Tag Archives: Army

The U.S. Army in 1927

My summer 2016 reading list was anchored by a fascinating micro pop-history treatment of the summer of 1927 in the United States. Although it’s a bit on the long side, Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America, 1927 is a fascinating cross-section that bottles the culture, historical events, and personalities of a very short period of time, painting a context for the reader that so many histories fail to achieve.

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Bryson regales readers with the achievement of Charles Lindbergh and his transatlantic flight, with Babe Ruth’s place on the Yankees’ Murderer’s Row, with Henry Ford’s failed venture in Brazil, with the idiosyncrasies of public figures like Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover (and the latter’s almost clinical handling of the great floods of 1927), with the rise of boxing as a nationwide spectacle, with the challenges of Prohibition, with the sentencing and executions of Sacco and Vanzetti, and with so much more.

Given such a richly developed context, I couldn’t help but wonder what the U.S. Army was doing in 1927. Smack in the middle of the so-called “Interwar Years” and well before pre-WWII growth, one might assume that the Army was small and relatively dormant, but there was actually plenty going on.

Here are five things the United States Army was up to in 1927, further enriching the context of a very fascinating year:

Continue reading The U.S. Army in 1927

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Guest Post: Why Mustaches Make Better NCOs

Today’s guest post is written by Oren Hammerquist, an Active Duty Army NCO who’s bringing a much-needed enlisted perspective to B&B’s ongoing musings on Army culture.


I grew my mustache on leave and a whim. In fact, wear of a mustache has a much longer tradition in my family than military service. I see it as a hobby and a way to maintain some facial hair. As expected, I returned to both compliment and ridicule. Opinions on mustaches vary widely. Perhaps one day my hobby will grow old. At a minimum, I must wait until people have forgotten I did not used to wear a mustache so they will ask what changed. But this time has not been wasted. I never expected my military mustache would teach me a valuable lesson. Now I know the truth: mustaches make better NCOs. Here are five reasons why.

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Translating Corporate Jargon for the Military Audience

During my summertime internship adventure in nonprofit land, I’ve found myself working at what may be the most corporate NPO in existence. This post’s featured photo with the sticky notes on the glass wall? I attended a meeting where we actually did that!

In addition to this clichéd “brainstorm” meeting, I started noticing all of the corporate buzzwords and jargon, writing them down both for my own education and amusement at the fact that the Army isn’t the only workplace enamored with trendy terminology.

What follows are a handful of those terms accompanied by what I think are more-or-less equivalent Army phrases.

Continue reading Translating Corporate Jargon for the Military Audience

#Reflections on Leadership: Uncertainty & Tomorrow’s Military Leader

Check out my first major piece outside of this blog published at The Strategy Bridge:

http://www.thestrategybridge.com/the-bridge/2016/6/25/uncertainty-tomorrows-military-leader

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6 Slow Realizations of the Headquarters Company Commander

Few jobs in the Army inspire the phrase “better you than me” than that of a headquarters company command. There are paths to success if you find yourself in that gig, especially if you follow good advice like that offered by Captain Scott Nusom in his article “Surviving Headquarters Company Command” published at From the Green Notebook.

But along the way to completing a successful headquarters command, there are a handful of slow—sometimes painful, sometimes cathartic—realizations that change the way you perceive the job, for better or worse. Continue reading 6 Slow Realizations of the Headquarters Company Commander

Lessons from a First Year in ACS

About five months ago, around the time I started this still-young blog, I shared my lessons from a first semester in ACS – the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling program. It didn’t seem like there were many firsthand experiences shared, so I decided to pitch my voice into that void on the off chance that I might help someone out or at least get them to think about ACS.

One semester later, I feel like there are a few more lessons worthy of sharing as I wrap up my first of two years in grad school. The overarching lesson? Grad school isn’t that different from many things I’ve learned in the Army: Continue reading Lessons from a First Year in ACS

On Administration and Leadership: Wisdom from 1942

Once upon a time while working on a history project about US Army casualty operations since World War II, I collected a bunch of old Adjutant General Corps-related documents. One of my favorite eBay scores was Technical Manual (TM) 12-250, the War Department Technical Manual for Administration, dated October 10, 1942.

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Captain Phillipps failed miserably at making sure this thing wasn’t removed from Headquarters.

Continue reading On Administration and Leadership: Wisdom from 1942

Dear DRASH

Dear DRASH,

Since the first time I stepped foot into one of your air conditioned tactical tents as a lieutenant, I knew you were something great. You could be assembled and torn down rapidly. You could provide troops with reprieve from the elements. You could be designed and configured in a variety of ways because of your modularity. You could be a Tactical Operations Center (TOC), sleeping quarters, or even a soft-shell motor pool bay for vehicle maintenance. And thanks to the Army’s Standardized Integrated Command Post System (SICPS) Trailer Mounted Support System (TMSS) fielding, you came in a neatly contained trailer package complete with a generator, lights, environmental control system, and even tables.

You were everything a leader could want in a command post. Plus, you could be accessorized like the world’s most expensive Lego set.

Then, one winter day, we took our relationship to the next level, and I was suddenly signed for several of your TMSS systems. It didn’t take long for the honeymoon phase to wear off.

Inventorying you is a pain in the ass, and what the hell is a “gusset” anyway? When your endcap rods break, the tents suddenly become saggy messes that can’t keep in the cold or hot air from the ECU.

And everyone who didn’t have you wanted to borrow you. I get it, for all the cool reasons mentioned above. But you always came back worse off than you left (though you probably left in bad condition anyway).

I always marvel at how a group of motivated soldiers can break camp and pack up at lightning speeds once someone hollers “ENDEX,” but marvel turned to alarm when I learned how easily parts could break on you if done carelessly and too fast.

My point, DRASH, is that I love and hate you at the same time.

Someone else is signed for you now, and I’m okay with that. Going through your things before you started your relationship with a new commander was painful and arduous, and afterward I didn’t miss you one bit. Good riddance.

But now, it seems like all I can remember are the good times. Remember that time there was a bad storm in the field, and that old raggedy GP large partially collapsed on a bunch of sleeping troops (luckily no one was hurt)? You remained perfectly intact, proving your worth and providing shelter for the night shift.

Or how about that time you became my unit’s home away from home for Operation Key Resolve in South Korea? Snow piled up by the foot, but you gave us a dry and warm place to work and only asked that we knock the snow off the roof every once in a while.

I know we’ll run into each other again one day, DRASH. We’ll spend time together, I’m sure, and maybe we can even be friends. But we’ll never have the same relationship as when I first signed for you and your pages of COEI and BII.

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Thanks for everything,
A former commander


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Put a Hat on It

In statistics, there is a symbol known simply as a “hat.” It looks like this: ^. According to Wikipedia (the grad student’s seedy dealer, from whom you can never academically admit getting your stuff), the hat operator “is used to denote an estimator or an estimated value.”

Seriously, we call “p” just “p” (like the actual letter), and “hat_p” is called “p hat.” It doesn’t get much lazier than that.

Continue reading Put a Hat on It

Organizational Organization: Things You’ll Miss When They’re Gone

Post #7 in the “In Between” series.

I’ve come to appreciate a handful of things about basic military administration and organization since I’ve spent some time away from it. As a leader, you have the very real responsibility of keeping your organization knit together and operating functionally and smoothly by mastering those administrative/organizational exigencies. We often lose sight of just how fundamental much of what we do in the military is.

From my brief foray into the civilian world, let me share just a few things I miss.

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Don’t be like Zoidberg.

 

Continue reading Organizational Organization: Things You’ll Miss When They’re Gone