Archive for the Combat Skills Training Category

It’s all about the kids

Posted in Combat Skills Training with tags , , , , on August 13, 2009 by jetgwot

DSC_0166It’s a side not often seen in the media — but I couldn’t help but smile yesterday as Soldiers passed out candy and played with the Afghan children in a village about 15 minutes from Ramrod.

While Soldiers from Charlie Company and members of the Human Terrain Team (HTT) were conducting a village assesement with the village elder, Afghan children began coming out of the compounds, shy at first, but soon they were laughing and playing games with the Soldiers.

Some of my favorite pictures were taken yesterday as the children curiously examined their reflections in my camera lens. Little did they know I was actually taking their picture. Other children played copycat games with the Soldiers and one boy asked to have a snake drawn on his arm, “just like the tattoo on one of the Soldier’s arm.”

Others gave high fives and some showed the kids how to arm wrestle. I have two small children and being with these kids helped fill the gap I feel everyday being away from my prince and princess back home.

Overall the village assesment went well. The goal of C-co and HTT is to figure out if the Taliban are living in the village or to find out where they might be. In addition, HTT will work with villages to get them wells, electricity and other needs they might have in exchange for keeping the Taliban out of their villages. A win-win situation for everyone involved. Or so we hope …

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27 miles?

Posted in Combat Skills Training with tags , , on June 18, 2009 by jetgwot

Yep, that’s right, 27 miles. I determined last night as I jogged around our little Forward Operating Base that on my 27th birthday I would attempt to run 27 miles. Notice I said attempt. It’s worth a try. I always wanted to run a marathon, and when I leave here I just might be able to say I ran one in Afghanistan.

So, I’m throwing it out here to somehow commit myself to now doing it. Otherwise my loyal readers will forever hound me for not doing it. So, on Sept. 13, while most of the stateside population rests peacefully in their beds, I’ll don a pair of Night Vision Goggles and begin my 27-mile quest. I’m picturing myself starting at about 3 a.m., which would put me finishing between 8-10 a.m. if all goes well.

Sponsor: I figure if I’m running a marathon in Afghanistan I should have a sponsor. Mainly, someone who can occasionally e-mail me and ask about my progress and whether or not I was dropped as a child. The answer could be yes, but either way, I’ll attempt it.

Now I just need to order a couple new pairs of running shoes. I have a lot of running to do to get prepped for this. Mind you, this isn’t a simple track or smooth road I’m looking to swiftly “track around.” It’s a mixture of “death boulders” as I like to call them, soft moon-like dust and the occasional up or downhill trek.

Wish me luck. Something tells me I’ll need slightly more than that.

Temporary rest

Posted in Combat Skills Training on May 24, 2009 by jetgwot

Home with the family. I thought I wouldn’t see this day for another seven months or so. Seems I was wrong. An unexpected flight diversion to Germany allowed me the opportunity to sneak home for about five days. Talk about excited. My two year old kept yelling, “Daddy, daddy, daddy,” while jumping up and down (Well, as much as a two year old can jump up and down).

I got home about 1 a.m. in the morning and turned around the next morning at 5:30 a.m. to take the family to a waterpark about three hours away. I was exhausted but the time was well spent. Turns out you don’t need much energy to lay by the side of a pool.

Several of you have asked for pictures of the children, so here you go. They are what make this deployment the hardest to deal with — saying goodbye for months at a time. Thankfully, technology is at a point that with webcams, email and digital cameras, we can stay in touch relatively easy. I just haven’t figured out how to reach through the webcam and give my daughter a hug when she isn’t feeling good, or when my son just needs his daddy. Maybe one day …

Defend the base

Posted in Combat Skills Training, Videos on May 22, 2009 by jetgwot

Here is a link to a video on our “Defend the Base” scenario we did last week. This will probably be the last video I load from CST. Look for more as I go downrange. I had trouble getting the audio to work on Youtube, but it’s finally up and running. Click here.

Graduated!

Posted in Combat Skills Training on May 22, 2009 by jetgwot

May 20: Today we graduated! Hoorah us! Thirty straight days of Army training completed. Fifty-nine Airman fully qualified to deploy with the Army. Honestly, I’m excited to get downrange. We all joined knowing we would deploy and now that moment is here. Despite the downtime, the powerpoint and the somewhat pointless briefings, I feel more confident and prepared for the next six months because of this training. I think it could be done more efficiently, but it’s not for me to decide.

Today, everyone has been busy packing their bags and saying their goodbyes. Some of the Airmen here will be deployed to the same location; others of us will be at various bases throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. Tomorrow I fly out to Germany and will be held over for a few days before flying downrange. If all goes well, I’ll sneak back home for a few days and then get back in time to fly out. Wish me luck.

Last day of training

Posted in Combat Skills Training on May 19, 2009 by jetgwot

It’s finally here. The last day of training ended at exactly 1800 (6 p.m.) tonight. We have some out processing to do tomorrow and then we graduate on Wednesday. Nothing official; basically we get the final blessing before being sent downrange to our various locations. Fifty-nine Airmen finished this month-long course, and another 200 just got here in the past week to continue with their training.

Today we finished up convoy training and the last of our death by powerpoint. Let me tell you right now. If you have the decision of either powerpoint or hands on training, go with hands on training — you’ll win every time.

Our convoy training was good today. I was the driver in the lead vehicle of the convoy. Downrange, if asked to be in a convoy, you need to understand the role of each passenger and tactics used to evade the enemy and get to your destination safely. We drove several routes through small simulated towns with actual civilians and “terrorists” groups in each town. The instructors use pyro-technics to increase the realism. We had to avoid several roadside bombs and at one point establish a roadblock and detain a known “terrorist.” We were given blanks to fire from our M4 or M16s and we even had gunners firing from the turret. If you’ve never driven a HMMVW, you’re missing out. Especially when your directed to go on the side of a hill to provide high ground cover at an overpass. Good times.

Our two-day convoy training was only a splash in the baby pool compared to what the Army and other Air Force units go through for this type of training. I think I’ll feel pretty comfortable knowing the folks driving us around over there are well trained. We even have equipment in each truck that helps jam wireless signals; preventing improvised explosive devices from being detonated. Awesome.

I’ve been delayed on getting the videos from the past couple training days out. No excuses, but here’s one for you. I just have not made the time. So, I’m still promising them, just give me some time. Keep in touch; I’ll need your prayers as myself and 58 other people head downrange.

What a day

Posted in Combat Skills Training on May 18, 2009 by jetgwot

I just got back from a very long day! My goodness. Who would have thought the second to last day of training would be one of the most boring of the month? Today was Convoy training, which sounds cool — Drive in a HMMWV and learn how to get out of an ambush, avoid IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and how to assault the enemy. Well, true to Army standards we died in an onslaught of powerpoint.

It was unending. Thankfully the monotony was broken up with several practical exercises in the Hummers. Unfortunately, the majority of the training was in a dark, humid tent where one couldn’t help but nod off. Tomorrow will be another long day but we will actually be driving in a convoy that will be ambushed, attacked and “blown up.” So, things are looking up.

It’s hard to believe this month of training is coming to an end; while my journey to Afghanistan is just beginning. I started this blog out of boredom in an airport terminal and it’s been neat to see it evolve over the past few weeks. I hope those we have come across it have a better understanding of what our military is doing in today’s “War on Terror,” and how they prepare us for going downrange. It will be exciting to see the work we are doing over there and how we are changing the country for the better.

The next time you see a military member or their family, thank them for the sacrifice they have made for the freedom we take for granted. For the most part, we have a good job, great benefits and a secure roof over our heads. I didn’t realize the true sacrifice I made until I was told I would be deploying for almost seven months. Leaving my family, friends and comfortable lifestyle to trudge the Afghan desert in body armor, weapons and living out of a tent or rucksack isn’t easy, but until the Taliban and the rest of the insurgents find a different target or are elminated, it’s what we need to do.