So where am? For those who don't yet know I'm now stationed up at MCAGCC Twentynine Palms (that's Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center; I think they would have added more C's if they possibly could), home of the 7th Marine Regiment and various and sundry supporting attachments. Discretion bids me withhold any further public information but my Facebook friends can find out more. I've been up here a little over a week, and two days ago had my official "change of command" to take charge of my battalion's headquarters and service (H&S) company. Now, "change of command" is not a phrase we in the air wing usually associate with a mid-grade captain; in the wing, they only take place at the squadron level when the outgoing CO - a lieutenant colonel - turns over to the new guy, or up through the higher levels of organization (group, wing, etc). This is due to the fact that in a squadron, a captain will, at best, be in charge of a couple dozen Marines in one of the maintenance shops; and frequently, they're in charge of no one but themselves (like yours truly). It's one of the unfortunate but normal consequences of the structure of Marine aviation; a brand-new second lieutenant in an infantry company can have as much - and frequently more - responsibility as a captain who's been in his squadron for years. In my time in the wing, I've only been in charge of one other Marine during my first deployment as the S-6 officer, and this kid was so smart and well-disciplined that he really needed no supervision from me. So it's been a bit of a culture shock to come from the wing, where I was just one of many knuckle-headed captains, to an infantry battalion and take over as a company commander in an environment where captains are few and far between and are regarded as a minor god. Don't worry, I'm not going to have a god complex any time soon, since the newest lieutenant out of TBS and Infantry Officer School knows more about the grunt world than I do. Fortunately all my officers and staff NCOs know what the hell they're doing, which means the company should stay on track while I stumble through my other battalion billet, that of Air Officer.
This is another full-time job, since it concerns getting air support for all of the battalion's endeavors. Since I'm the only FAC to have checked in here recently, I get this billet too. As the Air O, I need to coordinate various types of Marine air for training evolutions, and work as a member of the Fire Support Coordination Center, where myself and representatives from artillery, mortars, and naval gunfire (not so much a player any more) units hash out the big-picture fire support plan and make sure aircraft aren't flying into active gun target lines. On the down side, the last Air O for this battalion didn't leave me much in the way of turnover; on the other hand, my old squadron will be providing the 53 det for the MEU, so I should be able to pull favors from them and make myself look like a rock star.
So this is what I'll be doing for the next yearish: promoting Marines and calling in air support. Should be a good time (tempered, though, by the fact that I'll only get to see my family on the weekends and major holidays; thank you, Marine Corps, for giving me visitation rights). Week one as a company commander is over; now on to the weekend, where I will command about 20 kids as they run around a huge bouncy house for Aaron's birthday.