This picture pretty much sums up my activities here. There’s grass to be raked, dirt to be raked, sand to be raked, rocks to be raked – if it’s a horizontal surface and it’s outdoors, it’s getting raked. If it’s horizontal and it’s indoors, it’s getting swept, mopped, and waxed. Also, you can see by looking at the picture that it doesn’t matter if there is anything to actually rake up – the shit’s going to be raked.
At least it’s winter so we don’t have to mow the grass.
Ostensibly, ALC is technical training for mid-level NCOs, giving us the next level of MOS-specific knowledge above that which is provided during initial entry training. In reality, the curriculum is very similar to the initial MOS training that we received, so much of it is review (especially for me, having just attended the excellent reserve component course last year in Sacramento). This is good, however, since it seems that the technical curriculum takes a back seat to the laundry list of other requirements.
This includes the aforementioned raking and other cleanup duties, but also other strange activities: a class breakfast, community service, a “class project,” and an FTX (field training exercise).
The class breakfast is odd since, in whole or part, we eat together as a class three times a day, five days a week (and often on weekends too). Apparently we also need to do this off-post, at our own expense, as a team-building exercise or something.
Community service is pitched as “giving back to our community,” which is strange since almost none of us are stationed here, so it’s not really “our” community. The objective is laudable, but it feels forced, especially since it’s up to each class to figure out what to do – which is difficult, since none of us are from the area and don’t know what the local situation is. The whole thing also has a little bit of “sentenced to serve” feel to it as well.
The class project is the most onerous extracurricular requirement. Basically, each class has to spend their own money (or raise it somehow – maybe by panhandling on the streets of Augusta?) to purchase some kind of shiny object to put somewhere on the grounds, so that we can “leave a legacy” at “our NCO academy” (in the words of the deputy commandant). Examples include planting a tree, a statue, a flagpole, a mural on a wall of the classroom building, etc. Of course, none of us want to be here, and none of us will ever return here (God willing), so who wants to invest major effort in that kind of thing? Someone in our class saw a Signal Corps rug at the PX and suggested we get our names put on it. It’s $40 – sounds perfect. I’d prefer a toilet seat cover, but a rug will do, I guess.
The FTX is tacked on to the end of the course like some kind of vestigial thing, like they couldn’t envision an Army school without a trip to the field. It’s sold to us on the PowerPoint slide at inprocessing as a 6-day event. It’s blocked out as five days on the training schedule, but, judging by the classes ahead of us, it’s about two days – if it happens at all. Some classes are doing other activities to get out of the field trip, so hopefully we can fall into that category.
We also are “required” to purchase plaques for our distinguished honor graduate and for some other award. And guess what – our SGL (small group leader) just happens to know a guy who makes plaques, and he’ll “hook us up.” What’s that in the NCO creed about not using your “grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety”? I guess you get an exemption if you work at the NCO academy.