Friday, March 07, 2008

Mr. Dion: An Excercise

Once upon a time, I found myself standing around in the dark, in a forest clearing, with a few dozen other people. We hadn't slept in days and were zombies on our feet and were gathered around an elaborately detailed model made of sticks, dirt, and bits of coloured string. This pretty little diorama was representative of the several square kilometres of ground we were to transit over the next day and half, arriving first by helicopter at dawn, and then moving by foot through bush, trail, and water to place we would attack. Did I mention none of us had slept in days?

The platoon commander (loaned to us from elsewhere) made us stand and listen, whilst he droned on and on and on, explaining every minute detail of his elaborate plan and how it related to his pretty little-big model. We weren't impressed because to us, especially in our long funk of anti-sleep, his plan was confusing and impenetrable, full of irrelavent details. We stood for hours, waiting. And waiting. All of us watching the minutes subtract from the sleep we so desperately needed, some of us poking others when heads started to bob. Hours. The platoon 2nd in command was in the background, his face searching for the opportunity to shepherd the lieutenant into finishing.

The next day (well, actually the same day but 3 or 4 hours later, instead of 6 or 8) we met the Griffons in the early dawn chill, flew to our insertion point, and stepped off. We walked. And walked. We had an extended period of time to reach our objective. Mid-day, and well ahead of schedule, we paused. The plan was that we would use this time to refill our water bottles and eat. The platoon commander got nervous about time (of which he had much) and forbid us from eating or refilling our water bottles. So we moved onward, ahead of schedule, hungry and incredibly thirsty (this is can be lethal in the summer!). And exhausted. Frustration and resentment grew. And grew. We had time. We knew we had time. But it would be many hours more before we were permitted to eat and drink when we arrived at our objective rendezvous - hours and hours ahead of schedule - to spend another long, cold, damp sleepless night shivering in the dark before attacking the objective in the am and then beetling out like mad to meet the helicopters.

While the end result had been a success, and he didn't fuck the attack, the path he took to get there was uneccessarily complicated, risky, and could have killed someone by the end. The platoon commander had utterly lost our confidence and spawned a significant level of animosity within our merry band. It didn't matter what he did after that, he crossed the line of fuckery, and there was nothing he could have done to regain our trust.

So Mr. Dion, please Wake. The. Fuck. Up.

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