Sorry Country Joe for borrowing the inspiration for the title, but really have you asked yourself what your local Emcomm Group is Drilling for?
Not so many years ago we did Message Handling practice and basic net operations.
Now we have let served agencies and bribes by the way of grants from various government organizations decide for us that we will do their Message Formats and focus on their “Professionalization” courses.
We’ve become so worried about not getting our slice of “government cheese” as EmGov monies are offered for remolded versions of ARES & RACES, that we’ve not only agreed to the Sisyphian tasks of endless drills for THEIR purposes, but given up the capabilities & self-leadership that were ours.
Subtle difference between training to be able to serve served agencies and having served agencies decide how we train perhaps, but one that has led us to drop so much of what we’ve been doing, dropped without discussion, in exchange for the heady entry into an addiction for patronage and a place at the post-9/11 & post-Katrina EmGov table.
Co-opted into endless courses with vague if not all but absent relevance to our dedication – radio communication – we’ve even embraced some of notion to replace our traditional modes (CW & SSB) with highly proprietary digital offerings that reduce each Emcomm volunteer to either a human-manned Router in Internet Style, or fobbed off as a vassal in servitude of the served agency.
The Red Cross recognized this change first by demanding ARES/RACES Emcomm volunteers formally submit to background checks and pushing for Red Cross membership as “dual hat” volunteers. Who would pass on the opportunity to increase their agency’s trained and vetted volunteer resources? Taking over another service group by co-opting them from leadership on down would be hard, would it?
The EmGov groups have followed with expectations of their own -at first with ARRL CEC Courses, but then with ICS Courses, FEMA Courses and other courses as they wrestled the training function away from our ARRL. For the larger part the Emcomm Levels I, II & III are considered worthless by EmGov.
And one asks what have we given up our own structures for?
Endless training for yesterday’s disasters?
EmGov leadership training unsuited to our specialty roles as radio communicators?
And have we noticed that the real EmGov communication has moved onto dedicated gear, frequencies and secure modes that we don’t share?
I hunter at the end of a gameless field is wise enough to call his dog, unload his gun and head home. He doesn’t continue to walk the barren field imagining somehow that a gamebird will form from the muck itself.
Why will Radio Amateurs and our Organized Bodies not be as wise?
We have a role, doing what we’ve done well within the licenses & technologies afforded to us, of being the communicators who get through when all else has failed.
We’ve done that by being wise enough to avoid entanglements with organizations, structures and training that lacks our focus.
We’ve done this by believing what we’ve proven to ourselves over and over – that we can communicate when the chips are down.
The proposal to cut RACES loose as a sacrifice to the EmGov & Served Agencies, while reforming a real ARES in the form of actual amateur operations, controlled & lead by real amateurs, sounds like a distinctly suited solution to this problem.
And then we could call an end to the nonsense training, the drills made up by outsiders and get back to message handling, emergency communication techniques and regain some purpose.
We would no longer be wondering “One, Two, Three, What Are We Drilling For?”