Re: Rank & File (Was: [gundam] More help for the contest)

-Z- (
Sun, 07 Feb 1999 14:55:10 -0800

At 17:20 2/6/99 -0800, you wrote:
> Makes sense. Matsunaga's officer training was actually remedial - he
>received a battlefield commission during the Battle of Ruum, to replace
>his squadron leader, and was subsequently given the appropriate training.
>If we can believe all the various depictions (always iffy), he underwent
>this training after the Earth invasion (circa March 0079) and completed
>it in July 0079 (as per the MG kit manual). Four months isn't much time,
>but there was a war on...

Even without a war, military-directed education tends to be accelerated and
compressed, lean and mean. My electronic journalism course at DINFOS, for
example, was a traditional three-year telecommunications course condensed
to 9 weeks: 3 weeks "core curriculum" (journalism, including typing drill
for anyone who couldn't already type at least 35 words per minute), 3 weeks
of radio (scriptwriting, production and board operations) and 3 weeks of
television (writing, production, direction, camerawork and board
operations). It was like Basic Training all over again: intense,
immersive, every waking moment focused exclusively on study.

Taking honors in that course was one of the proudest moments of my life.

> But this raises a question. The programs you cite are designed to give
>enlisted men a college education, qualifying them for officer training
>school. But Matsunaga presumably had a college education before he
>enlisted - he was certainly old enough. Is it possible, in the modern
>military, for a college graduate to join up as an enlisted man? And, if
>he were subsequently to become an officer, could he just go straight to OTS?

Yes and yes. You simply go to the recruiter, present your credentials,
take the tests (mandatory, even if you already have a Ph.D. -- bureaucracy,
again) and turn down the hundreds of requests and heartfelt advice to apply
for OTS. You can't be submitted for officer candidacy without your
knowledge and consent no matter how much your CO thinks you deserve it.
For that matter, you can't even be assigned administrative responsibilities
not commensurate with your rank without extenuating circumstances, such as
the death or incapacitation of everyone of higher rank.

Should you later decide to accept command responsibilities, you'd then
attend only those schools and programs necessary to achieve parity with
others of your new rank. This isn't restricted to the officer corps,
either. When I went from avionics to journalism, I had to attend school at
DINFOS, but when I went from journalism to computer systems analysis, my
test scores and self-education were such that I was given a "directed-duty
assignment" to the Standard Systems Center and put to work writing programs
and documentation. I later received a few courses in specific computer
languages and operating system scripts, taught by the civilian contractors
who supplied the hardware and software. This is called "On-the-Job
Training" (OJT) in the military.

See also Kou and Nina in 0083....

> Conversely, what of people (like Ridden) who graduate college and
>subsequently join the military as officers? Is a stint at officer
>training all that's required?

Yes. Imagine that everything comes with a checklist. You have to get
checked off on anything still open, but not on any squares that are already
filled, no matter where or how you got them checked off.

In some cases, there are two types of check boxes: Qualified and Certified.

Qualification is temporary: you qualify on small arms, CPR and so on, but
only for 6 months or a year, at the end of which time you must requalify.
Pilots must qualify on particular aircraft and become qualified on any
other aircraft. A T-33 pilot isn't qualified to fly an F-106 or vice
versa. A pilot who'll be assigned to fly either one, depneding on
availability and position in the flight rotation, must become qualified and
maintain qualification on both.

Certification ias permanent. While you qualify on CPR, a specialized
skill, you can be certified to perform First Aid and Buddy Care, a
generalized set of procedures and practices. You certify as a Drill
Instructor but you qualify as an Instructor Pilot.

Think of certification as something you earn, like a degree or black belt,
and qualification as something you demonstrate, like the ability to walk
and chew gum at the same time.

>It's actually rather surprising that the career arcs of so many Gundam
>characters can actually be reconciled with real-world procedures. Then
>again, the people we're discussing here are mostly MSV characters, who
>were created by military buffs to begin with. ;-)

And possibly even a few *veterans*...?

>And one last Gundam-related point. I suspect that most of the members of
>Zeon's pre-war training batallion - the one created in UC 0075 and
>outfitted with Zaku I mobile suits - were enlisted men, not officers. The
>Black Trinary were non-commissioned officers up until the war started.
>Ranba Ral - another Zaku I pilot, and thus a contender for training
>batallion membership (though I haven't seen this confirmed in print) -
>had been in uniform for at least ten years without breaking ensign/2nd
>lieutenant (in Gundam II, he mentions that he's received a two-rank
>promotion for taking on the Garma vengeance mission).

If Mobile Suits are analogous to tanks rather than planes and MS pilots are
regarded as infantryman or cavalry rather than "knights of the air"
aviators, then the same rules apply to MS as apply to tank crews or paratroops.

About that two-step promotion: it always bothers me when I see people being
promoted as a reward for something, usually political rather than military
in nature. Every military manual I've ever seen, enlisted or officer, says
the same thing: "Promotion is NOT to be used as a reward, nor demotion as a
punishment." Promotions are only to be given for demonstrated ability and
aptitude, demotions for proven incompetence to hold a given rank. Demotion
may accompany discipline, for the cited rationale that the individual has
shown a lack of the requisite qualities, but not *as* a disciplinary
action. (Demotion is usually accompanied by forfeiture of pay and
allowances, assignment to menial duties, etc.) Rewards come in the form of
bonuses, R&R, awards and decorations. The latter two are factored into
eligibility for promotion, as "demonstrations" of ability, along with
TIG/TIR, EPR/OER and test scores.

In this case, though, it could be argued that he showed "command qualities"
by taking initiative and demonstrating personal loyalty and dedication to

> Based on these examples, it seems that Zeon's initial crew of pioneer
>mobile suit pilots were grizzled veteran non-coms, who didn't get bumped
>up to officer status until they'd performed all those heroic feats at the
>start of the war. Rubbing shoulders with them were hotshots like Char and
>Garma (academy grads) and Johnny Ridden (who began as an officer)...

Some of them got the elevator and some got the shaft.... (^_^);


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