Friday, May 02, 2008

BOLC II - Week 4 - Day 4&5

A pretty neat PT. More of this Crossfit stuff, lots of different muscle activities then interlaced with short sprints. Pretty good workout and I was definitely feeling it later. Then we got ready (grabbing our vests, body armor, Kevlar, and rucksacks packed for our overnight camping trip)... and waited... and waited. Finally the second group of buses came and picked us up. Its such a pain getting on these buses with all this gear, since you put your rucksack in front (we call it front-load) and wearing all your other gear, and stumble up and onto the bus. Then we spent the morning running room clearing exercises at the squad (9ish soldiers or so. mine had 11 so we some extra support) level. After each of those missions we would then sit down and conduct the AAR (After Action Review), where we identify things we did well and things that we still need to improve on. I can see why this is something you need to train a lot on, since it requires a lot of coordination and has a lot of variables (every room is different). This was all done with us using blanks in our weapons.

This is the MOUT (Military Operations Urban Terrain) site McKenna at Ft. Benning

Then the most popular man at the site stopped by, the AAFES (Army Air Force Exchange System) snack truck, lovingly called the "Gut Truck" by the soldiers. Here you can buy soda's, chips, gatorade, and any number of snack, as well as things like mini pizza's and sandwiches. I was talking to the driver and kidding him, asking how does it feel to be the most popular person in the field right now (he did realize popularity was fleeting, kidding that he knew it would disappear the moment he stopped driving the truck).

After lunch (MRE's were also ready. Some are surprisingly tasty. Or at least the other treats in them (ranging from M&M's, brownies, cookies) can be) we were ready to start using the Simunitions. They basically pull the upper part of the M4 (since it splits in 2, the upper is mainly the barrel and the lower contains the guts, things like springs, trigger assemblies, etc) and replace it with a blue barreled version that shoots 9mm simunitions. They also use special magazines that fit into the standard m4 that can accept the 9mm Simunition round. Basically it shoots it fast enough to get it down the barrel and around the speed that you would expect out of paintballs. Then we geared up with the rest of the stuff, adding a mask and goggles over our Kevlars helmets, a neck protector and then a whole body protector. You can see all the gear on below, including the blue barreled simunition.

Since each mission takes time each squad only got to go once. Mine got to go first. We entered a building that had 3 enemies in. In clearing the room we took 2 casualties, which we (and in particular, me) had to pick up and extract to a nominal casualty collection point. My god, I was HOT by the end of the exercise. Then later I served as an OPFOR (Opposing Force). I put on all the above gear and then added a red "man dress" (basically clothing like the hajji over there wear) and try to tag another squad as they ran their mission. It was pretty fun.

After all that it was dinner (hot rations brought out from the chow hall) and then we waited for darkness to fall. We mounted our NOD(night vision devices) as darkness fell and prepped for a night assault. We also did a familiarization mission where we walked though the woods around the site in the darkness using the NODs to see what is around us. Its very weird since the device really causes you to lose depth perception (since its just a monocle mounted on the helmet) and took some getting used to. We did our night mission twice (we did pretty well for the conditions and inexperience of the team) and then bedded out in the field. Yep, me the camping hater spent the night sleeping out in a sleeping bag under the stars. We didn't get to bed until 2330 (1130).

It seemed moments later, like no time had passed at all, we then woke up at 0500. Time for some field PT. In our BDU's we stretched and did a pyramid of push ups and sit-ups. Not by our choice we also did some rifle PT... (my arms are still hurting from keeping that rifle out there like that) Some time for personal hygiene and then some more trucked in breakfast. We then started prepping for the big exercise of the day, a platoon level (4 squads, 41 soldiers in this case) assault of a couple of buildings at the site (sadly we were back to using blanks, since there are only so many simunitions sets and the other platoons needed their training time as well).

Prepping for the mission

Facing an OPFOR of 9 soldier spread over 3 multi-story building (the three in the first picture here in fact) our platoon took 7 casualties to take the buildings. Some confusion and inexperience at operating at this level caused this high count, but it was overall considered a success and our cadre were quite pleased.

All that was left was a police call (gathering all the expended blanks that we used) and packing up to leave. Still we didn't get back until 1600 and weren't released until 1730. First priority was a shower..... I suspect that I will be in bed early and sleep late tomorrow.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Friends offered me an MRE over the weekend, leftover from their post-Katrina time in LA. I declined, even with tasty brownies.