30 Days of Training

Now that we've thoroughly examined Fort Dix, the Hindenburg, German POWs and Elvis, let's turn our attention to what's been going on for the last 30 days.

I realize that people read this blog for different reasons, so at this point, I'd like to give you a choice on how you would like to proceed.  If you want a very basic summary of what's been happening the last 30 days, please skip to the section entitled "SUMMARY". If you would like to be entertained with the specific details of the last 30 days, then skip to the section entitled "DETAILS".


I could summarize what we've been doing with a 24 second clip from the classic Bill Murray movie from 1981, "Stripes". (The real question comes 15 seconds into the clip.)

Q: What have you boys been doing for the last month? (click to the left for the link)

A: "Training, sir!"

Q: "What kind of training?"

A: "Aarrrrmmmmy training, sir!"


The US Army is utilizing servicemembers from other branches to fill personnel gaps in their units.  Since all the branches train their recruits differently, the Army needs to insure that everyone has the same basic skills and speaks the same basic language. For the last 30 days, I've been engaged in the Army's "Basic Combat Skills" course, highlighting the core Army skills that allow military members to "shoot, move & communicate".

In the "Shoot" category, we spent considerable periods of time becoming experts (or at least familiar with) most of the weapons we might encounter in Afghanistan, to include "personal weapons" (such as the M-4 Carbine) and "crew served weapons" (such as the M240 machine gun) that you might find on top of vehicles or in other defensive positions. Along the way, we also got to toss a few hand grenades and blow a few things up.

In the "Move" department, we became officially licensed drivers of several Army vehicles, including the HMMWV (commonly known as the "Hummer") and several variants of MRAPs.  (MRAP being an acronym for "Mine Resistant Ambush Protected", a family of vehicles designed to help mitigate the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) threat.) We drove them on roads, off roads, and at night using Night Vision Devices (NVDs).

I drove, with great precision, this particular vehicle.

Finally, we spent a considerable period of time interacting with some of the more high tech tools used to "Communicate" among US/Coalition forces.  For security purposes, I'll obviously not get into those, but suffice it to say it's pretty high speed stuff.

Everything we've done in the last 30 days falls into one of those three categories. At the same time, we've retained our distinctive branch differences. For example:

Although I'm wearing an Army uniform, it still reads "US Navy" on the space above my heart.

We bought a US Navy license tag and installed it on the front of our Humvee.

The front of our Humvee.
Although none of the four Navy guys in my class speak this way, we heavily littered our speech with nautical terms, such as "Galley" (dining facility), "Head" (bathroom), "Hatch" (doorway", "Fore & aft" (towards the front or towards the rear), "Starboard & port" (right & left), or my personal favorite "scuttlebutt" (the water fountain). (If you want to incorporate such terms into your daily life, check out this website.)

So there you have it, an overview of the last 30 days at Fort Dix.  Some of you know that I've already left the States...for security purposes, I'm post-dating these blog posts. Come back next time to hear an exciting tale of trans-continental travel, a night that never appeared, and the wondrous luxury of flying coach for 18 hours with 400 of your closest friends. Until then, "khodâ häfez".

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