Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A Geek's Guide to Infantry Companies 
In the spirit of demystifying military jargon for the nonmilitary audience, I've elected to make it mystifying for the nontechnical audience by publishing the following Geek's guide to the infantry company.

Company Commander—The CPU. Receives instructions from the user (Battalion HQ.) Processes instructions and assigns tasks to subcomponents. Usually operates in multitasking mode. Must be kept cool, due to his tendency to overheat.

Company Executive Officer—The Math Coprocessor of the unit. Receives his instructions from the company commander. Focuses on company logistics and maintenance efforts and allows the CPU to focus on training and operations. Tracks maintenance status of vehicles and equipment. Forecasts supply needs and does much of the company number crunching. Generally operates parallel to the CPU. Often multitasks. Takes over CPU functions when CPU is removed from system by user. Advises the junior officer platoon leaders and keeps them from getting into too much trouble with the CPU and causing him to overheat.

First Sergeant—The system clock. Keeps the company humming on time and allows the CPU and Math Coprocessor time to process. Tracks status and location of company personnel. Mentors all enlisted personnel in the battalion. Protects the CPU from overheating, or from generating so much heat that the CPU damages its subcomponents.

Radiotelephone operaters (RTOs)—Function as the input/output ports for all units to which they are assigned. Receive and transmit information from the user to the CPU and from the CPU back to the user interface devices operated by the user. The I/O Ports also operate as system fans, protecting the CPU from overheating.

Battalion Headquarters—The user. Issues instructions to CPU either by direct uplink (also called “see me in my office”) or via the I/O ports (RTOs). Frequently drives the system to the point of collapse, then exchanges the CPU for a fresh one either immediately before burnout (good) or immediately after CPU burnout (bad).

Chain of command—The System Bus. The means by which information is exchanged throughout the system. Information packets flowing from the CPU to the various system subcomponents are called “orders,” or “crap.” Information packets flowing from the system subcomponents toward the CPU are called SITREPS, or “gripes.” Frequently referred to as “bitching.”

Commo Chief—The Network Interface Card, or NIC. Takes charge of all equipment run by I/O ports. Frequently confused with an I/O port, which he is not. When confused with I/O ports, the NIC will generate “bitching” packets and send them to the math coprocessor and the system clock. The math coprocessor and system clock will process the bitching packets carefully before discarding them. The packets will not reach the CPU, as this would cause the CPU to overheat.

CQ—A lower enlisted soldier or junior NCO. Functions as unit RAM, or Random Access Memory. Frequently operates as an I/O port, and then randomly distributes messages received during his shift. Messages not distributed at the end of his shift are permanently lost to the system

10: The number types of soldiers in the unit: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

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