Indoc Lesson: Time

Indoc Lesson: Timeliness

            During one of the most memorable drop sessions I had ever received we had learned a valuable lesson in timeliness.  This lesson was further compounded after becoming operational.  Below is a quick breakdown of the task that led to our drop, the explanation of an instructor and then further analysis of why it is important.

The Task

            “You have five minutes to run back to the dorms, get into your blues, and be formed up on this pad!” (Sgt. H. 2013).  This was from what was once called the BATTLE gym.  A quick google earth route recce shows that this sprint was a little over 400 meters as the crow flies.  That being said, PJ’s lived on the third floor of the barracks and there were three hallways each about 50m long with rooms on both sides so from here the distance you have to run varies.  Break it down a bit more our average 400m sprint was probably 1:30, so take away three total minutes and this gives us two minutes (depending on the stairs and hallway) to change into one of the most difficult uniforms to put on in the military, our service dress. 

The Performance

            We ran as fast as our legs could take us.  Running into the barracks skipping past the CQ desk and hauling a*s up those stairs.  By this time my room had been kicked in so many times a key wasn’t needed.  I kicked in my door and ran into the closet and threw on my clothes so fast I was still getting my tie and jacket on by the time I was back on the stairs sprinting back to the pad.  In formation, at the position of attention with our chin and chest held high as we are attempting re-oxygenate our bodies through our nose while our instructor proceeds with a blues inspection.  As he is pointing out flaws in some of our uniforms he asks

 “what was your time?”

as we stumble to answer his voice booming over ours “6 minutes, you are late.  For every second you were late you owe me ten pushups.” 

He points at some poor soul and asks “You! What is 60x10?” 

As this poor student is still trying to perfuse his brain he says “hooyah sgt, uhhh, 60?”. 

The instructor yells louder now “NO! its 600! Drop!”

            We knocked out about 200 pushups before we broke for lunch.  When we came back we finished the remaining 400.  In the end we could only do one or two at a time before taking a break and "shaking it out".  When we were finished our class leader ran in to check in with the instructor.  He didn't believe we actually did them so he asked the combat control students who watched us struggle to hit our final number.  Fortunately they vouched for us and he proceeded to his explanation. 

The Explanation

            There was none! He was an instructor, he didn’t need an explanation.  Just kidding, his explanation was short and sweet “60 seconds is enough to cost lives.”

            When I thought about it then it was simple enough to quell any questions I may have had.  After becoming operational is when I started to see the validity of his comment.

Expansion of the lesson

            After becoming operational is when you truly learn the validity of an instructors short and sweet explanation.  How long does it take for a patient to bleed out from an arterial injury? It can take as little as 60 seconds to lose consciousness and between two to five minutes for someone to perish from this injury.  The length of time also varies based on where the arterial bleed is for example an individual bleeding from the carotid or femoral will perish quicker than someone losing blood from a brachial.  We teach our new medics to have a tourniquet on the extremity in under 30 seconds.  As they gain experience they apply it quicker. 

            Bleeding aside, on the battlefield timeliness is a huge factor.  Being a half second late pulling the trigger can mean the difference between life and death for you or a teammate.  So your cognitive ability to assess a threat needs to be sharp.  This is just one of many examples I could give you without getting too deep into the weeds. 

            Aircraft are the most exposed when they are waiting for a team to on or offload.  Because of this it is imperative you limit the aircrafts' exposure by being “Johnny on the spot” and ensuring you are good to go before the aircraft lands.


            I am thankful to Sgt H. for that valuable lesson learned early on in my career.  Even though we were given a near impossible task, and it seemed like the instructor was just playing games with us there was value in it.  Instructors traditionally don’t like just playing games with you.  They are training you to be on the front line with their brothers in arms and potentially on the front line with themselves.  They want you to be the best of the best so that you are an asset to the team. When you are being stressed to the limit and you “feel” that it is unfair, you need to take your emotion out of it and focus on the task at hand and the lesson they are trying to impart on you.  This is not to say they don’t play games at all, but when this is happening take it for what it is worth and have fun with it.

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