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June 09, 2006


If you don't understand the title - visit Greyhawk's post.

What with the flurry on the 'net with OIF Alphabet V1.0 and OIF Alphabet V2.0, and Bubblehead's posting of one of the more complete versions of the Staffer's Hard Sayings Log, it's time to bring up the Commander's Guidance bit.

Just minutes away from the Change of Command ceremony, the outgoing and incoming commander are in the commander's office chatting about the unit, the personalities of key leaders (formal and informal), strengths and weaknesses, and wouldn't she back off a bit on that Change of Command inventory? The outgoing commander looks at his watch, sighs, then opens the safe.

Beckoning Captain Newbie over he says, "This is my gift to you. It was given me by my predecessor, and you'll probably pass it on to your successor." Reaching in the safe, he pulls out a shotgun envelope (those who know, know). Holding it up, he looks Captain Newbie in the eye and says, "There are three envelopes in here, numbered 1-3. When you are in here late at night, at wit's end about some problem you are sure is going to cause you to get your head handed to you on a platter, open up an envelope. In order."

With that, he turns, tosses the shotgun into the safe, spins the dial, initials the sheet, and off they go to pass the guidon.

A month later, Captain Newbie is sitting in her office, discussing the practical upshot of a rocket fired at her at Commanders and Staff Call that morning. The First Shirt looks at her and says, "Shite, ma'am - I have no farking idea. This is officer business." Sighing, Captain Newbie sips her rapidly cooling green-tea-with-a-twist and suddenly remembers that last chat with Captain LongGone... who happens to now be one of those lying conniving bustards on the staff who is pinning her ears to the wall with those damn'd rockets... Spinning around to the safe, she spins the dials, grabs the shotgun, opens it, and pulls out Envelope #1.

Ripping it open, in it she finds a long-fallen-into-disfavor and blotched and stained (are those *tear-stains*?) Optional Form 41 (Rev 7-76) Routing and Transmittal slip (which are supposed to be used for Routing and Transmittals, dope - not Memos!), on which she finds scribed in somewhat blotchy ink (hey, it's crappy paper and the pens are made by blind people - who does the QC, huh?):

"Blame your predecessor."

"Aha! I've got you, you bustard!" she shouts exultantly. And promptly drafts an RBI (Reply By Indorsement) to the rocket explaining, in great and gory detail, how the current problem is a legacy of the sorry weasel who was her predecessor and the measures she will take to fix the problem. Saving that doc, she opens up her email (after fiddling with that damn CAC card reader - *again*) and drafts up a note for the boss. Addressing it to the battalion commander, CC'd to her predecessor's rater and senior rater, and bcc'd to her fellow commanders, she hits 'send' with a sense of fierce satisfaction over having shown that Staff Weenie who he was dealing with.

Nine months later, Captain Wornout is sitting in her office, sipping thick cold almost-chewy mud left over from this afternoon's pot o' joe, staring at the malevolent document (she could swear it's got a sickly green glow to it) that ominously sits, heavy with dark foreboding, in the middle of her desk.

It's labeled "Report of Inspection, 537th Widget Repair and Refurbishment Company, Annual General Inspection FY 2006."

There's a stench of decay coming from the report and a strong smell of fear coming from Captain Wornout, though it can be hard to tell the difference. Sitting there, the dregs of cold, stale coffee clinging slime-like to the sides of the cup, head held in her hands, she ponders. She can't blame Captain LongGone. He's really long gone. She was so successful there that he's been PCS'd to be the Army LNO at Thule Air Base, Greenland. For a special 5 year tour, with an optional 3 year extension. Unaccompanied. Where the commander’s greeting letter starts out thusly:

Greetings! On behalf of Colonel Im Knot There, commander of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colorado, I am pleased to welcome you to the top of the world! Thule is the U.S. Armed Forces' northernmost installation, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Thule's arctic environment offers some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere in the world, including majestic icebergs in North Star Bay, the massive polar ice cap, and Wolstenholme Fjord, the only place on Earth where three active glaciers join together.

Coming out of her reverie, her eyes brighten up a bit - and she spins around, spins the dial, opens the safe - and out comes the shotgun. With trembling hands, she opens Envelope #2. Out falls another old, dilapidated, nearly unreadable OF 41 (Rev 7-76). Gingerly reaching down and picking it up, she lays it down on the blotter, and knocks her coffee cup over, adding yet another stain to an already nearly unreadable Routing and Transmittal Slip.

"Blame the System"

Giddy with relief, she fires up Powerpoint, and produces a stunning document showing how the system is fatally flawed. As an added bonus, she shows how those inept inspectors from the IG's office completely botched their inspection.

Three months later, Captain Burnedout is staring in horror at *another* IG report lumped together with an AR 15-6 Investigation. This one detailing how it was her fault, and her fault alone, that her safe had been left open, allowing persons unknown to steal the contents, which included classified information, unit fund receipts, and several rosters with social security numbers on them which have been used for a rash of identity theft scams in the last three months - all laid at her door because she didn't annotate that Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet that night she opened Envelope #2. (The real culprit was her Charge of Quarters that night, Sergeant Safecracker, who saw his opportunity when he noted the form wasn't properly annotated - but that's a different story.)

Stubbing out her cigarette into the oil-sheened dregs of coffee (is that a whiff of whiskey?) in her brown-stained mug, Captain Burnedout turns and looks at her Nemesis. That damn'd safe. Spins the dial (carefully annotating the Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet) and pulls out the shotgun. Locking the safe and spinning the dial to be sure (carefully annotating the Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet) she tiredly turns back to her desk and stares at her savior, Envelope #3.

Slowly, deliberately, she carefully opens the envelope. Out drops a nearly pristine OF 41 (Rev 7-76) Routing and Transmittal Slip.

"Prepare three envelopes"