31 January 2007

Make a Soldier outta you...

Surprisingly enough, we're done early on Day 2. Yesterday, we spent the majority of the day with uniform issue and high speed combat equipment issue. We were issued Army Combat Uniforms (the new digital design), body armor, elbow/knee pads for urban ops, camel back canteen (back pack canteen), personal first aid kit with the newest in trauma treatment, M16 rifles, 9mm pistols, socks, 2 sets of boots (bringing my personal inventory to 4 sets of desert combat boots), silk long johns, wick-away shirts for under the uniform, newest in kevlar helmets and night vision goggles, ballistic goggles for day patrol, tons more stuff and a wonderful fleece jacket that come in more than handy on these latest very cold Carolina days and nights.

Today we focused on combat life saving and marksmanship. There is a huge difference between qualifying with my weapons in just a regular uniform as opposed to qualifying with 65lbs of armor and a helmet. Our combat life saver training consisted of quick and efficient ways to manage bleeding, wound treatment, wounded evacuation, and battlefield tracheotomies (sp?) for soldiers wounded in the neck, face and head from roadside bombs. Depressing academics, but deadly serious stuff. We also accomplished Army by-the-numbers physical training. For as messed up as the Army is, they really do try to be organized. We march to and from academics and to chow...been 16+ years since I last had to "form up" to go anywhere. It's all coming back. Tomorrow is medical stand down day for dental and medical required items prior to going in to country.

They are estimating that we will finish our training on Feb 9 and be wheels up to Kuwait on Saturday 10 Feb. Cetainly no languishing. I am fortunate to be training with some top notch professional military personnel and our drill instructors wil be certain we are combat ready by the time we depart.

29 January 2007

Training Phase 2 of 4

My folks and I enjoyed a few days together driving from DC down here to Columbia, SC. The weather has been exceptional and our day in Charleston was very much enjoyed. All good things come to an end as Mom and Dad had to deliver me to Combat Skills training this morning.

I'm checked into Ft McCrady - the National Guard training annex of Ft Jackson. A very typical Army day...hurry up and wait for administrative in-processing and then sound off every 5 minutes or less with "Hooah". It's an Army phrase that can be adapted to everything from "yes, I understand" to "knock off your meaningless drivel and sit down". To the Army's defense, the food has been better than advertised. Thankfully, we are being treated as adults and not 18 year olds who need their spirits broken for team unity. There are 57 drill instructors with 10+ years each experience as a drill instructor and combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are in good hands and should learn a lot. Tomorrow starts at 4:45am for breakfast and then transportation to the clothing and equipment issue location for new Army Combat Uniforms (ACU's) and about 60-90lbs of armor, weapons (M16 & 9mm) and gear that we are required to wear all day, everyday.

26 January 2007

Training Phase 1 of 4

We, a class of 70, have finished our first phase of training at the Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technical Division at Stump Neck, MD. We have learned how improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are made and how we use electronic warfare to defeat radio controlled IED's. There are 2 main types of IED's - Victim activated (pressure switch and trip wire) and radio controlled (garage door opener, key fob, radio controlled car, cell phone). We focus on the latter IED and utilize strategically placed jammers within a convoy to block out detonation signals sent to blow up the roadside IED's. We utilize the acronym PIES to dissect the construction of an IED: Power (9 volt battery - car battery); Initiator (blasting cap); Explosive (C4 or any available mortar); Switch (cell phone, light switch, key fob, etc). Very simple stuff.

Being in this sleepy little rural Maryland town has been personally rewarding. The area is sooo steeped in colonial history. For example, on the way from my hotel to the class, I go by Thomas Stone's house...he was an original signer of the Declaration of Independence. One of many cool historical places to see.

Life goes on and so does training. My folks picked me up in DC and we are now headed to Columbia, SC and Ft Jackson to drop me off for Training Phase 2: Arrrrrmy training, Sir. (insert fond memories of Bill Murray's movie, Stripes.) I can look forward to combat life saving skills, individual & team movement techniques, M-16 & 9mm qualification at the pop up target range, close combat reactive fire, land navigation, army communications, urban operations, convoy ops, isolated personnel recovery, and last but certainly not least...arab culture awareness.

18 January 2007

Final Preparations

Welcome! I created this web log for everyone to check in from time to time and read how life is going on this deployment and for me to one stop shop keep you included.

Thank you all for the continued prayers and support. Andra, the kids, and my folks will really need your continued prayers as they deal with me being gone until August. The good Lord has a plan for all of us and this is just one more adventure in my walk with Him. The work I will be doing is serious and dangerous but I feel protected by all of your prayers.

Sunday, I leave for one week of explosives training, followed by 2 weeks of Army combat training (heavy weapons, close combat, land navigation, squad tactics, throw hand grenades, combat life saver skills, etc). Around the 9th of February, I will be provided transport to Kuwait for convoy training, and then on to Iraq to participate in Counter-IED operations. First stop is my old stomping grounds at Camp Victory and then it will determined whether I stay at HQ or move to a Forward Operating Base.