Chair Force Engineer

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Soldier of Misfortune

I spent the past week in "Combat Skills Training." Seeing as how I will never be deployed, I considered the class a waste of my time. At the same time, every American should have to go through the training, to get a glimpse of what the average soldier in the Area of Responsibility has to go through.

The worst part of the training was going through the obstacle course on the second day. Imagine a quarter-mile loop consisting of running between barricades while taking simulated fire, crawling through the brambles, ducking/diving/running during the obstacles, and wearing a combat helmet and flak vest. Colored smoke obscured the course, and almost certainly increased my cancer risk when I inhaled it. It was rough, and I was drenched in sweat and grime by the end. Not to mention my knees getting banged and torn up, because AFRL is too under-equipped to issue kneepads to everybody.

The "Convoy Operations" lesson was another eye-opener. It seems like there are a lot of smart procedures that are designed to protect your people from IED attack. At the same time, a lot of guys get lazy or sloppy, and don't put these practices into effect. The result is a lot of GI's getting killed or maimed because people forgot to implement their training.

While the guys who are deployed certainly have better equipment than stateside weenies do, I'm still overwhelmed by their ability to put up with such physical and mental exertion on a daily basis for up to 15 months. It should go without saying that the American Soldier/Marine is the best-trained, most professional, and most motivated fighting man in the entire world.