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Old 06-05-2007, 07:54 PM   #1
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Status of forces

I am fortunate enough to has access to a military physical fitness center about 10-15 minutes form my place. Like most gyms, it is jammed with free weights, treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, rowing machine, and various stationary pieces of equipment. I use this center only 5 days per week because they are only open mon-fri, otherwise I'd be there for seven.

I am most impressed by the caliber of the young men and women who chose to use the facility. Most of them are Army types, but a good number of Navy and Air Force folks are often in attendance. The mix is about 80/20 men/women. They use this equipment in their off duty time.

They could be drinking beer, chasing girls (or boys), or catching up on lost sleep. Pick any of these 3, and that's me at age 20!

They are, as a random group of kids about ages 18-25, very dedicated to their mission and their overall well being. Most of these folks do not have access to high ranking officers (as I was back in the day), so when I engage them in conversation they are a bit guarded (who is this old guy?) as I have never mentioned my rank or what I did while serving. I just enjoy speaking to them, one person to another, about a variety of topics.

These are the sons and daughters of folks across the USA and they are all most impressive human beings that I am proud to associate with on a daily basis.

As this base is a training area, the troops rotate out constantly and rarely stay for more that a few weeks. One gang leaves, a new gang shows up. But....no difference in the caliber of either random group.

Just thought you'd like to know that your federal income tax dollars seem to be well invested in this little corner of the world.
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Old 06-05-2007, 08:00 PM   #2
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And what you just posted is why I believe these young men and women are being sent to the lions for no good reason. That these wonderful young men and women have and are being used as pawns in a game of keep the oil flowing. And while you are at it get in the middle of tribal civil war where people who have hated each other for so long will NEVER get it together.
These wonderful soldiers need not be sent to Iraq.
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Old 06-05-2007, 08:24 PM   #3
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These photos were taken on the USMA Combat Weapons Team shooting range after the Class of '07's graduation. At the time he started West Point, my nephew was one of only three cadets in the entire Corps to be wearing a CIB. There weren't many officers on staff with one, either.

His Mom & Dad are pinning on his new 2LT's bars and I got the beret. After taking their oath they emptied a final clip into their targets so that next year's cadets would have a new standard to shoot for (so to speak). They're holding the interservice academy shooting trophy, one that I'm relieved to learn has not yet been held by either Navy or Air Force...
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File Type: jpg Combat Weapons Team trophies.JPG (70.1 KB, 7 views)
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Old 06-08-2007, 06:45 PM   #4
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Gratz on the 2LT bars. Who got the silver dollar, or don't they do that anymore? I really think all officers should do a few years as an enlisted Soldier first.

In time you will see more CIBs in the ranks, even in the service academies. Even in my small state the majority of the national guardsmen have been deployed already. There will be a difference between the deployed and non-deployed when promotions come even tho they say there won't.
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Old 06-08-2007, 10:09 PM   #5
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Yep, we are continuing to get great personel in the service. I sat next to a USMC corporal on a plane the other day, and we had a great discussion about his total of two tours in Iraq, how things were going there, how his family was handling things, etc. He hates being away from home--but wants to get back soon.

I enjoy using military gyms. The best thing about them is the atmosphere--nobody is there to "be seen." Not much spandex, and many of the folks do not enjoy being there, but staying fit is part of the job.
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Old 06-09-2007, 12:03 AM   #6
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I had a flashback to Korea where service personnel's legal issues were covered by the Status of Forces Agreement which was known as the SOFA.

Great pictures, thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-09-2007, 12:36 AM   #7
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Great pics, Nords, and of course like the obligatory well worn Hawaiian shirt - I'm sure everyone was amazed you had on long pants :-)
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Old 06-09-2007, 01:35 PM   #8
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Great pics, Nords, and of course like the obligatory well worn Hawaiian shirt - I'm sure everyone was amazed you had on long pants :-)
Well, I wore a coat & tie (socks, too!) during the cadet Parent's Banquet but I wasn't going to wear any of that in unshaded Michie Stadium. I was amazed at how people dress on the Mainland-- and how uncomfortable it looks!

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Who got the silver dollar, or don't they do that anymore?
While the diplomas were being handed out and cadet's names announced, one name evoked a roaring standing ovation from the Corps. I don't remember his name but I was later told that he was USMA's Anchor Man, with a 2.003 GPA, an abysmal grade in military conduct, $1 from each of his classmates, and $1000 from the alumni association.

Of course no one remembers the guy with the 2.0035 GPA... or the 1.99998 GPA.

There's also a tradition of getting a silver dollar if you're the first to salute a newly-commissioned officer. Several of the smarter kids avoided the hat toss in favor of rushing up to the cadets and hopefully saluting them.

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I really think all officers should do a few years as an enlisted Soldier first.
Funny you should mention it. I don't have any credibility in that area but my daughter was discussing USNA in front of him a while back and said "Well, even if I don't make it into the Academy I could always enlist." My nephew, who's darn near unflappable at anything below .50 cal, spontaneously blurted out a fervent "NO!!" Pretty much ended that proposal, or maybe it was my distracting tactic of blowing frosty beverage out my nose while laughing.

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In time you will see more CIBs in the ranks, even in the service academies. Even in my small state the majority of the national guardsmen have been deployed already. There will be a difference between the deployed and non-deployed when promotions come even tho they say there won't.
Oh, there'll be a huge difference among the E-7/8/9 and O-5/6 survival selection rates. First thing the selection boards will do is set aside all the non-combat service records until they see if there's any room left over after considering the CIBs. There's even talk of a similar device for Navy personnel (other than the Purple Heart) who've seen combat during their IA assignments. And of course I'm in favor of bringing back the submarine war patrol pin...
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Old 06-09-2007, 02:10 PM   #9
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They did create a Close Quarters Combat pin, as the CIB is only for infantry branched Soldiers. Most of my state has those, since they are mostly Artillery pressed into service as convoy security, prisoner guarding, etc.

The CQB is a big Ka-Bar type knife surrounded by leaves.

They keep saying that lack of combat experience won't hinder upward mobility. I even read it in official instructions when I got to sit in on a promotion board for a couple of 02s looking to make 03.

I don't believe that one bit.
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Old 06-09-2007, 06:39 PM   #10
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They keep saying that lack of combat experience won't hinder upward mobility. I even read it in official instructions when I got to sit in on a promotion board for a couple of 02s looking to make 03.

I don't believe that one bit.
Why should combat experience NOT be considered in promotion? History is filled with parade perfect soldier who failed miserably when facing combat.

Given my choice between having a company commander (03) who has been in combat and one who hasn't, giving preference to combat seems like the right thing.

I am missing something. :confused:
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Old 06-09-2007, 07:22 PM   #11
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Why should combat experience NOT be considered in promotion? History is filled with parade perfect soldier who failed miserably when facing combat.

Given my choice between having a company commander (03) who has been in combat and one who hasn't, giving preference to combat seems like the right thing.

I am missing something. :confused:
Well, since it's not possible for everybody to get to the theater, they HAVE to SAY that it's not a factor. Still, everyone knows it will (and should be) an important consideration.

Technically, they probably won't give specific credit for combat, but the records will speak for themselves. When FITREP A says "got the monthly reports completed with outstanding accuracy" and FITREP B says "led his unit in action against the enemy, assuring the security of three villages and the capturing or killing 254 enemy combatants in a period of 4 months" . . . the board will know what to do.

And, that is as it should be. Guys (and gals) who are eager to get into the fray should be doing it NOT to fill a square, but to do the very thing that they've been training their whole career for. If they do well (and their boss does a good job of documenting it), they'll be recognized with additional responsibility.
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Old 06-09-2007, 07:37 PM   #12
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Exactly. Not everyone gets to go to combat or do a tour overseas. Take me for example. I just retired after 22 years in the guard. I've never went (tho came close). Rank and skillset are a big factor.

Don't forget that only a small portion of the Army is in theater at any given time too. The rest of us support those over there and prepare to go if we are needed.

They can't do what they are doing without the rest of us supporting them. And there are really many more support troops than actual combat troops.
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Old 06-09-2007, 07:52 PM   #13
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Ah ok, I guess that makes sense, and we don't want the guy who is as computer expert leading a Styrker Platoon just to get his ticket punched to give him a better shot of promotion.

But, I think this war on Islamic Nutters is going to be a really long one, and I want to make sure that folks who have combat experience are our future leaders.

As I've told many young man who has been deployed over the last couple of years. As I taxpayer, I am getting a helluva a bargain for $7.50/day you are getting for combat pay. I don't think folks are going to volunteer for $7.50, but knowing that if they do well in combat they have better chance of getting additional responsibility may be an incentive.
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Old 06-10-2007, 01:21 PM   #14
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I think that the Army looks at, not only combat experience, but command experience also when promoting above the grade of O3. With the combination of command experiencxe and combat experience, 04 is pretty well assured as long as you have the rest of the ticket punched.
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Old 06-10-2007, 01:57 PM   #15
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My husband and I have been volunteering at the USO at DFW airport for about six months now and I can say that I have been so impressed with all the troops that come thru. The caliber of people in our military forces is very high. DFW is one of two hubs for all the troops on R & R from the war areas and the USO at DFW serves about 600 hundred military a day. My husband (who was not in the military) has commented on many occasions that everyone in our country should have the opportunity to meet some of the active duty personnel that we have met and see the best and the brightest that this country has to offer.
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Old 06-10-2007, 02:44 PM   #16
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With the combination of command experiencxe and combat experience, 04 is pretty well assured as long as you have the rest of the ticket punched.
My nephew the Army Ranger says that the current selection rate to O-4 is about 98%. Getcher time in rank, fog a mirror, don't have a DUI or major felony ("minor" is negotiable), and hope that the master sergeants will take care of the rest...

A few years ago the submarine O-5 promotion board instructions specifically warned the board members about early promotions of O-4s to O-5s. They wanted to make sure that no O-4 was promoted ahead of schedule because the sub force was already way too short of them for O-4 jobs. When the "above zone" O-3 promotions were taken into account, the submarine O-4 selection rate was 107%.
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Old 06-10-2007, 02:57 PM   #17
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I think that the Army looks at, not only combat experience, but command experience also when promoting above the grade of O3. With the combination of command experiencxe and combat experience, 04 is pretty well assured as long as you have the rest of the ticket punched.
Army folks chime in to correct me, but in approx 2001 the Army modified their officer career development tracks in some MOS's to allow for separate "Command" and "Staff Officer" tracks. This is a recognition of the fact that different skill sets are required, and that the service would be better off if officers have a chance to do more specialization. Practically everyone will still command at the company level, but after that, some folks will be spending more time in joint jobs, HHQs staffs, etc while others go on to command Army units (with a staff tour now and again, especially to gain joint experience if they want to be a GO).
I'm not sure how it is working for them, but feedback from the O-3s in 2001 was that they thought this was a good change.
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Old 06-10-2007, 03:25 PM   #18
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Why should combat experience NOT be considered in promotion?
Can't speak for the other Services, but the Air Force is organized along Commands that differ greatly in their exposure to combat. Certainly, effective combat experience is a big plus for promotion within frontline commands such as Air Combat Command, Special Ops Command, and others. But if war experience was made too prominent in promotion boards we would soon be overweighed at the top with pilots and not have enough engineers, missileers, etc.

This became a problem in the early years of the Air Force when bomber pilots who didn't have the expertise were brought in to command fighter wings or support areas, and after the Vietnam years, when pilots would be commanding missile and space organizations. It's a difficult balancing act. One thing that was done during the 'Nam years was to send a signal to non-pilots that if they wanted to be competitive at promotion board they had to serve in some function within a combat theater. But then you can get these bloated organizations in theater with lots of insignificant paper being pushed to get that square checked.
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Old 06-10-2007, 04:05 PM   #19
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There's also a tradition of getting a silver dollar if you're the first to salute a newly-commissioned officer. Several of the smarter kids avoided the hat toss in favor of rushing up to the cadets and hopefully saluting them.

Could be that the smarter kids are the ones that collect as many hats as possible. My son, and a lot of his hat-tossing mates at USNA for '07, place a $5 bill in their midshipmen covers. Also, I thought the silver dollar went to the first uniformed serviceman who salutes the newly-commissioned officer.

But then again, as you probably know, they probably do things a little backwards at USMA.
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Old 06-10-2007, 05:19 PM   #20
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I thought the silver dollar went to the first uniformed serviceman who salutes the newly-commissioned officer.
I received my commission from OCS at Ft. Benning. The oath and official swearing in was done away from the big deal public ceremony. We all raised our right hand repeated the oath and we were declared second lieutenants.

The First Sergeant of our company was the next to speak. He said "Gentlemen, I salute you". By doing this, and rendering a hand salute, he was taking advantage of the tradition of paying $1 for the first salute as an officer.

As we all filed out of the smallish room we all shook his hand and handed him a buck. (This is the first time I have heard about a silver dollar.)
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