20 April 2010

Jumping TOC, Jumping Through Hoops

The sergeant major from Training Site burst into the room where we've set up a temporary TOC--a "Tactical Operations Center." The brigade headquarters "jumped" with about two weeks' notice, displacing from the armory in Boone, Iowa, to an old hospital and barracks complex on Camp Dodge, near Johnson. The camp is the largest military installation in the state of Iowa.

Luckily for me, the sole guy on duty at the time, the sergeant major was in a good mood. He usually is, but the word earlier in the week had been that he'd been seen in Extremely Grumpy Mode. I'm actually surprised we don't see the Dark Side of the Sergeant Major more often. After all, anybody who's ever worked in building management knows that tenants only bring problems.

"'Restricted Area?!'" he bellows at me good naturedly, pointing to the sign that had been posted outside on the should-have-been-locked door. "Where's your access roster?"

As the sole representative of the brigade headquarters present, I get the full treatment. He's venting, and I'm always willing to learn new tips and tricks. He makes the point that brigade pretty much jumped TOC without telling anyone, then wondered why there were no buildings, telephones, chairs, or photocopiers to welcome the liberation. I mention to him that, during my in-processing meeting with the Iowa National Guard's Human Resources office, I'd noticed that my orders still indicated my duty station would be Boone, Iowa.

"I had an old sergeant major once teach me this phrase: 'Meals, Wheels, Orders, and Quarters,'" he says. "You make sure to take care of those things, and you're always good to go."

In the weeks following that encounter, those words have kept coming back to me. The TOC crew has been cranking out orders left and right. The "future operations" come up with the plans 90-or-more days out. The "current operations" guys are supposed to execute the plan.

Normally, we refer to short-term notice as "shooting at 25-meter targets." The way things have been working recently, however? "Knife-fight" range. "Hand-to-hand combat" range. It's a fast pace, but at least you can say that there's always something different.

Things are really jumping now ...

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