Well, things have been pretty busy here in Kandahar. Not only are we conducting operations and doing all the logistics / administration necessary to support our team, but we just had July 1st.
No, not really - It was moving day. In Quebec, everybody moves on "la premiere juillet". Not (usually) out of disrespect for Canada Day, but because it's acutally a decent way of harmonizing the whole process. Just like locateurs in Quebec, everybody here had to change their quarters in the accommodation tents, a massive reassignment.
Somebody thought it was a good idea; so we all had to be out of our tents no later than 10 am, with all our shit packed, piled up outside. Then, at 10:01, we were allowed to move into our new tents. If you filmed us moving our stuff around and sped it up, it would have looked like it was like something out of the Benny Hill Show I guess.
To go off on a tangent for a while, there's two ways to get things done in the military; by following procedure, or by networking with people who can do stuff for you. as I said before, I'm a proceduralist by nature, rather than a networker. But that's not the way they do things in 5 Brigade, the biggest Francophone chunk of the Army.
5 Brigade is based in Valcartier; all their infantry, armoured, artillery, engineer, logistic and admin guys live in pretty much the same town, and work on the same base for most of their careers. The predonimantly English speaking portion of the army however, finds itself posted in Gagetown, Petawawa, Shilo, Edmonton, and Wainwright. So the Quebecois soldiers for the most part know each other pretty well compared to the more transient and populous Anglophone soldiers.
This of course means that while the francophones get things done by calling up their buddy Bruno who knows a guy, the anglophones file form #XXXX in triplicate to the Brigade Logistics clerk for processing to the appropriate staff officer, who will then confirm the requirement with the Ottawa... "I'm sorry Sergeant, according to NDHQ J4 Supply, your section has exceeded your annual pencil quota. Perhaps your section shouldn't sharpen them that often so they would last longer... However if you wish a pencil quota exemption, you can apply once each fiscal quarter using our handy form. Please fill it
out in pencil."
Well, I exadgerate. But being a true believer in Procedure, I've seen it work. It has its advantages. Because with networking, stuff and service goes to the most charismatic guy, not to the most urgent requirement. This results in hoarding of supplies, inability to get service requirements taken care of, and valuable military activity like helicopter reconnaissance sorties being doled out as joy-rides... Hypothetically of course, that would NEVER happen here, I just heard a story about a guy who knew a guy...
Procedure ensures that resources don't get devolved down to the lowest level where they have a tendency to stagnate; The whole notion of holding a force in tactical or strategic reserve is from the same school of thought that declares that there is a set way of doing things. It's not because we don't trust people at the bottom; in fact, the Canadian Army probably places more trust in our Jr officers and Jr NCOs than any military I've ever encountered. But, we Anglos just don't always know who to call when we need something; we haven't existed in the same base as each other for years and years, we've been split, and there are a lot more of us.
So, procedure becomes necessary just so that the new guy posted in has a fighting chance of getting anything accomplished at all.
Well, back to my story about moving day; We were given our room assignments, and told that we weren't to move earlier than 10 am on "la premiere juillet". So, when the time comes, I pack up all my stuff (including my precious music electronics) and park it all outside in the dust; I dutifully clear my old room out by 09:30, and wait until 10 am to move to my new location.
Well, upon arrival, somebody's there, in my spot. A guy from the Royal 22nd Regiment (R22er, a "Vandoo"). And 6 others with him. I'm the token Anglophone, the token Reservist, and the token non-infantry (well, ex-infantry) in the joint.
Well, I have procedure on my side. The accommodation plan, published by the Chain of Command clearly shows that I get the coveted corner space. However, the Vandoo is adamant he's not going to move; he's been there a week already, having moved well before the authorized time.
Well, I could have won that battle but I would have lost the war. I have to co-exist with seven other guys, and rather than be a pushy asshole (which I can do when necessary) I decided to let it slide, on the condition that he use his networking connections to get me some plywood, 2x4's and some tools so I can construct a desk.
See? This networking thing can be handy! I guess I can learn something from these guys... I'm certainly enjoying my new desk, that's for sure!
Well, since I'm in with these guys, "when in Rome do as the Romans", so I'm getting my baptism in networking... So all that remains is for me to do is to draw up the schedule when we'll have lights out, and publish it in triplicate to each guy in the tent so that nobody in the tent will wake any others up inadvertantly... But since I don't want to be a wet blanket with these guys, I'll draw up a "lights out time delay request form" (in both English and French) and post it in our common area. I'm sure they'll appreciate that!
Next post will be a little more about our music club... Finally something pertintent to Ableton!