And somehow, I don’t think I’ve ever been treated so shabbily, and at the hands of fellow Soldiers no less, though I’m hesitant to think they’d agree that we are indeed fellows.
I’m usually circumspect about airing Army problems in public, especially on the internet, but there are no OPSEC concerns that I can identify, and just maybe this will help to fix this situation for the next group or unit to come through Carson.
We arrived very late and were finally settled into bunks at around 0300 the next morning, after turning in sensitive items and making the trek across post to the barracks. That’s when we were informed that we’d have first formation at 0530. Despite the fact that we were going to be at Ft. Carson for a week and a half, it was apparently a major concern to get us through Soldier Readiness Processing (SRP) no matter who’s neck got broken.
As I’ve mentioned, the barracks are about 8 miles from the main post, so if you were going to walk in and back, you’d be making a major time investment. It didn’t take long to find out that the permanent party folks here were not interested in facilitating transportation either.
One bright spot was that they had told us that we’d almost certainly be getting a 4 day pass for the weekend. Armed with this near certainty, people began making arrangements to fly family members out to Colorado. I waited until the last minute (or so I thought) to do so with Maggie.
I had literally hung up with Maggie after buying airline tickets, and reserving a car and a hotel room to go down to the formation where they told us we would not be getting a pass.
It seems that First Mobilization Brigade’s idea was that we should all be locked down and made to study for our upcoming schools. Of course, that also meant that they would get to leave us out here and, except for meals, ignore our presence.
Meanwhile, Soldiers who had spent the past 15 months being built up as being the best, the smartest, the bravest, were now facing an obstacle. As we are trained to do, we adapted. Some obtained rental cars (our orders contain no mention of POVs or rentals one way or the other) and in fact, without these assets there are some troops that would not have made it to their Ft. Carson ordained medical appointments. Once it became obvious, the post authorites ordered that the cars be given up.
There were, early on, some discipline problems. A couple of Soldiers got drunk and then bragged to their friends back at Phoenix (which is of course, completely dry) about it. That tale reached the powers that be at Phoenix, and despite promises of no collective punishments, not to mention that the miscreants were being dealt with by the leadership on the ground, the passes were killed. So between our own chain of command and Carson’s permanent party, the “best, smartest and bravest” were now receiving the message, loud and clear, that we were not trustworthy and needed either babysitting, or warehousing.
Several other things contributed to the conditions here. There are many dozens of us here and only 8 water fountains. No water was provided until we begged for it. Permanent party began sharpshooting us abut barracks maintenance despite our requests for cleaning supplies, mops and trashbags. As for trash, there was no trash pickup for days and the dumpsters began to overflow. There is a small internet café in one of the buildings, but we had to get the network connected ourselves. But that’s only one building and only 8 ports for all of us. Thankfully the phones work. There are new televisions here, but no connection, so no programming. So we aren’t quite cut off from the outside world, but it requires a sustained effort to get through.
The rental car policy isn’t the only example of “Joe” trying to adapt and overcome and then being squished for violating an unpublished, uncommunicated policy. There are bulletin boards on each floor of each building and not one policy memo is posted, though we do know that we may not smoke within 50 feet of any building and must not walk on unpaved areas. Our crystal balls are not working, but we are still held responsible for what we don’t know anyway.
Thankfully, our schools start soon and we’ll be getting out of here. These are all schools that are for training NCOs, so presumably we’ll be treated as NCOs while there. Unfortunately, we have to return here after school to finish demobilization, and in one final indignity, First Mobilization Brigade still has not told us what the big picture is on that schedule; when we will be finishing that process and going home.
Just maybe there are those reading this that think I’m bellyaching too much about things that are too minor. And I’m willing to consider that. But it’s not really the lack of communication, the presumption of policy, or the babysitting. It’s the certain and obvious knowledge that Active Component units do not go through this. This is simply one more of a long line of US Army double standards between Active and Reserve Component treatment that I’ve witnessed or experienced. I’m still waiting for the Total Army to get it’s act together on this.
In fairness, I must point out that conditions have improved dramatically. A pass did come through, largely through the work of our OIC and NCOIC on the ground here and no doubt due to calls from Governors’ and Senators’ offices and possibly the influence of a couple of Genral Officers as well. Transportation has been available. Supplies trickle in, but it’s so far ahead of the curve.
All well and good, but the fact is that First Mobilization Brigade has had to be coerced into doing the right thing at every step. As a final exhibit I offer the fact that thre are still no policy letters posted on any of the many bulletin boards here. This leads me to conclude that permanent party is playing a game of “Gotcha.” Seeing, deliberately, how many of the National Guardsmen they can piss off by making up policy as they go along. If that weren’t the case, they’d have made some effort by now to communicate policy. And, of course, 24 hours ahead is obviously too far out to actually put information out on schedules and plans.
One Force, One Fight, One Future…. Yeah. Right.