Postcards from Tradocia

Dare to be Stupid

Last year, at annual training, we (the commo guys) decided that Weird Al’s Dare to be Stupid was the theme for the operations section; it was a bit of good-natured humor at their expense, with their being mostly infantrymen and tankers.Yesterday, though, as I watched the Frenchman (our boss) enter his twelfth hour of unraveling the mess of hand receipts in which we’re ensnared, I realized that the song was really the theme song for the whole trip so far. The largest example, an awesome video-montage in my head, follows:

Instead of bringing a shitload of computers, phones, and other networking equipment, the installation provides most everything we need to conduct our training here. It’s a great idea in theory, but our supporting brigade’s terrible property management has turned it into a nightmare. I should’ve known we were in for trouble when I walked into their supply building on the first day and saw the piles of random computer gear strewn at all angles, the shelves bursting with collections of parts in no discernible order, and the Frenchman and the Other Brigade’s guy vainly trying to make sense of the damn thing. The two of them had to count and recount just our allocation of IP phones three times that morning – twice after being loaded into our van and we were almost leaving.

Since then, it’s been a seemingly endless shell game of issue, return, re-issue, swap out, and scavenge, all meticulously (if often incorrectly) documented on the favorite form of supply sergeants everywhere, the DA Form 2062. More commonly known as a hand receipt, the idea of the form is simple: you write the item and its serial number on a form, I sign it, you keep the form, I get the stuff. When I’m done with the stuff, I give it back, you destroy the form, everyone’s happy. Works great – unless you’re handling a brigade’s worth of computer equipment, in which case you’re soon buried in an avalanche of paperwork, as shit is moved around and sub-hand-receipted and generally mucked-with.We’re talking about fifty or a hundred hand receipts, all pointing different directions, a breadcrumb trail leading straight into the sarlacc’s mouth.

This would be bad enough, but thanks to the Other Brigade’s insistence on dealing only with us and not with any of our subordinate units, the paperwork is effectively doubled (and sometimes tripled), as the Frenchman must sign for the equipment from the Other Brigade, then the units must sign for it from us, thus maintaining a chain of accountability. The madness is compounded by the fact that a not-insignificant amount of the gear ended up broken (out of the box, as it were), resulting in numerous substitutions and swaps, and a couple of insane moments where the Other Brigade actually signed for gear from us, even though we signed it out from them, since we would eventually get it back.

The Other Brigade’s commo NCOIC (who is a whole story unto himself) has bombarded us from the beginning with threats that if we don’t give all of his stuff back, “you’re not getting on the plane.” Not much of a threat, really, and it’s a tiresome one anyway, since any property accountability problems will be ones of his making. We joked today (in his presence) that we’d just drive by his office in our van and kick all of the crap out of the back, driving away hollering. He didn’t think it was too funny (and repeated his threat), but we all thought it was hilarious. If only…

1 Comment

  1. sue barnes


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