Thursday, January 17, 2008

Different Century, Same Army

When I left the army in 1984, the computer at the gunner's right elbow in my M60A1 tank was a metal box with three cams inside. It adjusted the elevation of the main gun to the ballistics of the three rounds in our basic load. So 23 years later, in a new century, it has been interesting to see just how much personal computers and the Web have changed the army. Not much that I can see so far. Last year our training NCO enrolled me in 63J10 school. The school is remote learning (CD Roms) for Phase 1 and on-site for Phase 2. In November I was put on a wait list for Phase 2, no mention of Phase 1. Two weeks ago, I got an email from the Phase 2 school asking me to prove I have completed Phase 1 and reminding me I will be sent back to my unit if I arrive at the Phase 2 class in March without proof of Phase 1 completion. I called and emailed the school and my training NCO saying I have not completed Phase 1 and have no hint that I can get the materials. A week after my training NCO sent this correspondence to training HQ, I received an email (just this week) saying I am now enrolled in Phase one and giving me two links to course materials in case they are available on line. I went to those sites--CD Rom only. So I sent an email to the address that came with the course notification asking to verify the address they have for me, so I would know where the disks are arriving.

Yesterday I got the answer: "Request for Assistance Denied" was the subject line of the email. The email gave me another Web site to log into that is the official place to ask questions. It may be computerized, but Army paperwork remains the same as 1970s, and, I suppose, the 1790s.