What a Week

I finally have some free time. I am doing my laundry now and taking this opportunity to compose this post.

We accomplished quite a bit since my last post. We qualified with our weapons (9mm Beretta pistol and M16A2 Assault Rifle), received additional training on using our rifles in close quarters combat, received familiarization with three different machine gun systems (5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, 7.62mm M240B Machine Gun, and the .50 cal M2 Machine Gun). We conducted firing exercises during the day and night with our rifles and the machine guns. We also tested our protective masks by wearing them into gas chamber full of CS (tear gas).

Interspersed with all the shooting we received additional gear (tactical vests with all the pouches, nomex/kevlar gloves, boots, polartec fleece, a new helmet, two hydration systems, and silk long underwear). We received this equipment after we officially qualified with our primary weapons. It would have been really nice that we had this equipment when we qualified so we can train as we fight but that would make too much sense for the Army.

For the record, I qualified Expert with my pistol and rifle. However, I would have had a much easier time if I had my new equipment. The old Kevlar helmet doesn't work well with the body armor we are wearing. Everytime I squeezed off a shot with my rifle I was banging the front of my helmet on the rear sight housing to get the helmet above my eyes. You can imagine how challenging this can get when you have to engage two targets at once!

About the body armor. The vest is heavy. It gets much heavier when you insert the ceramic plates. Add on the pouches that hold all the ammo and it gets even more heavy. Now, imagine crawling in and out of foxholes and moving around in general. I felt like an old man that could barely move! One adjustment I had to make on my shooting technique is that you have to square your body to your target. Typically I stand practically sideways when I am shooting a rifle. There are no ceramic plates on the sides, only the front and back. So, in close quarters shooting, you snap up the rifle and shoot while you square your body. If you should get shot, the ceramic plate will take the hit. I hope it all works.

Once we were done with all the shooting, we went into classes. We received a short introduction to Dari (one of the languages of Afghanistan), classes on what is Islam, the culture of Afghanistan, using translators, how the media works, and a boat load of first aid. I gave a class on risk managment. We finally got our desert uniforms back from the alterations shop (all our patches had to be sewn on) and started wearing them.

Monday was a day off (I finally got to eat at a restaurant in Colorado Springs). Today we had classes on land navigation, using the radio, and using the Army's GPS device. Tomorrow we actually will go to a land nav course which we will do during the day and at night. It is supposed to get much cooler tomorrow which I am looking forward to. I am pretty much tired of the heat.

CPT NightHawk


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