The Army is big on mandatory briefings. Generals want briefings of everything under the sun, demanding more information than he and his entire staff can even process. Some briefs are somewhat useful for new soldiers such as annual briefings on the Geneva Convention and Laws of Land Warfare. Others such as the Equal Opportunity brief are worthy of an eye roll but relatively painless.
With the Army developing AKO and pushing it out Army wide on the internet in the early 2000′s, these briefings have not been replaced with, but rather supplemented with, dozens of redundant safety certification forms and surveys.
There is the information awareness certification, the motor vehicle safety certification, various safety surveys, anti-terrorism awareness certification, sexual harassment certificates, and many others. I was even recently told about an online SERE re-qualification course in which students roam around a virtual forest looking for sticks to rub together in order to start a virtual fire with computer pixels. The internet is a great tool but also allows busybody staff officers up and down the entire Army chain of command to reach all the way through the command structure and burden soldiers with their “great” ideas.
It gets even more ridicules when you realize that it is all about making quotas. Each unit has to get a certain percentage of their soldiers “qualified” through this type of online training. Each survey is considered to be critical mandatory training until you get to 70% of the company through it, then you won’t hear about it again for a couple months when it becomes time to re-qualify.
Even the best Sergeant Majors run around the company harassing their boys to get them to complete the surveys. Whether they are great leaders or not, the metric used to judge whether Senior NCO’s have been successful is not how combat effective their unit is, but whether or not they met their quotas on spread sheets and internet safety surveys. No one cares how many High Value Targets you captured and killed if MEDPROS is out of date.
Combined with Risk Mitigation worksheets and other risk adverse safety measures, these briefings and online workshops represent the Army’s pathetic attempt to replace real leadership with a bureaucratic Cover Your Ass technique that ensures that Officers don’t lose their jobs even as their units fall apart under the weight of suicides, drug abuse, vehicle accidents, and even losses in combat.