The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


July 16, 2008

Name: Adrian B.
Posting date: 7/16/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: The Satirist at War

The inspiration for this post comes from several discussions I’ve had over the past ten days; some with co-workers, some with friends. The subject of these conversations -- verbal, written, and in some cases play-acted -- has been meetings. As redeployment is just around the corner, and I am an Executive Officer (responsible in garrison for the most boring, frustrating part of a Company’s life: coordination), I’ve been logging no less than four meetings a day for over a week.

War is hell.

The importance of meetings, and the extent to which they are detested, can be seen in the large number of ways there are to say “meeting” in Army-speak. You have:

Meeting — A meeting.

Huddle — A small meeting of those chiefly responsible for a mess that needs cleaning up.

Pre-huddle — A small meeting prior to the actual meeting.

Synch — A meeting.

Azimuth Check / Map Check — A meeting to make sure everyone’s “on the same page” or “tracking.”

Breakout Session — A small meeting after a bigger meeting, consisting of a few key personnel.

Sidebar — A small internal meeting during the actual meeting, usually conducted "offline." Often includes unkind remarks about the meeting's moderator.

AAR or “After Action Review” —  An official meeting the purpose of which is to identify what went right/wrong with a mission or Operation. Usually a waste of everyone’s time.

Hotwash — A meeting the purpose of which is to identify what went right/wrong with a mission or Operation. Less formal than an AAR. Generally identifies what actually went wrong.

Sit-down — A meeting.

Pow-wow — A meeting.

Skull Session — Where the “heads” get together to plan “the movement piece.” Typically involves chalkboard / colored chalk or dry-erase board with minimum two colored dry erase markers.

IPR or “Interim Progress Review” — A meeting to gauge progress on a particular project.

In attempting to catalogue the different types of meetings, I’ve thrown out some terms that people may not be familiar with in their Army usage. Here are their definitions:

on the same page — an expression that designates comprehension
tracking — same as above
offline — not during a meeting, or whispered during a meeting
heads — leadership
the movement piece — the fun part of the plan
nug it out — to figure out a problem

Meetings...Lord. I’m typing this up between meetings. Sometimes a day is so thick with meetings, I'll roll through three or four, get into a fifth, and be asked what the progress was on the item asked about in the first; of course, as I've been in meetings since the issue was identified, the progress will be: “none.”

If I’m forgetting anything, let me know.


If you have forgotten anything we can have a quick huddle in the hallway to be sure are all tracking

You, too, are not forgotten. Please keep in mind that Murphys' Iron Law applies. The personnell furthest from the action, and least adept at doing it, will emerge to make all the 'iron clad' rules.

Remember, competence saves lives. We need you!


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