Afghanistan-A-Go-Go

A Reservist's Tale Of A Tour

A Lot More Traffic!

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Well, today was the busiest day the blog’s ever had, thanks to the link my civilian employer added to its intranet site. I’m working to keep in touch with them while I’m gone, and quite a few people seemed to have an interest in what’s going on, so I wonder how many will keep following along having seen this. Kind of unfortunate that I didn’t have anything too interesting up. I’m going to work on that more. And on adding more pictures, but it’s been difficult to get many good ones during training, because training is of course my priority.

I have to commend our hosts from 2 RCR (mainly India Company, who are largely making up the Rear Party and running all the training for us). They’ve been running some of the most efficient ranges I’ve seen, which is important when you’re trying to get so many people through the process of getting all their qualifications without wasting too much time. They’re faced with an additional challenge in that the Task Force is composed of people from all arms and services, and all different levels of skill. They’ve handled the challenge incredibly well. Today was no exception, although I did start my day off with a fair bit of confusion about where to be and when. We also wound up drawing our rifles from lockup and it was totally unnecessary as we didn’t use them. Oh well. It meant they got a bit more cleaning, and it did give me a chance to experiment a bit with the set up of my SORD rig, which was good. With totally new gear we’re trying out all sorts of different configurations to see what works, and I think once I find spots for my radios I’ll have mine set. The trick, of course, is that I don’t know what radios I’ll be carrying, if any. My job “over there” probably doesn’t require any, but I’m looking beyond just the tour in the hopes that this is the kit we’ll be keeping, because it’s a pretty dramatic improvement over our current load carriage equipment.

In any case, by about 9:30 we had finally figured out what we were doing for the day and got started on training. First off was the grenade range, which starts off by throwing dummy grenades to ensure that everyone’s clear on the drills. That’s actually how all range training starts, with what we call TOETs, but with grenades it seems to be more important. We then jumped into the back of an MSVS (big army truck) for a ride out to Verdun Range. As an aside, all of Gagetown’s ranges are named for World War I battlefields, fittingly enough this fall as they’re all muddy mires. The ranges went pretty quickly until about halfway through the first relay (group of throwers) when we had a dud, tossed by the S3 of my camp. This meant we sat and waited 30 minutes to see what happened before calling EOD (explosive ordnance disposal – combat engineer specialists) to blow it up. As soon as that was done, however, it was back to business, and we were all done not long after noon. Everyone has to throw two grenades to get the IBTS “check”, and that’s generally pretty quick. No one had any issues, although some people get pretty nervous around grenades, “boob nervous” as the Sergeant running the show called it. I’m sure I don’t have to explain the meaning there.

We had lunch in the range shack quickly and jumped on another MSVS to get shuttled to Somme Range, to do some pistol shooting. The Infantry School’s Urban Operations Instructors came out to do some training, which was of great value. Most people in the CF rarely see, never mind shoot pistols, and the reality is that on this tour, if anything happens that will put us into a firefight, it’ll likely be the pistol that we’ll have at hand. It makes me think of an old, classic Steve Earle song called “The Devil’s Right Hand”:

About the time that Daddy left to fight the big war
I saw my first pistol in the general store
In the general store, when I was thirteen
Thought it was the finest thing I ever had seen
So l asked if I could have one someday when I grew up
Mama dropped a dozen eggs, she really blew up
She really blew up and I didn’t understand
Mama said the pistol is the devil’s right hand

The devil’s right hand, the devil’s right hand
Mama said the pistol is the devil’s right hand

My very first pistol was a cap and ball Colt
Shoot as fast as lightnin’ but it loads a mite slow
Loads a mite slow and soon I found out
It can get you into trouble but it can’t get you out
So then I went and bought myself a Colt 45
Called a peacemaker but I never knew why
Never knew why, I didn’t understand
Cause Mama said the pistol is the devil’s right hand

Well I get into a card game in a company town
Caught a miner cheating I shot the dog down
Shot the dog down, watched the man fall
Never touched his holster, never had a chance to draw
The trial was in the morning and they drug me out of bed
Asked me how I pleaded, not guilty I said
Not guilty I said, you’ve got the wrong man
Nothing touched the trigger but the devil’s right hand

We actually had a pretty successful shoot, a lot of people with little or no confidence with the tool were a lot better off. I was talking to one of the instructors, and we both observed how in recent years, we’ve gone to teaching a program called “Gunfighter” which is a more practical shooting program. It basically requires breaking people of bad habits, including most of what they were taught on basic training, because we still essentially teach them “wrong”. The thing we noticesd is that the people who identified themselves as having little or no experience tended to be among the best students because they were blank slates, and with good instruction we can turn almost anyone into a good shot. The biggest challenge I found, being a recreational shooter who uses what I can only describe as more modern pistols generally, is that our 9 millies have controls that are not exactly user-friendly, in particular the safety which is not hard to take off, but hard to get back on – I can’t actually do it with one hand as you should be able to. Many modern pistols don’t have mechanical safeties in the same style, which is my prefererence, but alas, I have to use what I have.

I was happy with my shooting, though, and even though it was raining by the time my relay was up, it was not bad. The only part that wasn’t much fun was the inevitable cleanup, picking up as many of the spent casings as we could in about 20 minutes before we shut down for the day. Back to the MSA to check my rifle in, off to supper (I went with spaghetti and meat sauce, and an excellent turkey soup, with a big salad), and now I’m back in my room, mulling over whether to do laundry now. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow, though, since it’s back to the range and more mud is inevitable. I have an OGrp tomorrow at 7:30 before PT so I think I’ll try to get to bed at a decent hour tonight, I didn’t manage to last night.

I’m also trying to think of what else to pack up in my UAB. I have the Keurig, and I think I’m going to go buy some new books. I figure I will have a fair bit of time off work with not a lot to do, and there has to be better things to do than play video games, and I can only spend so much time in the gym… frankly I’m not a gym junkie and while that might change, I have to have more to my plans than that. I might even look at more schooling by correspondence. I have a litany of these sorts of ridiculous ideas running through my head, actually, but for now they’re not gelling into anything so I just keep pondering. I think I’ll head to Costco on the weekend and stock up on some snack and treat items to send over, things to break the potential monotony of DFAC food and so on.

That’s my Monday. Lots of fun. Tomorrow we’re off to the rocket range, mainly to watch people shoot M72s, a light, 66mm anti-tank rocket. They’ve been “going out of the system” for years, but apparently in Afghanistan they were found to be quite useful, and so they’re still around. There’s only a small number available, and I’m pretty sure I’ll just be taking pictures. Wednesday we’re off to do jungle lanes, a fire-and-movement range, which should be a lot of fun, and rather practical. Thursday we have grenades on the schedule, but that’s rather pointless since we’re done, so we’ll be finding something else to do – language training or possibly some other IBTS training. Friday is “professional development” of some sort, whatever that means, and then back again to Halifax.  Two weeks until we cease training for Christmas and New Years, and I get to spend some quality time at home.

Written by Nick

November 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm

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