Ex called Thursday afternoon. Seems that last week was for medical weeding out, then he'd be drawing equipment, then this week is rifle range qualifying.
He said he's supposed to find out his assignment on Friday. No news until then. He spoke of one guy who found out his assignment at 8am and had to be on a 10am flight. I guess things can move very quickly once assignments come down.
He said the COL, the only guy who out ranks him in their billet (it's the big room with bunk beds just like you'd picture), is probably going to be medically released, so ex will have to be the leader of that group. It will be a rather thankless job that would have the potential for getting him in trouble somehow in a situation where he'd rather be invisible. They have everybody mixed up together, Enlisted, NCO, and Officer. It's strange to me to have so many ages and ranks together, so much potential for fucking up. Ex said that most are going for their second or third tour. Although he's Army, many are Navy, so that's really odd, too. It's all a mish mash mess.
He did have a potential bit of good news. Although he still believes he will not be eligible for retirement, he was told that they're handing out promotions almost like water. The personnel person he spoke to said he'd easily become a COL, that means he'd skip over LT COL, a whole rank. It wouldn't matter for the long run, but for the short run, it's hundreds more a month in his pocket. I think this relates to promotions in times of war; I know that in promotions on the battlefield, the soldier can go up two ranks.
To briefly (ha!) cover why he can't retire and, most importantly, why I won't get half of his retirement, like other personnel each Officer rank has a specific school that must be completed. For Lieutenants, it is Basic Course right at the beginning and is specific for their field. The one for Captains to attain Major is a 3 month residency away from home. The one for Majors to attain Lieutenant Colonel is rarely residency - only the hot dogs get residency as it's for a year and equals a Master's Degree; it is usually correspondence. During the window that ex should have completed this course, his job had him traveling for months at a time. He couldn't do it. He enrolled twice, but failed at coming through. At the time, he was only on yearly contracts as a Reservist, so he had no idea where his career was headed anyway. Although he took his job very seriously, I don't think he felt like he was in a position to take his career seriously anymore.
The process for being promoted is that the personnel file comes before a board. If you're not promoted, it is called being passed over. It's rare to be promoted after you've been passed over. In the past, I'd only heard of people being passed over twice, then they're gone. Recently, ex said he was passed over three times, but I chose to not quiz him on this. Before the third time (which I think was around the time we divorced, so that's why I didn't know about it), he talked to a personnel person who said he only had to be 50% finished with the correspondence course before the next board. Ex enrolled for a third time, the highest number of attempts they allow. When he looked at the materials and outline, he realized there was no way he could complete half of it before the board met again, so it was his third strike. He was forced out in 2002, which coincided with his final yearly contract as a Reservist - it was five years on one job, the most they would allow, and he couldn't find find another Reservist job to transfer to - oh, did he try. He'd maxed out a couple ways.
In the past when he volunteered to go to Iraq (say 2002-2004) and tried to get time toward retirement (he's at 14 years and would need to make 17 to get grandfathered in to attain retirement at 20 years), he was told it was illegal for him to get back in because of the educational requirement and being passed over.
Now in 2008, it obviously isn't illegal (right - ex checked all the rules and nothing had changed besides their desperation) and they will potentially promote him two ranks even, but they will withhold retirement because he didn't complete the course.
I know, it's a fucked up system. He's trying to get 50% life experience credit for the project he's worked on the last 10 years and is waiting to hear if these details can get worked out. The only other thing would be for that Army school to grant him a fourth attempt at it, although that seems pretty absurd to have to do in Iraq. Ex obviously isn't a student at heart.