Soldiers love to complain. It’s a tradition, a privilege, and some people would probably get the right to complain codified as a law under the Uniform Code of Military Justice if they could. But, as we all learn, complaints go up. And the higher up you get in the chain of command, the fewer opportunities there are to complain.
So when you do get your chance, consider going all in like “user rolls_for_initive” did when taking to the unofficial Army Reddit page with an ode to that most cherished time in an officer’s career: company command.
“Company command blows,” reads the title, and it just gets better from there.
“If I have to sit through one more [leader professional development] and watch adult O3s try to out ADP 1-0 each other in front of the Commanding General, I am going to light myself on fire in front of my Senior Rater’s F-250 [pickup truck],” reads the rant, which references Army Doctrine Publication 1-01, which covers the ins and outs of Army doctrine, and is sure to make anyone who has ever had the pleasure of sitting through a staff meeting cringe in horror.
“Killer Angels is a shitty book. Once an Eagle blows, but not as much as Millennial Tryhards who think shitting on Once an Eagle makes them different or somehow free from guilt within the military industrial complex,” the screed continues without losing a beat. That sound you’re hearing might be the grinding teeth of every general officer with Once an Eagle, Anton Meyer’s 1968 novel about the careers of two Army officers, on their professional reading list right now.
But command can’t be all bad, right? You’re entrusted with taking care of an entire company of highly motivated troops, after all.
Maybe that means taking the time to listen to one of your privates “complain that his NCO won’t let him vape in the DFAC,” the officer wrote. Or it’s taking “G4 Maintenance’s phonecall, informing me that another one of my LMTVs failed roadside because the driver was wearing a fucking hardhat instead of a kevlar.”
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With great power comes great responsibility.
And let’s not forget the families. Maybe it’s the command sergeant major calling to inform this intrepid captain that “another soldier’s spouse was on the garrison families page complaining that I was making her homeless (again) — which he thought was a fitting transition into inquiring if we were doing leader checks off post.”
As the Army saying goes, “mission first, people always.”
Now, moving right along, let’s not forget the property book, one of the commander’s biggest responsibilities.
“Your Supply Sergeant will burn your BOMs [Bill of Materials] in a pagan equinox revel. Your Lieutenants and NCOs will dissipate like vapor the first time that [property book officer] points her Finger of Death at you,” the post continues. “In the end, your platoon leadership will join hands and dance on your grave. Your success will be envied and minimized by your peers. Your mistakes will be amplified and scorned by your superiors.”
As a former platoon leader myself, I’d just like to utilize this article to caveat off that last point and apologize to my former commanders for any unsat grave dancing ops. There was simply no other way.
Surely there must be something rewarding, something that keeps you motivated to come into work every day, right?
“You loved not needing to be competent or empathetic or fair — you were the god in your domain. You are a withered shell of a leader, terrorized by your own shadow, utterly jaded and devoid of whatever patriotism or motivation you had to prolong the endurance of the Republic.”
An exquisite description, really. Is Duffel Blog even parody anymore?
But, circling back around to that first point, about the complaints going up and not down the chain of command: “You know what I hate the most?” asks the unnamed captain. “Company command was the best time in my career.”
With that in mind, try not to cause too much consternation for your commanders this weekend. They could use a little break.
Read the entire rant below:
“Hi, I am rolls_for_initiative, and I hate you.
Yes, you. You know who I am talking to. The senior Captain and/or Field Grade who raps your knuckles on your standing desk, waves to your stupid fucking coin collection, and sighs “Company command was the best time in my career.”
Do you know why you enjoyed command? Because you are a fucking moron.
If I have to sit through one more LPD and watch adult O3s try to out ADP 1-0 each other in front of the Commanding General, I am going to light myself on fire in front of my Senior Rater’s F250. If I hear one more reference to that fucking loser who wrote On Killing from a Fivehead Transportation Commander who failed CCC three times, I am going to drag each and every one of you with me down to hell. Killer Angels is a shitty book. Once an Eagle blows, but not as much as Millennial Tryhards who think shitting on Once an Eagle makes them different or somehow free from guilt within the military industrial complex.
You enjoyed command because while you floated on the cotton candy cloud, a sea of blood and bones churned underneath you in the form of the faceless competents who conveyed your mental health and success. Five or six people bled to death to keep your company running while you bathed in the cool waters of ignorance. You should have paced the floor every night, drunk, wondering if you’d been fair or right or just–because the decisions you made, the power you were given, isn’t natural. At first, you feel you will be relieved for the smallest mistake. Eventually, you feel that you will never be punished for the many mistakes you make. Then you feel nothing at all.
Yesterday, I counted 29 agencies or offices who all thought they were my most important phone call of the day. I had to stop writing an SIR for suspected child abuse to listen to a PV2 complain that his NCO won’t let him vape in the DFAC. I had to cut that short to take a call from the CSM who informed me that another Soldier’s spouse was on the garrison families page complaining that I was making her homeless(again)–which he thought was a fitting transition into inquiring if we were doing leader checks off post–and I swear to god, I had to dig into 2007 levels of discipline not to ask for an address. Then I hung up so I could answer G4 Maintenance’s phonecall, informing me that another one of my LMTVs failed roadside because the driver was wearing a fucking hardhat instead of a kevlar. This was all in a span of like 90 seconds–and if I hadn’t thought to chronicle it, it wouldn’t have even been an unusual 90 seconds of the day. Command is just one abstract string of idiots who all intersect on your cellphone.
This is some sort of lovecraftian paradox where doing something as simple as pretending to help unload a connex for 10 minutes, or just not being fat, earns you Dick Winters levels of praise, but two years spent trying to improve and fix systems for the betterment of your people and the mission is met with utter indifference and, usually, failure. At some point in your career, you go from trying to figure out what the fuck is going on from trying not to do it all on your own–and then realize at 10 PM that you didn’t do a single productive thing in 14 hours. You are so utterly removed from actual warfare that you never once start to wonder why Generals say things like “People First.” Surely it is out of some newfound, modern-army ambivalence. Or maybe its for the same reason that free-range cattle tastes better.
Do not even get me started on Army property. You can know all the tricks; you can be the best XO on Reddit–they will still find a way to fuck you. Your Supply Sergeant will burn your BOMs in a pagan equinox revel. Your Lieutenants and NCOs will dissipate like vapor the first time that PBO points her Finger of Death at you. All of the sacrifices–all of the People First–all of the mentorship and long leave windows and goodwill–In the end, your platoon leadership will join hands and dance on your grave. Your success will be envied and minimized by your peers. Your mistakes will be amplified and scorned by your superiors.
Let me guess, you had an outstanding Maintenance program. This is douchebag syntax for “I do not understand how CMDP works.” If you did, you would stand at the edge of your motor pool in the late evening and wonder how the fuck the American taxpayer entrusted morons like you with so much of their repurposed income. Your ESR was good because you were either too inefficient or too ignorant to test your ESR, and your leadership was equally incapable of regulating your failure. Did you ever once find a TM for your assigned vehicle and conduct a full PMCS? I bet you don’t even know it has to leave the motor pool to be an actual PMCS. You didn’t know that, did you? You fucking asshole.
You didn’t love command. You loved telling people what to do and a nice parking spot. You loved how taking rank from a E4 sent you to near-erotic levels of power thrill. You loved not needing to be competent or empathetic or fair–you were the god in your domain. You are a withered shell of a leader, terrorized by your own shadow, utterly jaded and devoid of whatever patriotism or motivation you had to prolong the endurance of the Republic. I want to be clear that I would entropize all energy in the universe to get out of High Risk next week.
You know what I hate the most?
Company command was the best time in my career.”
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