In my previous unit, I held 14 additional duties. My primary duty was to serve as the battalion logistics officer, or S4, which by itself entailed many smaller responsibilities, roles, tasks.
If there exists some doctrinal, by-the-book job description for the role, then it probably reads vaguely enough for my boss to say, “Your job is whatever the fuck I say it is.” I actually got that as a response once after I pointed out, “That’s not my job.” Yeah, I walked into that one.
On top of my primary job, I accumulated 14 more duties – to include the command deployment discipline program (CDDP) duties (container control officer, hazmat officer, officer for this web application called TCAIMS, unit movement officer) both at the battalion-level and company-level (that’s eight right there); casualty notification/assistance officer; government purchase card reviewer; safety officer; supply discipline; … there were a couple more. It’ll come to me later.
Admittedly, not all of the jobs required daily attention. Some required me just to keep printed references on hand, put up some posters, and lead the occasional discussion or write a report. Some only triggered work given particular events.
Casualty assistance took me away from the unit for a few weeks as I helped a family deal with military admin after the loss of their Soldier. This was my most difficult additional duty. It also really put my Spanish-speaking skill to the test.
I speak (somewhat) two other languages (Spanish and Filipino), neither of which appears on my record brief. Yet somehow… the Army got me.
I gave myself away. The tasking NCO noticed me speaking with other Soldiers and remembered that I attended the casualty assistance course.
No complaints. I’m proud to have served the families that I did. For casualty assistance, I actually read (or at least looked at ) all of the material.
THE FURTHER FROM THE FLAG POLE, THE BETTER
The same thing is happening to me again. My list of additional duties is growing. Part of the reason has to do with visibility. It’s hard to pop ninja smoke when I’m in line-of-sight of the command team and other persons with the responsibility to appoint additional duties – the metaphorical flag pole.
The closer to the flag pole, the more visible and the more likely to get tasked with additional duties. The further from the flag pole, the better.
SPONTANEOUS REPORTS, INSPECTIONS
For the rest of my additional duties, I didn’t do anything until I got prompted about something required of me. Why do more than needed? This usually meant some report due right away, some report that I probably should’ve known about had I done my reading.
Had I read the countless, unreadable pamphlets, publications, references, regulations… sure. Like I had time for all that given everything else.
I don’t have a for-instance just yet for a spontaneous report, although I’ve had plenty. Most commonly about slides for some meeting that I have to do, to fill in for someone who’ll be unavailable.
SPONTANEOUS SUPPLY DISCIPLINE INSPECTION
But I do have a for-instance on a spontaneous inspection. It was a supply discipline inspection. I didn’t give a shit about the results; I mean, I don’t care to get promoted, get awards or what my evaluations look like. Why would I care about this inspection?
Because I care about doing right by the persons to my left and right. I was the S4 and my team prepared everything for us to succeed. I didn’t want to let them down.
FAKIN’ IT LIKE A MUH FUKR
Problem was, my team was supposed to be there. Instead, it was just me and the inspector, and I hadn’t even looked at any of the material!
The inspecting element, brigade-level, planned to inspect us at a certain date-time. We prepared for that. Then, brigade suspended the date-time because of other events. Didn’t give us a new date-time. So we just carried on as usual.
Through a series of coincidences on the day of, one NCO had taken leave, another NCO was outprocessing to transfer to another duty station, the incoming officer-in-charge (OIC) got tasked else where temporarily (probably some additional duty), and our specialist (E-4) had the day off for duty the previous night.
I also couldn’t reschedule. The inspector had to report the results up by some urgent deadline on brigade to report to its higher. This meant… I had to fake it.
I faked it like muh fukr.
I knew the inspector. We weren’t tight but we got along. She worked on the floor above me. We would chat. I’d help her with work now and then. She’d help me more often. I also knew she was retiring that year, and that usually means her give-a-shit had run out; luckily, it mostly did.
I made sure to spend the first hour just shootin’ the shit – laughing, joking, getting to know her, setting her up as much as possible. For what? Well, although she was evaluating the unit, in a way she was evaluating me. It’s hard grading a friend without also threatening the friendship.
Plus, after an hour, I had eaten up a lot of the time she would’ve spent actually inspecting. She was getting tired, and wanted to rush through the inspection.
The inspection came down to a long list of yes-or-no questions on her multi-page checklist. Yes means good; no means bad. She needed to take a look. But instead, she would just ask me.
Of course my answer to each question was… yes.
One of the first questions asked whether I had a soft copy backup for references. From my drawer, I grabbed a random unlabeled CD inside a jewel case, placed it on my desk for her to see, and said, “Yes.” She didn’t call my bluff. I don’t know what the CD actually contained.
It also helped that I diligently used my desktop paper calendar. I made it a habit to routinely update the many reports by battalion owed to brigade, and I did it before being asked. She assumed I paid the same diligence to everything else in my office.
I didn’t. But for the moment, it didn’t matter.
When the inspection reports got briefed to higher a week or two later, I was in that meeting. My battalion’s portion… my portion… green across the board.
My reward? To do more of it.