Administrative types require reams of paperwork for classes. The Spartans had this dilemma, but they used heavy clay tablets.


Spear throwing: Issuance of authorized spear, conceptual and historical perspective lecture as regards the traditional deployment of the Spartan spear. (0700-0800)

Clay tablet attendance roster, clay tablet receipt for spear. (0800-0900)

Spear safety briefing. (0900-0950)

Bathroom and vomitorium break.

Presentation of spear grip, stance, throwing and stabbing conceptual module. (1000-1100)

Distance engagement from three to 50 meters, close quarters concepts, multiple threat engagement. (1100-1200)

Failure drills, spear malfunctions, strong- and weak-hand deployment. (1200-1300)

Lunch: Wine, olive oil and bread with goat cheese provided by Spartan Boosters Club to be served by Spartan groupies. (1300-1400)

Integration of Spartan spear use of force policy. (1400-1500)

Deployment of spear while on the move. (1500-1600)

Varied positional spear deployments in conjunction with live spear throwing, for mountain pass defense. (1600-1700)

Low-level light spear engagement with authorized oil-lamp deployment in nonthrowing hand. Official Spartan spear oil lamp under-mount attachment deployment in conjunction with the issuance of clay tablet receipt for said oil lamp undermount device, care and cleaning of issued oil lamp device. (1700-1800)

Debrief, class critiques, spear maintenance module, spear cleaning, sandal and shield maintenance, and issuance of Official Spartan Spear Certification. (1800- 1900)

Oil rubdown provided by Spartan Boosters Club and more Spartan groupies. (1900-2000)

End of watch.

Original Spartans would hang out after training and drink and carry on with the locals, but this was discouraged in later years. The latter Spartans, having been “properly trained” and bureaucratically indoctrinated, would retire to their tents and philosophize over warm goat milk and listen to the Old Timers regale them as to “how it once was.”

So, someone decided to train the new Spartans, someone else really knew how to do it, someone else had the requisite equipment and range facilities—and then some knucklehead higher up the food chain decided to justify his position by requiring mounds of clay tablets and redundant writings to accompany what would have otherwise been effective, straightforward training.

This is really why there were only 300 Spartans at Thermopylae and not 3,000. What additional Spartans could have been deployed were not “officially” trained and saddled with mounds of “claywork” and bureaucracy to justify the training. The fewer number of Spartans who accompanied King Leonidas had actually received training.

Nothing much has changed in the intervening millennia. We sometimes spend more time on paperwork than the training itself.

LAPD might just lead the forefront on recording any and everything training related. Heck, we even have forms for filling out a form—top that!

For instance, how’s this one?

“Reitz – we need paperwork for your training for POST certification.”

“I sent it in.”

“We can’t use this.”

“Why not?”

“Our policy is that anyone—including a brand-new recruit—should be able to teach the class off your syllabus.”

“So you’re telling me that a three-day fresh-faced novice recruit should be able to teach advanced sniper techniques off my syllabus? Am I hearing you correctly?”

“Yes … what’s wrong with that?”

“What about field experience, background, and decades of related practical expertise in a respective field?”

“What about it?”

“Never mind.”

I also love this one. Policy: Written training modules will be segmented into 15-minute blocks with all attendant activities clearly delineated and thoroughly explained, including breaks, lunch and all restroom activity modules. (This will take about four hours to write.)

Another favorite: All rosters for attendance, POST certification, Divisional training records, equipment issuance, Departmental specifications and policy requirements, and requisite waivers will be filled out completely, and redundancy checked by supervision prior to commencement of the training. (This will take most of the day.)

Here’s your one bullet along with the four supply forms you need to fill out, sign and pass on to supervision in order to account for said bullet. Thanks.

You see, someone, somewhere has to justify pushing a graphite #2 for a living. This falls into the “I know I can create a form for this if I just put my mind to it” philosophy.

I once conducted a divisional training day for about 100 officers. I did this all the time. The individual saddling me with paperwork was a geek of the first order. Fair enough.

After 60 minutes of non-stop paperwork, forms, rosters, etc., we were finally ready, and he was satisfied that all was in proper order.

I had previously informed him of an atmospheric anomaly on the range commonly referred to as wind. I further explained the rather novel concept of counterweights for his formidable stack of finalized paperwork. Paperwork “pouges” do not listen to people like me. (This is just fine, by the way.)

The wind hit, the paperwork flew off the cliff in all directions and for many hundreds of yards. Everyone simply sat and watched as he ran around while yelling at us—most especially at me.

Sometimes the good guys win.

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