So an opportunity for a course recently presented itself. It's a training course that certain soldiers would eventually need for their promotions. There are tons of those courses out there, but what makes this unique is that the major Army training command (TRADOC) realized that there was enough of a critical mass of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan who needed the course to warrant an iteration being run...for three weeks, all the way over here.
Sounds good enough, right?
A lot of the soldiers from one of the busiest, most-tasked sections here (the Engineers) actually need this for their MOS. Several of them tried to sign up, but eventually their OIC (Officer-in-Charge) realized that if they all took it, his section of guys would be as useful as a hockey cleat for a three-week period in the middle of the deployment.
So what did he do? Without many better alternatives, he just told his guys that they could either take that class, or have R & R leave...but not both. Predictably, every single guy took his name off the list.
And who'd that leave? The folks who are already skating by without half the responsibility of the first group (who, ironically, need that course and will eventually have to take it back in the States), and who just want something "cool" to add to their military resume and look even better on paper.
For what it's worth, I'm not involved in any of this directly (I neither needed that course nor signed up for an in-theater junket), but that gives me some credit for objectivity. Objectively speaking, then, situations like this tend to suck.
The busiest, most-engaged people get indirectly *punished,* while the skaters get a chance to break away and then look even better on paper in the end for having done it. This happens on active duty all the time...too often, the folks that find their way into all the non-operational tours wind up with the best professional and civilian educational opportunities, while the deployers just sort of miss out.
As with a lot of things associated with large bureaucracies, I'm not saying I have a better answer. I don't. But when I hear grumbling about this sort of stuff in the chow hall, I can empathize.