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Yada, Yada, Yada

February 23rd, 2009 by Speed

Back when I was in the North Carolina National Guard, and six weeks after 9/11, we were mobilized.  We all had hopes, visions, and wet dreams about going to Afghanistan.  We went to Ft. Bragg.

Our unit was the rear command post for the XVIII Airborne Corps, so it was thought that we could augment the actual HQ while they planned on going to Afghanistan.  Of course, we were supposed to go with them.

When the time game to go, half of us were left behind as the rear detachment.  That sucked in just about every way.  They went on Operation Enduring Freedom, and I stayed back on Operation Enduring Boredom.

We had guys in our unit that were infantry.  That’s all they had ever done, but it had been in a peace time army, never in war.  Most of them were stand up guys, but a couple were douche bags and given to great exaggeration.  When an RPG would hit the runway at Baghram, about three miles from where they lived and worked, these guys had their wives believing that they were living in trenches and barely fighting off Taliban wave attacks.  They got CIBs and ARCOMS.

I on the other hand got to pull detail after detail back in the states.

Two to three times a week I was on some sort of CQ or staff duty.  CQ is the baby sitter for the barracks the privates live in.  You are required to stay up all night and get the next day off in compensation.  But I was “mission essential.”  Right!

I was given a cot and told to take a nap in the middle of the night, then was to report to work at 0900 hrs.

I would lead my people, mostly females, in whatever shit detail needed to be done.

At least every third day I would get to brief the Corps DCG – the Deputy Commanding General – who had also been left behind.  When one of my ladies got a compassionate discharge – she was divorced with some kids, and her dad was dying from complications from Agent Orange – I briefed every other day.

I am not a briefer.  I don’t like public speaking.  I was never trained to brief, it’s not my job, no-how, no-way.  Hell, I didn’t even know PowerPoint, the proper tool for military briefings.

Specialist Shortcake got me up to speed.  She was the other briefer AND our IMO, the office computer fixer.  I was surprised how easy it all was.  PowerPoint was easy, assembling the needed info was easy, and when I spoke at the briefing, everyone hung on my every word.  Well, they hung on everybody’s every word.

In a very short time I moved to the top of favorite briefers as I took great pains to do the job correctly by having the correct slides, studied the information to brief the general and kept my notes close by.
I used those notes a couple of times to correct a couple of colonels that were trying to shoot me down, putting out the names-dates-places to establish my bona fides.

I also worked on including a one-liner or word pun in the course of the brief, but did it so fast that you had to think about what I said to catch it, and then, it was generally too late as I was already on the next bullet point.

Then a new general came in and had to re-invent the wheel.  The best part was that he did it in the middle of that afternoon’s brief.  I had my five slides and, just before I got up to brief him, learned that he only wanted me to brief two of the slides.

Those slides were the present situation in Afghanistan and the weather slide.  I knew that because he sprung that on me as I approached the lectern.

The Air Force weatherman sat in the brief, but we Intel guys always briefed their slide, and don’t ask me why, I don’t know.  I think it’s because he was a captain and we were specialists and sergeants, so he pulled rank.

So I briefed my Afghan slide.  The slide clicking guy then stopped on a slide I was not supposed to brief at which time I said, “Next slide please,” like we were supposed to and repeated myself on the next unbriefed slide.

One of the know-it-all colonels took issue with that and told me that I needed to say or do something else.

Slide clicker guy stopped on the next slide, also an unbriefable slide.

What to do?  Slide clicker sergeant got his job because he had screwed up everything else, he couldn’t even push a broom, but could push a button.  He was way in the back of the space-age, NASA-looking room, with the lights dimmed down.  He was looking down, ducking his head down behind his desk and not looking at me like he was supposed to.  Probably picking his nose.

So I said, “Yada, yada, yada, next slide…”

There was not as much laughter as, say in a comedy club, but for the Corps Operation Center, it was very loud and lasted about a minute.

The know-it-all colonels’ eyes lit up, like the mechanical monkeys they were, but they remained silent.  The new general, when he had finished laughing, said, “That’s not how you’re supposed to brief in the army, sergeant.”

I did the weather reports for Ft. Bragg and Baghram, and said my closing line “pursuant to your questions, sir, I’ll be followed by Operations…”

There were no questions, but immediately after the brief I was popular. I did everything but sign autographs for the lieutenants and sergeants.

And the LTC in charge of my shop told me that I “Can’t say ‘Yada, yada, yada’ while conducting the G-2 portion of the DCG Brief.”

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7 Responses to “Yada, Yada, Yada”

  1. Caine Says:



  2. Tekno Says:

    Awesome story.

    I remember teaching weapon’s classes, and calling funny fire indications, and being told to stop, as humour doesnt belong in the military.

    I tend to disagree, as I like adding a bit of humour to some points because it makes you pay attention. If you laugh, you want to stay awake and catch the next joke. You learn more if you’re enjoying yourself.


    Phantom reply on February 24th, 2009 2:05 pm:

    Someone explain this to my Algebra teacher?


  3. Viper Chief Says:

    Heh…Reminds me of the time I flipped off our pilot debriefer, which has to be the shittiest job in the world, because you have to take the pilots ramblings, and discern if anything is actually wrong with the jet. Our first shirt was standing in the ready room as well, and her jaw hit the floor as I just walked away…fourtunatly, my chief explained to her who the other guy was, and why I might be a little pissed at him. I was then informed that I’m no longer allowed to flip off the debriefer, no matter how moronic or pain-in-the-ass his recorded grips were.

    Capatcha: Pilot Debriefer – How bad did you screw up…


  4. Maj Mac Says:

    I feel your pain and your fame. On my first tour I briefed every day. I was the one who collected everyone’s slides, put them into the correct order, opened the brief, later stood up and briefed another section, then later stood again to close.

    It can be fun, yet dangerous when you have a bit of “Skippy Humor” in you. I opened with a “Today In History” slide/comment and did my best to find something completely off target, like the day the Twinkie was invented. If I used something serious, I’d get booed. Once I used the date that Ted Kennedy drove off the bridge and killed that girl. A time later I said something like, on this date in whatever year, still no charges have been filed in her death. Of course there was a foaming at the mouth liberal Lieutenant Colonel in the audience. After the brief I had to listen to him yell at me for a few minutes and I remained on his shit list for the duration.

    I got in trouble again for something and was told I’d be chained to my desk. So for the next brief I deliberately showed up a minute or so late (as most of you know, late is a capital offense in the military) dragging ten feet of heavy duty chain padlocked to my ankle. I apologized saying it took longer that expected to pick the lock.

    Some people can get away with it and some can’t. There was the Kennedy thing and the LTC, and once, after getting busted out by a full bird in a previous briefing I set him up for an ass eating in another briefing. Luckily he saw the humor in it all and it became a game between us. We ended up good friends. But I never really went over the line. As all good comedians know, it is all in the timing of the delivery.

    A warm thumbs up to all who don’t take themselves too seriously and make the military fun.


  5. CCO Says:

    Bragg! Ugh! Worst two weeks of my whole brief military career!

    (Yes, it was peace time. Yes, I knew I had it good–I made it home for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Even in the mid-90’s the 82nd or the 101st (OK, Ft. Campbell) or some element of the XVIII Airborne was somewhere like Somalia or Kosovo. There was only a few weeks when my company was told we might me going to Bosnia, but we never did.)

    It was entirely too eventful from my point of view; let’s just so that getting an ingrown toenail cut out was not a major problem. My folks did take me out to eat; I grew up two hours away.

    The real bummer of the trip was getting back to the Show Place as Ft. McClellan, AL was called. There was a slide show at the battalion auditorium. (Not really our battalion; we were only attached; they were TRADOC–training; we were FORSCOM–fighting.) They played “Carolina on my Mind” by James Taylor. It was depressing. I was there in Carolina, but y’all dragged me back to this place.

    Perhaps I was taking myself too seriously.

    A year later I was with a large detachment that was sent to Dugway, Utah which was commanded by a colonel. (Ft. McClellan was commanded by a Major (or “two-star”) General and Ft. Bragg is commanded by a “four-star” General. Dugway was more fun my trip to Bragg, or it was less bad.


    CCO reply on March 2nd, 2009 7:27 pm:

    Correction– should be:
    There were only a few weeks when my company was told we might be going to Bosnia, but we never did.


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