Friday, May 7, 2010

ILE: The First Weekend

There were many tired souls wandering around the classroom areas of ILE Class 10-002 today. It's Friday, May 7, only the third "full" day of class but me, and many of my distinguished classmates, were exhausted. Not from late nights studying, not from partying, but from trying to adjust to the student "battle rhythm".

The assigned homework isn't overwhelming...pages in books here, handouts there. The classwork isn't overwhelming...discussions on topics that have so far ranged from 'what is a leader?' to 'is studing military history relevant?'. We have ample breaks and plenty of access to the caffeine source of choice. So, why are we all so tired? Because our schedules have been thrown out of whack and our brains are in overdrive. While the information we're being given or researching isn't rocket science, it is a lot of minutiae and concepts and themes. It's a different life than what we're used to and it's going to take some time to master that ever-important student battle rhythm. But we will accomplish this task and we will succeed!

So, it's Friday evening of the first ILE weekend. Classes let out at noon on Fridays. After lunch I walked through parts of the Petersburg battlefield, enjoying the birds, the deer, and the Civil War artifacts and sites. The trails were nice...up and down so an effort...and shaded so I didn't get too hot. After a bowl of soup for dinner, I am now working on...homework. I have enough to keep me busy this weekend but not enough to keep me from accomplishing two tasks: 1. Getting out on Saturday and exploring the cities of Colonial Heights and Petersburg; and 2. Buying a bookbag/backpack. I thought my briefcase would suffice but alas, it's not big enough to carry my books, notebooks, pens, papers, and that all-important coffee mug.

One interesting note about ILE: We are being treated as adults here. I hated the Captain's Career Course that I went through in 2005 because I hated being 40 years old and treated the same was that I was when I was a Private in basic training. We are given the coursework, the schedules, the homework, and the assignments and expected, as field grade officers, to do the work relatively unsupervised. We are expected to conduct physical fitness training and behave as befitting our rank. We are expected to come to class prepared and participate in class discussions. We are expected to clean up after ourselves and ensure our buddies aren't left behind. Our advisors have expectations of us...and I can already feel that myself and my new peers/friends will meet, nee, surpass, those expecations.

Graduation date: 18 August. Mark your calendars!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time for More Adventure!

I'm not being deployed again, although I'm sure someone, somewhere, is plotting that future for me. This adventure is at ILE (Intermediate Level Education) at Ft. Lee, Virginia.
Let me explain: Majors in the US Army have many requirements necessary to move on to Lieutenant Colonel. A Master's Degree is helpful to make them competetive with their peers. This course, ILE, is required and comes in three different forms:
1. The 10-month PCS course at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
2. The 16-week course at various satellite campuses across the US. This is the course I'm attending at Ft. Lee from 5 May through 19 August.
3. A two-week residence course, followed by insufferable correspondence courses for 9 - 11 months, then another two-week residence course.
To get to courses 1 or 2, an officer comes up on a board and then is selected as either an alternate or a primary. For 3 years, since I was promoted to major, I showed up on the boards as an alternate for the 16-week course. I figured I'd just sign up for number 3 once I returned from Iraq.
But, lo and behold, I showed up as a primary for the 16-week course in January 2009 (while I was at Ft. Dix getting ready to mobilize if you ever followed my blogs). I happily picked the May - August course at Ft. Lee because at the time I wasn't sure when I'd return from Iraq.
So, here I am. Just finished Day Two and, am happy to report, that I am sincerely enjoying this course. The Army is paying me (well) to do what I love to do the most: read, research, and talk. :) I am, after all, a Public Affairs Officer. We are required, as part of the course, to either do a blog, a media interview, or a community engagement. Well, I've been doing media interviews at the local, national, and international level since I was a First well as community engagements. So I thought I would blog. I hope you enjoy my blog and please...give me feedback!
Get ready...the Games have begun.