19 July 2010

It's Only a Paper Moon

Sometimes, you can't make this Army stuff up.

Following last month's Annual Training at Camp Ripley, Minn., our brigade is slated in July to mobilize and leave for Camp Shelby, Miss. for a few weeks of post-mobilization training. After that, we're to move to the National Training Center (N.T.C.) at Fort Irwin, Calif. Parts of the brigade would launch into Afghanistan directly from NTC, while others might rotate back to Camp Shelby to launch from there.

The NTC used to be the force-on-force training capital of the Army, a place where tomorrow's would-be Pattons and Rommels would duke it out with armored fists. Recently, however, people at Fort Irwin figured out the training money was all going to the counterinsurgency (COIN) fight. They've allegedly minted themselves a new kinder, gentler training plan and program.

We'll have to see about all that, however, because NTC doesn't appear to have some of the basics required to move a National Guard unit overseas. At least, that's what their tourist brochures seem to indicate.

Take, for example, this fine print: NTC does not supply "linens, toilet paper, or cleaning supplies."

Remember "beer math"? Even the slowest fraternal party-goer can rattle off how many cases of beer equals how many cans per drinker. To put it in such terms, the Army says the NTC party is strictly "B.Y.O.P."

What ... The ... Foxtrot?!

Consider the plight of a bunch of formerly hard-charging, hard-drinking warfighters, now confined to a Plans tent and reduced to arguing over how many rolls of toilet paper equals a basic combat load. It's not pretty. Or productive.

It's also a lot like that Pat Hazell joke: "I like to buy a four-pack of toilet paper every time I shop, just so I can ask the clerk this judgment question: 'Would you say I got the right amount of toilet paper for the amount of groceries I bought?'"

Personally, I like the suggestion of issuing each soldier two rolls of single-ply paper for personal use, one for each cargo pocket. We teach our Joes to conserve ammunition--why not other classes of supply? "Remember, boys--make each sheet count."

The same strategy would work for cleaning supplies, too. Just issue it in 3-ounce containers, so that Joe can get through airport security. Some of us old-school types are already trained to clean toilets with toothbrushes.

Not to worry, however. Clearer thinking apparently prevailed. Instead of us brining-our-own, the U.S. taxpayer is going to ship our toilet paper and cleaning supplies by bonded courier, along with our equally precious and secret computer equipment.

I am not making this up.


  1. I suppose people could send care packages of TP? Talk about a thrill!

  2. This is a "crappy" topic. I went to Ft Irwin a few times as a Combat Engineer...that's a good place to train for Iraq...that's why we went to Ft Lewis to Train for Iraq and Ft Polk, LA to train for Bosnia. Huh?

    Train in the desert for a war in the desert.

    As for TP, if you're lucky, you guys will sleep in the "Dust Bowl." No barracks for those there for training...get used to camping out.
    My last trip there, we lived in our "tracks" for a week.

  3. @ Kanani: One of the guys said something like, "If we have to bring our own toilet paper, can we at least make sure that it's not the single-ply sandpaper that John Wayne would've used?"

    @ CI-Roller Dude: I first mobilized through Fort Carson--mountain country for a sea-level desert deployment. Now, we're looking at training in the desert for war in the high-country. All that would be OK (and, like you said--even expected, given "Army logic"), I guess, if it weren't for the feeling that NTC's training package is still more about high-intensity stuff, rather than COIN. My humble opinion, of course, but I think our guys and gals probably need more time learning the "new" high-touch stuff, and less "big-bang" practice. Not a lot of tank-on-tank downrange, from what I can tell.


  4. You got me. I'm just a civilian who sticks his head in from time to time, but if you've ever worked for a large corporation, you may notice similarities with "Army logic."


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.