Sunday, January 15, 2006

Reserve Life Part II

As I mentioned in my last post I wanted to talk about how we reservists do our jobs. Despite our obvious failings in certain areas we tend to make up for them by doing our job and doing it well. There are several key reasons why I think reservists accomplish their job well, at least well enough to keep people off of our back. Now its time for a disclaimer: I can only speak for those reservists that I have come in contact with and know, I don’t want to speak for all the jacked up people out there who joined the army just for college money.

The first reason why I believe reservists accomplish their jobs is that despite jacked up equipment, tons of paper work, and too many rules, they are used to making things work in the civilian world. In the army you can screw up as much as you want and still get paid and keep your job (obviously there are things that will get you kicked out). In the civilian world if you don’t produce then you either A.) Get Fired, or B.) Lose your business. Reservists, as I highlighted before, still have a civilian frame of mind and bring that frame of mind to their army job and as a result they do their job the most efficient way they can. If we are told that we have to do a job that usually takes a full day and we find a way to complete it in three hours and then watch movies the rest of the time then that is what we do. Of course some reservists are better at doing this then others but it seems to be the general goal of all reservists.

The problem with this attitude is that it sometimes gets us into trouble with active duty. In the army there is a certain way to do things. There is a technical manual and a field manual for everything. The army can tell you how to survive a nuclear bomb and also how to go to the bathroom in a chemical environment. The army tells you how and when to cut your hair, eat, and workout. The army basically takes individual thinking out of living, if you so choose to follow it that way. If in the civilian business world an employee finds a more effective way to do a job then their ideas are rewarded and implemented, in the army new ideas are entertained a lot less. If someone in command didn’t think about the idea themselves then it probably will not be implemented. Okay I know this sounds like a lot of complaining but I merely want to explain the differences between the reserves and active duty as I see them.

I do see the benefits to how the army is run. If there were a bunch of independent thinking soldiers running around then controlling them would be hard and everyone would do things a different way. My friends and I often joke that if the army wasn’t a government sustained organization then it would have gone out of business 200 years ago. No civilian business could suffer loss like the army does and still run. As a civilian soldier this problem bothers me to no end. I want to see things run efficiently and when they don’t it irks me.

The other reason we do our job well is simply because the one thought that is on every reserve soldier’s mind (as I am sure most soldiers) is that they want to get the job done and return home safely to their family and friends. We don’t want to mess around and try to get fancy with what we are doing, we just want to do what we have to do with the least effort required and go back to our normal lives.

With these sentiments in mind we do our job the best that we can without breaking the rules. Of course there are always reserve soldiers who want so desperately to show the active duty soldiers that they can do everything just the same and win praise from them while doing so. These types of soldiers are a pet peeve of mine. If you want to please the active duty guys so bad then go active duty otherwise shut your mouth and be a reservist.

Without reservists then active duty soldiers would not be able to get the job done in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reservists and National Guardsmen have played such a pivotal role in the war on terror that we are an indispensable resource. We leave our lives back home and are deployed anywhere from 12 to 18 months at a time, and it is rare to meet a reservist or guardsmen that hasn’t been deployed in some fashion or another. Lots of us have been deployed more then once and face a possible third deployment. All of this as a part time job. I have spent more time training to come to the desert then some active duty soldiers spend in the desert for a single deployment. The only difference these days between reservists and active duty soldiers is how we spend the few months in between deployments.


Transom clamp man said...

Hey bud, whats the problem with the "jacked up" people who join the army for college? Thats a big advertising ploy for them. Not trying to start an argument, but if I was....I could take you. Stay safe my friend.
- Mark
P.S. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction, such as at a hippy or a communist.

aandn said...

What in the world is a transom clamp man? Sorry but I break horses and I don't know nothin'- -much. Lord Boggs. I think you just might have openned (I can't spell either, clamp man)a can of worms! Have a brother who joined the Army for college money, got stationed in DC, Walter Reed, and after his time was up joined the Marine Corps because he said the Army was run by civilians and it sucked. Went to the Gulf War as a scout, went into the airport in kuwait City (told you I can't spell) and called fire in which killed an "innocent woman with baby in arms among the enemy. Hasn't been quite the same since and still is working on a college degree. Bummer! I think you all do a fantastic job, but I understand what you are saying, Boggs. The young recruits really haven't had much training in civilian life but high school and flipping burgers or stocking shelves. God knows they can't learn many skills in public school now days - mostly political correctness they learn there and how NOT to think for themselves. I feel kind of sorry for them, Boggs. And civilian life over here is getting to where we aren't allowed to think much for ourselves either. I get kind of tired too of people everywhere telling me how to do every dang thing I go to do. In Texas you have to have a Texas drivers license to check out a library book or get this - -rent a movie! You'd have thought I was driving through Texas stealing movies and library books or something. A real danger to the country. I tried to get a drivers license so I could get a bank account which I had to have a Texas drivers license to do but I couldn't get the license because they wouldn't take an out of state check. Right there I would have closed down 2 businesses for crapo service, a bank and 1 government business, Boggs. So cheer up as I ain't doing too hot as a civilian out here in Texas! Ha! I loved your new blog. I bet you couln't whup me transom clamp man but I like your spirit. Boggs is great isn't he? I like the way he points out things you don't get on MSM. Hasn't it always been so with regular army and reserve and guards? Korea was fought with mostly National Guard, wasn't it? Annie of A&N

Anonymous said...

Hey Boggs,
I really don't have an argument or opinion either way on this. I'm pretty much just a average reader who has finally pulled my head out and decided to look into what is really going on with this war. You may be glad to know that I'm learning so much from your blogs, and you have inspired me, and others I'm sure, to keep learning and supporting our troops, Reservists AND Regular Army. It seems to me that since you are fighting in Iraq you have a right to make the kind of observations that you make on your blog and your comments are credible. Now I would be interested to see what a Regular Army guy would say about the differences in the two. You've got us all thinking!
Good blog Boggs.
Stay safe. Thanks for taking the time and effort to write. Doesn't leave you much time for a movie I suppose.
Neatie (of AandN)
PS: I think a farmer dropped a transom clamp on my foot once. It hurt.

Anonymous said...

Somebody tell me what a transom clamp is!!!

T. F. Boggs said...

Good to hear from you transom clamp man. A transom clamp is a part that TCM made at a machine shop that I worked at back home. Just a little inside joke. About the college money thing. Lots of people join for the benefits of the army but I had in mind a few people who did it just for the money and looked at it like a part time job just to earn money so they didn't have to work hard in the civilian world. Not all of them are bad but those who didn't think about the consequences of their choice are the dumb ones. Thanks for the comments everyone.

tfdad said...

I own the machine shop and I don't know exactly what a transom clamp is! Its a military part and goes on a floating bridge- a Bailey Bridge- which like a lot of things in the arsenal, goes back a long way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification on the transom clamp. It all makes sense now. I also thought about all the guys who do join the military for maybe not the right reasons. Don't a lot of that type of fellows wash out at boot camp? You made us see, Boggs, that not everybody in the military, whatever branch or regular or guard or reserve, are individuals with different goals in life. But with only one goal in war - and that is to win. Bet you wouldn't let anybody on the outside bad mouth any of them Boggs. Wrong or right? Thanks for making us think. And yes, it would be a real mess if each man went into battle with his own approach.


As an active duty guy, here's my two cents (or .00000000001 Iraqi dinars):

Yes, active duty troops typically view the Guard and Reserve as a motley crew of old, overweight, ate-up pogues. But then again, Reservists view us as a collection of half-wit, knuckle dragging, frat boy wannabes. Obviously, there's some truth to either one, but Boggs doesn't appear to fit the stereotype and neither do I.

I would say that the enlisted Reserve is far more likely to be more educated and intelligent than the average active duty guy, and we're more likely to be more disciplined and technically and tactically proficient, but only due to the fact that Reservists have more time to go to school and work and play in the real world and actually have a life, whereas we have more time to train and live the Army life 24/7.

But like the man said, during times of high op-tempo and frequent deployments, I believe these things tend to equal out and we meet in the middle somewhere. A difference in mental outlook as well. While Boggs and co. are trying to hang on to their highly valued civilian identities, my guys have long since given up trying to even remember what it was like being one. (Although I'm looking forward to relearning from scratch). However, the Army experience has changed me so much that I don't feel I will ever completely shed the military mindset entirely. Nor would I want to. I'm definitely a more well-rounded person than I was before.

For me, the biggest thing you learn in the military (and especially the infantry) is how to deal with "the suck." Your capacity to suffer and your pain and discomfort threshold is set so high that nothing you could possibly go through afterword could even phase you. If the average person is a wad of putty, then the Army pretty much carves you out of wood.

But these are just my off the cuff opinions. Take them with a grain of saltpeter.

Anonymous said...

Points well taken. Buddy is an infantry platoon leader in the Guard. In the civiliam world, he is a police sergeant. Sveral of his men were also cops and firemen. Long story short, the experience patrolling a beat in bad neighborhoods back home made them very effective in Iraq. They basically practiced community policing and it worked well. Good luck ot you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the entries on the contrasts between AD & reservist. Very enlightening!