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Proof of Life

Just a few random photos of deployment to prove that I’ve not abandoned the idea of posting to the blog.

There hasn’t been much going on in our sector for the past few months. It’s been difficult to come up with anything worth even saying about this deployment so far, nevermind getting motivated to put it on the Internet.

But such is the way of things now. The Afghans go, and patrol and we watch on the camera from the TOC or don’t and just chug pre-workout and lift instead. It’s whatever.

But look, we took the Afghans to the range. With M16’s. Winning.

We also built then a TOC. Or rather, we watched SFAT build them a TOC. But we did build ourselves a couch (by we I mean that I didn’t help at all). So, yah… We’ve been busy.

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Food for Thought

Food for Thought

“If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?” – CJCS

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Welcome to Afghanistan

Welcome to Afghanistan

Yup. A guy riding an enormous pile of ambiguous bags being pulled by a tractor. Nothing follows.

Settling In

It looks like I’ll primarily be posting updates from my Kindle, since that is the only device I have that reliably gets any internet around here. Typing is kind of guy our miss for me with this thing, so my posts will likely be far more succinct than normal. That is to say, less rambling nonsense. Possibly. There is a quote that states something to the effect of, ‘war consists of endless amounts of absolute boredom punctuated by brief Instances of absolute horror’. Something like that. You know what I mean… I’m on a Kindle, looking stuff up is hard. In our short time here we seem to already have the first part down pretty well. Our OPTEMPO would likely be entirely unfamiliar to previous veterans of this war. We hear the war outside our walls, but the sounds are met with an almost comically casual indifference. In this part of the country it is largely the Afghans’ fight now. We just seem to provide moral su So at this point ours seems largely to be a war against apathy and complacency. Essentially fought to provide the enemy the opportunity to introduce us to the second half of that quote at a time and place of his choosing. That’s pretty much where we are at right now. I’ll try to get some pictures that feature more than just my sweet POG loft of a hooch at some point. Until then, make sure to have an extra drink for me.

RIP/TOA

After a relatively short and painless journey, I’ve arrived at my final destination in Afghanistan. The one hiccup being that I have arrived sans the rest of my Platoon.

As a result of a predictably last minute scramble to put asses in seats for a flight, I was given about two hours notice to get my stuff ready for bag drop and promptly found myself on a Chinook with my CO and half of one of the sister Platoons. I guess you could call this a Leader’s Recon of our FOB. Or you could call it typical Army randomness. Your choice really.

We are holding off on the meat and potatoes of the RIP/TOA process until the rest of my guys get here, so most of my day consists of eating, working out and sleeping. I have been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of the outgoing leadership to conduct an extensive RIP process and essentially do an information dump on all of their TTPs, best practices etc. I met another LT in at BAF who claimed he had had exactly two hours to conduct his entire RIP before hopping on a helicopter and leaving forever. Unfortunately the more I hear about such things, the more I believe that the finger drill RIP is more the norm than the exception (despite all the emphasis the Army likes to put on continuity, AAR, learning organization etc.)

For now I’ll just have to rely on conversations with the outgoing guys to get a sense of how things work around here. Hopefully the rest of the platoon shows up soon.

Ranger Notes: Florida

Posting about Ranger School is a lot easier when you are simply copying and pasting from old crap on your hard drive. Get some…

Florida:
Unless you are in the Nov 1 class and if you are airborne you will jump into Florida. Because most of you are 5 jump chumps you may find it odd that the army is letting you jump after 4 years of not jumping or whatever, but then when you do it again in Darby you realize that there was nothing to it. So throughout the course you will jump 3 times. Once in Darby, once into Florida, then once into the FTX in Florida where you start your first mission (awesome way to start a mission). Just make sure that you load a round in the chamber when you hit the ground or it’s a major minus. [You won't jump 100% of the time. It will depend on a lot of factors. Personally, I jumped into Darby and didn't jump again for the rest of the course. I'd be hoping not to jump into Florida because it affords you a nice long bus ride during which you can unwind a little bit and/or just sleep your face off.]
The first 4 days in Florida are classroom/equipment readiness days. You re-go over something’s that you did in mountains and then undo a lot of things learned in mountains as well. Often times we did not recon the ORP and would just take the PB by force, etc. Basically everything where movement can be faster is allowed to happen in Florida.
The DFAC food is even more plentiful but the quality is not the same as mountains. You may not finish the plates here the first time. They also re-introduce the better MRE lots with the beef brisket, maple sausage, and buffalo chicken. In Darby they had this, then in mountains you had the older lots. [I had the same MREs in every phase. Apparently they've exhausted their supply of old, crappy MREs] So right off the bat everything is way better.

You learn about small boat craft, rope bridges, water crossing, swamp movements, and wildlife here also. If you are in a winter class you will learn this, but then not do any of it. On our last day we had an RI who I think was upset that we made no water movements and made us walk through creeks. We don’t know why still. But there is a 95% chance that unless you are going in January you will be doing these movements. It was pretty warm in the daytime near the end of our FTX. [We did all of the river crossings etc. in November, so it appears that only the post Exodus classes really have a shot at avoiding these. The river crossings are really not fun at all when it's cold out. Especially if your patrol gets bogged down and you don't make it across before darkness. We got stuck on the other side of the river in total darkness and it took us hours of barely moving at all to even make it to the ORP. By that point everyone was obviously soaking wet and freezing cold, so there was a lot of sadness.]

The boat movements on the river are kind of boring, and they’re difficult days for leadership because you have a lot of time hacks and nobody is really familiar with preparing the boats, etc. However, one mission (Day 9 of the FTX) called the Santa Rosa Island Mission – if you are in A Co you get to paddle on zodiaks across the intercoastal waterway and conduct a raid. That was pretty fun, and you get to see Destin nearby. If you are in C Co apparently you do an Air Assault Mission, and in B Co you get to have motorized Zodiaks. Either way the mission is cool. There is also a day where the Chow Birds come and apparently the pilots bring out food for you to eat (pizza, sandwiches, candy bars). Apparently only two classes a year DON’T get this. My class was one of them, so if you’re going this year you have a good chance. [In terms of what you do for the Santa Rosa mission, in my experience it was dependent upon how good your platoon was and what mission they were assigned. My platoon sucked royally and we got shaping operation 6 or something, so we had to paddle our way out on zodiaks and conduct an ambush that we never made it to because we sucked. The main effort etc. got all the sexy stuff for this mission. Chow Birds are a real thing, but nobody in either company that I was with in Florida got them. Just another thing that is entirely luck of the draw at Ranger School]

Anyway, I can’t tell you how the swamp movements go or the rope bridge days but all the recycles said that they suck and leadership suffers those days because it drops the motivation out of everybody once the water part of the movement is complete. Just a heads up.

FTX:
Its 10 days, 9 nights. There is a re-fit day in the middle but you only go in for one night, then the next day you do AARs and go back out to a patrol base that day (unless you’re in the January class).
Planning: Similar to Mountains except everything is a FRAGO after the first day. What that means is you basically make your planning and briefing much shorter. It should only take 30 minutes to brief. They’ll teach/show you how they want it. Everything else as far as planning goes is the same as mountains where you’ll delegate people to do whatever you need.

Movement: The terrain is entirely flat. The packing list has more weight to it, in fact I think this was the heaviest weight we carried – but it may be because it was winter and we had to carry a bunch of extra stuff. Don’t know. Either way we couldn’t pick up the rucks on our own. At this point we had to put it on the ground, get into it, then either have someone else help you up, or use your M16 or M4 as a crutch, or just hobble around flailing on the ground until you got on your knees and could stand. [Valid point for the winter class. The saddest day was probably when they randomly trucked out our winter boots and a bunch of other bullshittery in our assault packs halfway through Florida and we had to somehow attach those to the tops of our already ridiculous rucks.]  You will travel some pretty far distances. Two days we traveled around 14 kilometers but averaged around 7K. But then I think 2 days we didn’t even go more than 3K. They switch it up. Boat movements included, all the recycles said that on boat movement days you don’t go as far. They were mistaken and/or confused. All you need to know is that you have a much heavier ruck, the terrain is all flat, and you will be walking for a while. They sometimes let you use roads (only at night though). The vegetation sucks though, there are all kinds of vines all over the place that WILL trip you every movement.

Execution: Same as mountains except you can literally do whatever the hell you want to as long as it doesn’t violate the 5 Ps of patrolling and doesn’t commit fratricide. Seriously, you don’t need any order. In mountains you needed some, but here you can do whatever you want. And on the routes you can do whatever you want. So instead of the RIs telling you to go over 8 mountains instead of going straight to the OBJ, here you can just straight line everywhere because of the terrain. This phase had much more of the sense of actually leading a patrol. In mountains you get the idea but the RIs still control a lot of it. Just like in mountains though violence of action is key and your Machine guns NEED to be firing. This was horrible in mountains because the guns suck, in Florida they work though. This is important because if you are the weapons squad leader for the day your grade is 75% based off of that one critical moment in the mission where you initiate or support the ambush line or raid. Lube them all the time and lube the rounds themselves all the time. Keep those guns clean. [This is all generally valid. You will still have a planning PL who will be expected to write and brief an OPORD as per usual, but he will be even less constricted than in Mountains. It is more about the results you are able to achieve and accomplishing the mission than anything else. I will say that in general the OPFOR in Florida will present more of a challenge than in the other phases. There will be more of them and they will go after you in more unpredictable ways. In Darby OPFOR literally did the same damn thing every patrol (light IDF followed by a fire team or less sized ambush on the way to the OBJ). In Mountains they are also fairly predictable (the most common TTP was generally a fire team sized ambush as the lead element of the patrol was reaching the top of a ridge line prior to the OBJ). However, in Florida there was a lot more variation in the enemy composition and courses of action. I distinctly remember the first mission in Florida being particularly chaotic with a lot of IDF and a lot of dismounts coming from multiple avenues of approach. It just reinforces the fact that Florida is more about using the principles of patrolling, and common sense in particular, more so than simply operating off of a checklist.]

Patrol Base Ops: My experience here with the PB ops is entirely different and I can’t tell you how it will be for you. Mountains was cold, but the wind chill here got to 6 degrees F some nights. We were told to set up warming fires first – which is something that will probably not happen for you unless you go in the winter. Otherwise you will still dig in fighting positions every night. [We set up warming fires in November/early December. If I remember correctly the RIs were saying that it was no longer legal to dig in regardless of what time of year it was. I haven't heard of anyone who has gone to Ranger lately who had to actually dig fighting positions, but I could be mistaken.] If its raining you may just do it in the morning. This at first seems like it takes a lot of time because it does, but its better because you always have something to do instead of falling asleep during the FRAGO brief. I liked this because you can make your line (if your SL) look really good for yourself by how good your fighting positions are. At night you dig in, actually pull security for once, and continue priorities of work. In the morning it’s the same as mountains, the RIs come in, read off who’s going to be in leadership for the day, then those guys take over. Re-adjusting the perimeters shouldn’t happen if you do it right. In every other phase you have to readjust in the morning, here if you spaced out your fighting positions at night the way you’re supposed to then you’re good. Besides, if leadership didn’t space out the positions correctly at night and everyone dug in, then you have to re-dig in in the morning. You should peer those guys if they do that. You will leave even later in the day for the mission because you will get attacked or something every day in the PB and the PL and PSG get graded on how they respond. You will receive casualties every day here and the PSG is graded on handling them. [This is a good point. One of the major differences in Florida is that OPFOR will consistently make organized attacks on your patrol base, particularly in the morning during priorities of work. This is more than simply an RI teaching point for a shit security perimeter. It is actually intended as part of the leadership's evaluation and will likely happen regardless of how squared away your patrol base is so having a plan or some sort of SOP in place to counter it is beneficial.]

*Recycles: I forgot to mention that you will probably end up learning everything from them in every phase. Use them to your advantage and bleed them dry with information and what works and what doesn’t. However be very careful. They did recycle for a reason. Some guys truly didn’t and they caught the bad side of RI Roulette or just flat out were unlucky (you will see). But a lot of them really suck. 2/3rds of our recycles in mountains got dropped from the course because of peers or SOR offenses. 2/3ds meaning 2 out of the 3 in my platoon – it looks better as a fraction. Either way get their opinions on everything but treat it more as a fraction of the truth. If you ask three recycles the same questions you will get three different answers. One, two, or three of those responses may have truth in them. The lowest quality life forms are in this group also. Be careful of this. The worst dudes I saw were recycles in this course. But also some of the best because of the luck factor. Anyone who has been peered before you need to be weary of. They did get peered for a reason. It’s astonishing to see some of these guys still graduate though. The shitty dudes tend to help out the other shitty dudes on peers so they’re safe. Seriously, get those motherfuckers.
Basically this phase is easier and more manageable in every way. But for those without the 3 week break for Exodus, apparently this is the phase where you will feel the most hungry and the worst effects of sleep deprivation.

Main points for Florida:
-If you make it here you most likely will graduate
-flat terrain
-heavy rucks
-more freedom of leading

 

O.K., that’s about that. It’s getting late and I’m running out of days left in the States so I’m going to turn in.

Cheers

Ranger Notes: Mountains

While I was rifling through some files prepping for deployment I found an old document pertaining to Ranger School that was given to me while I was still a cadet . Since I really have not had the time or energy to post about my own experiences lately and more or less sputtered out halfway through explaining Darby, I figure I might as well post it here for those interested before leaving for Afghanistan.

These were notes taken while the individual who wrote them was still in the course and later sent out to those members of the Georgetown Consortium considering going to Ranger. Almost all of the observations are pretty on point, although my experience definitely differed in a few ways.

I’ve edited it slightly to remove anything that I have already explicitly covered, as well as for some content that was even too colorful for my comfort level. I didn’t have the time to try to edit for grammar or anything like that, but it’s still pretty readable. However, I have tried to insert in brackets my own commentary on a few points where necessary. But anyways, here goes..

Mountains:
Days 1-4: Mountaineering Days:
Lower Mountaineering (Day 1 and 2) – You learn how to tie 6 different knots and how to set up the belay and rappel positions (long and boring days). YOU CAN RECYCLE BECAUSE OF THIS! IT IS TESTED MATERIAL! Our platoon lost 6 dudes on this shit! Try to learn these before you go, because the last time I did any of these knots was when I was in boy scouts.
-bowline (the way they want it)
-re-routed figure 8
-double figure 8
-clove hitch (the way they want it)
-prusick (sp?) knot
-and something else I can’t remember now, but I’ll get back to you on it [for the life of me I cannot remember this either, it may have been a rappel seat, but I'm not sure. If you google Ranger School knots it shows you how to do a bunch of them]
The whole time you’re here it’s not too bad though. The DFAC is absolutely amazing. The breakfasts are the best I think I’ve ever had for a DFAC. [any rumors you hear about the pancakes are true. They are absolutely baller. Anyone who says otherwise is high] There is too much food. It took me a few days to be able to eat it all at once . . . especially after coming from Darby that means a lot. BUT you only have 5 minutes maybe to finish. So you have to start eating in line. You’ll see, it’s not too bad. And if you ever get a chance to be on chow detail for this definitely do it, you get more food and more time to eat it. [The whole 5 minutes and eating in line thing seems, like almost everything at Ranger, to be wholly dependent on your RIs and what they are willing to let you do. We definitely had more than 5 minutes to eat, but it was definitely a struggle to wolf everything down before getting kicked out of the chow hall]
Upper Mountaineering (Day 3 and 4) – You go to Mt. Yonah and do a forced 45 minute hike with all your shit up to the top to your campsite. Because it’s the first real mountain you will do in this course it seems hard especially at that pace. But when you get to the real phase you will wish the mountains were like that. It has a trail. You spend one night here in a tent per platoon. One day you spend learning mountaineering stuff to haul equipment/casualties up the slopes of the mountain, its cool stuff but its really rushed. You don’t actually grasp the shit that’s happening, but you get the idea. Then the next day (or vice versa) you rappel up the rock faces. This was fun and was probably the cooler day of Mountain Phase. [Agreed. This was probably one of the few actually enjoyable experiences at Ranger. The climb up Yonah does suck, and there will be people who don't make it with the rest of the group. I believe they got a Major Minus for that. But doing legit mountaineering is fun. He neglects to mention that you do a day or two of rappelling in Lower Mountains. This includes a few rappels off of a standard tower, as well as a few off of an actual cliff face. One of the rappels off of the cliff will be with your full ruck, so that's great..]
Moving on,
Days 5-8 – Classroom
Here you spend the next four days unlearning what you did and learned in Darby. The system is almost 50% different for what they want in planning and execution of missions. Mountain Phases is where I learned everything really. Pay attention here because this is better stuff and you learn how to execute Raids. Which are essentially the same way of execution and set up as ambushes except for the assault through. Anyway, you spend these four days spending the first half of the day learning this in classrooms (outside) then practicing nearby. You learn how to plan differently because only two missions do you actually plan with chalkboards, the rest is done shittily, writing with frozen fingers and only thinking about food in the field every other mission. [just like in Darby you make your money by your ability to pay attention to how they want OPORDs done in this phase. You will have a lot more leeway in terms of not having to follow such a rigid checklist for your OPORD, but there are still things that they really want to see. Once again, I wrote down verbatim, to the tee exactly the OPORD format they taught us during these classes. It paid dividends for me because many students tend to waste an enormous amount of time writing/briefing elements of the OPORD in the field that the RIs simply do not care about. My first go in Mountains was as Planning PL and my OPORD was very concise, containing only the most pertinent information.. the stuff they really harped on in class. The RIs loved it because I didn't "attempt to brief a war and peace novel". From that point on I was more or less involved in writing every OPORD for the rest of the time spent with the members of that platoon, a fact that benefited me greatly for peers.]
Patrolling:
I’ve broken this part up into four groups because these are basically the four parts of the day for the 10 days you spend in the field. You take a two night/ one day break for “re-fitting” back in Camp Merril – this is the best part of Mountain Phase because you get to eat at the DFAC again and re-steal toilet paper. They only give you one roll which is expected to last the whole time. [In my experience people were just using the TP from MREs, but pilfering a roll from the barracks probably isn't a bad idea]
Planning: Like I was saying, the first mission is done in classroom similar to Darby but way more intricate. Everyone helps out. Only the SLs, PL, and PSG are graded positions. The SL and PSG rotate midway through the mission whenever the RIs feel like it. The SL positions are 24 hours, and the Weapons squad leader also (the squad leader who has weapons squad for the day). The way you plan in the field for the WARNOs and OPORDs are just by having a bunch of different people work on different paragraphs and basically break down the BN level OPORD to the PTL level on notecards. Then the dudes hand over the shitty stack of chicken scratch to the PL to put in the right order. Then the PL just reads the notecards and points on the map when he’s supposed to. Someone else will do routes, terrain model, etc. This process takes from 530am to around 11am. Pray you are not planning PL in this phase – this seemed to be the more difficult position. Planning PSG is not bad though. It’s very manageable. Just make sure you focus on the medevac stuff, equipment, and making sure priorities of work are actually being done and you’re fine. You can delegate the equipment aspects of this job to the B TM leaders. Team leaders are just volunteers for this phase. I was team leader a bunch of times and I thought it was more fun that just being a Joe. I recommend doing it – the RIs make a big deal about how the TM leaders are the most important roles for whatever reasons and the whole missions depends on them blah blah blah, but that’s not the case. So don’t let them scare you. I believe they were just trying to keep the D-bags from volunteering because you just need to have your head on straight to be a TM leader. It’s too simple.
Planning is also the only time you use the Ranger Handbook to make sure you are doing everything in order. Some RIs grade extra hard here while some just want the meat and potatoes of this part. Focus most of your effort if you are the PL on paragraph 3. If the plan doesn’t make sense then you know what’s coming for your grade. Write the concept of the operations and plan yourself. You can delegate the rest. Most of the time people are just writing the different OPORD parts verbatim off of the one they give you, then they’ll go around saying how much work they’re doing for everyone. Try not to be this guy. 95% of the planners who are asked to help out are officers – IOBC mostly.

Movement: The terrain sucks. It is not impossible. It sucks to be the RTO, FO, MG, AG, or AB on any mission. The key is just to put one foot in front of the other. You will move slowly and that helps, but just get ready for some really rough terrain. A lot of times, like at night, you will walk on trails and that’s often a relief. But during the day you will climb some mountains. The distance is actually pretty far for most of the days also. No more 2K movements or less, I think the average was 6K. Some days it was much farther. This took the most physical toll out of the 3 phases. Learn how to pack your ruck to balance the weight, which is key. Know how to manage your water. . . I think you’ll understand what I mean by this later. You always start off with 8 qts of water and are resupplied every night or morning on water and 8 qts is way more than I drank everyday. But don’t get caught dumping it. Just super hydrate before you step off and I never had a thirst issue when I did this. If you go in the summer this will suck because you’ll probably be craving all that water. In the winter it sucks because your camel back hose freezes every night on the movement to the patrol base and is useless until noon the next day. So finish the camel back ASAP when the sun goes down and the 1qts also. The 2 qts didn’t freeze on me for some reason, so drink those last so you have water at night. You’ll figure out what works. [You likely will not have issues with water freezing unless you are there after Christmas Exodus or possibly right before. I finished Florida in December, and while it did get very cold in Mountains, we never had any extreme issues other than just being miserable.]

Execution: If you are in leadership for execution this is where you can get go’s. Being the PL here is the best. As long as you do this in s decent order resembling the order they laid out, follow the 5 principles of patrolling, and execute the mission smoothly with no fratricide then you should be ok. . . RI dependent though. You will have fun with this. As PSG you just need to be able to handle the medical aspect of this. You don’t really do anything except count people out of the ORP. And as SLs, just do what you’re supposed to do. If you are on security just go out and bundle up with each other. Nobody ever comes and checks on you. One dude was the security squad leader and I unfortunately was with him when we set out (one team goes to one end of the OBJ and vice versa for the other team). During the worst weather day in the whole FTX where it was high winds, heavy rain, and freezing temperatures with 0% illumination (our NVGs didn’t even puck any light up) this guy still thought RIs would check on him and tried to make us stay in some form of 360 security in the prone instead of gaining each others body heat like the other team did and was relatively ok. We on the other hand just suffered and the other guy I was with couldn’t talk our SL into any thought of reason. He lacked common sense. Don’t be this guy. I never forgave nor trusted him again after that shit. How could you? That was just fucking stupid and I’m still bitter about it.
Anyway, your leaders recon could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. And it will just depend (METT-TC). Take your time on the recon and actually think/visualize where you want your moving parts to go. Especially where the Support by Fire line will be. Consider fratricide. You will understand when you get there. If you are the FO and understand more about this than the PL you are attached to the hip with, then help him out. Each mission I think we were yelled at about not helping somebody out and their grade suffered. It’s an open book, open team test. You can ask people for help or guidance in the proper way and it is ok. Just know the limits on that and make sure you don’t let the other guy take over. Don’t ask every step, but if it’s a “Hey do you think this position has better fields of fire or concealment than this one?” Then that’s more than encouraged. You will not earn the tab on your own. Remember that. During actions on no matter what leadership role you are you need to be almost overly assertive and aggressive. They teach this “Silence, Violence, Silence” shit in mountains where after you take over the OBJ you are supposed to go tactical again. Just play their game. You will suffer otherwise. Only in Mountains do they do that shit.
After Actions on is complete you all line up and do equipment checks and AARs while you’re freezing your ass off and watching everyone fall asleep standing up and eating the dirt. For some reason everybody at some point loses their shit and falls over because they fall asleep here.
Patrol Base Ops: This is the best part of the day. You will move (still tactically) a decent distance to the patrol base then have the RIs tell you its too cold to do anything and change in your polypro and go to bed after you set up security, the Lima 1 report (how much ammo you have and what equipment needs to be DXed/turned in), and the sector sketch. You may or may not get water resupply here. THIS WAS ONLY THE CASE FOR US BECAUSE IT WAS FUCKING FREEZING EVERY NIGHT. The class behind me is staying in tents each night supposedly because it is supposed to be worse than what we did. So if you go in the summer. . . I guess it’s hit or miss on how you want to spend your nights – shivering to death cuddled with a buddy or actually doing patrol base ops but not freezing. I’ve never experienced shivering like I did here. I was surprised my feet had feeling in them in them mornings sometimes. Not a fun experience, but after you eat your MRE your mind goes to ease and nothing matters anymore except wrapping yourself in the woobie and crawling in the bivy sack. Only once did they check our patrol base during the nigh – the last night – and they tried to be all hooah and shoot our machine guns and throw artillery simulators to try to wake us up and care about our lax security. . . but it was pretty funny how NOBODY fucking cared an just stayed asleep. . . I don’t think the leadership that night did well – but they themselves were not caring either obviously. It was like everyone heard them yelling and shooting and either you didn’t wake up or you just peeked out and said fuck it. Unless you are going in the winter time, prepare to do real patrol base ops though. If I had to go through again I would rather do real patrol base ops and not freeze. You still have to remain tactical while in the PB.
PB ops still carries through until movement of the next day. So your leadership roles start in PB ops in the morning. As SLs and the PSG this is a heavy part of your grade. Make sure people stay awake. Ensure equipment gets distributed and above all make sure no priority of work is out of order. Every squad has to be on the same one. If one dude is eating when he’s not supposed to then the leadership suffers. (granted everybody does this just do it when the RIs aren’t around – common sense) And after the OPORD is doen the days repeat but with a different destination. Unlike LDAC, this is not the fastest part of the course. You will be awake for 20-21 hours every day and company dependent even more. When you get to mountains they make all new platoons. So I was then in Bravo company and my squad was intermixed with the platoon I was in.
[One thing I'd add about Patrol Base OPs.. if you are the Planning PL taking over the next day ensure that you at least devote a few minutes to spot check your security perimeter. As is noted here, this largely falls on the SLs and PSG, but as PL you may be held responsible if something is seriously jacked up. At very least ensure that your 240s and 249s are positioned well and that your subordinates are conducting diligent checks. Everyone needs a round in the chamber on their weapons, interlocking sectors, the patrol base shouldn't be a gypsy camp of ponchos etc. These basic things are what get overlooked (or just completely blown off) when people are tired and really not wanting to do anything other than shove pound cake into their throats.]

Main points on Mountain Phase:
-terrain sucks
-most difficult
-you will learn the most here – and everything falls into place as far as the concepts of Ranger School go

The weather was the worst part. Like I said earlier it rained 7/10 days. When you pack you have a packing list that you have to follow, no more and no less they say. But that’s wrong and if I suggest you bring anything its absolutely amazing gloves. If they can handle the weather then you’re good. Our hands got so fucked up that we couldn’t touch anything for 2 weeks after this phase. I couldn’t pack anything and everyone’s fingers cracked so bad the medics were giving out all kinds of shit to us. That mainly happened because of the rain/cold combo. But bring good gloves. Anything that says ‘waterproof’ will fail – just plan on them getting wet but can dry quicker. Actually waterproof your stuff inside the ruck also. You have to carry two wet weather bags I believe, so I just put all my shit in both of those and I didn’t have a problem.

O.K., that’s all he’s got on Mountain Phase. Hopefully that was informative enough to act as a substitute until I can put together some more of my own stuff. I know it helped me a bit to conceptualize things when I read it a good year and a half before ever getting to the course.

As always, feel free to hit me up if this sparks any questions for you. I’ll post his notes on Florida phase shortly.

Cheers

Test

Test

It’s Fun to Do Bad Things

I’ve been doing an absolutely deplorable job of updating the blog since joining the real Army. However, this is something that shouldn’t be distressing because I’ve always done a deplorable job with the blog, so whoever reads it is used to that.

Anyways, I suppose it’s time for the quickest recap in the history of recaps.

After 6+ months faithfully languishing at Battalion, I was fortunate enough to grab a Rifle Platoon in August right before heading to NTC. As you can see from the post previous to this one, NTC was awesome.

I’ll forego any detail account of my lessons/observations as a new Platoon Leader, because the whole point of this post is just to force me to start writing again.  All that I will say is for any LTs currently or about to start serving their time in S3 while waiting for a Platoon, just shut up (not that I really did that) and hang in there, because it’s worth it once you do.

So long story short, our Company is deploying in the very near future (such a near future that my shit is splayed out on the floor being half assedly packed into A and B bags) to play the SFAT game in RC East. Our job will be to secure our partnered SFAT while they enable the shit out of an ANA Kandak.

So the basic take away from that is all the incessant complaining I’ve been doing on this blog now looks even more pathetic and misplaced than it did in the first place.

Oh yeah, and the fact that I’ll have a front row seat for whatever draw downage is about to start taking place over there. So.. that will be interesting.

I’m not exactly clear on what our internet situation will be at our final destination, but I am led to believe that we will have at least occasional access. So once again it is my intention to provide consistent, if not altogether frequent, posts on the blog. This time related to whatever the hell it is that is about to go on over there.

Now I just need to figure out what the hell this OPSEC crap is all about…

Impressions of NTC

This turtle has post-Endex NTC figured out to a tee.

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