Afghanistan-A-Go-Go

A Reservist's Tale Of A Tour

Posts Tagged ‘Gagetown

Getting In The Loop

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I went to PT with the TF HQ folks this morning, a short run because the water was being turned off in our barracks and we had to get back in time to get showers and all that good stuff, it was a nice jaunt through the Lindsay Valley area of the Camp, probably about five kilometres, maybe a little more. I think I might start using RunKeeper or something like that to keep track. The blister wasn’t a problem, neither was my shoes being full of sand since Not Since Moses back in July. Did I mention I hate running and don’t do it much unless I have to?

The dispute about who I’m working for is now settled, I was in the right place all along as I suspected. Now that that is clear I can get on with the job, which is starting to take some shape. I thought I’d be into the meeting with the J1 (the guy who’s basically the next level up from my job) this afternoon, but it looks like they’ve got too much on the go, so we’ll probably meet after sports day tomorrow at the mess. We’re bumping the traditional TGIF festivities to TGIT because of Remembrance Day. I won’t stay too long though, because I’m going to be going back to Halifax tomorrow night for the weekend.

We had our first real OGrp this morning to get a lot more info, on how things are being structured. A few things are clearer now, including that this tour is going to be eight months, not nine – meaning only one leave trip for the duration, and when we should know when our RIP (deployment) dates are and when our leave is likely to be.  I had lunch with the boss today too, got to know him a bit which is always a good thing. It’s slow getting started but we’re getting there. Next week I know we’re going to be out to the pistol range for a couple of days, getting a lot of familiarization with our 9mms and a lot of really good practical shooting in. For me, shooting pistols is a hobby, so it’s not going to be too much, but at the same time, the pistols the CF uses and that we’ll be carrying aren’t the modern sort I tend to use – there’s more to learn with handling, and of course getting a feel for them. If we do get into any trouble, it’s the pistol that will get us out. It makes me think of the Steve Earle song Devil’s Right Hand – “My very first pistol was a cap-and-ball Colt, shoots as fast as lightning but she loads a-might slow – soon found out, it’ll get you into trouble but it can’t get you out…”

Part of the plan is to carry them loaded (with dummy rounds) everywhere to get used to it. That will be the routine over there, and most people never touch the damned things over here. Makes sense.

I got a CD of Dari MP3s to start learning – but I’m a visual learner, so I need to find some more stuff – I need to get into how the grammar works, how the language is structured, because I can’t just memorize phrases and really get anywhere that way. I’ve found some websites already, and I also am going to have access to some sort of awesome language lab that we got donated to us for research purposes by the developers. It’s sort of an interactive thing apparently, I haven’t seen it yet. Someone described it as a “first person talker” where you interact with Dari-speaking characters. Since I will be back from block leave a week ahead of the Reg F guys I’ll have a week to spend in the lab, and I plan to make full use of it.

It’s 2pm now, and I think I’ll head back over to the office to see what the plan for Sports Day tomorrow is – and well, if there’s nothing else to do at the time, I’ll get my leave pass autographed for the weekend, and head back here.

Written by Nick

November 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Day One

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We’re underway. This morning I walked into a massive mob of people at 2RCR’s massive headquarters building. It seemed like it was going to be a complete goat rodeo, but as the military is very capable of doing, it was very quickly organized into a pretty efficient process. Clerks looked over our document packages, confirmed our positions, and broke us down into each of the camp organizations. After about three hours of standing in lines of various descriptions, I was done, and introduced to some of the folks I will be working with for the next year or so. We parted company for lunch, and I returned to my (palatial) shacks for the afternoon until our standup parade at 3:30. Parade, incidentally, is essentially the term used for any reasonably formal assembly of soldiers, not what the civilian term implies.

That was a brief gathering, with all the folks I’m training with. We went over some macro points of the schedule, and with confirmation of what’s going on for PT tomorrow morning – a ruck march – we again went our separate ways.

I’m really bad with names, generally, but I’m going to have to get practiced at it – I’ve got a lot to learn over the next little while it seems like – at least the key people on the team I’m working with, and that’s coming together.

So far, so good.

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Written by Nick

November 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Day One

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We’re underway. This morning I walked into a massive mob of people at 2RCR’s massive headquarters building. It seemed like it was going to be a complete goat rodeo, but as the military is very capable of doing, it was very quickly organized into a pretty efficient process. Clerks looked over our document packages, confirmed our positions, and broke us down into each of the camp organizations. After about three hours of standing in lines of various descriptions, I was done, and introduced to some of the folks I will be working with for the next year or so. We parted company for lunch, and I returned to my (palatial) shacks for the afternoon until our standup parade at 3:30. Parade, incidentally, is essentially the term used for any reasonably formal assembly of soldiers, not what the civilian term implies.

That was a brief gathering, with all the folks I’m training with. We went over some macro points of the schedule, and with confirmation of what’s going on for PT tomorrow morning – a ruck march – we again went our separate ways.

I’m really bad with names, generally, but I’m going to have to get practiced at it – I’ve got a lot to learn over the next little while it seems like – at least the key people on the team I’m working with, and that’s coming together.

So far, so good.

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Written by Nick

November 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm

…And So It Begins

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This week has been interesting. Did a bunch of last minute running around including a couple of lunch dates. Thursday night I was into the Armouries for the last time. During the CO’s OGrp at the end of the night, he went over various points, and then asked the Adjutant, “Was there something else I had to do tonight, Adjt?”

There was. And I was duly promoted to the rank of Captain, although they had been unable to find any rank insignia for me. Trusting I would be resourceful in this regard, they send me on my way, and I headed over to our home away from home, the Royal Artillery Park Officers Mess.

Traditionally in the CF, getting promoted requires the purchasing of a round of drinks in your Mess, and doing so is announced by the ringing of a bell at the bar. (We also often try to trick people – especially new guys – into ringing the bell for the same reason!) I took much joy in hammering away on the bell, and things went mostly downhill from there!

I poured myself into a cab about $150 poorer after several games of crud (poorly played) and other antics. I paid dearly for it in the morning, and was lucky to have my lovely wife drive me around to my various errands before I packed up. I managed, among other things, to come up with a good supply of Captain rank slip-ons, so I’m set there I think. I didn’t get everything I wanted to do done, but we got a nice dinner out before leaving at least.

Friday night I traveled with my Reserve unit to CFB Gagetown to help them out with a weekend exercise, live fire individual and pairs grenade assaults. I got to toss a few grenades while we proved the ranges, and everything went pretty smoothly overall. Last night I caught a ride with the CQ staff who were coming into the camp so they could be there to pick up breakfast in the morning, and they dropped me off at my shacks. Camp Gagetown just got two awesome new Single Quarters buildings, and I’m living in one of them. Nice place – big spacious room with a TV, private bath, fridge and a microwave. In fact, all I need is a kettle and I’m going to be quite happy with this. Weekends I expect to be home to Halifax so I’m not too worried about anything.

Tomorrow morning at 0800 everything starts. Task Force members have been drifting in all day and getting unpacked, tomorrow we head to the Headquarters building of 2RCR and start getting processed in. We apparently were supposed to have already drawn all our desert kit and haven’t, so I expect I’ll be headed to clothing stores fairly promptly to order everything. I’m sure the schedule will start to get clearer tomorrow.

Written by Nick

November 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Starting to get to the change…

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I spent this part weekend in Gagetown on an exercise with my unit, the last full one I’m going to be on for a year. I’m not part of the Rifle Company anymore, but I offered to help them run some ranges they need to get done for their training year. It was a little bit of a disaster, but it was a learning experience like every time I go out. It perhaps contained some good learnings that will serve me well when I leave on tour.

We use a process to get just about everything called “the estimate” which can range in detail from a very quick “combat estimate” about how to carry our something as simple as a hasty attack, to extremely detailed concepts like the Operation Planning Process which is done at much higher levels to plan things like a deployment of a force to a place like Afghanistan or really anywhere.

I got involved in the planning for this particular exercise fairly late, but even at that I probably didn’t pay enough attention, and didn’t do my own really estimate on what had to happen for my part of the show. So, I got more than a little caught off guard when certain things didn’t go anywhere near according to plan, and things weren’t as efficient as they could have been. I was running some small arms ranges that should have been done around 1pm, but we wound up running three hours late. That threw everything else off.

I don’t think I could really have intervened enough to actually prevent the major cause of the problems, but regardless, there were things I probably could have done had I really thought things through and done some more thorough checking on the prep work.

The OIC – the boss of the exercise – took me aside after the day ranges and ran me through a fairly constructive exercise about what went wrong and why, and what could have been done etc. In his customary style, though, he tied it into what I might be expecting on my tour, and some of his own experiences in Afghanistan. His time there was intense, to say the least.

So as I get two weeks from go time, I’ve got lots of food for thought on how to do things better, which are best considered during training exercises rather than “over there”.

Written by Nick

October 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Posted in The Beginning

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