Deployment: How It All (Not Quite) Works
I’ve put up several rants about the entire process of having your ass sent to war and it occurred to me everyone might be mildly curious as to the paths of illogic that the military uses to do this. It’s far more complex than the Army handing me a rifle and saying, “Go get ’em, killer!” and me running off over the horizon with my war face on until I find Bad Guys. Actually, that would be simpler in spite of the Pacific Ocean.
The two major ways this happens are: A) Be in a whole unit that is picked to go fight, and B) Get told by a nug in The Pentagon that you are going by yourself to fill a seat somewhere. In this case, I’m on Plan B, which is a bit more painful than Plan A, where a lot of shit gets taken care of for me.
At the start of this silliness, someone in the Pentagon picks my name from a hat (or uses a dartboard, spinny-wheel, whatever) and I’m the next contestant. Usually they let me know this immediately, along with a lot of other information that is incorrect or irrelevant. Next, that dude sends down a document called a Request For Orders (RFO). Keep in mind this is no request; it’s a demand. The RFO says, “This guy works for you. Give him up,” and everyone between me and Pentagon Dude examine the document closely and go, “Hmmm. Ooookaaaay.”
Ultimately, the RFO lands here where I work, and the local Personnel Office whips up a file on my ass and gives me a call. In essence, they’re inviting me over to tell me that they’d be happy to generate orders for me (that the Pentagon directed them to do) … just as soon as I take care of a few administrative tasks. If you read that and got “blackmail” or “bribery” or some other Mafia-esque word, you’re correct.
This is the point where I wander around all the offices here on post but one and have them sign my paperwork. Doctors, dentists, security specialists, lawyers, bakers, and candlestick makers. In the end, I drag ass into the Personnel Office and present them with my final file. Then – and then only – do they provide me with orders. More translation for you: yes, I’m getting permission locally so I can go do what the Pentagon ordered me (and me in particular) to go do. Note also this doesn’t account for either radical or smaller changes.
Changes happen, too. I’m already on my second job and third report date – the day I have to be physically standing in Kabul – already, and I haven’t even left. Of course the half-full people will note that I’ve therefore frontloaded all the administrivia of checking with those doctors, dentists, and other yoo hoos that somehow have a personal stake in easing me onto an aircraft.
Makes perfect sense, right? Oh, forgot to tell you: you’re now being quizzed on this. Clear your desks and get a #2 pencil…