Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Little Too Much Fun Last Night...

Yesterday, Doc and I put on the IBA, Rucksacks and boots and went out for a training march. We had made some adjustments to our IBAs. So it was a dual purpose training event, for fitness and for seeing if the adjustments worked out. I immediately started to feel some pain between my shoulder blades. After about 2 miles of Doc and I discussing my discomfort (mostly me complaining), Doc decided that maybe we should see if we could adjust it some more. Well, it turned out that a couple of the snaps on the inside of the IBA were actually digging into my back because something had gotten folded over in some weird way. After that I was good to go. We laughed, because I thought it was just that I was being a wimp and that I just needed to get used to it. Doc had the brains and experience to think that there might actually be something sticking in my back. I guess you had to be there... I mean we thought it was funny. But.. then again, we are at Camp Funston and you kind of have to laugh at everything.

Last night Doc, Tractor and I went into Manhattan to grab some dinner and a few beers. Tractor was the DD as usual. We ate at another BBQ place and it is true that Tractor always gets ribs... always... anywhere we go. If there's ribs on the menu it is certain that he will order them. After a few cold ones, we stumbled upon the coolest record store in Kansas. The place is called Sisters of Sound. It's owned by two sisters. One named Leah and the other Sarah. I did have to make the two mules joke. I was allowed to live.

This record store had a lot of great vinyl and a fantastic selection of CD's. I bought a CD by the Heartless Bastards, and Tractor bought a couple of Pink Floyd CD's and a shirt for a band called Terror Tractor. It's green and yellow and looks like a John Deer shirt, except the deer is skeletal. I don't know if he likes the band, or has even heard them, but it's a great shirt... for someone into tractors.

We went to a couple of other bars and Doc and I had more beer... and then several more... and then one more, etc. We had a good time watching some of the bands that were playing. There was some kind of music fest going on as a benefit to save the prairie or something like that. We got in late and my head did hurt this morning. I don't think I'll be drinking like that again for a while. We did have fun though and it really was a minor hangover. Oh... and I got to try a beer called Hobgoblin. It was tasty. It made me want to start brewing beer again. I guess I'll start that back up sometime in late 2008.

Anyway, happy time is just about over and it's back to training tomorrow morning at O-Dark-30

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Another Busy Week

Where to begin... This week was full of machine gun firing. I'm a better shot at night than during the day. Thermal sights and the fact that only the closer targets pop up at night might have a little to do with it. Later on in the week, we did some missions. We practiced planning Traffic Control Points and Doing a Cordon and Search. After the planning, We took turns executing the missions.

My mission was yesterday. It was what we call a "Cordon and Knock". You set up outer and inner rings of security so no one gets out and no one comes in and then you go meet the mayor or knock on a door and say "Hi, I hear that you might be Taliban or helping the Taliban. Can I come in and search you house?" That part went well. On the way back from the C&K, we got ambushed in the worst place you could get hit, with the most stuff you could get hit with. It was the end of the training day, and the OC's had extra ordnance to expend. So... that part didn't go so well. I won't bore you all with the play by play, but there were many blank .50 cal rounds fired by Tractor, lots of explosions, Doc and a few of the other guys didn't make it... it was total chaos.

We got the word on where our team is going and how we are going to be used. For now, I'll just say that it's not going to be a trip to Happy Fun Camp. When I get back from this and someone gives me the "Why do you need to go to Sapper Leader Course or Ranger School?" crap, I'll lose my cool... at best.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Another Week of Training Down

Well, another week of training in Kansastan is complete. The box has been checked. We stayed fairly busy all week long, a lot of the time was productive, but as usual, we could have done more in the time alotted... Or the same amount of training in less time... or ... never mind.

On Monday, I continued with my commo training. We worked on a VHF/SATCOM radio. The best part of that day, was talking over the radio in a Hank Hill voice and cracking everyone up with "Propane 2-6, This is Propane 6, Over... Damn it Bobbie I'm on the radio."

Tuesday we had some training (Death by Power Point all day) on how to treat detainees. Apparently, we are supposed to be really nice to anyone we detain... offer them candy, foot rubs and anything else they desire. We also trained on setting up Traffic Control Points and setting up a Cordon and Search. Good info, but boring presentation.

Wednesday we did training on the MK19, the M2 and the 240B. Assembly, disassembly, loading, etc.

Thursday we hit the range and fired the Mk 19 (it's a machine gun that launches 40mm grenades). ummm... how can I put this.... BIG FUN!

Yesterday, I was the convoy leader for heading out to the M2 range. Everything went smoothly. Firing the M2 was fun, but what sucked was the waiting to get your turn. I got a sunburn on my nose. I guess my helmet shaded the rest of my face. I'll be getting some sunscreen today. I had some, but I loaded it into a big box to meet me in Afghanistan. Which reminds me... I heard recently, that our stuff could end up "lost" in Pakistan some place. This is common, so we hear. Anyway, we also fired at night using infrared sights. Fun, but we didn't get done until about 0100.

We had other stuff going on this week as well. We did some other kinds of training here and there such as language training and some simulated meetings with our Afghan counterparts. We have some Dari and Pashto speaking Afghan-Americans that help us with this.

I have today off... hence my ability to post this. Enjoy your Saturday!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Very Busy Week

I don't have any cool pictures right now. I should have more in the future, because I bought a new smaller camera. It will be easier for me to carry it and pull it out of a pouch on my IBA. Any-Who (an instructor kept saying that this week) I got in to Camp Funston from my 4 day pass with the bulk of my team at 0130 Tuesday. We were up at 0500 and preparing to move out. It was really cold and really rainy. And... even though I brought my wet weather gear with me, I chose not to wear it. That was a mistake. I'm sick again. There's always some bug going around here and I always seem to catch stuff. I wash my hands all the time, keep nose picking to a minimum and I still catch more colds than most. Doc says it my be my messed up Armenian sinuses.

Any-Who... That Tuesday we worked on room clearing. Definitely good stuff to work on, especially since I'll have to teach it to the ANA or the ANP. Tuesday was dry fire... did I mention it was cold and I was soaked to the bone... I did right. Man I was miserable. So was everyone else... so, I felt ok about it. Misery loves company. Wednesday we did blank-fire and simunitions. Simunitions are really cool, because they hurt pretty bad when they hit you. Imagine paint ball x 2 or 3. You see, when you're firing blanks, people turn into "superheros". These guys do things that they wouldn't do if they new they were going to get a bad case of lead poisoning. Simunitions keep people honest with a little bit of pain. Any-Who... Bossman got hit right on the knuckles and it left an impressive mark, even with the heavy gloves he was wearing. It was still cold, but rain was minimal.

Thursday we went to the range and did live fire. We didn't do it in rooms. We just practice going from low ready to ready and firing without "flagging" your buddy. It's all about muzzle awareness. That was pretty cool. We all had to fire left handed at one station, which felt strange, but I hit the target 3 out of 4 times. It was also still very cold and windy.

Friday I started my "Advanced Training". Babboo went with me. He's the oldest guy on the team. So, he gets the name Babboo because it means Grandpa in Dari. He's a former marine and has been all over the place. He's grumpy too. I like that about him though. The training was all commo stuff and very important. This was some good training on the new radios and even though the guy kept saying "Any-Who", I thought he was one of the better instructors we've had. I won't go into the specifics of the radio training. I learned a lot about the equipment that could save my/our life/lives. Saturday Babboo and I continued with the commo training. Today we have the day off, hence the trip into town to get on the Internet. Tomorrow it's back to the commo stuff.

I've been lifting weights a little more... when I can get to the gym. I've been going with "The Spartans". I really need to come up with a name for these 3 guys. Any-who, I keep telling them that I will not shave my chest for any "after" photo. I haven't taken the before photo... I don't think I will. Lifting weights again is really doing me some good. Even though I'm under the weather, I can muster up enough energy to lift heavy objects. I can't run worth a crap any more though. Maybe in a week when I'm over the latest funk, I can get out there and run.

That's it for now.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Been home for a few days...

It's been good to be home. Been too busy playing with my daughter to mess with the blog. I'll post some stuff when I get back to Kansastan.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You, This is Me... Adjust Fire, Over

Imagine, if you will... sitting in a classroom, where you are receiving a class on how to bring "kinetic effects" (horrible fiery whoop-ass of hot steel and fire) on the enemy using Army Mortars, Field Artillery and Army and/or Marine Corps Aviation assets. Sounds like an interesting class at face value... doesn't it? WRONG!

Imagine that same class instructed by Ben Stein. You know, Bueller... Bueller... and while the individual teaching the class is droning on and on in a monotone voice, you also had the white noise of about 10 racks of servers to lull you into a catatonic state... caffeinated beverages do no good... nothing can stop the droning. That was the first half of Monday. The second half was better. We went to a simulator to actually call for fire. That was fun and interesting. I killed some tanks in the open and destroyed a house (on purpose there were bad guys in it.)

Later I went to the gym with High-Speed and the boys (still trying to come up with names for folks). They've been hitting the gym hard and taking all the magic snake oils and such. I held my own and felt good about it.

This morning, we hit the gym again.(See Doc's blog for the interesting conversation on the way there) I am quite sore. Later on we had drivers training. We learned methods of towing an up-armored hummer and how to change a tire. I used all of my skills attained during Operation Desert Storm for this. I'm not going to explain this. Some of you will get it... some won't.

I also learned that there is no room for a big and/or tall guy in an up-armored hummer. I had my IBA and a whole bunch of pouches with ammo and first aid stuff and I barely fit in the seat. The Army has got to get something to replace the hummer ASAP.

I'm counting the minutes till I get on that plane to go home for Easter. 4 Days at home with my wife and little girl cannot get here soon enough.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

2 Days in a row!

Well, I'm back at the WiFi spot. Not too much to report. We went out to Cracker Barrel for brunch. The DFAC is getting old and it's nice not to eat off of a tray now and then. After that, we went back to Camp Funston. Doc supervised me and Tractor (Who just moments ago, asked someone if they wanted to see a picture of him and his tractor) on sticking people with IV's. I stuck a fellow LT from the team (haven't come up with a good name for him yet) twice and gave him a 500 ml bag. Tractor stuck me 3 times, and the 3rd time was a charm. I didn't take any fluids this time.

It's a good day so far.