 strategies to generate buzz. Ultimately, the goal is to focus all the elements of power on conducting effective integrated Stability Operations.
More news and opinions: Small Wars Journal, Toby Nunn’s blog, and Mountain Runners thoughts.
October 1, 2008
Back in June I told you my, non-loyal, readers that the Army embraces blogging. In the news, the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, has encouraged more MilBlogging.
Secretary Geren said:
We’ve got to embrace every form of media, and this new medium – and particularly blogging, for many people – has replaced traditional media as a way to get news,” said Geren. “And not only to get news, but to educate themselves, the back and forth that blogs offer. So I see it as an addition of what we’re doing, and a mechanism to reach some people who you don’t reach at all through so-called traditional media.
His comments illustrate that Senior Leaders of the Army will begin to embrace Web 2.0. Secretary Geren’s comments were made during the 2008 MilBlog Conference held in conjunction with the Blog World Expo. (I didn’t know about either of these events…)
A video of LTG William B. Caldwell, IV addressing the MilBlog Conference–he is an advocate for blogging and directs all students at Command & General Staff College (Major’s school) to blog. And here is an article about Secretary Geren’s historic visit to the MilBlog Conference.
I’m working on a two articles on this subject over the next few weeks. Stay tuned…
Oh and if the Chief of Public Affairs is reading, Sir, I’d like to work on the Army or DoD New Media team. *fingers crossed*
September 17, 2008
Heads up…I have a piece coming out soon in the Army Times “Back Talk” section…
…It should generate a good deal of feedback. I’ll share some of the comments in this blog posting.
I’ve posted about this topic before, however, I conducted a bit more research and was spurred to write because both presidential candidates spoke about the importance of military service during the recent candidates forum.