Sunday, March 8, 2015
Sunday Reading - Bravo Company, 6th Battalion, 102nd Homeland Division, St. Charles, Missouri
Captain Hanford slammed his palm down hard on the desk.
"This is no way to run a company" He said out loud to himself. Hanford, or Han for short, was a dark haired man with a rather severe receding hairline and an above average sized nose. He had joined the Army reserve while in college 10 years earlier and then contracted ROTC to get a commission in the finance corp. He had skated by in the reserves assigned to a unit near Philadelphia until one day he got orders to report to a local Pennsylvania National Guard armory.
Han had never married and didn't really enjoy his nowhere job as a local manager for a major international bank chain anyway so he wasn't all that unhappy about the orders. In fact he had tried on several occasions to go active duty and had been denied a slot for years. As it turned out Ryan Hanford also knew that his particular branch of the US United Bank was already scheduled for closing within a month. Han was kinda feeling like he had dodged a bullet. Being unemployed with all the troubles going on right now was not a prospect he was interested in. Now the government would take care of him.
The National Guard armory had been taken over by Homeland security and all military personnel were answering to the DHS boys now it seemed, at least from the top down. The matter of fact way a young DHS secretary took his name, rifled through a stack of large manila envelops and then handed him one with his name on it should have tipped Han off to the fact that things had changed but he didn't notice. Han had it easy so far. The tables where all the people coming into the armory's gym/muster hall sat had individual cards taped to the front. There looked to be five spots marked for enlisted, two for NCO, and only one for officers. Han had been the only officer in line.
The curt secretary then pointed towards a set of double doors and instructed Han to go through them, down the corridor and enter the first office on the left. When he arrived Han was greeted by a female Lt. Colonel who occupied the office all alone. No secretary or any other personnel appeared to be present. The Woman was not unattractive and to Han's surprise appeared to be no older than his own age of 32. Lt. Colonel by her early 30's Han thought to himself, she must be doing something right.
Without the benefit of being announced or having a secretary or orderly as a go between Han was a bit unsure how to approach this sudden face to face with a more superior officer. He immediately jumped to attention and saluted while apologizing for not knowing he would be meeting with a colonel. The Woman waved his apology aside and told Han to take a seat.
"Lieutenant Hanford" The Colonel said "I am Lt. Colonel Monroe assigned as the local liaison officer between DHS command and the Army reserve/National Guard. As you may or may not be aware The President by executive action has activated the 102nd ARCOM under general DHS control to keep the peace inside the Continental United States. To that end several reserve and National Guard personnel are being mobilized and assigned to the new units being created to hash out the 102nd to full combat strength."
At this point Han was thinking he was going to be assigned to a new divisional financial detachment to help shuffle paperwork for the growing division. In the rear with the gear just where you want to be.
"What I am sure you are not familiar with" The Colonel went on. "Is that we are desperately short on officers of all ranks and specialties, especially combat arms, and so many Men and Women such as yourself are to be cross trained into combat roles. You are ordered to attend the junior officer emergency Infantry command school North of Pittsburgh and at the completion of the course will be given a promotion and command of a newly formed company with the 102nd Homeland division."
Despite Han's protests and pleading the Colonel made it very plain that refusal was not an option unless Lt. Hanford preferred a cell to doing his duty. Before the day was out Han was in a military van with three other Lieutenants, one Male and two Female, heading for his training camp. Exactly one month later Han was assigned command of Bravo Company 6th Battalion of the 102nd Homeland Division and guarding a bridge over the Missouri river on I-70 just West of St. Louis. His emergency Infantry training had been 30 days of intense daily lectures, a loose leaf notebook of xeroxed pages of small infantry tactics, specs on infantry support weapons, TOE lists etc. At the end of his school there was no test, not even a questionnaire, just an assumption that he knew what he was doing.
And a brand new set of Railroad Track bars for his uniform.
Captain Hanford had noted right away that the old 102nd "Rocking Z" patch inside the O had kept it's original colors but now had an H on it's side with the bottom line acting as the back of a D below it inside the O. He guessed that stood for Homeland Division. His Battalion Commander was a Full Bird Colonel named Lipscomb, Brenda Libscomb to be exact and she didn't appear to be a day older than the Lt. Colonel Han had met back in the National Guard Armory in Pennsylvania.
His first day of command Han noticed his company only appeared to be at half strength during the muster in a motel parking lot just South of the bridge that had been turned into the company command center and billet. On checking the personnel roster and consulting with the XO and First Sergeant Han came to realize about 20 of his "men " were assigned special duty at Brigade headquarters, another ten were on maternity leave (Men and Women), almost two dozen were simply AWOL and third platoon was assigned permanent guard duty at battalion HQ which was suspiciously billeted right across the street or around the corner from Regimental, Brigade and Divisional HQ's near the waterfront district inside St. Louis. Aside from these loses there were also the typical absences of about a dozen who reported for sick call and another fifteen or so on light clerical duty only who were also it appeared making themselves useful at one HQ or another.
Captain Hanford's company it appeared could barely field 80 warm bodies at any given time even on paper and he hadn't even seen them on the ground for the most part yet. While all this was sinking in Han could hear his duty sergeant on the phone saying "Yes Mam, we will send some soldiers right away, no problem".
Han had no idea how bad it was going to get..