Charlie Foxtrot, More Briefings, and Land Navigation

Yesterday was a perfect example of why sometimes it is a bad idea to place more and more work in federal civilian employment as opposed to having soldiers or contractors do it.

Yesterday I had to do three things. I had to go see the ear doctor, draw equipment, and complete some paperwork. The ear doctor and the paperwork went without a hitch, mainly because I was dealing with military personnel. The fiasco started once I had to turn in my medical records and when I had to draw equipment.

First the medical records. No one mentioned that once I turned in my records I needed check sheet. One station said I needed a profile and another said I was good to go. Without the profile, I was dead in the water. The one station actually changed my deployment status in order for me to get through the other station. I went from "deployable with limitations, must take Rx" to "deployable without limitations". The upshot is that I did have a profile but the one station couldn't see it but the other station had no way of getting it on the checksheet!!!

Next was drawing my equipment. The rest of the unit had pretty much completed their equipement draw by the time me and two others were done with medical. First, we were told that we were in the wrong place and we had to go one door down. We did that and were told by a fork lift operator that everyone was gone to lunch and to be back in 30 minutes. We left and were told that there are people back there and we needed to go back.

We didn't have to draw much equipment. It amazes me that we were drawing equipment that ranged in quality from brand new to piss poor. The duffle bags had paint all over them from the last soldier that used them. I did get brand new boots, body armor, and desert uniforms and gore tex parka and pants. Everything else was used but in servicable condition.

About my desert camo uniforms (DCU's), to my utter amazement I was issued winter weight tops and summer weight bottoms. For those not familiar with Army Regulations, it against reg's to mix winter and summer weight uniforms. I asked about this and was told that that was all they had and the commanding general waived the reg. One of my colleagues asked which CG, the one for Ft. Carson or the one we will be working for in Afghanistan?

That is not all of it. The rest of the unit had their horror stories as well. Many of the soldiers were forced to take boots that didn't fit and were forced to take uniforms one size larger. The civilians were haranguing our soldiers to take them because those were all they had. This was utter bullshit.

These civilians failed to recognize that we are their customers and we are the reason they have a fucking job! Try pulling that crap at Walmart, Target, or any retailer and you will be shit canned in a heart beat. Needless to say the soldiers in our outfit are pretty pissed.

Today, our supply officer had a "discussion" with the director of the equipment issue people. We sent our soldiers that had size issues back and what a difference a "discussion" makes. Needless to say, everyone was really polite and an extra effort was made to find stuff that fit. Some of our soldiers that got the wrong sized boots got boots that not only fit, but were top of the line (Gore Tex lined, Vibram lug sole). The running joke is that those boots were snatched from the stock reserved for the Special Forces types! The upshot is that the boots that were issued us range in price from $88 to $200!

This morning we attended briefings that we already had back in Jefferson City. Why go through this again? Because Ft. Carson has its checklist of briefings we have to have and we will not deploy without attending those briefings. It didn't matter that we busted our tails laying on those briefings back in Jefferson City. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Tricare, Army Emergency Relief, Red Cross, Continuing Education. Total waste of time.

This afternoon we conducted land navigation training. Best part of the day. We were given three grid coordinates. We plotted them on the map and then entered them manually in our Garmin GPS devices. We then took a waypoint with our Garmins then plotted it on the map. We figured what the azimuth was to our first point on the map, shot an azimuth with the compass, then took off. We only used our Garmins to verify we found the right point.

We found the first point no problem. We then about two hundred and fifty meters to a road and a fence. We guessed where we were on the map without using our Garmins to verify our position and shot an azimuth. We were off quite a bit. After walking six hundred meters and not finding our second point, we whipped out our Garmins to get us back on track.

I have always been weak on land navigation. Today I realized it was because I wasn't good at getting a good fix on my position. The first point we found no problem because we shot our azimuth from a point that was verified using the Garmin GPS. The second point we botched because we tried to do it without verifying our starting point with the Garmin.

Lesson for today? I am pretty good at land navigation, as long as I use my Garmin to give me a good fix on my start point. My confidence in my land navigation abilities is much greater today than it was yesterday.

Tomorrow we are going to get our first orientation on range operations. Sunday is a day off. Next week we start shooting. Can't wait! I would be in the Army for free if I could just be on the ranges all week!

CPT NightHawk


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