A constant theme I have promoted over the course of my previous two articles is that of forecasting. I have made mention of how this concept permeates throughout every aspect of military life and is something that is realised from day one of recruit training. I discussed how the concept of doing things in advance to lessen the anxiety of what may or may not happen is something engrained in soldiers from the very beginning of their military careers.
Let me recap on another key point I previously made, as this will set the tone for this third installment: The ability to successfully plan through foresight is essential in creating the necessary atmospherics for an easier transition into your post-military career. I believe that following this concept has the ability to lessen the anxieties and stresses that go hand in hand with separating from the military.
So what do I mean by this exactly, and how can this mindset assist people in their transition from military to civilian life?
Let’s use a hypothetical example. Say you were on deployment to an extremely hostile country like Afghanistan and were planning an operation deep inside a province with little or no government influence. There is limited reporting on insurgent activity in the area and that which does exist leads you to the conclusion that the area is being used as an enemy safe haven.
Your operation is simply going to be a disruption operation. You will fly in at 0200 and land outside of the helicopter’s audible range, which is approximately nine miles out of the green belt. Your company will infil by foot and take up fighting positions within a chosen bazaar and its surrounding compounds. These are to be set prior to first light and are simply going to be used to draw out insurgent fighters and gauge atmospherics of the area. The operation will last 24 hours with an extraction time set for 0100 the following morning.
Now, as part of this hypothetical operation, planners are going to go through a number of processes, including the Military Appreciation Process (MAP). The Military Appreciation Process is the ADF’s primary decision-making and planning doctrine and provides a model for all military planning and decision-making at home and on operations. The MAP works around the constantly updating Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) process and follows the linear progression of: mission analysis, course of action (COA) development, COA analysis, and decision and execution.
There are also a number of variations to the MAP process, such as the joint MAP (JMAP), the staff MAP (SMAP), the individual MAP (IMAP), and the combat MAP (CMAP). Despite these differing sub-categories, they are all still based on the same process, designed for commanders to clearly and unbiasedly calculate the benefits and risks of each COA before they reach the fourth stage of decision and execution.
Essentially, the MAP process is all about creating the most suitable plan with the highest chance of success. It is about mitigating the risk of the operation failing or a catastrophic loss occurring through some fundamental oversight. It looks at every single aspect of the mission and what is needed from the moment personnel leave the compound to the time they return. It war games an enemy’s potential movement and addresses vulnerabilities in the same way that any competent chess player would. Nothing is left to chance, as that which is at stake simply does not allow for it.
This hypothetical is a great way to expose just how much foresight goes into planning military operations. The entire concept of warfare is based on trying to stay at least one step ahead of your adversary. While luck and good fortune certainly have their place on the battlefield, a competent soldier would only ever consider these exceptions, not rules.
After a period of time, the process becomes second nature not only at work, but in our personal lives as well. Even though my last day at work at the Regiment was 18 months ago, there are habits I know I will never let go of. From something as simple as always reverse-parking my vehicle and having a medical bag in my car, to laying out clothes and other important items the day before my early starts and my innate ability to be everywhere on time, there is no denying that I am the product of my military training.
Despite all of this forward thinking and initiative demanded of military personnel, however, the harsh reality is that there are also some who fail to acknowledge just what the private sector demands of its potential employees. This failure has left many veterans asking questions about “civvy street” and questioning its fairness in regards to their actual employment opportunities.
I have had friends who have either left the military or are in the process of transitioning who struggled to find gainful employment. This was by no means through a lack of trying; instead, they were told it was due to a lack of nationally recognised qualifications. Some of these individuals were winding up extensive and highly decorated careers within the ADF and SOCOMD, yet were faced with the real prospect of extremely unfulfilling employment or unemployment altogether.
In the final installment of this series, I will discuss some of the options for people who have either discharged or those who are transitioning from the military, based on my experience and those around me who have made the leap.
(Featured image courtesy of aspistrategist.org)