Well, we are nearly finished with our initial phase. The coming days and weeks will probably be a little light on the pictures as we will be spending more time in the class room and that environment does not lend itself to good pictures.
Today we had a varitey of short classes. The first one was over Convoy Operations. This was a very useful class because it is something that probably every Chaplain will encounter when they are deployed. Convoys have proven to be one of the most frequent targets of the insurgents in Iraq. Today was just a brief overview, but from what I understand we will be learning more about convoy ops in the future.
We also had a class on pluralism. This is a touchy subject for some. I know there are many who feel that Chaplains in the Army are immasculated and unable to truly practice their faith. That is simply not the case. There are certain situations where restraint is required, but there are also situations where prayer and worship and flow as freely as they would in any civilian church service. This is another class that will be rehashed in the future and we will look into the policies on pluralism in a more indepth fashion. It is worth noting, that even in this short one hour introduction, there were some who seemed to take issue with the policies. It will be interesting to see how people react as we study pluralism more.
We also did a brief class today on PMCS (preventative maintenance checks and services). That is the Army way of saying “inspect your equipment.” I have a lot of experience in this area because the unit I was in while I was enlisted was a maintenance company and just about all we did was PMCS vehicles and equipment. This class was very important because soldiers often depend on their equipment with their lives. A Humvee breaking down in Baghdad is a lot different than breaking down on the side of the freeway in Anywhere, USA.
Today we also had a chance to walk through the Chaplain museum. It is a really neat little museum and I would like to go back and visit when I have more time. We only had about thirty minutes to get through it so there was not a lot of time to read the exhibits or look at them very closely.
Finally, so I don’t leave you hanging, I’m sure you are asking why the “too many questions” in the title? Well, our class has a tendency to spend about 20 minutes every day just asking questions of the staff and cadre. This would not be a problem except for one small thing: chain of command. The Army has a way of dissmeninating information that starts at the top and trickles down through the ranks. Most of the questions that get asked of the cadre at the end of the day could be answered by a squad leader, platoon leader, or maybe even a battle buddy. The point is, why make the entire group sit around and wait while your personal questions get answered? I think that as time goes on and we get more used to using the chain of command rely less on the staff and cadre that this issue will start to resolve itself. Until that time, people will continue to shoot dirty looks at those who ask questions of cadre that could otherwise have been answered by a battle buddy.