Monday, February 5, 2007

Training Continues

It's been awhile since I've been able to post. The computers that the Army provided for internet access will not allow the browser to go to blogging sites. There are a few military bloggers out there who tell their stories in such a way that they give away our TTP's (Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures) and give our enemies intelligence. The biggest mistake anyone in our situation can make is to assume that his enemy is stupid. They are not. They use what they find to be useful, and the internet is one of those things.

Anway, the Army doesn't really want to encourage blogging for that reason. They actively discourage it by preventing the use of Army networks to even go to the websites, so it's hard to get a chance to update the blog.

Everything is going fine. The team has settled into more of a routine, although no one day is just like any other at this point, so there is no "groundhog day" thing quite yet. I know that will happen at some point during the year overseas, but it hasn't happened yet. Some minor personality issues have surfaced between some of the strong personalities (we all have strong personalities... you don't usually see senior leaders who don't) on the team, but things are finding an equilibrium, and the maturity levels involved usually help mellow any friction.

Sometime soon perhaps I will detail the personalities we have on the team. For now, we have finally become a complete team. The last of the additions is also the only non-volunteer on the team. He was in the IRR (Inactive Ready Reserve) and was reactivated to fill in the position. We were worried that he may come with a less than satisfactory attitude due to his untimely removal from civilian life, but he seems to be fine. He was in his first year of law school. He's a West Point grad who has already done a tour in Kuwait and a tour in Iraq.

My Lieutenant is a trip. He's one of the smartest people you're likely to meet, but a bit introverted. Sometimes he is in "I'm just living through this part to get to that part" mode and he doesn't look like there is a thought in his head. That is not the case... but whatever it is that he's really thinking about isn't necessarilly what we're doing. He's an eccentric, and quite capable of entertaining himself mentally. He's a great guy with all the best intentions. Most of the other guys on the team don't "get" him, though. The other junior officers, the two captains, verbally shoot at him a lot. Some of the NCO's direct a bit of fire his way, too.

I think he'll be just fine. He's wierd, but so what? I've been referred to the same way. My biggest advantage is knowing that I am. He made it through a tour in Iraq and I'm sure he'll be fine this time. He's started to focus on some mission-essential tasks such as learning language and learning about the geography and history of Afghanistan. He learns very quickly, and I think that he'll be just fine.

Really, I think a person could have his head completely covered in cheesecloth and if it is God's will, he'll survive this thing. It's not that one shouldn't try very hard and put a lot of effort into being aware, proficient, and outwardly focused... but hey, if the Big Guy wants you to come home, you're going home. If not, you'll blunder through whatever and not be physically harmed. The Lieutenant does not have his head wrapped in cheesecloth, but I think he's managed to convince some of the others that he does.

Time will tell how any of us fare. There are a lot of things you don't know about yourself until they happen and you have to respond.

The body armor is getting lighter, or at least it feels that way. It is something that one has to get used to. It doesn't matter how strong you are, when you strap 40 plus pounds of weight around you, it makes a difference. We're getting used to it. I am beginning to forget that I have the pistol strapped to my leg all the time. It's becoming a part of my leg.

It's been really cold. Running before the sun comes up when the temperature is four degrees is not something that one would think of doing normally. It's really hard to motivate yourself to do that when you're given the option to do calisthenic type exercises indoors in lieu of running. But the running is the part I need the most. Much of Afghanistan is over 6,000 feet of elevation, including the part that we will be in. I need every bit of aerobic capacity that I can get. What I really need is to quit smoking. That's another story. Anyway, this week I actually had my lips go completely numb while running in the morning before dawn. Novocaine numb. It was wierd.

The details of training aren't important right now, but since the last post we've been Combat Lifesaver certified, including starting IV's with a saline lock, we've continued with combatives, more language classes and labs, had a briefing from a bird Colonel who just got back from Afghanistan (part really interesting and part waste of time) and gotten certified to drive the M-1114 up-armored humvee. That part was fun, especially driving at night with the NVG's (night vision goggles) on. The M-1114 handles completely differently than a standard humvee. It's tons heavier. Actually, the most interesting part of that training was the rollover simulator. It actually rolls over the passenger compartment of a cut-up humvee on a rotating "spit." Then you have to egress from the inverted cab while in full "battle rattle." It's not easy. You get hung up on everthing, the seat belt doesn't want to release... it was fun. So far it's the best E-ticket ride at this amusement park.

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