Afghanistan-A-Go-Go

A Reservist's Tale Of A Tour

Slowly Taking Shape

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This morning started with our first PT session, which was supposed to be a 6.2km ruck march. It turned out to be a little longer due to a little navigation error on the part of our boss, who’s not familiar with Gagetown. Nothing serious though – although turning around a platoon marching on a single lane track is kind of fun. We got done in a little over an hour. The timing that we have to make on our battle fitness test is 13km in 2:26, so that pace was faster than necessary, and only modestly uncomfortable for me. I made the mistake of doing the march in my new, not broken in desert boots, and I’m left with a couple of little blisters. I think I’ll be sure to do the test in my much more comfortable Hi-Tec Magnums. I’ll be wanting them when eventually it gets cold and wet, for now we’ve had ridiculously good weather, that I’m sure I’ve now jinxed.

After PT we headed over to the weapons vault to pull out our C7s and carry on ToETs – I have no idea what the acronym stands for but it’s basically a handling test – shows that you can test a weapon for function, and carry out all the drills to operate it properly. My fellow staff officers laughed that 4 Master Corporals went with us to “run us through” as though we might have problems. I guess when you have so many Air Force and Navy people around, and people who don’t handle firearms often you need that. They were happy when we said we needed no refreshers and would just do the test as the rules require.

As soon as we were done we dropped the bangsticks back in the vault and headed off to lunch – I chose something erroneously labeled chicken shawarma, my fault for thinking it’d be any good. It wasn’t terrible though, it was just passable. I headed back to my room to start looking for ways to start learning Dari, a rather prescient decision.

Later in the afternoon, the entire Task Force was assembled in a drill hall so that the DCO and RSM could address us. I didn’t realize it but they were on PT with us this morning, nice guys. The DCO’s address was pretty good, he conveyed some pretty simple messages. First, that they’d just been over to Afghanistan and met with the Roto 0 leadership, and they passed on frank lessons learned – specifically about their workup training.

First thing – we are going to do a lot more intense weapons training – including a lot of quick reaction/close quarters shooting, especially pistol shooting. Two weeks ago, a “green-on-blue” incident saw three Australian Army mentors shot by an ANA soldier who “went rogue”. We’re going to get a lot of range time (and I saw the ammo allotments!) to be prepared for that. Second – to prevent these things, we’re getting a lot of cultural and language training, because most of these incidents can be attributed to ISAF conduct. We want to prevent that. The Roto 0 guys got some training in this regard, but nowhere near enough by the sounds of it, and they were also primarily educated in Pashtu, rather than Dari, the language mainly spoken in the north.

The call the DCO had was pretty simple and compelling: things are going to change a lot while we are there. The Americans are pulling 1/3 of their troops out of Afghanistan next year. We want to set up to be able to leave not later than 2014. So he wants us to work ourselves out of a job – to deliver training and mentoring so good that the Afghans won’t need us anymore. He wants nothing more than to be in a position to shut down certain position in order to redeploy his assets elsewhere until the job. Works for me.

One curious thing happened tonight though after I got back from dinner. I got a knock on my door, a woman in civvies said “You know you’re supposed to be working with the J3 as a duty officer, we haven’t seen you out yet.” I was immediately confused. I think I figured it out though – when she thought I was a Logistics officer. There’s another guy with the same last name as me here, and I think it’s him. See, when we were inclearing, all of our positions were confirmed as we went through, and I’ve not been notified of any changes, so, I’m pretty sure that I’m not who she thought I was. Problem is, I basically screwed my morning plans for not being sure, because now I’ve got to show up for PT with her cell while she confirms where I’m supposed to be, or something. I don’t have access to CFTPO to check, and don’t know anyone who does tonight.

All good fun, I suppose. I’m sure everything will come together fine tomorrow, and my boss has his OGrp tomorrow to sort out all the white space in our training plan, so we’ll be sitting around less and doing interesting stuff more. There’s lots I need – and want – to learn, so sitting in my room watching TV and playing Civilization V is not what I really want to be doing.

Written by Nick

November 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm

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