Before I joined the military, I had a naive view of how military forces go to war.
I thought that whenever we wanted to go fight someone, some General gave an order, and everybody just picked up their stuff and went to go fight. Seems logical, right?
I had NO IDEA the amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparing military forces to move out and conduct an operation. Now that I’ve been in for several years, I have an appreciation for the work that goes into being ready to deploy, actually deploying, fighting (or helping,) then coming back home. For those of you with little military experience, I’d like to share with you some tidbits I like to call: “You have no idea.”
-You have no idea how much diplomatic verbal back-n-forth goes on before someone finally decides that the movement of military forces is necessary
-You have no idea how much military officers contemplate the best course of action to take before deciding on the best one to use
-You have no idea the amount of powerpoint briefings that are generated in order to educate the rest of the government about the military’s intended actions and plans
-You have no idea the amount of logistics involved in moving hundreds (sometimes thousands) of personnel, their weaponry, their transportation, and their personal items from one country overseas to another
-You have no idea how much time is spent on ensuring that military members are simply able to talk to one another (through radios or telecommunications equipment) in a war zone
-You have no idea the amount of time that is spent practicing whatever it is the military is being sent to do (fight, administer humanitarian aid, etc.)
-You have no idea how much aerial support is provided to ensure troops are safe overseas (patrolling skies, responding to emergencies, transporting people and equipment)
-You have no idea the amount of administrative paperwork that is generated pertaining to each military servicemember who is deploying
-You have no idea how much construction and contracting work is performed to ensure servicemembers have someplace to live, sleep and eat while deployed
-You have no idea how much public interest there is in almost every facet of military life (which, of course, translates into more work for yours truly)
I could go on and on … the point is that people should understand that the military doesn’t just arbitrarily jump up and start fighting (or helping) someone … deploying forces is a calculated endeavor that doesn’t happen until other elements of power are exhausted and other alternatives are explored. Once a commitment is made to deploy, the amount of behind-the-scenes work needed to make it happen is seldom recognized, but certainly crucial.
As we prepare for our readiness exercise here at Camp Atterbury, I’m reminded of all of the facets of mission planning (and how exhaustive it is.) It’s not the glamorous stuff that they put in the movies, but without it, our plans wouldn’t succeed. (Maybe they should get Tom Cruise to dress up in a uniform and give a powerpoint briefing!)