State of TRACOM – September 2013

State of TRACOM – September 2013

Well crud. This is late. Again. My apologies.

September was a slow month here at TRACOM, but the Academy was up and running with 57 exams graded, 14 Distinction, 16 Honors, and 27 Pass.
Congrats to all of our students!

We are still looking for a Sergeant Major and Assistants to the DCO-Doctrine. The original application period has ended, but we did not receive any applications for either position, so we are still taking applications. The application period will end when the positions are filled.

Here are the requirements for SGM TRACOM:

1. All TRACOM Staff members must have completed PD-10 (Marine Basic Training), PD-20 and OTS; 2. Must be a member in good standing of STARFLEET; 3. Be at least 18 years of age; 4. Branch Directors must have completed every course offered by their Branch up to and including the –30/-301 level coursework (Bachelor’s of Military Science); 5. If a staff member is appointed to a position within TRACOM, and that person has not completed the requirements for the position, he/she shall have 60 days to complete the requirements or be asked to resign the position; 6. All candidates should review the TRACOM Policies and Procedures Manual paying close attention to the duties outlined in sections 3.01, 3.02, 3.04 Doctrine Section sub-section Branch Directors, and section
3.05 IN FULL. Please send your ‘Fleet resume, a letter of intent, and why you feel you would make a valuable addition to the Training and Doctrine Command Staff to me at tjlittou@cox.net.
7. This billet must be filled by a Non-Commissioned Officer or Warrant Officer.

Here are the requirements for Assistants to the DCO-Doctrine:

1. All TRACOM Staff members must have completed PD-10 (Marine Basic Training), PD-20 and OTS; 2. Must be a member in good standing of STARFLEET; 3. Be at least 18 years of age; 4. Branch Directors must have completed every course offered by their Branch up to and including the –30/-301 level coursework (Bachelor’s of Military Science); 5. If a staff member is appointed to a position within TRACOM, and that person has not completed the requirements for the position, he/she shall have 60 days to complete the requirements or be asked to resign the position; 6. All candidates should review the TRACOM Policies and Procedures Manual paying close attention to the duties outlined in sections 3.01, 3.02, 3.04 Doctrine Section sub-section Branch Directors, and section
3.05 IN FULL. Please send your ‘Fleet resume, a letter of intent, and why you feel you would make a valuable addition to the Training and Doctrine Command Staff to me at tjlittou@cox.net.

If you want to help out and work with us here at TRACOM, please send your ‘Fleet Resume to me at tjlittou@cox.net.

Thank you,

TJL


*Major General Travis Littou*
COTRACOM
Armor Director
SFMCA Team Delta

State of INFOCOM September 2013

State of INFOCOM September 2013

Greeting Marines,
I just returned home yesterday from a long weekend in Daytona Beach at the 15th annual Klingon Feast. It was a great event this year and a good time was had by all. One word of advice, if you ever attend a Klingon Feast remember they don’t use utensils. Talk about all hands on deck.

I would like take a few minutes and talk about passwords. We have all gotten those emails from folks we know where the Subject says “check this out” and it has a weird link to a website in the email. We see these a lot over the email lists we subscribe to. This happens when someone’s email account is compromised and spam is sent to all the contacts they have in their contact list.
Nine out of ten times the account is compromised because of a weak password. I have added a few tips on setting a stronger password and things you should avoid. A strong password should be longer than eight characters and complex. Include a combination of at least three (3) upper and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols, and numerals. The more variety of characters in your password, the better and by all means never use the same password for everything. You want to avoid using Dictionary words in any language. Words spelled backwards, common misspellings, and abbreviations. Common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing “and” to “&” or “to” to “2”. Sequences or repeated characters. Examples: 12345678, 222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard like (qwerty). Personal information that could be guessed or easily discovered. Your name, birthday, driver’s license number, passport number, or similar information. You may want to consider a password keeper program. There are several to choose from. Some are free and some are not free. Many of these programs have random password generators where you can set the length and complexity of the password when it is created. Lastly, you want to change your password often. I usually change my important passwords every 90 days. It can be said weak passwords are like locking your car, it only keep the honest people out.

Ok, enough about password security. Earlier this month we added the new MOS manual to the SFMC website, I hope you have had a chance to check out the new manual.

I have been working with computer ops to get some of the email problems with the reports worked out. We have made some correction but we are still addressing a few outstanding issues. I hope we can get these issues resolved in the near future. I will keep you posted on our progress and will be following up on some of the correction we have made.

In closing here are the pingdom stats for September.

September
Uptime: 100%
Outages: 0
Downtime 0
Response time: 522 ms

Thank you,

BGEN Mark “Slayer” Anderson
Commanding Officer, Information Command (COINFOCOM)
STARFLEET Marine Corps

State of FORCECOM September 2013

State of FORCECOM September 2013

Good day, Marines.

First off I have two words: flu shot. I don’t care if it’s for the bird flu, the swine flu or the Tellerian spotted flu, if your health allows, get yours. Most insurance companies will cover it to include Medicare and for those military veterans out there, VA will provide it. It’s not a guarantee that you won’t get it, but should you be exposed, your immune system will have kicked into overdrive and help you fight it off.

I really hate to think what the last ten days would have been like if I hadn’t gotten mine. ‘Nuff said.

Also, while you’re at it check with your Primary Care Physician or your local pharmacist to see if you fall in the category of ‘good to get’ for any of the other vaccines: whooping cough [primary or booster], pneumonia, shingles, etc.

Okay – I’ll put the Ship’s CMO away and drag out the right hat: COFORCECOM.

My apologies for a late SOR [please see above]. Better late then never.
Or is it ‘better out then in’?

One ongoing problem we’re seeing with record keeping is a differences in unit data showing up on various portions of the database. ‘How can that be?’ you ask? Very good question. A database relies on two things things that make it up: the code running it and the data it’s drawing from.
That code can ‘present’ that data in pretty much any way you ask for it.
The code also tells the database where to ‘store’ the data you input and where to look for it when you want it back.

However, it can also ‘point’ in the wrong direction and give you some odd results, depending on any random glitch in the code or storage of data.

Now believe me, that’s a very big simplification of a much more complex system and is based on a couple of years of programming training I had years ago. But basics are pretty much basics. And there are two ways to fix errors: correct the imputed data or find where the code is misbehaving and asking for the wrong thing. Now I can’t do much about the latter, but all of us can certainly help out with the former. So once again, I’m asking everyone from the individual Mud Marine on up to check and double check your personal data and your command’s data on the database and report any errors directly to FORCECOM. This can be anything from awards listed incorrectly, your Unit information may be showing errors [wrong individual as OIC, showing an MSG when your Unit’s an MEU, etc] and so on. We will correct what we can and send on to the Code Gurus what we can’t.

Believe me, every set of eyes on this type of problem helps all of us.

Thank you all for your time and hopefully, since the K’normian Death Flu has passed on, next month’s SOR will be a bit more timely.

Stand easy, Marines.

BDR Jari James
COFORCECOM

State of the NCO Corps September 2013

State of the NCO Corps September 2013

Greetings Marines!

Once again, I invite you to join me in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO Club, where there will be harsh words when we find out which wise guy from R&D released the genetically engineered flying pink micro-elephants to nest up in the rafters (they apparently view beer as convenient high energy food source – at least they seem to be housebroken), and the latest post on the message board by the front door notes that the entire history of sentient life in the universe is probably summed up by two words: Sierra Hotel.

The SFMC Policy Manual was recently updated (it’s available for download now at the SFMC Library page – that would be a Hint), and for the first time, it includes the requirements for the office of Sergeant Major of the Starfleet Marines.

“The Sergeant Major must be at least 18 years of age, be identified in the STARFLEET database as a Marine (either Active or Reserve), and must hold an enlisted rank, with a senior enlisted rank being preferred. It is also preferred that the Sergeant Major have served at least one full year as an enlisted member of STARFLEET in order to better understand the nature of the decision to remain in the enlisted ranks of the organization. The Sergeant Major must complete the standard introduction to STARFLEET course (OTS), PD-100, PD-201, NCO-100, and NCO-201, with NCO-301 being recommended. (The requirement to complete any required courses may be filled within 60 days of assuming office with the permission of the Commandant).”

One thing I should address is that, despite the name, “Officer’s Training School” is really just an introduction to STARFLEET course. I would personally be happy to see that name changed, but, realistically, it’s not going to happen. In my opinion, taking OTS should in no way be considered a desire to be an “officer”, and I made it very clear to my chapter CO that was the case when I took it. So, I urge you to follow my lead and ignore the fact that it’s called “Officer’s Training School” when it’s required for an SFMC position.

You may also note that, in the future, candidates for the office should probably be “senior enlisted” members – in other words, E-7’s or Warrant Officers. Another item of preference is some experience at being an enlisted member of STARFLEET – in order to effectively represent enlisted members of the SFMC, you should have “walked the walk” for a while.

If you have other questions or comments about these requirements, please feel free to contact me PRIVATELY.

Turning to community service activities, if your unit hasn’t started making plans for the annual Toys for Tots campaign, I’d suggest that you take a look at the calendar, and start roughing out plans now-ish instead of waiting for the last minute. While improvising on the fly is a commendable attribute of NCOs throughout history, flying by the seat of your pants is generally what you do AFTER the wheels come off the Plan.

There’s one bit of community service that all of us can do right about now, and it’s for the community we all are a part of: STARFLEET. Take a moment to mark your election ballot, dig up a stamp, and drop it in the mail.

As a couple of general reminders, community service doesn’t have to be any part of any organized charity effort. Just giving of your time and energy to someone who needs a hand is the spirit of community service. Whatever you do, make sure that whoever is filing the report for your unit knows the details, and sends it up the Chain of Command in their official report so you can be given the recognition your efforts deserve. And, when disaster strikes, be it floods, fires, tornadoes, or any other large scale catastrophe, remember that the best course of action is probably to support the relief effort of your choice. One thing to consider is some sort of fund raiser. They tend to agree that what they need most is money – they have the logistics and support already in place to purchase supplies. So, you can put in the required time and effort by getting creative and finding ways to raise funds.

As always, the SFMC General Staff needs your input and ideas in order to properly do our jobs. Don’t hesitate to contact the appropriate GS member with your questions, comments and ideas. You can find all the email addresses at the SFMC website, and, of course, we monitor the Corps-l list, and the SFMC Facebook group.

Now it’s time for Top’s History Lesson. Looking back over the years, I realized that one group of NCOs I haven’t talked about is the “tread heads”. The Armor branch of the SFMC is one of those where even a hop, skip and jump through the various manuals reveals that it’s full of NCO slots. That’s been the case throughout history, and that gave me a lot of ground to cover. But, I couldn’t find anything more strange and wonderful than the case of an armor sergeant who literally supplied HER own tank.

Thirty eight year old Mariya Oktyabrskaya had been born in a peasant family in 1905, but married a Soviet Army officer in 1925. She took an interest in military matters, trained as an army nurse and learned to operate weapons and vehicles. When the Germans invaded in 1941, she was evacuated to the safety of Tomsk, in Siberia. It wasn’t until two years later that she learned that her beloved husband had been killed in the fighting around Kiev in August of 1941. The intensely patriotic woman (she and her husband had changed their last name to “Oktyabrskaya” to honor the October Revolution) now had a personal reason to get more involved in the war effort – a desire for revenge against the forces that had taken her husband from her. She sold literally everything she had, and offered to sponsor the construction of a T-34 medium tank, with one little string attached: SHE was to be its driver. Recognizing the tremendous public relations value of her gesture, the State Defense Committee agreed, even making sure she got the “peacetime” full training course instead of being rushed into battle. Oktyabrskaya and her T-34, with its name of “Fighting Girlfriend” boldly written on its turret were then posted to the crack 26th Guards Tank Brigade in September of 1943.

At first, the other tankers of the 26th Guards viewed her as a publicity stunt at best, and a joke at worst. That all changed in her first battle, a night action at Smolensk in October of 1943. Oktyabrskaya and “Fighting Girlfriend” charged into the enemy ranks, running roughshod over machinegun nests, destroying enemy field guns, and becoming the first tank of the 26th to smash through the enemy lines. Maybe this little lady was a real tanker after all.

On at least three occasions between October 1943 and January 1944, Oktyabrskaya, often disregarding orders not to, would leap out of her tank and repair it amidst heavy fire. In her final action, another night attack near Vitebesk, this proved to be her undoing. “Fighting Girlfriend” had been in the thick of the fighting, as usual, even accounting for an enemy self propelled gun, when a tread hit immobilized it. The plucky Sergeant leaped out, and got it fixed, but a burst of shrapnel sliced into her head, rendering her unconscious. Moments later, enemy guns found the “Fighting Girlfriend” and destroyed it.

Sergeant Mariya Oktyabrskaya was in a coma until March 15, 1944, when she finally passed away in a field hospital near Kiev. In August of 1944, she was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union, her country’s highest military award. In spite of her undoubted patriotism, I tend to think she would have traded it straight up for having her husband alive and safe, or failing that, another crack at the enemy that took him from her.

Semper Fi!

MGSGT Jerome A. “ Gunny Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the STARFLEET Marines
sgm_sfmc@sfi-sfmc.org

State of the SFMC – September 2013

State of the SFMC – September 2013

Greetings to all marines

My apologies for the severe lateness of this report. Real life keeps entangling efforts to get this completed and published

This last month has proved to be a busy period for myself and various other GS commands, as we work to attempt to finalize as many “unfinished projects ” as we can, before year’s end
I doubt we will be successful in completing them all for a wide range of reasons – some practical, some simply due to timing

As outlined in my last report, I identified the inclusion of a range of BOS devices that will be available to marines upon graduation to the various SFMCA schools. Orders for production of these have been placed, but to ensure good fiscal responsibility and to maintain the benefits available to us through our bank, we will split-order these devices into smaller groups – working under premise of “highest likely demand item first”
As soon as each of these devices become available, they will be announced through general publication via the QM

In speaking of these designs, they are all meant to do three things;
1. Provide Corps members with a unique, SFMC-designed device that is readily identifiable
2. Maintain a common theme to these designs that assists with #1
3. Remove the reliance of the use of any real-world devices

We strongly believe that these three elements have been achieved

Discussions with any possible improvements to the SFMC QM continue, with special emphasis to the support to International Brigades. Extremely high – some may well say ‘exorbitant’ – postage costs from the US to overseas destinations; shipping “difficulties” (some US suppliers will not sell items to non US/Canadian residents) ; Customs and tax issues in some destination countries- all help contribute to purchasese problems as we try to fit-out our marines in terms of uniforms and any accouterments
This will not be a straightforward nor easy task, but working with FinCom and the QM, it is desired that suitable solutions may be found that will greatly assist International marines being given fair-priced, easy access to these items.

There have been issues with re-directed mail through the SFMCA and TraCom vanity addresses (and some private mail addresses) that have plagued us for a little while. Be assured that with the assistance and support of InfoCom and CompOps that this problem will shortly be rectified. If any marine has any issue with these redirects when making exam requests or even simply communicating, please get in touch with either myself or COInfoCom and we can look to resolve any problems you may be having.

Speaking of TraCom, it is pleasing to see the project of course renumbering first raised some years ago, is now at its very final stages. This renumbering will enable the SFMCA to now “go crazy” and fill out the Schools with as many more new exams as the directors can put together.
In speaking with marine students, it is always great to hear positive feed-back of the quality of the material being produced at our Academy and we would expect that this will always continue to be the case

Speaking personally, I have not had the time to bounce around on the SFMC Facebook page too much , but I am well aware that this important media resource is well used by many members of the Corps. Despite my own lack of regular attendance there, I would urge all marines to sign on so you too can be kept up with the (often) worthwhile chatter that ensues there. While the page is deemed an “offcial SFMC resource” it is of course to all and it is allowing and producing, some very interesting discussion topics that in one or two cases, have led us to research new ideas and incentives.
Drop by and say hello sometime !

Finally, I would once again like to take the time to remind all marines that every member of the general Staff (GS) is here working on your behalf, and that any one of us welcomes approaches, questions, comments, queries or criticisms. So you should never hold back in communicating if you have something you wish to say. We can assure you – as we always have – that we will be ever attentive to your needs

Bruce O’Brien
Major General, SFMC
Commandant, STARFLEET Marine Corps
dant@sfi-sfmc.org