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Day 10: The Kansas City Shuffle

February 16, 2011 | Captain Thomas Harper

        It’s a little hard to believe that today marked the last day with a full schedule at Fort Lee.  I’ve been in a number of different training environments, and no matter how much fun I ultimately had, the days seemed to crawl by.  Part of the reason the time here has passed so quickly has been the weird, inconsistent schedule.  Some days have begun early with PT formation, while others have been delayed because of some other event.  Additionally, the nature of the training events in phase I leads to inconsistent end and break times.  This is definitely not a bad thing, but if you have prior experience, I wouldn’t arrive expecting to be occupied all day, every day.  I remember feeling confused the first day we had a major break in action last week, but it’s actually been refreshing to not be slammed into training all day.  That’ll definitely change in DCC, if not sooner, but I’ve relished it so far.

           My room still looks like a bomb went off in it, with papers, clothes, and other gear all over the place, but I had no energy to work on fixing that this morning.  I wouldn't be surprised if the guys from American Pickers showed up at my door to pick through all the junk in here.  I’ve honestly felt pretty guilty over the whole thing, and have desperately kept the ‘do not disturb’ sign plastered to my door so that housekeeping doesn’t have to deal with anything.  It’s safe to say that any drill sergeant would have a massive heart attack if they laid eyes on my set up.

            The afternoon involved the last few briefings of this phase.  We started out with a really basic lesson on the various branches of the Army.  Class members with experience in different branches got to take the lead on the explanations, and the whole thing moved pretty quickly.  Next came a brief on social media in the Army.  It didn’t end up being a lecture on the dangers of facebook or twitter, but rather an educational tour of the resources found on AKO, JAGCNET, and other Army sites.  It ended up being a pretty big help, even though cadre didn’t physically walk through each site.  Knowing how to access things like Rosetta Stone and other benefits is something I’ve been wanting to do a better job of for a long time, so this class will definitely help move that goal along.

       As a pointer for any interested parties, lunch on base is pretty easy to take care of in an hour, and there are a number of options.  The ALU (where most briefings take place) has a cafeteria, as well as a mini-food court that has a Subway and Einstein Bagels.  There’s also a really good (and cheap) BBQ food truck that rotates between serving at the ALU and the PXtra (where clothing sales is located).  The PXtra has a couple small places, while the main PX has a food court with several places.  Since we get the entire ~$46 per diem while here, it’s nice not to have to keep receipts or feel pressured financially with every meal.

       The Chaplain attached to the JAG school then delivered a brief on suicide prevention.  Although it was a potentially big downer, he found a way to infuse a motivating message that didn’t leave everyone depressed.  Next up came a brief on our transition to the JAG school in Charlottesville.  Not a ton of information was given out, but we did find out where we’d be staying. 

     For now, no one is housed in the JAG school (which has a number of rooms above the school), which means we’re all scattered between three different area hotels (the English Inn, Residence Inn, and Holiday Inn).  The Residence Inn is within walking distance, and seems to house most people with spouses or families.  Everyone else seemed randomly placed between the other two, and I’ll be in the Holiday Inn.  The hotel looks nice, but I was a little disappointed to not be within walking distance, or to have a larger chunk of my classmates housed with me.  Hopefully they’ll have the construction squared away for the sake of classes coming in the near future.

     The after action review of phase I came next, and it was conducted in a rolling comment session, rather than us writing things down.  We went event by event, and took about an hour to make it past day one.  The unifying theme of most comments seemed to be the desire to have more information coming in.  Even with google and other internet resources, I found myself scraping for information, so I was right there with people on some of their comments.  I’m not holding my breath for any massive and immediate changes, but that’s the Army for you.  Overall, this phase really hasn’t been bad at all, at reflects tweaks that have been made from numerous earlier AARs.

      We transition almost immediately after the APFT finishes on Thursday, and it looks like we’ll all have a large chunk of time to get packed back up tomorrow.  I still have to go get weigh tickets for my car, and the repacking job is going to be a little interesting.


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