Load HEAT

I’m not from Texas, and I’ve only driven through it once or twice. But anyone who has spent time around the Army gets the feeling that about half the people in the service have some Texas connection. Let us honor their service today by highlighting one of the state of Texas’ greatest contributions to our society. By that I of course mean Angie Harmon.

Incredibly, we have David Hasselhof the thank for bringing Angie to our attention. He “discovered” her on an airline flight. She was in 44 episodes of Baywatch Nights. I didn’t see any of them. Thankfully, someone else did and cast her in Law and Order, where she played A.D.A. Abbie Carmichael.

That looks like a legal brief to me…

After leaving L&O to pursue other work, she had a supporting role in Agent Cody Banks. Yes, I watched the movie. Can you blame me?

She’s now seen portraying Inspector Lindsay Boxer on Women’s Murder Club.

While I don’t usually pay much attention to celebrity politics, the fact that she’s a Republican and spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2004 is icing on the cake. Who doesn’t like a little unabashed partriotism now and then?

I think, just this one time, we can all say, “God Bless Texas.”

Take Your Wife to Work Day

While snooping around on the web, checking up on old units of mine, I came across this gem from 2005. The Wolfhounds of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry were celebrating Jane Wayne day. Basically, the gather up some of the spouses of soldiers in the unit and give them a taste of some of the funner tasks that their husbands may do. Rappelling, shooting machine guns, whatnot.

Other units I was in did similar things, but usually in a less formal manner. My unit in Ft. Carson was stuck downrange going through gunnery one summer. We would be there a couple of weeks. To give the wives a chance to see their men, we hosted the ladies one day. They got a chance to ride in a duece and a half truck to the range, eat cold scrambled eggs out of  a mermite, watch Bradleys go through live fire training, see the huts we were staying in and see just a small slice of what their husbands “office” was like.  My gunner and driver loaded their wives on my track and we gave them a ride in the Bradley, letting them try working the turret and seeing how much fun it was to ride in back. The only trouble we got into was when I let the wives drive the Bradley. My CO just about had a heart attack. I don’t know what the big deal was. The track has an automatic transmission, power steering, there was no traffic and it wasn’t like they had to parallel park.

Cool!

I just took a look at some sitemeter information and saw that someone was reading the site from the Pentagon. Specifically, from Washington Headquarters Services, whatever that is.

Hi guys! Tell Gates I said hello!

Update: Even better, someone from Oak Harbor, my boyhood hometown just checked us out.

Combat Talon

We covered the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment a while back. But sometimes you need something more.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on America, it was clear the next battlefield would be Afghanistan. But there was a surpising lack of intelligence about the Taliban and Al Queda in the area. The decision was made to conduct a raid by the 75th Ranger Regiment to gather intelligence and attempt to secure prisoners for interogation. How to get them into Afghanistan? That’s where the Air Forces Special Operations Wing comes in. Operating highly modified C-130s designed to penetrate deep into enemy held territory, and known as Combat Talons, the Air Force Spec Op guys flew into Afghanistan and dropped the Rangers onto an airfield. Extraction was later made by Air Force Special Operations helicopters operating from a secret base in Pakistan. When you see the Combat Talons dropping long strings of paratroops in night vision, that’s the raid I’m talking about.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiF3ucq5V60]

Combat Talon has been around for quite a while. In the early days, an awful lot of work was put into improving the C-130s already impressive short field landing and take off performance. This clip shows the results of some testing, and why the project was dropped.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udbsb3cXlnY]

Update: Outlaw 13, our Apache pilot correspondent, informs us that the second clip was a specially modified MC-130 being tested for the aborted raid on Tehran that came to be known as Desert One.  The idea was to land in downtown Tehran. After the testing, a new plan had to be devised. I’ll poke around, but I suspect that may have had something to do with the decision to use the Navy’s RH-53s and refuel them in the desert.

I must be doing something right….

Now, this post is targeted at a specific audience, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

The Army Recruiter’s Wife asked me to put some of my thoughts on recruiting duty together as a guest post for her. I’m always happy to share my opinion. Just remember that most free advice is worth what you pay for it.

Understand that I got out of that business about 9 years ago.
A little history- I was an 11M DA selected for recruiting. As it was, I was trying to make up my mind where to go next, Germany, Drill Sergeant, or Recruiter. I knew my tour in Ft. Carson was just about done and that the unit was going to be drawn down. DA made up my mind for me.

I didn’t put a great deal of thought into where I wanted to go. I was (and still am) single, so one place was pretty much as good as another. I didn’t have to worry about schools, hospitals, special needs, or employment. I put three places down on the dream sheet. Seattle Battalion, since I’m originally from the area and still had family there; Atlanta Battalion, as I have a Southern heritage and still have lots of relations there, and Indianapolis Battalion, as that’s where the schoolhouse was then. I enjoyed Indianapolis and the surrounding area. Sure enough, I got Indy
Battalion. What I didn’t count on was getting sent to the Highland Recruiting Station, which covered Gary, Indiana. I thought I was pretty worldly, with tours in Hawaii, Germany and Colorado behind me. Gary was a total culture shock. I’d never spent any time in the Midwest and it was very strange and different. You expect that in places like Hawaii and Germany. It took me a good while to get used to it.

You’ll hear a lot of talk about how tough recruiting is in (insert your market here) and how the guys in some other place have it much easier. Don’t listen to the whining. The way the catchment areas are set up for each recruiter is quite sophisticated and gives each recruiter a large enough pond to fish in, not just in terms of raw bodies, but in terms of propensity to enlist.

One of the challenges that I saw new recruiters families often face was that they had been with the Army long enough to get used to having that support system around. Suddenly, it ain’t there. My company headquarters was 120 miles away, and battalion was 170 miles away. You have to plan ahead for anything needing support. There are also usually only a handful of Army spouses around, also. Getting settled in without that support structure is tough.

For spouses who have had their husband deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan or some other garden spot, you will be surprised just how much they are gone. Sure, they’re home every night. Late at night. There were times that I worked 7am till 9pm on a regular basis. I wasn’t very good company by the end of the day. You will feel cheated that after waiting patiently all that time he was deployed, you are deprived of him once again. There are ways to counter this. Try to set up a lunch date. One of my fellow recruiters met his wife for lunch every Tuesday, come hell or high water. It helped him a lot. Take leave. You won’t get a chance to take a 30 day leave, but working a 7 day in each quarter isn’t that hard. And don’t forget, there are a lot of civilians out there who put in the same hours recruiters do.

Join some type of community organization. It doesn’t really matter what kind, the point is to meet some locals who can then refer you to things like a good doctor, tell you which schools are good, where the best deals are, that sort of thing.

I didn’t enjoy recruiting very much. Part of it was because I’m a fairly introverted person. Going up to a total stranger and starting a conversation is very difficult for me. That’s a real handicap for a recruiter. Still, success in the recruiting business is a numbers game. The more people you talk to, the more likely you are to find someone to join. Every recruiter hates the phone. They will all tell you they do better face to face. Maybe, but every recruiter I knew had generated more contracts by phone contact than any other single means. After a while, you get pretty comfortable on the phone. I hated the phone as much as any other recruiter, but I soon learned it was easier for me to cold call someone than to walk up to them. Often when I did meet someone face to face, they knew who I was through a previous phone call. I’m terrible with names and probably didn’t remember them, but they remembered me, and that was the important thing.

For the most part, I liked my applicants and recruits. There were always “problem children” who were on the fence, or couldn’t stay out of trouble, but that just comes with the territory. Most of the folks I worked with were decent folks, both the applicants and their parents. I knew I was doing something right when I got invitations to dinner. And if I didn’t like the applicant, I kept my mouth shut and tried like hell to not let it show. If someone wants to join the Army, they deserve as much attention from me as anyone else.

Recruiting was a little weird in that I had less supervision than ever before, and yet, more micromanagement. I would stop by the office in the morning, update the station commander on my plan, let him know what I had in store for the day, then head out. I was on the road most of the day. In the afternoons, around 4:30 or 5, I’d be back in the station to start hitting the phones. Sometime between then and the end of the day, I would have to sit down with the station commander and go over exactly what I had done, how many people I’d met, how many calls had I made, had I made any appointments or conducted any appointments and what were the next steps for the applicants I had in the pipeline. As a rule of thumb, I had two to three good actions a day, that was a good effort. By actions, I mean either a good, solid appointment made, or conducted, or some other tangible step taken toward getting an applicant in. If I missed mission the previous month, or it looked like I wouldn’t make it that month, I’d probably end up discussing my work and my plan with the First Sergeant as well as the Station Commander. That seems like micromanagement, and is rarely comfortable. Most of the time, though, they were pretty helpful.

A.R.W asked if her husband could continue his volunteer work. Specifically, he enjoyed runs, walkathons, and other sporting events supporting a favorite charity. By all means, continue to support them. Just make sure you wear your Army PT uniform! And don’t forget to pass out business cards. Remember, everything you and your recruiter do, is recruiting. I wore my Class A’s to church. If someone asked about it, I answered. Dinner with the girlfriend? Ask the waiter if he wanted a real job! It takes a while to learn to balance work and life, but it can be done.

Each recruiting battalion has a specialist to help with healthcare. Get their name and number and make friends with them. They can be a great asset in dealing with TriCare. Especially for families in the special needs categories. Most doctors in the real world don’t deal with TriCare much, so it is very handy to have a guide and advocate ready to walk you and them through the system.

Recruiting duty is not the nightmare it is painted to be. It is tough, hard work, but if it were impossible, no one would do it. As it stands, quite a few folks decide they like it and convert to 79R. Or at least they look back on it fondly when they return to the “real Army.” Let me wish you good luck. Go Army.

Flathatting Fun

So I cruised over to Cranky’s place, and what do I find? Some fling-winged goodness. Cranky saw a CH-53 go by and it inspired him to find this video.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e5mzH005kw]

Mind you, this is a Luftwaffe (German Air Force) CH-53. Our Marines operate two different versions of the CH-53 as a transport and the Air Force operates the MH-53M as a special operations and search and rescue bird known as the Pave Low. The Air Force guys operate the Pave Low much like this video, only they do it at night.

I’ve only had one ride in a CH-53. When my platoon was training on Molokai Island in Hawaii, we recieved a mission to move about 5 miles.  Now, normally a 5 mile walk isn’t bad, but the terrain there was unbelievable. The trek would have taken us all day and a goodly part of the night. But as we were getting ready to move out, a Marine CH-53 from Kanehoe started doing practice landings in a clearing next to us. My Platoon Sergeant, SFC Lopez ran out and flagged them down. “How about a lift?” Surprisingly, they were more than willing, and fitting the whole platoon in was a piece of cake. We reached our objective about 15 hours ahead of the rest of the company. Thanks, guys!

Tankers, whatcha gonna do with ’em?

While I was noodling around to find the video in the previous post, I found this one. 1-35 Armor was in the same brigade as 1-6 Infantry back when I was there (may still be, for all I know), but I never trained with them. We always trained with the other Armor battalion in the brigade, 1-37AR. Still, I like the video since it shows soldiers in their natural environment. It’s almost like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom for treadheads…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeuJV5oGO2M]

Regulars, By God

Just throwing this clip up because I used to be in 1-6 Infantry. I was loaned out to 7-6IN for Desert Storm, but that unit was drawn down as a peace dividend right after we came back. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Regulars. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yEB1G8luk4]

I went to Hoenfels several times, but we were still doing the whole Cold War thing, training to stop the Soviets from rolling over Western Europe. It is interesting to see how the training has evolved.