Sunday, April 19, 2009


Choices are rarely between two things, one of which is good and one bad. Normally, it's something that's good, and something that's also good, or bad, and also bad...otherwise it wouldn't be much of a choice. (For a fun example, imagine someone offering you an ice cream cone on a hot day or a kick in the groin...not much choice there. Now, imagine someone offering you a glass of ice cold water, or a chair under a misty, shady tree...not so easy now is it?)

The last month has thrown me into two situations that present me with the good/good or bad/bad scenarios that are much less fun to decide, especially when they're real life scenarios instead of the cool vignettes they used at school where you'd debate what to do about SGT X and then go back to your room knowing that SGT X isn't real. Once I got commissioned, SGT X became real, and now my decisions affect him/her in real it's not nearly as fun.

OK, so what am I talking about? I had to recommend a soldier for the first time to get an article 15. The outcome is that said soldier (SGT X), is no longer going to be on Team Hero with the rest of us, and he lost a pretty awesome professional opportunity that would have taken the second half of his deployment. Why did I do that you ask...well, SGT X just couldn't get to work on time regardless of how many chances, stern talkings-to and counselings I wrote. The thing is, SGT X is also, without question, the best soldier I have at the job he does. So, do I allow a House-like soldier ("House-like" references the television show that I recommend you all don't watch because it's a by-the-numbers piece of crap complete with poorly scripted lines recited by poorly acting actors) who is convinced he doesn't have to "play by the rules" because he's just too good and valuable to be lost, or do I recommend him for the punishment knowing I will be losing a valuable member of the team? See...bad/bad. Or, good/good, depending upon how you look at it. In any case, I made the decision and now, I'm here...about to sit on my first article 15 hearing. Not fun.

Secondly, I got my first OER, that's like a performance review in the civilian world. The OER was kinder than I had expected. I'd always said that when it came to my conduct/performance in the Army, I would try hard not to listen to anyone telling me to do things a certain way. I figured, I would do them my way and, if "higher" liked it, then I could stay in and maybe I would be happy in the Army since I was, after all, doing things "my way." If, however, "higher" didn't like my way, then we would part ways and, in the end, at least I'd have some military experience and I wouldn't have spent five years jumping through hoops trying to be something I'm not. Well, apparently my way wasn't frowned upon, so that's good. I do, however, have to decide what the future holds for me.

What I'm about to say is ironic, and I realize that, but in general, I don't feel like I get a sense of service that I thought I would. (The irony is coming...wait for it...wait for it...) So, I think if I got out of the Army and pursued other venues, maybe I will get that sense of service I long for (<-that was it, if you missed it). I'm not really enjoying the intel world, but I do like leading soldiers. Unfortunately, because I'm an intel officer, I won't be leading soldiers any longer once we get back to Fort Hood, and that means the intel world and the life of an intel Officer beckons. So, what's the choice I have to make? What do I want to do when I go back? Here are the options:
  1. Stay in the current unit and be a desk jockey doing paperwork and other organizational things on Battalion Staff. The upside: I don't have to go be an intel Officer & I would learn valuable organizational skills I currently lack. The downside: it's a miserably thankless and boring job far from the soldiers, so what little sense of service I currently get will be much lower.
  2. Try to be a Battalion S2 (intel officer). The upside-er...I'm not sure. Technically it would be a great career move and, if I stayed in the army, would give me a lot of good experience. The downside...I haven't seen a happy S2 since I've been here. The hours are long, the job is thankless and there's never an "end" (imagine, if you will, someone putting pieces from three separate puzzles in front of you with no photo to guide you. Every few hours, they put more pieces there in a pile and, for a year, you just keep nugging away trying to piece together these puzzles. The puzzles are never finished and, in a year, you just give your half finished puzzles and a big stack of pieces to someone else. Oh, and the whole year, other people come and yell at you for the puzzle not being finished...that's intel work.)
  3. Possibly do option one for a half a year and then be a Minority Outreach Officer for West Point. The upside to this one is obvious, besides the fact I'd have a chance to work at school again (and anyone who's read this more than once knows I bleed black and gold), I'd also have the opportunity to maybe bring some high-school aged kids into an experience that helped formed me. The downside? I don't know if I want to "opt out" of the "real" army like that or not. It feels almost like cheating, especially with the unit probably going to Afghanistan in a year (that's just a guess, but probably a pretty good one).

So, there you go, another decision...good/good/good and bad/bad/bad. So what do you do then?

And, more decisions to I go to Grad School on the Army's dime, but then owe them more time? Do I get out and risk...risk what? everything? Damn was so much easier without em.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting to hear this debate unfold in your mind, because I recently found out I'm going to be a ground intel officer for the Marines. I'll go to 10 weeks of the Infantry Officer's Course, then 17 weeks of the Ground Intel Officer's Course. When all of that's over with, I'm supposed to lead a scout-sniper platoon, but generally I'm going to be an assistant S-2 indefinitely. It's hard for me to reconcile the desire to be basically be an infantry officer that produces intelligence and instead becoming someone that pushes papers across his desk. I'm not even to your point in my career and I'm already thinking along the same lines. The journey's the thing, though, and I think I'd enjoy whatever I ended up doing as long as I felt challenged.


8:12 PM  

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