ALT #311: What Do You Look For In A Junior Officer?
What Do You Look For In A Junior Officer?
Summary: Kelsey comes asking questions of Amos
Date: 13/Nov/2013
Related Logs: None
Amos Kelsey 
Firing Range - Deck 3 - Battlestar Orion
With ten different bays, the firing range can accommodate quite a few shooters with about two dozen spectators or trainees behind them. At 25 yards, the targets can be brought forward or pushed back up to the stops before the inclined plating designed to deflect rounds up. The lighting can be dimmed down to nothing for use with night vision or flashlights, also. A large sign overhead denotes the requirement of both eye and ear protection, as well as the prohibition of all ammunition except rubber or frangible. However, there are no firearms stored here. All firearms and ammunition must be checked out from the Marine Armory in the Security Hub.
AWD #311

It's late afternoon, perhaps early evening depending on how you measure these things. The firing range is moderately busy, with two or three marines working on their pistol skills in the front-most bays. Business as usual you might say, but further in there's something more unusual, a marine captain sighting down range with one of the bows from the games. From the disinterest of the range marshall it would appear that this is not the first time this has occured either.

Kelsey is just coming off a week on Minos and she looks a little underfed but otherwise fine. A few days back and a couple large meals and she'll be okay. Coming into the range, she's in her off-duty tanks. Her sidearm is holstered and she has a couple boxes of rounds to pop off plus her glasses on and her ears around her neck. The young woman slips past the other Marines, doing her best not to bother them and heads down towards the other end. Seeing the Captain shooting a bow, she stops and stares from the booth next to him. Her eyes drift downrange to the target, then back. She doesn't even know what to say to that, despite her mouth bobbing open and closed. That's a big bow.

Amos is concentrating on his action as Kelsey enters, but he's only loosing three arrows at a time before breaking to reset. His grouping is tight, if a little off centre as he's working on getting used to the bow itself, but it looks like the months without practice haven't set him back too much. With the tired sent downrange he finally notices the pilot and as he relaxes he gives her a brief nod in greeting. "Good to see you home Ensign."

Home? Oh! "Right, yessir. Thank you." She looks down at the arrows and then back to him. "Is this a normal thing for Marines, sir? I don't think I've ever seen a Marine in my Raptor carrying one of those. It looks a bit…vicious." And she doesn't seem to mean that in a necessarily bad way. There's a hint of a smile there. "Or is this for private use?" There's some big interest, she's just holding herself back - which is a bit unusual for the young officer.

Amos looks faintly amused at the reaction, but not entirely surprised. With the measured ease of someone who's had this conversation before he sets the tip of the bottom limb on the ground and rests a fraction of his weight on the other. "It's not standard equipment no," he answers, "although I suppose if this war keeps going it might be an idea to get a few people trained up, save on ammo." Leaving her to decide if he's serious or not by herself he then finishes with, "right now though, this is just me unwinding."

She apparently thinks he's serious. "That'd be crazy. You could put like an explosive or something on the tip like I saw in a movie once, sir." Kelsey looks on the verge of continuing on into a ramble about movies, which happens often, and she stops. She measures a smile and puts all of her gear down on the booth table. "That's a pretty cool hobby, though, sir." Her eyes wander over the bow and seems suitably impressed with it. "Hey, Captain, would you be okay with me asking some questions that might not be strictly…" She glances to the other Marines firing and then back to him. "Well, not exactly normal for someone like me to ask someone like you. Would that be okay, sir?" She's trying to keep her voice from carrying like she might be a little embarrassed.

"I've seen a few different arrow heads in my time Ensign," Amos starts, expression still registering mild amusement, "but never an explosive one. Still, a heavy bodkin into a canner's joints would slow it up a bit." As the pilot continues though his expression changes to one of mild curiosity. "You mind if I keep going while you talk?" he asks, tilting his head downrange a little, "or is this something thats going to require all my concentration?"

Kelsey shrugs. "Its the movies. Probably has about zilch to do with reality. But it was pretty cool." Rather than get excited she just seems to let it pass from there, nodding. "Sure, you can keep shooting sir. If I'm interrupting just tell me to buzz off or something, Captain." She sniffs and looks back to the other Marines before taking about half a step closer. "So, uhm, in case you haven't noticed? I'm kinda not exactly the best officer out there." She doesn't look entirely comfortable with that. "But I've talked to the CAG and I'm trying to make improvements. Part of this is talking to effective senior officers about what they like to see in junior officers like me. I get that we're two different branches, but I think it might be kinda good to hear what you think too, sir."

"Ohh, don't get me started on archery in films," Amos replies as he straddles what appears to be a small strip of electical tape on the floor. One foot downrange, one up, listening as he settles himself into his stance and starts to bring up his bow-arm. The point, when it comes htough, makes him pause for a moment, and after than moment he relaxes out of the stance again and returns to leaning on the bow. "What do I look for in a junior officer?" He mulls it for a moment before continuing, "I'm guessing we can discount the obvious, like technical ability, basic leadership skills and such. Besides them I want people who are willing to learn, willing to listen and not afraid to voice any doubts or concerns they might have. So long as it's done appropriately of course." Another pause and a moment or two's thoughtfull expression then, "professional attitude, thats a big one. Private opinions and such are all well and good in private, but infront of the men and in cmbat situations then I demand professionalism. Integrity too, as an officer you are a gentleman and your word is your bond. One of my officers promises the men something then I expect them to move the heavens to get it done. If those below you can't trust you, then everything goes to pot."

Kelsey listens to this, watching him bring up the bow and then back down. There are mental notes being taken and she is most certainly listening to what is being said. "Professionalism and integrity." She looks down, squinting at the ground as she tries to connect all the dots. Kelsey isn't dumb, if anything her aptitude as a pilot proves that. But there's something else going on here. "So, like, an officer shouldn't complain to enlisted or anything, it sounds like. It kinda sounds like you're saying the officers work for the enlisted, even if we can sorta tell them whatever we want. Or am I getting that wrong, sir?"

"No, they shouldn't," Amos confirms, "there is a line between us. I know it seems arbitrary at times, but it's there for a reason." He takes a few seconds to try and work out how best to explain it, before trying, "it might be slightly different for you, as your division is all officers, but for me, my men are my responsibility. Yes, it's my job to throw them into situations where some of them are going to get wounded or even killed, but it's also my job to prepare them, train them, as well as I can so as to limit those casualties. I have a duty of care over them if you will." Another pause, while he starts to unstring the bow and releive the tension in the limbs for a while. "They have to be able to trust me and my decisions, and that won't happen if I'm sat around with them complaining about another officer, or if another officer is sitting around with them complaining about me. We ave to be better than that or doubts spread. Doubt leads to hesitation and you know as well as I that sometimes a fraction of a second is all there is between life and death."

Kelsey crosses her arms, looking down as she listen. It might look like she isn't paying attention and its not exactly proper respect, but she is definitely listening. "Yeah, that makes a lot of sense," the Ensign says quietly. "Gods, I feel like an idiot." The comment seems to be floated out of nowhere, but she looks back up to him and nods. "The CAG told me that if I wasn't okay with giving orders to people that might get them killed, then she'd happily let me sit at Ensign. Maybe if I was lucky someone would promote me. I guess that makes sense though, sir. Doesn't it? Pilots have to give orders to other pilots that might get them killed, but you do the same with your enlisted. I guess the main difference is that we bunk and live with these people." That sits a bit uncomfortably with her and its obvious she isn't quite there yet with it being alright. "How do you deal with that, sir? Giving orders to people that might get them killed? How do you keep from freezing up?"

With the bow now unstrung Amos rests it up against the side of the bay and turns back to Kelsey. He takes a deep breath, then lets it out slowly as he takes in the younger officer infront of him. "Ensign," he starts, "one of the things you have to learn about command, is that sometimes the people you kill are your own men. How you deal with that is something you have to find out for yourself and I won't lie to you, not everyone can. The CAG is right though, if you find you can't, or if you find yourself not caring about that, then find a desk to ride." He lets that sit where it is a moment, so as to give it a chance to sink in, then moves on to actually answering the question asked. "Me? I do it by knowing that there was a purpose behind it and that they were as prepared for it as I could make them. My men are all volunteers, they all knew what they were signing up for, but they also know that I'm never going to ask them to do anything I haven;t or wouldn't do myself. I cope with it by knowing that I'm not throwing their lives away pointlessly."

Kelsey looks away at the idea of riding a desk. She's a pilot and has been doing that job for going on eight months now. The idea makes her ill, but so does the idea of getting people killed. But she takes a long breath and looks back to him as her explains how he deals with it. "You take charge and want to make sure these people know as much as they can. You make them as prepared for combat as possible. I can see how that could be difficult as a junior officer. You'd need help…" She has a realization and smiles to herself. "…and that's where you call on your senior enlisted to help you out and give advice." Hey! Lookit her! Connecting it all together. "What do you think makes for a good leader, then, sir? I mean, you mentioned obvious leadership skills. It isn't so obvious to me. Is there anything in particular?" This is all stuff she should have learned ten months ago in OCS and apparently didn't.

Amos gives a smile of encouragement as dots are joined, then nods in agreement. "Never be afraid to ask for help, everyone here is on the same side and it benefits no one if someone is struggling in silence. Feels like a kick in the pride first time or two but get over it and it's amazing how much you can learn." So speaketh the voice of experience. As for leadership skills though he slips his hands in his pockets and rattles off a few from some training manual or other, "ability to inspire confidence, ability to motivate, ability to co-ordinate, ability to delegate effectively, ability to convert general instructions into specific orders, that sort of thing."

"Yeah. I've been struggling in silence since I started flying. Its finally started to catch up to me and I've gotten in some deep trouble, sir. Thankfully the CAG is more interested in having me learn than making an example of me. She thinks I could be a great officer if I could do anything except fly, sir." Its obviously not an easy thing for her to admit and, on a professional level, -extremely- embarrassing. Nobody likes to admit that they have no idea what they are doing, especially after this long. But she's making the effort and swallowing her pride — a large task for any pilot. "So… you could kinda break that down into, like, general charisma and understanding of the job. Right? As long as you can balance that with the concerns you have for the people you lead? Or am I off-base, sir?"

"Sounds like the CAG has things in hand then," Amos replies with a faintly satisfied nod, "you find yourself struggling again then go tell her, or someone else you trust. You've got this far and thats no small feat, so just keep it in your head that you're still learning and it should keep you right. Take it from me, I'm still learning new things and I've been at this for a fair sight longer than you I'll wager." As for the breakdowns he nods, "something like yeah. 'People skills', I think is one of the latest terms for it, 'not being a dick' a more traditional one."

"Yessir. I'm getting the idea that maybe I should just keep asking for help over the long term. That way people just get used to it and I don't have to worry about doing this again." Because every officer loves conversations like this. "But I guess that makes sense. New things all the time. We see that in the cockpit, too, sir." She sighs. "I'd prefer to just call it 'not being a dick'. Its easier to understand, yanno? But okay. Thanks, sir. I just have one more question and it might be kinda hard for you." She wets her lips. "I need to know one thing from you that I do well and one thing I do terribly and how to improve it. If it's one or the other, sir, I'd rather know what I do terribly. …If you don't mind?"

Amos is about to start reaching for his bow again, since it appears the conversation is winding up, but Kelsey's final thing has him thinking again. "Aye," he admits after a moment, "might have to get back to you on that one I'm afraid as I'm not entirely certain I know you well enough to judge. Allow me this one question of you though, what you you think you do particualrly well or particularly terribly?"

Kelsey shakes her head. "I don't think I'm supposed to answer that, sir. I think the point of the exercise is for me to reset my paradigm. Develop correct understandings without letting my own bias get in the way." No, she's definitely not stupid. "Okay, sir. Thanks. If you do have one or the other, let me know, please? I'd appreciate it." She gestures to the bow he's taking up. "I'll, uhm, let you get back to your time off, Captain. Thanks for the help." Its not a chipper, bouncing appreciation. Its a straightforward, genuine thanks. Kelsey might finally be growing up.

"I think it over and let you know if I come up with anything," Amos promises with a short nod. "Any time," he then adds, "as I said, we're all on the same side here, pushing towards the same goal." Starting to restring the bow he does a quick, fingertip count of the number of arrows left in his quiver as he finsihes with, "have a good evening Ensign."

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