I received the following item from my friend Larry Walker, a Foreign Service Officer currently serving as a foreign affairs advisor for a military command in Germany. This is truly funny, because it is so true – as anyone who has ever been in the military can attest. I have edited the contact information at the bottom of Larry’s article for security reasons, but the rest is just as he wrote it:
You know you’re working at a military command when…
–you call everybody in your office by their first name except your boss, whom you call “sir” or “ma’am.”
–you work with colleagues who go by nicknames like Paunch, Misfit, Biggie, Lapdog and Boom-Boom.
–all the folks you work with go to the office in camouflage fatigues, and every meeting looks like a chameleons’ convention.
–you can tell Air Force camouflage from Army camouflage at a distance of 50 feet.
–you can spot a colonel, even out of uniform, at 100 ft.
–you can name ten different types of Navy uniforms.
–you know a Navy captain is equivalent to an Army colonel, and a Navy lieutenant is equivalent to an Army captain.
–portions at restaurants on base are twice the size of the civilian world and mostly consist of meat.
–you can’t explain what you do for a living without resorting to incomprehensible acronyms and PowerPoint slides.
–when you’ve had a busy day and need some exercise, you tell your wife you had accelerated battle rhythm today and need to get in some PT (physical training).
–you pay little attention to officers below the level of Major or Lieutenant Commander but worship all enlisted service members above the level of Master Sergeant or Senior Chief Petty Officer.
–you refer to a self-service cafeteria as a “mess hall.”
–you stay home sick and email your boss that you are “keeping quarters.”
–you are ordered to attend a “theater briefing,” and you think it’s a hilarious coincidence when you find out that it is actually being held in the base’s theater.
–instead of cussing, you start using the relevant NATO code abbreviations for the first letter of each word (e.g., instead of “What the f—?” you exclaim “Whisky-Tango-Foxtrot!”
–For really bad expressions, you run letters together to form whole words (e.g., FIGMO – f— it, got my orders, and BOHICA – bend over, here it comes again).
–your wallet contains a CAT card, a badge for classified areas, a ration card, a SOFA driver’s license, dollars, local currency, and an ATM card for the Service Credit Union, while your jacket pocket contains an official passport with a SOFA stamp.
–you refer to your job as “my billet” and to decisions reserved to your supervisors as being “above my pay grade.”
–when you plan a business trip, you say you are “going downrange.”
–you when you talk about getting something through the clearance process in order to send it to the Commander’s Office, you say you’ve got to run it through the “chop chain” to get it to the “head shed.”
–you start shining your shoes once a week rather than twice a year.
–you hear a rapper rap the word “ho,” and you briefly wonder why he is singing about the Horn of Africa (HOA).
–you have an email signature block that looks something like this:
Mr. Lawrence A. (Larry) Walker
Foreign Affairs Advisor
(Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius)
Southern Region Engagement
U.S. Africa Command/J531
Bulding (Of course), Room (Somewhere above the basement)
Kelley Kaserne, Unit (A whole bunch of numbers)
Plieninger Straße some more numbers
70567 Stuttgart-Möhringen, Germany
Four phone numbers and
Four email addresses (which means remembering four separate passwords, yuck!)
Africa Command protects and defends the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the defense capabilities of African states and regional organizations and, when directed, conducts military operations, in order to deter and defeat transnational threats and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development.