• Steve Cote

The Negotiable Due Date

I was an AAV company commander and our company had just returned from Norway for a “Team Work” exercise. I was promoted to major during the deployment and upon hitting the beach, my BN CO pulled me aside and said “Steve, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that the regimental CO told me your company kicked ass during the deployment. The bad news is that you’re being transferred to division G-1 to work officer matters."


A soul-crushing desk job... I had been a monitor in the ground officer assignment section, HQMC, a few years before and that experience was coming back to bite me. I wasn’t happy, but the AAV BN now had four majors on deck and I was the junior guy and expendable.

A few weeks after reporting to G-1, the colonel pulled me aside and told me the following: “In anticipation of the summer personnel rotation, I need to brief the CG on the status of all officers in the division. I need a list of all officers: those that are staying in the division for the next year, those that are transferring this summer, and those inbound this summer. I need an alphabetical list of all officers, a list of inbound officers, a list of outbound officers, and a list by date of rank. And I need this by 0600 tomorrow.”


It was already 1530 and I told the colonel that I‘d do my best.

This was the early 1990s and we were still using Selectric-Three typewriters. We didn’t have online access to most of the information we needed. I had to call HQMC and get the latest “slate” of inbound / outbound officers, look up every officer's date of rank in the “Blue Book,'' which lists all USMC officers in lineal sequence. We then had to “hand jam” all the information. Any shot I could get this done by 0600 AM the next day? It was hopeless.

I had one admin clerk to help me. We worked until 0330 in the morning and as we had no idea we were to work through the night, I told him to go back to the barracks, hit the rack, shower & shave and report back at 0700. I went home, showered & shaved and returned to the CP around 0500. At 0600 sharp, the colonel arrived and asked how we were doing. I told him that despite our best attempt, we didn’t meet the 0600 deadline and needed a couple more hours to complete the task. He then asked me, “how much sleep did you get last night?"


I was truthful and told him none. He cracked a small smile and said, “Well, get it done as soon as you can.” It took us another four hours to complete the task.

After turning in the rosters, I found out that the CG never tasked the G-1 for this information. The colonel just wanted to be ready in case the CG asked him for the summer rotation status. I later found out that the general wasn’t briefed until 4-5 weeks later. So much for a 0600 deadline!

Moral of the story: All due dates are negotiable. Until they aren’t.


Steve served as a USMC Assault Amphibian Vehicle Officer and retired as a Colonel in 2005. From 2005 - 2014 he worked Joint Warfighting Center, Joint Support Team Contract, Suffolk, VA and the redesignated Joint Staff J7, Joint Support Team Contract. Steve still throws weights around, golfs, travels and is a slave to his three granddaughters... Printed with his permission.

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