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I've been activated

So guess what?

Nah, you'll never guess.

This morning, I was extremely surprised to receive orders via FedEx recalling me to active duty in the US Army. Don't get alarmed
-- I'm not going to Afghanistan, or anywhere near it. I'm being activated specifically to do computer geek stuff for the army at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. I report on 5 November (i.e., less than 2 weeks from now); I will likely be stationed there for a year.

From what I understand, I'll be doing general support, consulting, and management of military intelligence software for the army. I will be working in an unclassified facility at Ft. Huachuca; my boss is a Captain (who is almost a Major). Everyone else in our section is a civilian; my Captain's boss is the civilian equivalent of a Colonel.

Q: Didn't you say that there was very little chance of being called up?

A: I had previously told many of you that in my present position, the chances of me being called up were extremely small because what I did in the Army Research Lab wasn't really helpful to the current situation. Well, I was actually right -- I have been transferred to the Army Communications Electronics Command (CECOM) and have been activated in this capacity.

Q: What is the Army Communications Electronics Command?

A: It's the full name of CECOM. Other than that, I have no idea. I'll let you know in a few weeks. :-)

Q: Is this a hazardous assignment?

A: I want to assure all of you that this is NOT a hazardous assignment; the major risk I will encounter during this assignment is carpal tunnel syndrome. My Captain tells me that it's more or less an 8-4 job. We'll see how it goes.

Q: Will you be hacking into foreign computers? Do you get to play with satellites?

A: Sadly, no. :-) My initial job description is to do support/management of software that our troops use.

Q: Will you have e-mail access? How do I contact you?

A: Since I am doing computer-related stuff, I will most likely have pretty good internet access. Sadly, I am told that there is no DSL, cable modem, or high speed internet access of any kind around Ft. Huachuca. But hopefully I should be able to utilize bandwidth on-post, particularly after duty hours. Your best bet for contacting me will be my jeff@squyres.com address. While I will likely have a military e-mail address, I'm sure that it will be "for official business only".

Q: What does this mean for your Ph.D.?

A: Hopefully, I'll have time on afternoons, nights, and weekends to work on my research and dissertation. We'll see how this pans out; I don't have a good answer for this question right now. All I can say right now is that I fully intend to finish my Ph.D.

Q: Have you talked with your new commander?

A: Yes, he seems like a reasonable enough guy. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1990, so we actually overlapped for a year (although I don't remember him). Sadly, however, this means that he had my sister Robin as a commander while he was in ROTC, so he may extract some punishment from me for all the pushups that Robin made him do.

Q: Will you be able to come visit us on weekends and holidays?

A: I have no idea what my leave schedule will be like. Please don't be offended if I don't see many of you for the next year -- it is highly likely that the vast majority of leave that I get will be used to visit my wife Tracy back in Louisville, KY.

Q: Where will you live in Arizona?

A: No clue yet. I'll likely live in a hotel for the first week or two while I'm apartment-hunting. I won't really know this until I get down there in a few weeks.

Q: Did you have any idea that this was going to happen?

A: Actually, no. None at all.

Q: What's the funniest thing that you heard today?

A: I used the line "the major risk that I'll run into in this assignment is carpal tunnel..." on someone earlier today, and he replied, "No, the most dangerous thing is always a second Lieutenant with a map." :-)

Q: Are you mad/sad/glad/_____?

A: Yes... no... maybe... Who knows? What I do know is that I signed on the dotted line all those years ago, and I knew what I was getting into. I therefore have no right to be angry about being activated, and so I won't be. I fully accept that I have to go do this; I will go do my duty to the very best of my ability, and serve my country just like thousands of others. Remember us and think of us; we work for you.

Someone sent me an audio file yesterday that fits fairly well in this situation. If you have a moment, visit:


Q: What else can you tell us?

A: That's the executive summary of information that I have so far. I literally found out this morning, so there's still a lot of unknowns. I'm sure that Tracy and I will be racking up frequent flyer miles over the next year, but we're thankful that, all things considered, this isn't a bad assignment.

God Bless America.

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