Next week, we begin our much-ballyhooed FTX (field training exercise). The event, already known to us as being mostly pointless, is already shaping up to be a farce of epic proportions.

Apparently, none of the cadre here knew that we were participating in this FTX until yesterday, which left us completely in the dark about our mission, while our compatriots from SLC (Senior Leader’s Course) had been working on their preparations all week. This despite the fact that the training schedule – given to us on the first day of class, over two months ago¬† – clearly had this event marked for next week.

Additionally, the other ALC class slated to participate was exempted so that they could manage next week’s Black History Month event (which naturally takes precedence over any training), which means that our little class will have to simulate a battalion headquarters with just 11 people.

One wonders what the point of the exercise is, exactly, since we’ll have weapons with blanks but no MILES gear (making any combat the equivalent of “bang! you’re dead!”) and a 3 or 4 mile road march (too short to provide any meaningful training) to a FOB that’ll be mostly empty. I guess it’s realistic training for executing a mission of questionable value, with little advance warning and minimal resources, followed by a stretch of mild discomfort and boredom.

The problem is, the SLC classes seem very gung-ho and serious about the whole thing, exhibiting a level of caring that I just can’t seem to work up. I look at them and think, “hey, I’ll be in their shoes before too long” – I could be back here again for SLC in 3 years or so – but somehow, I can’t see myself being like them. The E-7s of SLC seem so earnest, so focused on this silly exercise. They have nearly a ream of paper printed out with PowerPoint slides and a lengthy operations order, crammed with faked-up details about the “cultural terrain” and the “enemy situation” and the “ongoing war between Whogivesafuckistan and their peaceful neighbors in Asscrackistan” and the “commander’s intent” and our “adjacent friendly forces” and whatever, all of which is so patently worthless that it makes me want to scream.

They seem to be going full steam ahead, though, and it makes me wonder: am I insane? Unprofessional? Immature? Am I a lesser NCO because I can’t get excited about what amounts to a high-dollar game of Cowboys & Indians? Excited or not, though, the box must be checked, so next week, it’s off to the woods I go.