May 24, 2012

Opinion: Forming it up brings me down

Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
Desert Warrior Staff

The “fifteen minutes prior” rule service members are so used to (if in theory rather than practice) always struck me as a bit arbitrary. Why fifteen minutes, and what were we supposed to do with it?

“Hurry up and wait” was probably my favorite military joke before I joined the service, at which point it became a depressing reality. I enjoy being active and getting work done. What I hate is seeing dozens of Marines milling about waiting to do work.

What’s more sad is there is a need for a fifteen minutes prior rule. One would think if someone was willing to devote four or more years of their life to service to their country, punctuality would be a nonissue, and whoever is thinking that would be wrong.

Since day one of my active service I’ve witnessed gross displays of tardiness, absence and utter disregard to work commitments that were then taken up by other embittered Marines- all of which, it must be noted, I’m guilty of.

Perhaps I’m a romantic or idealist when it comes to my vision of the Marine Corps, but it blows my mind that people get away with actions such as that, even worse people let them get away with that, and the worst is when people in leadership positions actually commit the offense.

People like that are the reason I’m seeing Marines huddling for a formation that does not start for another 40 minutes. Loss of time is loss of productivity, and that is something no one in this world should strive for, much less people who work for military branch whose entire existence is based upon the sheer amount of work its individuals do.

Alas, it’s important to state that the 15 minutes prior rule is useful in that it works as a grace period for any mistakes involving the upcoming event. Do I have all my supplies with me? Am I forgetting something important? Accountability, paramount to any organization, is also used in formations, though in this age of instant communication even that seems laughable. If you put on your uniform day after day, you should have no problem committing to events involving the mission you’re getting paid to do.

I think formations are viewed differently throughout the various echelons in the Marine Corps, depending on where you work and who with. A formation in a combat zone done for gear and personnel accountability, for example, is absolutely essential. Ensuring your Marines have the proper equipment to fulfill their mission can make the difference between life and death. An all squadron formation held so people can watch one Marine walk away with a Letter of Appreciation, not so much.

Now, to be frank, unless it’s a military funeral or fallen hero ceremony, which I’ve been a part of more times than I’d like to admit, I do not care for formations and the arbitrary sense of time that goes with them. They have and still do serve a purpose, but there are better ways of letting someone know where to be rather than have them rallying in one location. It’s probably just my lower enlisted perspective, but it seems the only cohesive thing about formations is the collective irritation that forms in the Marines involved in them.

I believe if Marines collectively pulled together and got to work or functions on time, the 15 minutes prior sentiment would be eradicated entirely. If I’m late because I’m on time why even tell me the correct time an event kicks off? Just bump the time down to when you want me to be there and don’t use up my time I could be devoting to higher achievements than glaring at the sky because whatever I’m supposed to attend doesn’t start for who knows how long.

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