Back in 2002, I was enlisted in the US Army for Basic Training at Fort Knox just outside of Louisville, Kentucky.
On one weekend in particular, our company was taken with our loaded 50 pound rucksacks for a 15k hike of the hills around the Fort Knox complex.
What was not uncommon with the military was: It was a lesson for the mind more than it was meant to be physical training for the body.
On one particular day, all of us – 300 altogether – were placed in single file order – and we were ordered to maintain arms length distance to the man in front of us and be able to reach out and touch his rucksack if ordered..
The sergeants, drill sergeants, and rest of the leadership were interspersed, at 30 yard intervals, and were pretty quick to reprimand us on this particularly grueling hike for 5km up a 30 degree incline.
The lesson I learned that day was a lesson in insanity:
With 300 different men of varying different physical backgrounds of age, size and shape – it was nearly impossible to maintain a set distance to the man in front of us in single file line.
This was an impossible order.
One time, the line bunched up in front of me as the front people got tired.
People started colliding with eachother.
We were literally face to rucksack.
And then when the pace picked up again.
Men (and boys) ran to catch up to the person in front of them, and the gap between some widened.
The Drill Sergeants yelled.
But over time, the yelling fell on deaf ears.
As this living example of a slinky expanded and contracted, where I could see people bunched up a 100 yards up the road, and a full car length was between me and the man in front and behind me as we ran as hard as we could up this hill.
Sick of getting tired and dealing with this grueling exercise, I started walking at a normal pace.
The distance between me and the man in front of me grew.
The first sergeant – seeing me as a problem that needed fixed – stood next to me and yelled and yelled and yelled at me.
He was an older man, near retirement.
I looked at him and winked.
His face got red as he yelled louder.
It wasn’t the week before he had won a a bet he later admitted placing on me as I won a wrestling match in ‘one on one training’ against a scrawny black kid they all had apparently wagered would kick my ass.
Doing his job. He kept yelling.
But I was tired.
And this to me seemed like a lesson in insanity.
I could see only one way to reliably fix the pacing problem.
A full 100 feet grew in front of me and the next man.
Behind me, I could hear and feel the pressure to ‘run faster’, but behind me, the pace had evened out, we were all arm’s length.
Soon enough, the pace in front of me slowed.
The 18 year old boy in front of me was suddenly at arm’s reach.
And something weird happened.
The expansion and contraction problems stopped.
One person – a self righteous and arrogant Private First Class who now calls himself Q – who in the ‘middle of the line’ had just addressed and resolved the problems of a bottleneck by simply adjusting his pace which set the pace for the entire line.
“Obey. Obey. Obey,” the mindless managers screamed.
These weren’t leaders.
These were nothing more than ineffective micromanagers, who were trained to discipline and train the individual.
But subversively, they were all training the individual on how to be an individual in a group.
On HOW to be a leader.
It really was magnificent, world class training.
Up until then, I had received most of my education from living life.
And with this, I had learned an invaluable lesson at the school of Knox.
Hard Knox that is.
Later the next week, the First Sergeant I had winked at called me into his office.
With a stern face, he ordered me to close the door behind me as I entered. I was prepared for an ass-chewing.
But in the instant that door closed,his demeanor went from stern to smiles.
“Sit down, Gregory,” he said
I was confused..
This suddenly seemed personal.
“What’s it like out there?,” he asked, quizzically.
“Out where?,” I responded, genuinely confused.
This man, about 20 years my senior in his mid fifties, started to come across as .. .human… it was bizarre.
“Out in the civilian world. Don’t repeat this to the rest of your platoon, but I am retiring in about three months. I hate to admit this, but I am a bit afraid,” he admitted.
Here I had expected to be reprimanded for not obeying orders, and instead I get something completely unexpected.
I suddenly felt like a father figure.
It was a weird reversal of roles.
“You’ll be fine,” I thought twice about bringing up my wink on the line, but it served to make a point ” just remember that civilians don’t always jump as commanded if you’re put into a management position and it’s not always to make you look bad,”
He smiled. “Gregory, I don’t see you as the military type. Why’d you sign up and what’s at Fort Meade?”
“Public Affairs,” I responded, it was my official MOS.
He leaned back in his chair. “Funny. I see you as being intelligence. Are you sure that’s not what you’re in?
I smiled, nervously “I couldn’t keep a secret to save my life”
He wasn’t convinced, and pulled out a bottle of cheap whiskey.
“You won me this bottle. Care to share a shot?,” he said leaning over to offer it to me.
Thoughts of coming back to the barracks with alcohol on the breath went through my mind. Having to explain where I got alcohol to other sergeants, let alone my platoon – had me reeling.
Before I could respond, he pulled it back “That was a joke. You know I can’t let you have that here. But I do appreciate what you did.”
To what he was referring to, I doubt I will ever truly know.
American media’s being manipulated right now by pretty much everything in existence.
On any given year in my history, the news remains the same tone, with different names and places.
ISIS. Hamas. Sunis. Nazis. Terrorists. You name it.
All serve the same Modus Operandi: create fear, sustain it, and ‘hook’ the tax paying consumer to pay for operational costs to create it.
All much like something I would find in a computer script…
Hollywood has movie formulas that are well publicized.
A script that is being changed as I type this.
I could go on…
If it hadn’t been for magnificent training like what I received at Fort Knox……
I don’t think I would ever have came to realize that our “elected” Presidents were not our true leaders and that someone else was leading them.
And that someone is now me.
I send a sincere thank you to the people of the armed forces, the NSA and the rest of the United States of America and everyone who believed in me who put me in this position.
Especially when I didn’t believe in myself.
And for the New Years.
When you see those fireworks going off overhead.
I ask that you think of me.
And keep in mind that one of these days, I will show you something in the sky beyond your wildest imagination.
And THAT is a promise I intend on keeping.
Thank Q, I still laugh at that.