Sunday, November 10, 2013

Welcome to DINFOS

A new student beginning the public affairs course here will get two immediate messages.
  1. We do not trust you.
  2. Any problems you have are your fault.

Before we had our first class, six members of the chain of command here gave us separate briefings that said, on the one hand, you are beginning one of the more difficult academic courses in the military so you better pay attention and try your best.

But on the other hand, we at DINFOS have no responsibility for the actions and policies of the detachment, so you must do everything the detachment requires, everything that we require and it will be your fault if the school and the detachment contradict each other. 

Translation:  Student Problems are Not My Job.

The Army detachment decided arbitrarily earlier this year to require all students, even combat veterans with fitness awards, to wake up at 4 a.m. and do fitness training five days a week with students out of basic training. 

For the entire course, the students standing up at their desks by 9 a.m., the students repeating simple errors, and the students who were accused of inattention were Army soldiers who were waking up at 4 a.m. while their Air Force, Coast Guard slept till 6:30 every morning and even the Marines got to sleep later a couple of mornings each week.

How can the school say that our classwork is the most important thing we do, then say it is not their job to make sure we have the best environment to learn?  My wife is a college professor.  At her school, a professor and a dean have offices in each of the dorms.  It is called a House System.  They do this so the college staff and the professors have every opportunity to work together for the success of the students. 

Here, the detachment can arbitrarily decide to make soldier skills take priority over class and the school does nothing.

Beyond the morning fitness training, the detachment added Physical Readiness Training on Tuesday nights.  Why?  According to the platoon sergeants at the detachment, the Army will, sometime in the future, be changing its fitness training system and we as NCOs will have to train our soldiers in the new system.


More than 80% of the soldiers he was addressing were National Guard and Reserve.  When will a part-time soldier in public affairs be leading PT?  An E-4 or E-5 in Public Affairs is the lowest ranking soldier in their unit. 

On Thursdays we had something arranged by the detachment called mentorship training.  In this class we were supposed to learn about our future in Public Affairs in the Army.  Again, 80% of the students got nothing from this class except another lost hour they could have used for something that actually had some value to them.  The active duty soldiers said they could use some of the information. 

Aside from one excellent presentation on social media, the other eleven presentations were disorganized PowerPoint presentations by people who ran overtime.  One colonel who addressed the class said the guard and reserve soldiers should go to sleep.  His information did not apply to them.  We could not, of course, sleep.  And he ran overtime just like nearly every other presenter.
Another small indication of Not My Job, struck me the first time I ate in the dining facility.  On the exit door near the main entrance is a sign telling people in case of a fire they should move to their “respectful” areas.  I thought about correcting the sign, but then I decided to see if it was a grammar test.

It wasn’t.

In 90 days, no one has corrected that sign.  Thousands of students and instructors in “grammar 
central” for the US military have walked by that sign.  And it remains uncorrected.  A Sergeant Major came to my table to tell one of the soldiers at our table he had a cargo pocket flap open.  Was that same SGM not offended by the DINFOS DFAC having an ungrammatical sign?

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