Friday, November 20, 2009

Hello everyone,

I have been given the privilege of blogging for the Houston Chronicle. I will still post here from time to time, especially posts that may be to strongly worded for the Chronicle. The URL for the new blog is:

Check out the new blog and remember to check back here from time to time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Sharacracy- a system in which everything you own belongs to the collective; items to be excluded from the list of shared items include wives and girlfriends

According to a couple of our guys, that is the definition of a Sharacracy. It is a concept that they developed on the fly due to the fact that we all share everything we own. It is phenomenon that develops out of necessity. It’s is common to ask your buddy to borrow a pair of socks, or an undershirt, and external hard drives are passed around like an over eager groupie at a rock concert as guys swap movies and music. Gear is also swapped around as guys figure out what works best for them on their tactical kit.

I almost forgot cigarettes. I am willing to bet one month’s salary on the notion that prisoners, at a prison of your choice, have nothing on the smokers on our team when it comes to sharing cigarettes. I’ve seen one of our guys put multiple cigarettes in his mouth, light them and pass the lit death sticks around to the guys gathered around.

POGy bait (POG- Person other than grunt pronounced pouge; POGy – junk food, pronounced pougey, like clumsy) is the biggest factor in the equation. We all like to stash food away to keep hunger at bay or, in my case, avoid the trip to the chow hall. Guys stock up on junk food whenever the gut truck comes around or when they make their trip to the troop store. It is hilarious to hear the guys come ask each other for “our” Gatorade or “our” magazines. Just a few minutes ago James came over and asked me where “our” food was as he searched the bags in my wall locker.

There is one other trend that is emerging as part of the Sharacracy philosophy. The trend is based on the purchasing of goods for others as a type of credit for future purchases. For example, every time the gut truck comes around, one of the guys is either asked by the rest of the crew or designates himself as the person to purchase this round of POGy bait. That person will then have his tabbed picked up the next few times until it once again his turn.

Not everyone has embraced the Sharacracy philosophy; I thought it would fall apart after the first few days but it seems to be spreading slowly throughout the barracks as a few of the guys in the other sections have begun to slowly become assimilated into the culture. The strange thing is that they do not even realize it. They offer up their goodies and we, at a later point in time, reciprocate their gesture of benevolence.

My take on these developing trends are that we are allowing ourselves to open up to each other. We are getting to know each other a little better and we are beginning to trust each other. We still have our differences or issues that need to be tended to. Some of us still need to grow as individuals and embrace the struggle that we are all experiencing in order to make that fight a little easier but as a whole we are beginning to interact the way best friends do. I don’t mean the superficial friend that show up to drink your beer and eat your food and then move on to the next party. I am talking about the friend that is willing to sleep with the fat chick while you chase her hot friend. That is the buddy the will down a few beers, get in a bar fight, run from the cops, bail you out of jail, take you to breakfast, drop you off and do it all over again the next night.

It is always the little things, or the actions that take place out of the limelight, that go unnoticed but sometimes those are the things that begin to define who we are or who we become. Right now those little things are helping us come together as one big happy family.

I’ll leave you with a quote from our fearless leader.

Keep your heads up. I know it’s painful. We are all dealing with issues, both public and private. Don’t forget, we are all family and we can help each other.
--Our Company Commander

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Team building is one hell of an experience. Being on the high school football team is one thing, preparing to go to war with a group of guys are two completely different monsters. Knowing that the receiver, running back and tight end are going to run the play correctly and knowing that your buddy is going to stand his ground and put rounds down range when the time comes is like comparing a Ford Focus and a Lamborghini.

Our team has been coming together quite well in terms of camaraderie but we still are having issues with maturity and the decision making process. I see the guys growing up but it is difficult to know what is going on inside their heads and why it is taking so much time to realize that there is no reset button to the game that is about to commence.

A few of us have begun to babysit the guys that need it. I hate doing it but sometimes it is the only way. The issue in these types of environments is the ego. The ego either wants to stand its ground or it submits to the will and some of the guys do not have the will power to understand that their ego is detrimental to what we are here to accomplish.

Let visit about the term babysitting for a minute. I hate being on the business end of a babysitter and I hate being the babysitter. For example, our unit policy is that everyone moves around Camp McGregor in pairs. I get it, I understand it, but I do not like. I hate waiting on someone when I am ready to head to chow and why do I need someone holding my hand when I need to run to the PX to pick up a Gatorade? I understand the concept and how it keeps soldiers safe in a combat zone but it is driving me insane. I hate it so much I have stocked up a stash of foil packed tuna and chicken to munch on when I don’t feel like waiting on someone to head to chow.

Now when I have to stand over someone and ask them to clean their sleeping area several times I know they hate is just as much as I hate taking a buddy with me everywhere I go. However, a man can only be told to fix a problem so many times before he is either micro managed or fired, and in the Army, being fired is not an option.

The downside to having to babysitting these guys is that they will never grow up and if they are left to their own devices they will never change. The process is one vicious never ending cycle. If they have not gotten their heads in the game by now, it is not going to happen until the first bullet flies by their heads.

The issue then becomes one of trust. Can I trust this guy to maintain his sector of fire and not shoot at friendly forces (that means me)? Can I trust him to do what is necessary to keep himself and everyone else safe?

OK so you may be asking yourself, how does keeping a sleeping area cleans equates to trust ? I mentioned in a previous blog entry that a soldier is judged by his peers based on his level of professionalism and the decisions he makes. That concept holds true in the civilian world as well, just think of the coworker you dislike because of his questionable behavior either because he hates his job or he is stabbing everyone in the back in order to climb the corporate ladder. Would you trust him to lend a hand and help meet a deadline? The concept is the same but live rounds are a big part of the equation in our line of work and, the last time I checked, live rounds do a lot more than tickle when they come in contact with the human body.