Friday, February 03, 2006

Drill surprises

I talked to a soldier who has been giveninformation about our upcoming drills that has her upset. By some regulation, we don't have to drill the first 60 days after demobilizing, so our first mandatory drill is next weekend, Feb 11-12. Our equipment hasn't arrived from Iraq yet, so we won't have too much to do in February. It should be here by March.

Traditionally, drill is the first weekend of the month. This may vary for the Superbowl, Mother's Day and opening day of hunting season. Most other weekends don't get much consideration for conflicts. Our April drill is the first weekend, i.e., April 1-2. Turns out that spring break for the school kids is the week of March 27-31. So, the last weekend of spring break will be drill, and apparently we will be drilling a MUTA 5, i.e., Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday.

I had planned to take my kids on a vacation during spring break. This was to be our big reunion after me being gone for 18 months. I now have to reassess. Being back on Friday instead of Sunday will take some adjustments. The soldier I talked to was very annoyed about this imposition, as she also had plans to travel with her kids. It is not easy to get out of drill, even though the concrete repercussions aren't that severe. It's more a matter of pissing off your boss than specific punishment. Plus, it's bad form for a leader.

Another circumstance also had her irritated, but this story needs a bit of background. When we mobilized in June 2004, a few thousand local soldiers assembled in a local arena for a goodbye tribute. Mayors from 6 local towns showed up, but the mayor of Boise didn't. He is a Democrat, and the rest are republicans. Our Adjutant General, a 2-star (Major General), spoke at the rally. He is the top state Guard officer, appointed by the (Republican) governor. At the rally he took a shot at the Boise mayor for not being there.

This put the Boise mayor on the defensive, and he showed up at our departure to shake everyone's hand and give out a City of Boise lapel pin. He also put together a plan for a big welcome home party, involving local units and many of the larger corporations and businesses.

Since we have the first 60 days off from drill, the party couldn’t be in the first two months if attendance is mandatory. At first everyone is sick of the whole army scene, and probably wouldn’t attend voluntarily. Also, it’s cold and the streets can be slick. So, the party was planned for Memorial Day.

That has a nice connection to honoring the troops, and the weather will be nice. As it turns out, in order to support the party, drill has been scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. So for the third Memorial Day we will be in uniform and away from our families. This is also a MUTA 5, and will pretty much eat up the 3-day weekend.

Many soldiers are not in a happy frame of mind about military service, after Iraq. Such unnecessary impositions will probably contribute to soldiers voting with their feet.

1 comment:

Beth* A. said...

I realize it's the military and all, but it seems like a few attempts at accommodation would result in far higher morale, particularly after you nearly just got back from serving in a combat zone! Maybe that's just not possible though, and I don't have the proper knowledge to say. But I can wish it for you! ;-[