Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's All About Training

To put it in an easy to understand perspective let's compare the Army to the game of baseball. Baseball is a long drawn out game, interrupted by moments of sheer excitement. Army life is a long drawn out process of training, interrupted by moments of sheer excitement.

We have been here at Fort Dix for about two weeks and each day has been filled by a variety of training classes and hands on practical exercises. Our training classes are sometimes called "death by powerpoint" - meaning that we sit and watch powerpoint presentations until we are on the brink of death. As difficult as it is to stay awake during these classroom sessions, it's a necessary evil. You can't perform any task without some kind of instruction.

Where the excitement comes in is during the P.E's or practical exercises. That's when we get to take the book and powerpoint learning and practice it in a real environment. The past week has been a combination of these two.

Now, at the end of the week, all the classroom time pays off as we went to several firing ranges to put all our book learning into practice. We each got to fire several "sexy" weapons; the .50 cal machine gun; M249 and 240B machine guns and the MK 19 grenade launcher. It was time to rock and roll, as we say. An opportunity to blow some stuff up and feel the thrill of real American firepower.

It's hard to explain to someone who is not a Soldier how it feels to fire one of these weapons - to aim at something downrange and hit it; to apply a skill you have developed over time and feel confident that you are doing it right - that your fellow Soldiers can count on you if the time comes to employ your skills.

Beleive me, none of us want to be placed in a position to use any weapon in a real situation, but if any of us is called on to defend life and liberty, it's a very gratifying feeling to know that we can come through for each other. And that's why we train.

There is another Army training staple that Soldiers can count on - foul weather. The Army saying goes, "if it ain't raining, it ain't training." Add to that axiom, snow and freezing temperatures. In an earlier post I mentioned the irony of being at one of the coldest places in the US in preparation for deploying to one of the hottest on Earth. To add to that irony, this week we had a Noreaster blow in an inch of wet snow. Honestly, it was well timed. The snow storm was the only thing that woke us up during some of the more boring classes we had scheduled this week.

In true 211th style, however, no training would be complete without a great sense of humor and a lot of fun. There were a lot of laughs, group singing and a pizza party. We are still training hard but, we haven't lost our ability to keep it real.

We have a week left to our stint here at Dix and the next several days are expected to increase in intensity as we put into practice the skills we've been focusing on for the past two weeks. Before it gets too deep though, we'll be trick or treating tomorrow from room to room.

The training never ends here, but the fun never stops.


- Sgt. Heise gets familiar with the M240B machine gun.

- Sgt. Ebel catches a few ZZZ's during lunch break.

- The fighting 211th conductsw a tactical road march down a tank trail near range #6.

- Sgt. Taylor prepares a blasting cap before inserting into a claymore mine.

- Sgt. Zoeller disassembles a machine gun.

- Taking a load off the back, Soldiers wait for their turn to fire the M9 pistol.

- Spec. Fardette slings his .50 cal ammo over a shoulder before firing the big gun.


Familia Martinez said...

Sounds like you guys are getting it the old country saying goes. Can't wait to see you in 7 days and a wake up. We love and miss you.

I didn't know that these weapons you were shooting were so good looking as to be called "sexy". I guess you learn something new every day.

Come home safe, sound and still sexy! Love you!

Anonymous said...

MSG Martineaz and the rest of the fighting 211 - you look good. We are thinking of you and look forward to welcoming you back.

MAJ G. Ostlund