Monday, July 8, 2013

Managing your network in and out of the US Military

I think many of my readers are probably Veterans, so while you can now sign up for RallyPoint as a Veteran and keep in touch with other members from your past units, the main focus of RallyPoint right now is on helping US Military members find the right posting.

I know one of the biggest frustrations a lot of Soldiers had was the fact that their career was in the hands of some faceless "Branch Manager" deep in the Army bureaucracy. RallyPoint aims to end that by creating openness and transparency RallyPoint is revolutionizing the way its members discover and pursue the best military opportunities.

RallyPoint Universe is a particularly cool feature if you want to be able to see who you are connected with, and where they are in the military.

RallyPoint’s founders are recent Iraq veterans who first met in Iraq and then reunited at Harvard Business School, which I think is a neat story and one of many companies and groups founded by Veterans of recent wars.

Of course, the power of a network like this only pays off when there are a significant number of people on it. So check it out and pass it on - RallyPoint, it could just be the LinkedIn of the US Military.

They also seem to have partnerships with some corporations that are interested in hiring people coming out of the military, the way hiring is these days, every little bit can help someone leaving the military. Hopefully, they can also offer tools in the future to help translate military skills into civilian resumes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Catching up

I had lunch with my old Team Sergeant this week. It was good to see him and we spent a good deal of time discussing where everyone was and what they were up to. Some times I really miss the camaraderie and all the cool stuff like jumping out of planes and shooting shit.

When he told me about all crap he was dealing with though I remembered why I'm out. I think there is something fundamental wrong and broken in the Officer/Enlisted class structure, but I don't really have a recommendation to fix it.

Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and it will be the 5th anniversary of the day we got on a plane in Baghdad and left Iraq. I thought this year I would finally get to writing about the Battle of Basrah (or BOB as we affectionately called it), but I guess it was too soon.

The following is the last entry from my journal while in country, and nicely illustrates the kind of characters we had on our team.

Word comes at 0730 that we are supposed to be SUPCEN at 1000. We are all on the bus, in uniform, at the same time as our morning meeting. Smith comes be-bopping over in PTs and our Team Sergeant flys off the bus to intercept him. We can't hear the dialogue but there is a lot of animated hand waving and we can see Rod's forehead getting red. But Smith is used to this and he is back in less then 5 mikes and in uniform. Rob, our jester provides a voice over of the conversation from the bus and has us all cracking up - “Don’t be mad at me for being 10 minutes early to the meeting!"

Friday, March 22, 2013

The B Team

The following is a concept pitch I was working on with a publisher, but it went nowhere so I am just going to put it out there for your enjoyment. This is a work of fiction.

The scene opens with the team’s convoy of vehicles under heavy machine gun and RPG fire, driving at full speed through the streets of Basra during the Battle of Basra 2008. Three American Humvees with their Iraqi partners in Chevy pickups bear down on an insurgent safe house, fighting their way thru the burnt out buildings and wrecks of Iraqi vehicles. Winding their way thru the battle-scarred streets they find their target – the convoy splits and forms a perimeter that nothing can escape, everything trying to get in or out gets killed. As the insurgents frantically call for help on their Motorola, the Iraqi paramilitary troops – the “Black Scorpions” – along with their American Advisors, burst through the door, taking out the security, racing thru the house to clear it of fighters. The Americans with them begin looking thru the house, looking for any sign of the insurgent leader. There is shouting everywhere, somewhere in the house a woman is wailing, and the acrid smoke from the gunfire hangs in the air. Outside, forces are on the move trying to surround this small band of men, but they have hit too hard and too fast, the insurgents were not ready and as the first elements engage the cordon of vehicles, a newly trained Iraqi Private is following a trail of blood upstairs and into the room where the women are. Realizing it leads behind a cabinet, he quickly shouts out in Arabic, “ihna, ihna, ta’al inha!” and men quickly pour into the room. The lone American with them says something in Arabic and two Iraqis pull back the cabinet to reveal a cutout and the murderous leader hiding, in woman’s dress and crying, as he is thrown to the floor and cuffed. Cut to the front of the building as he is rushed out and pushed into a waiting Humvee. In perfect coordination the vehicles move out of the cordon and into convoy at full speed, just as more fighters are arriving only to be cut down by the steady, melodic rupture of the 3 .50 caliber machine guns on the American vehicles...

12 months earlier, as the sun rises across the edge of the Great Plains an unlikely group of warriors gather in the shadow of Pikes Peak. Their silence and hard stares are punctuated by the vapor of their breath and the occasional shuffle of feet on the dew dressed grass of Fort Carson. Strangers with little trust for each other, this group of mis-fits and stone-cold killers could little expect that they would play a pivotal role in the battle for legitimacy of the struggling Iraqi Government.

Over the next year as they face trial and misfortune, they slowly come together, take what was looked upon by others as the worst mission on the deployment and throw themselves into showing all their doubters that they had the goods, and along the way turned the regional Iraqi SWAT team into a critical element in the fight for Iraq’s future.