12 March 2010

Ezekiel Saw the System within the System ...

I'm pleased to report that, perhaps in part due to my earlier safety-related tantrums, the trainers on the our unit's Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter (DRASH) systems--comprising tents, generators, and Environmental Control Units (E.C.U.)--led off smartly into the new module of instruction this morning. Everything was by the book, with no silly remarks about the manual being somehow wrong when it came to eye- or ear-protection.

We're into learning about yet another building block of the Standard Integrated Command Post System (SICUPS--pronounced "sick-ups"). SICUPS comprises the DRASH system, a multi-mode communications device called a Crew Access Unit (CAU--pronouned "cow"), some video-projection screens, and other techy stuff. Once you establish your digital Tactical Operations Center (TOC--pronounced "talk") using SICUPS, each section installs its respective machines in the Army Battle Command System (ABCS)--which is itself a "system of systems." I know I've generally described these in an earlier post, but I thought I'd list some of them here, in all of their acronymal glory. Here are just some of the usual suspects:
And, the granddaddy acronym of them all: F.B.C.B.2., which stands for "Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade & Below." The particular flavor of FBCB2 our unit is fielding is called "Blue Force Tracker" (B.F.T.). Also related to ABCS is the Command Post of the Future (CPOF--pronounced "see-pauf").

In less than two weeks, our brigade staff sections will go from having only pieces and parts of this primordial acronymn soup, this uber-system of systems, to being expected to do everything from set up the tents, plug all the black boxes together, turn them on, and make them talk to each other. We may even be expected to crawl through some of our basic staff "battle drills"--checklists of coordinated actions to executed following a specified event.

I'd compare this effort to starting a new football season while facing the following complications:
  • First: Learn how to build a stadium. One that you can take down and put up in another city, for when you're traveling.
  • Next, picking your team members from any from most any group but the varsity football squad (one from soccer, one from gymnastics, one from the debate team, and so on).
  • Next, have them learn Microsoft Vista, LINUX, or some other suitably foreign computer system in order to do the same jobs they already know how to do from years of physical practice.
  • Declare that, by the end of the season, you will field a championship team, one offering of an explosive offense and an imposing defense; capable not only of playing the game but teaching the junior varsity how to play it as well; and featuring special teams that can easily take the the opposing quarterback out with one shot from a robotic aircraft.


  1. I hated acronyms. Just use understandable English. Take HQ for instance. Call it The Office run by Big Boss who has under him The Boss. Then the Little Boss and under him The Suck-Ups. Call a tent a Tent. Call a program, what ever it actually is, reduced to two or three words (i.e. Troops, Troop Movement, Enemy, Enemy Movement, Explosives, Battle Support - or just Support, etc)

  2. Have you ever read some of the "Awesomely Bad Military Acronyms" collected by Wired's Danger Room blog? Great stuff, and right up your acronym-hating alley. Things like: "Practical Exercise, Not Involving Soldiers."

    I've actually seen that one occur in the wild. I wish I were kidding ...


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