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Archive for the ‘BOLC II’ Category

Where have I been?

Finished BOLC II in October. Shortly thereafter, BOLC II disappeared forever into the Place Where Good Ideas Poorly Executed Go To Die.

It wasn’t my fault. I swear. Probably.

Sometimes Google Images finds strange things. Very, very cute strange things.

What’d I do next? I got married!

Seriously. To the woman of my dreams. Your dreams, too, probably, but she’s all mine. For the record, it was not one of those spur of the moment “Oh God I’m lonely and really, really want all that BAH money!” military weddings.

Unless you call being together a decade “spur of the moment.” If your sense of time and perspective is that skewed, you may be a glacier.

This is a glacier. Glaciers are really, really slow. Which is kinda the point I was making there. In case you're a little slow yourself.

Happily married after way, way too much waiting around for her to make an honest man of me, I headed back to Benning for IBOLC. Also known as IBOLC or BOLC III for infantry types.

That is a long, long story. A deeply fascinating one, which can be summarized in a few short words. Words like: “Wow, that sucked, didn’t it?”

I graduated in February. And now here I am, a newly minted Lieutenant of the Infantry, beginning my first deployment to Iraq.

Today I sit in a piss-poor excuse for a billeted room – sort of a hotel for homeless types – at a local National Guard Armory. Tomorrow, I hop on an overcrowded, undereducated bus and travel on to my mobilization station; and after a few short weeks there, I’ll be on my way to Kuwait … then Iraq … and ultimately to a platoon of infantry riflemen just desperate for my skilled and fierce leadership.

This is going to be a trip. One that promises to range from tragic to banal to boring to endlessly amusing.

And thus the blog is reborn: after all, this was the stuff I really wanted to share. War stories, bore stories, and all in between.

Since I failed so miserably to blog daily about BOLC II and BOLC III, I plan – I swear! – to go back in time, when time permits, and tell stories. Or at least all that I can safely tell. Which leaves out most of the good stuff. Sucks for you, huh?

I’ll try to call it all up from memory, one day and week and month at a time. The same goes for OCS – after all, there are plenty of you out there curious about becoming officers. My advice? Consider Klown Kollege instead.

This clown is secretly very sad. Just like a Second Lieutenant.

Oh, I’m kidding.

Mostly.

Lots more on the secret life of Second Lieutenants later.

Stay tuned.

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So I noticed a sudden and inexplicable blip in traffic on my fledgling little blog of blah recently – which I found strange, since a) I’ve barely had time to feed and water the little tyke, and b) I’ve done exactly zero to drum up traffic. So I checked the search terms … and shock me, shock me, shock me – it’s all from soldiers Googling their little green fingers off trying to figure out whether or not BOLC II has been canceled.

Well? Is it canceled or what? C'mon, LT ... I didn't Google for silly pictures and random drivel. Spill it already.

Well? Is it canceled or what? C'mon, LT ... I didn't Google for silly pictures and random drivel. Spill it already.

It’s not surprising, I suppose. As my beautiful era of OCS innocence was drawing to a close, the rumor that BOLC II was set to be canceled was the subject of much discussion. There are doubtless hundreds of young soon-to-be Lieutenants out there right this very minute, desperate to determine their BOLC II-related future. But before I get to that, I’d just like to point out that Googling “canceled” brought up a strangely impressive number of boobie pictures. Like this one:

Maybe its just me, but I would not cancel her.

Maybe its just me, but I would not cancel her.

Then again, every search on any search engine brings up lots of boobs. That’s what they invented the Internet for.

But back to the subject at hand: is BOLC II canceled? (Hey – I’ll bet if I keep typing that little phrase, I could climb right up the search rankings. But that would be silly.)

So is it? BOLC II – canceled?

Now you're just being mean.

Now you're just being mean.

All right, here’s the ice cream scoop, the straight poop, the goopety-goop: yes. Sort of. Probably.

We’ve had briefings from both our battalion commander and our brigade commander, and both have mentioned the impending disappearance of the slutty evil that is BOLC II. Huzzah! I have good intel that they’re transition to something they’re calling “BOLC-B” … which is basically a new name for the same old, same old OBC system – in which newly commissioned officers were sent straight to their branch school without this strange purgatory of BOLC II.

Even our platoon mentor and cadre NCO’s have mentioned it. We are supposed to be among the very last BOLC II classes: some say there will be one more starting in October; others suggest there will be one more – for this company – starting in November. Then its buh bye BOLC, catch you on the flip side, don’t let the door hit you where the good lord split you!

So … yes. If you have orders to BOLC II that put you in Ft. Benning or Ft. Sill later than November of this year, you probably ain’t coming. Get ready for the FRAGO that’s headed your way. Yeah, you!

Aw. Sad. No BOLC II for you.

Aw. Sad. No BOLC II for you.

But … wait. Simple answers are for softies and sissies, and I hate to send you out into that good night completely unprepared for yet another FRAGO that may be headed in your direction (plus, I can’t resist stirring the rumor pot just a little myself). So let me complicate your complexity:

While all of the above is true – that BOLC II should be canceled very, very soon – I happened to have a very interesting conversation with an officer who was, strangely enough, assessing the BOLC II program. Which, of course, makes no sense, even by Army standards … since you don’t usually assess courses that are disappearing.

Unless they aren’t.

And this particular officer told me that BOLC II was actually going to be reconstituted, down-sized, and moved entirely to Ft. Knox.

True? Not true? You decide. All I know is what I heard, straight from a superior officer’s rumor-creating orifice. So tell your friends and keep the rumor mill spinning round and round. You know you want to.

Is BOLC II canceled? (Ha!) Probably. Almost certainly. Unless, of course, its not.

Welcome to the Army. Enjoy your stay.

Things change around here. FRAGO's are fun.

Things change around here. FRAGO's are fun.

I feel so dirty right now. Blogging for five minutes and already a traffic whore. Very sad.

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So remember that promised “gentleman’s course” with banker’s hours – off every night by 1700, plenty of free time, all that jazz? Well, yeah. Not so much. It turns out that I had no weekend … instead we spent 20 hours on the rifle range on Saturday. And while being company commander made it worse, of course, the truth is nobody has gotten much free time thus far.

It is an amazingly relaxed place – at least in comparison with OCS. We are “sir” to everyone, and even when the cadre NCO’s are calling you stupid … they do it respectfully. Cell phones are ubiquitous, and texting is rampant; we spent most of the first day at the range sleeping.

But time is limited. Saturday began at 0500 and ended at 0200 on Sunday morning … then one day off, and another full day at the range, ended at dinner time only because of a God-blessed thunderstorm that sent us all scurrying for cover.

There is a point here, and the point is this: blogging time is very short. At least so far – I have hopes that next week will be different (of course, somehow I got stuck being Platoon Leader (PL) for next week! So that free time thing may be limited then, too). It appears that the rumor mills got Ball-Lick II very, very wrong. Of course, that same rumor mill swears its all Alpha Company’s fault … and it does appear that Bravo Company is actually having short days and long, sweet nights of freedom.

Back to my point. Which is this: if I plan to blog this journey, I better do it in short posts when I have the chance. So here’s short post number one – submitted for your reading pleasure, as we prepare to go hop on a Disneyland-type convoy ops simulator, and sit in air-conditioned (fingers crossed!) comfort as we blow away bad guys. Should be fun.

For now, here are some educational photos. Note that these are random pieces of Google thievery – I’ll post my own shots from the range once I get the film in my ultra-cheap disposable camera developed.

This is not a rifle range at Ft. Benning. But still ... its a picture. Quit being so pushy.

This is not a rifle range at Ft. Benning. But still ... its a picture. Quit being so pushy.

Also not a Benning range. Not our rifle, either - that's a sniper rifle. But its a cool picture, now ain't it?

Also not a Benning range. Not our rifle, either - that's a sniper rifle. But its a cool picture, now ain't it?

Nope. Still not our range. But the targets look like that. Well, sort of. Just squint, okay?

Nope. Still not our range. But the targets look like that. Well, sort of. Just squint, okay?

Hey, an actually relevant picture! That's the rifle we're using: the M-4 carbine with collapsible stock, with the M-68 Close Combat Optic (CCO). It basically has a frickin' laser. Sweet.

Hey, an actually relevant picture! That's the rifle we're using: the M-4 carbine with collapsible stock, with the M-68 Close Combat Optic (CCO). It basically has a frickin' laser. Sweet.

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It is 0625 … we’ve been up for hours so we could gather in a homo-erotic semi-circle and spill our urine in front of our watching comrades. This strange ritual is known as a “piss test” – civilians might call it a urinalysis. In the Army, it must be done as early as possible; no fair if the sun is up! And of course they arrange it so you have to go so bad your bladder will explode by the time you get to the front of the line.

One of the (few) perks of this company commander gig is that I went to the front of the line, in case the cadre (that would be the NCO’s and officers who actually run the company, as opposed to student leaders like yours truly) issued a FRAGO (that would be “fragmentary order” – which is Army-speak for “we changed our mind about something now we’ll watch and laugh while you try to adjust your plans for 200+ people)”.

So now I have a few minutes to spare while the rest of the poor schmoes stand outside in the dark and do the I-gotta-pee dance.

There are already a thousand stories to tell, but for now I thought I’ll point my readers – both of them – to some other resources on BOLC II. Again, I realize the absolute futility of blogging about a course that may soon be shut down (although not as soon as some might think! More on that later …), but it amuses me.

There isn’t much out there, but there are a few good blogs and resources. So start clicking the links and read your way around to find out more than you’d ever want to know about what I’m up to.

The best blog, by far, is this one. He is very much not anonymous, which means he keeps it professional (read: dry), but its still the best source of information out there on BOLC II and IBOLC.

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It’s Wednesday night already. Reported into Ft. Benning late Monday night. By Tuesday afternoon, I discovered I had the unadulterated joy of serving as Alpha Company’s first commander.

After I picked my heart up off the floor – it actually hasn’t been that bad. Just time consuming; and what little extra time I have is needed for things like sleep.

Most tragic of all has been the news that I won’t get to see Kelly this weekend. We’ll be at the rifle range all day Saturday.

This post … sucks. But I am at Benning, I am in-processing, I am surviving leadership … and I’ll try to post something pithy and entertaining on Sunday, if not sooner.

Must sleep now.

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That’s where I’m headed – Ft. Benning, Georgia, for the 7 weeks of BOLC II, followed by 13 weeks of BOLC III (infantry BOLC), then off to somewhere sandy and unseasonably warm.

Here’s the short scoop on BOLC (basic officer leadership course):

BOLC I is your commissioning source. That can be ROTC, one of the service academies (West Point/USMA for the Army), or – as in my case – OCS.

BOLC II is where I’m headed next. It’s a course that should apparently be renamed “Officer Stuff for Dummies.” Which, you know, is perfect for me.

BOLC III is your branch school, where you learn what you actually need to know. If your a Military Police type, you go learn cop stuff; if your Military Intelligence, you go do crossword puzzles all day or something; if you’re branching Engineer, you apparently drink heavily and sleep in late; and if you’re foolish enough to branch Infantry – ahem – you sleep in muddy holes while people try to blow you up.

You get the idea.

If you want the Army’s version, you can follow links to learn all you’d like about BOLC II at Ft. Benning. They have it (for the moment) at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, too; Google it if you’re curious. And of course there’s a lovely site all about infantry BOLC III at Benning.

The short version of the story on BOLC II is this: they started it a few years back (2005? 2006?) because they realized that all the Transportation and Quartermaster officers – the in-the-rear-with-the-gear types – were getting shot at in Iraq and Afghanistan and had almost no idea what to do about it. Some NCO had to show them which end of the rifle to point at the angry guys named Ahmed.

So the Army in its infinite wisdom created the new BOLC system to replace the old OBC (Officer Basic Course) system, in which everyone went straight from commissioning to their branch schools.

The idea is a simple and good one: all officers, from all branches, get together for 7 weeks (well, 5 once you get rid of in-processing and out-processing) of very basic infantry training. The infantry types, of course, tend to hate it and view it as a waste of time they could be spending in infantry school, or sending long whistful e-mails to Jessica Alba.

For everybody else, however, its a pretty sweet deal. All the admin types and JAG officers get to actually play with things that go boom. All sorts of weapons get to be fondled, and there is much exploding. Sounds fun, right?

Personally, I think its a great idea. Since I’m far removed from my active duty days, I see it as a very user-friendly introduction to infantry BOLC that is awaiting me right around the corner … I’ll take all the reviews and practice I can get.

But since its a good idea, the Army is, of course, canceling it. Or at least that’s the very strong rumor: word on the street (I’m so ghetto) has it that we’ll be one of the very last classes to go through BOLC II; by next year they should be back to a system like the old one.

Which means two things:

1) They obviously don’t care about those finance and supply officers getting shot at. Which is perfectly understandable.

2) The next 7 weeks of blogging will be almost entirely useless, since I’ll be chronicling a training environment that will soon cease to exist.

I find that amusing. I dig irony. And I have no intention of letting logic or good sense stop me from journaling the experience.

Take that, universe.

Next stop: Ft. Benning.

FOLMECRIF

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