Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Everyone Needs Training

Like many old soldiers, I often think back to my military duty days. A of couple vignettes still stand out in my mind. The first was at Camp Parks, CA one year when I was commanding an Army Security Agency (ASA) Company on Annual Training. For those of you not military historians, ASA was the part of Military Intelligence that dealt with SIGINT and EW. We were on a two week AT when some NCOs approached the Company 1SG and me and asked “Sir, how can we jam radios when the troops don’t know how to work them?”

A second instance took place about a year later at Fort Hunter Liggett during another AT exercise. I was sound asleep when the CQ woke me up. “Sir, the BC is on the field phone and wants to talk to you now!” I stumbled out of bed to learn that the unit missed its radio check, so I had to amble down to the radio and do it myself.

The point is that basics are important. I have been a Red Cross volunteer on and off for a number of years. My specialty was Public Affairs. Ever since I passed my Ham Radio license test in November I’ve been retraining in the networking, computer operations and radio communication specialty. This week finds me in San Diego (there are worse places to be) for three days of hands on training.

The highlight of Day 1 was learning how to set up a VSAT dish and being able to connect to it as a means of getting out to the Internet. We also learned about setting up switches, VOIP phones and wireless access points. Azmith, aps and elevation are all components of the process.

These are hard skills on finite hardware and software. So, how does one go about staying fully competent in PSYOP/MISO which is a mix of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills.

I’d offer a couple of suggestions. First of all, be aware of the news and see if you can figure out the next sh*thole where troops will be deployed.

Try to experience different cultures. Find ethnic neighborhoods and look around and enjoy a meal at a local place or a coffee/tea.

Stay abreast of the latest in technology. My battle scars from Windows and my relative successes with Apple pushed me over into the world of IMac and MacBookAir, not to mention iPhone and iPad. Each of these technologies requires practice and labor intensive organization. Working with photos, videos and social networking sites also requires a fair bit of effort.

I must admit that I was given a Samsung phone to set up as home work this evening and while I got some stuff done, I couldn’t get passed the incomprehensible instructions for e-mail authentication so that aps could be loaded.

There is no end to what you can do to keep sharp. The key is to consistently do something challenging.

Photo Source: The author

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