Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Just what does a battalion S-3 do all day? Maj. Ukiah Senti is glad you asked

According to Maj. Ukiah Senti, in Afghanistan, this is the life of an Army battalion S-3, or operations officer, when engaged in combat operations: "A typical day as an S-3 is that you’re working probably good 20-hour days, 99 percent of the time. There was a lot of decision-making that weighs heavily on your in ...

U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy

According to Maj. Ukiah Senti, in Afghanistan, this is the life of an Army battalion S-3, or operations officer, when engaged in combat operations: "A typical day as an S-3 is that you're working probably good 20-hour days, 99 percent of the time. There was a lot of decision-making that weighs heavily on your in terms of life and death decisions in terms of bombs and supporting units. At any given time you have five different fights and you have to decide who is going to get the access if you only have two for the fight. That means three of the fights aren't going to get it. That's the kind of decision-making for the S-3."  

In the same Army interview, Senti also gives a shoutout to my successor on the Pentagon bigthink beat at the Washington Post, Greg Jaffe, who recently wrote that fine article about a Marine suicide. (And then about the reversal that means the widow will get a life insurance payment.) Senti says that young Jaffe "is probably one of the best writers and the least biased writer that's out there...He writes something and it really does make an impact."

According to Maj. Ukiah Senti, in Afghanistan, this is the life of an Army battalion S-3, or operations officer, when engaged in combat operations: "A typical day as an S-3 is that you’re working probably good 20-hour days, 99 percent of the time. There was a lot of decision-making that weighs heavily on your in terms of life and death decisions in terms of bombs and supporting units. At any given time you have five different fights and you have to decide who is going to get the access if you only have two for the fight. That means three of the fights aren’t going to get it. That’s the kind of decision-making for the S-3."  

In the same Army interview, Senti also gives a shoutout to my successor on the Pentagon bigthink beat at the Washington Post, Greg Jaffe, who recently wrote that fine article about a Marine suicide. (And then about the reversal that means the widow will get a life insurance payment.) Senti says that young Jaffe "is probably one of the best writers and the least biased writer that’s out there…He writes something and it really does make an impact."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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