Monday morning started off with a battle training brief, preparing for war: what soldiers should know and do. The brief was specifically designed for specialist and below. This brief may be the most important and essential guide for new soldiers preparing for their first 12-month tour of duty. A Staff Sergeant asked the room of 80 soldiers, “who’s been downrange?” For other veterans, and I cautiously raised our hands.
The first topic discussed was the Nature of Combat. “The first job, regardless of your MOS is to kill the enemy and always have your buddies back,” said Staff Sergeant with conviction. Contrarian, the men responded with a thunderous “Hooah-ah!” The Staff Sergeant Continued with theme topic points, consisting of The nature of deployments, development of the battle mind, mental toughness, “STELL” Your Battle Mind, Listen to Your Leaders, Trust Your Training and Maintaining contact back home.
Surprisingly, the brief concluded in little less than 40 minutes. At first, I wasn’t impressed with the presentation; I felt it was watered down. But after reflecting back on my previous tour, I concluded that there was no point in scaring men with the realities of war because every man perceives were differently.
It’s imperative that all men have their fighting kits squared and to standard. “If it’s not digitized, make it digitized by the end of the week.” The First Sergeant Chris Ward said.
The company supplied the spray paint, and men went to work. We have some real Michael Angelos in this company. While some soldiers do prepare their kits, others did, common areas, which included painting walls and stairs, scrubbing buggers off the toilet and fixing ceiling tiles. I always say there is no job, the infantry can’t do; we are mechanics, plumbers, painters, builders, and demolitionist.
During the week, my squad leader told us that we would be having a diagnostic PT test. I have never failed a PT test, but I’ve come close. This time I did 60 push-ups, 63 sit-ups, and 14:45 on the two-mile run, coming out to 245 on the Army PT standard chart. The real PT test is later in the month so I will see if I can improve. The week ended with a 6:30 AM with a battalion run. Every time we do one of these it’s like running in a big accordion. The last time I did this my calves were on fire, but besides that. It was a good workout.
The days are getting shorter, and the weeks are flying by, drawing us closer to the inevitable-a date with 115-degree weather. Sounds enticing, huh? The next couple weeks will consist of final preps and making adjustments for deployment.
Arabic for Dummies
Cultural awareness is a 30 our four-day class that teaches shoulders to become more familiar with the Middle Eastern culture and complicated Arabic language. The first day the teacher went over the Arabic alphabet.
Greetings, culture and helpful words and phrases. At first, I focused on trying to gather as much as I could, but about three hours in. I was just trying to stay awake. It was almost impossible to stay awake when you’re in a room that’s practically dark.
The second day we went or Arabic number system days a week signs and warnings and concluded with cultural phrases. After just four hours I have concluded that this may be worse than going to the dentist or shopping with my wife. I already had knowledge of words used primarily for traffic control points, such as: “awgaf,” meaning stop, and “Lazem in-fet-shek,” we must search you. After a while, in class, I was concerned only with combat a central pillar. After a while, in class, I was only concerned with combat essential vocabulary.
Moving on to the third day. We went over directions, telling time and learning locations. By this time I was frustrated with the fact that we hadn’t spent more time on survival words. Rather than spending time on things I knew we wouldn’t be using. Things changed a little though when the NCOIC brought in a lady who had a wide range of experiences, and full understanding of Iraqi culture. It woke the men up and stimulated some good questions.
The lady shared a story about her uncle being taken away by Saddam’s people and then being brutally executed by the Baath party. At that point, could have heard a pin drop. I could tell by the crackle in her voice that she was becoming emotional. She shared with us why it was important not to look at Iraqi women and also how to conduct searches on women. After two monotonous days, it was refreshing to hear her speak.
I was happy when Friday rolled around. The final day, we concluded by reviewing everything we had learned during the grueling 30 hours spread over four days. Learning more about Islam and Muslims was good, but I still have a hard time grasping all the principles of their faith. I guess when they look at our culture, they would be perplexed also, so all is fair.
All in all, I did learn some good stuff that I will bring with me to Iraq on this next deployment. Next week we will be slowing down a little and focusing on hip pocket training and packing to leave. I plan on spending time with my wife; the Army is good about facilitating that for deployments. I conclude with: Maa-e-ssalma and allah ysalmak (Thank you and may God bless you)