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Old 08-26-2008, 04:56 PM   #21
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Why is there such a wide variance between instructors? Aren't they supposed to have a relatively objective performance standard that students have to meet to pass? If you have a bunch of capricious instructors, you're going to fail students who deserve to pass, and pass students who deserve to fail. Not to mention that students are frustrated and discouraged when expectations for them are not clearly defined. This is not to say the instructors shoudln't be tough - but they should be uniformly tough.
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Old 08-26-2008, 05:01 PM   #22
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Last time he mentioned duty stations he was looking at Fort Hood because he likes warm weather...


Further evidence of how sleep deprivation can impair judgment.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:28 PM   #23
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Not to say anything bad about what he is doing.... but I doubt there is a single 'old growth' tree left in Georgia...

My sister lives in Oregon and when we went to visit they had pictures of trees with the base that looked like it was 15 to 20 feet in diameter... maybe more... now they only have 5 ft being the big ones...
I grew up in North Georgia and there were thousands of acres that were national forests and wilderness areas. It seemed like half the northern part of the state belonged to one or the other. It's been years since I've gone up in those hills, but barring some kind of disease or pest, I have to believe that most of that land is still covered with trees. America's first gold rush was around Dahlonega in the late 1700's or early 1800's, that combined with early timber cutting had some impact on the area. But the feds bought up a lot of the land across the northern part of the state sometime in the late 1800's or early 1900's.

It's beautiful country, but very rugged in some spots. If you remember the movie Deliverance, much of the movie was filmed in the forests of North Georgia at Toccoa Falls and the Chattooga River. Some of the waterfalls are wonders to behold.

There are a lot of trees there, or were anyway, huge majestic things. The CCC was pretty active there during the depression and I would bet that tree planting and conservation activities in the forests were some part of their accomplishments.

I would really hate to find out that something had happened to the trees there.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:08 PM   #24
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Why is there such a wide variance between instructors? Aren't they supposed to have a relatively objective performance standard that students have to meet to pass? If you have a bunch of capricious instructors, you're going to fail students who deserve to pass, and pass students who deserve to fail. Not to mention that students are frustrated and discouraged when expectations for them are not clearly defined. This is not to say the instructors shoudln't be tough - but they should be uniformly tough.
I'm going to guess its because thats how it works in the real world. If one comes to expect fairness and uniformity, one is going to make a lousy soldier.
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Old 08-27-2008, 08:21 AM   #25
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Why is there such a wide variance between instructors? Aren't they supposed to have a relatively objective performance standard that students have to meet to pass?
At the Ranger level the soldiers are taught the art of war. They already know the theory and application, anybody can learn that. The art side is full of fuzzy intel, decisions taken while exhausted, etc. This side of war is very difficult, if not impossible, to set down in a one, two, three set of objectives, just like teaching someone to be a great artist. These men have already proven they know what they are supposed to do in a perfect war world, similar to teaching someone to paint a decent picture. Now they are being taught their craft to the next level, similar to teaching someone who can paint a decent picture to paint like Picasso.

Sure, my knees ache and I haven't been fully clean in weeks, but I really do enjoy 90% of the stuff we're doing. We spent most of last week climbing rock faces & rappelling, and the terrain around here is absolutely beautiful. This forest is nearly pristine and full of "old growth". Trees are routinely larger than I can wrap my arms around, and our training area is criss-crossed with picture-perfect streams and "babbling brooks". Of course I'll have to wait until after our first four-day exercise to see if I truly appreciate this terrain.

Spoken like a true warrior.
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:09 AM   #26
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Got an e-mail from his mother this morning:
Quote:
I believe some of you may have received letters. In mine he asked me to send you a request for care packages, if you have the time. He is beginning to be hungry and he has some cravings.
In particular, he asked for protein bars (e.g. Muscle Milk, Powerbars, etc.), Muscle Milk shelf-stable protein shakes, trail mix, dried fruit, peanut & peanut butter M&Ms, Reese’s Fast Break bars, summer sausage, cheese, crackers (like a Pepperidge Farms package), pouches of dried salmon and banana bread. He also said that cookies, brownies and rice crispie treats would be okay. (I sent one package today with trail mix, M&Ms, summer sausage and crackers – the stuff that was easy to find in the grocery store.)
Maybe the Eglin AFB food stores have a hard time keeping things in stock... or else they charge dearly for the "good" stuff. But I think he's hallucinating and worried that there won't be any left by the time he gets there!

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Nords, I'd be very interested in anything you can pass along about the rock climbing part of his training. I've been doing it recently and trying to get better. I've been trying easy routes with a heavily-laden backpack, and it's one of the hardest things I've ever done. But obviously can't compare to what he must be doing ...
I'll ask him on my next letter and get back to you when he rejoins the electronic world.

I know that he's done a lot of rappelling over the years, but for the really interesting & technical upward climbs they use the ultimate mountaineering tool-- a helicopter.

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Why is there such a wide variance between instructors? Aren't they supposed to have a relatively objective performance standard that students have to meet to pass? If you have a bunch of capricious instructors, you're going to fail students who deserve to pass, and pass students who deserve to fail. Not to mention that students are frustrated and discouraged when expectations for them are not clearly defined. This is not to say the instructors shoudln't be tough - but they should be uniformly tough.
My nephew has been an outstanding student for eight years and he's done a pretty good job of being an instructor at various times, but he (like the rest of the students) doesn't understand what's going on behind the scenes and he therefore decides that it's an instructor's fault. 'Cause he knows he was doing it right, dammit!

I've read about Ranger/SF training and I had to deal with similar safety/standards issues in teaching firefighting & damage control to submariners. Some of the student "rules" will inevitably have higher priorities than others or will even conflict. Safety aside, a student's choice isn't so much which rule to follow as it is for them to decide which one(s) to break and how to handle the consequences. So an instructor will have a number of reasons to ding a student, or partial credit can be awarded for the minor issues. Of course the major rules don't offer much flexibility, and teamwork always counts for more than individual brilliance.

Some instructors may feel more strongly about some priorities based on their backgrounds or experiences. Methods of accomplishing various tasks may have been taught differently even with the same curriculum, or there may be controversial changes among the curriculum revisions-- this happens all the time when a student gets hurt and a reflexive procedural change is instituted. Instructors deliberately deceive the students by being "easy" one day and "impossible" the next to keep the students from trying to game the administration. Or the boss may have just realigned the priorities of instructors who were perceived to be "easy", and suddenly they seem "inconsistent" to the students.

The instructors also expect each student to perform to the utmost of their ability. One student may have more potential than another, and if he's not living up to it then he's in trouble. I suspect this is the source of most of the controversy.

The students don't see behind the scenes, so much of the "randomness" has a purpose not understood by the them (yet). The instructors encourage an atmosphere of fear & uncertainty, too, and RI Roulette is a great tool for it. Last week's standards aren't good enough this week. Rules change with terrain. Objectives change. "National Command Authority" changes the priorities. Of course when a student's starving and awake for 72 consecutive hours it doesn't take much for something to happen that he's tempted to blame on the instructor. Sitting in on the instructor's critique (or getting a good night's sleep) would clear up 99% of that confusion.

My nephew isn't able to be part of the discussions among the instructors, which is why it seems so whimsical & even random to the students. But each instructor is responsible for a group of "their" students and the instructors have to justify their actions among themselves and to their supervisors. Capricious, weak, inconsistent instructors are detected fairly quickly and reined in before they cost a lot of money and time.

The military is under tremendous pressure to boost the size of the classes, to shorten the course, and to start popping more SF out of the pressure cookers. The instructors are under tremendous pressure to pass anyone who demonstrates even minimal proficiency, let alone skill. Heck, they're probably going to make more/longer deployments if they don't create more helpers to share the load. But one of the core tenets of SF, widely advertised, is that the process can't be ramped up just because there are more job openings. They have to hold the line-- a mistake by a marginal graduate will quickly kill a lot of better graduates.

In my experience, submarine training has actually become much harder over the last 25 years. Most of it is due to technology allowing us to speed up the pace and make things more realistic. Some of it is realizing that we're capable of doing better than our predecessors and training accordingly. I think Ranger students are seeing the same ramp.

Dick Couch is able to explain the military's Ranger/SF training & culture much more articulately than most. (He's the only author to have been allowed to sit in on both Army Ranger/SF and Navy SEAL training.) Reading his "Chosen Soldier" or "The Warrior Elite" gives an appreciation for the number of times these guys get it right and how hard they work to avoid letting someone squeak through by mistake. So it's slightly more likely that a qualified student will be dropped from the course, but both mistakes are extremely rare. That is a waste if it happens, but dropped students continue to serve with infantry or another branch.

As for frustrated & discouraged students-- if the students don't see those actions as challenges then they don't belong at the school and should be dropped as quickly as possible. Complaints about "fair" are simply not tolerated, and if it even occurs to a student to make a complaint like that then he's not SF material. The instructors are searching for the students who are insanely competitive and who will not quit no matter the conditions.
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Old 08-27-2008, 10:34 AM   #27
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As for frustrated & discouraged students-- if the students don't see those actions as challenges then they don't belong at the school and should be dropped as quickly as possible. Complaints about "fair" are simply not tolerated, and if it even occurs to a student to make a complaint like that then he's not SF material. The instructors are searching for the students who are insanely competitive and who will not quit no matter the conditions.
That's well said.

These are people who will be most often tasked to do seemingly impossible missions under conditions that would test the physical and mental toughness of any human being. There are no time outs, do-overs, or "can we talk about how I feel right now" conversations. The instructors know they're training not just future replacements, but possibly future teammates. Knowing what the demands are, the instructors are not going to graduate anyone who can't operate under conditions that take them to their limits and beyond.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:38 PM   #28
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Interesting responses to my question, thanks.
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Old 08-27-2008, 03:36 PM   #29
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I grew up in North Georgia and there were thousands of acres that were national forests and wilderness areas. It seemed like half the northern part of the state belonged to one or the other. It's been years since I've gone up in those hills, but barring some kind of disease or pest, I have to believe that most of that land is still covered with trees. America's first gold rush was around Dahlonega in the late 1700's or early 1800's, that combined with early timber cutting had some impact on the area. But the feds bought up a lot of the land across the northern part of the state sometime in the late 1800's or early 1900's.

It's beautiful country, but very rugged in some spots. If you remember the movie Deliverance, much of the movie was filmed in the forests of North Georgia at Toccoa Falls and the Chattooga River. Some of the waterfalls are wonders to behold.

There are a lot of trees there, or were anyway, huge majestic things. The CCC was pretty active there during the depression and I would bet that tree planting and conservation activities in the forests were some part of their accomplishments.

I would really hate to find out that something had happened to the trees there.
This will be a nice learning experience.... I can see some articles about 'old growth' forests in the east.... but I am not sure they are stretching the use of the term... or that they are so small it is not worth much...

Here is a map that I saw a long time ago.... kind of puts it in perspective on what I mean...

Image:Oldgrowth3.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


PS... I am using the 'virgin' forest as 'old growth' as defined in wiki also...
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:22 PM   #30
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I am using the 'virgin' forest as 'old growth' as defined in wiki also...
That was a learning experience. Okay, so what I'm remembering in the forests of Northern Georgia is more along the lines of second-growth or regeneration trees.
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:46 PM   #31
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That was a learning experience. Okay, so what I'm remembering in the forests of Northern Georgia is more along the lines of second-growth or regeneration trees.
I meant a learning experience for ME!!! I want to read up on some of the forests... but as the map shows.. there is very little left of the original virgin forest east of the Mississippi... well, truth be told, anywhere in the U.S.
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Old 09-01-2008, 11:56 PM   #32
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The Ranger Instructors decided to evacuate the Eglin AFB swamps before Gustav inundated them.

So my nephew has returned to Fort Benning, and he just called his folks (first time in over eight weeks). He's been informed that he'll be graduating this Friday. We've been asked to send a high-protein chow package, so it looks like his "Ranger weight loss program" succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

I think his next assignment is to report to his Ranger battalion, where he'll begin gently breaking the news to his new XO that after the deployment he wants to go SF. I'm not sure which of those activities is more hazardous to his health.

They have three more days of cleaning, gear turn-in, and paperwork to do before graduation. I'll probably hear from him in another week or so.

It's amazing that this came together on Trombone Al's National Update Your Posts Day...
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Old 09-02-2008, 07:51 AM   #33
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Congratulations and "great job!" to your nephew!

Below you will find the lyrics to "Food, Glorious Food" from Oliver -

ta,
mews


[BOYS]
Is it worth the waiting for?
If we live 'til eighty four
All we ever get is gru...el!
Ev'ry day we say our prayer --
Will they change the bill of fare?
Still we get the same old gru...el!
There is not a crust, not a crumb can we find,
Can we beg, can we borrow, or cadge,
But there's nothing to stop us from getting a thrill
When we all close our eyes and imag...ine

Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we're in the mood --
Cold jelly and custard!
Pease pudding and saveloys!
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it, boys --
In-di-gestion!

Food, glorious food!
We're anxious to try it.
Three banquets a day --
Our favourite diet!

Just picture a great big steak --
Fried, roasted or stewed.
Oh, food,
Wonderful food,
Marvellous food,
Glorous food.

Food, glorious food!
What is there more handsome?
Gulped, swallowed or chewed --
Still worth a king's ransom.
What is it we dream about?
What brings on a sigh?
Piled pieahes and cream , about
Six feet high!

Food, glorious food!
Eat right through the menu.
Just loosen your belt
Two inches and then you
Work up a new appetite.
In this interlude --
The food,
Once again, food
Fabulous food,
Glorious food.

Food, glorious food!
Don't care what it looks like --
Burned!
Underdone!
Crude!
Don't care what the cook's like.
Just thinking of growing fat --
Our senses go reeling
One moment of knowing that
Full-up feeling!

Food, glorious food!
What wouldn't we give for
That extra bit more --
That's all that we live for
Why should we be fated to
Do nothing but brood
On food,
Magical food,
Wonderful food,
Marvellous food,
Fabulous food,

[OLIVER]
Beautiful food,

[BOYS]
Glorious food
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:03 AM   #34
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Congratulations to your nephew. Way to go.
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