Going back to Iraq

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

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

A Major concern for the Army

August 21, 2008

A recent Washington Post article discussed the current shortage of Majors in the Army.  I thought the article was well written and provided good context about the impact of deployments and the expansion of the Army.

Major Insignia

Major Insignia

According to the article:

Majors plan and direct day-to-day military operations for Army battalions, the units primarily responsible for waging the counterinsurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout the Army, majors fill key roles as senior staff members, putting together war plans, managing personnel and coordinating logistics.

I’d say that’s an accurate overview.  Though the shortage hurts, we are still fighting and winning wars across the globe.

In general, those of us who continue to serve understand that we aren’t going to get rich in the military.  However, in many of my private discussions my friends agree that a few minor incentives/signs of appreciation would be welcome.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Provide an annual $1,000 “bonus” for all active duty Majors–incl. mobilized reservists (Total cost to Army…less than the price of 100 Toyota Prius)
  • Extend Tuition Assistance benefits to immediate family members if the Soldier doesn’t want to utilize the benefits due to deployments (Total cost to Army…probably less than the price of a $250K Uparmored HMMWV)
  • Allow officers to select duty station of choice for current -or- future assignment (Total cost to Army…”free” someone’s got to fill the slot)
  • Really encourage Senior Leaders (Generals and Colonels) to mentor Majors…some do this really well, some aren’t as engaging.  I suspect that if there were more instances of Senior Leaders having the “How’s your day Major? Where do you see your career going? blah, blah, blah” conversation than many Major’s would simply “feel better.” (Total cost to Army…”free”)
  • Utilize technology to enhance the assignments process (Think: match. com) e.g…A Major fills out a profile of his “desired assignment type, location, duration, family, etc…” that information goes into a computer with an algorithm that spits out potential assignment options.  Through a Social Networking tool, the Major can now contact the Major who currently fills the potential assignment to ask specific questions “How are the schools? Do you like your boss? When will your unit deploy? What are the recreation options? Do you use X,Y,Z equipment?”  All along the way the assignment officer can monitor the conversation and establish report dates based on what works best for the officers–because they will have real-time information.  (Total cost to Army…undetermined; however, the Social Networking technology already exists…just need the “match” feature)
  • Give Majors a free uniform voucher to replace the Green Class A’s.  This is a win-win for the Army because leaders should be the first in the new uniforms and the Majors would appreciate the vouchers. (Total cost to Army would be less than 100 Smart Fortwo!!!)

Let’s hear your opinions…So what do you think?  Should Army Majors simply serve for pride and commitment to duty?  Are the incentives I discussed feasible?  Why do you think the Army is slower than the Navy to embrace incentives? (I have a college classmate who has received $122,000 in bonuses during his Naval career as a Surface Warfare Officerhe’s never been shot at!)