Sunday, December 25, 2011

Who knew there was so much coloring in the Infantry?

He who exerts effort into IBOLC... gets what he deserves.
The next platoon OPORD I "brief" will just be the company order, imprinted in Silly Putty.
P.S. In another navel-gazing PT postcript, I more than maxed everything on our RPFT. It's not easy finding time to work out during BOLC, between time in the field, time sleeping, and the burdens of being lazy, so after those surprising results I was most contentedly staring at my navel.

We later did a free-for-all 8-mile ruck march with some 60-70 pounds (decided not to weigh in for psychological edge. Ignorance is bliss!). I came in, wheezing and dripping, at a cool 1:31 - I was in the top quartile or so (don't get to use that word a lot), but the hard-chargers who beat me were pushing pretty humbling paces below 10-minute miles! Still, I'm a far cry from these days.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rendezvous with Destiny!

I did it again (it took all of my self-restraint not to begin that sentence with "oops"). Switched from 1ID to 82 to ... 101. I'd been looking to get out of the 82nd once I realized how my deployment would line up - if I went through Ranger School on my first try, and hopped straight into Airborne (this is based on a hypothetical alternate universe where Headquarters Company becomes efficient and helpful while I'm at Ranger), there would still only be a maximum of four months left in the deployment, making it less likely that I'd get a platoon there (deployed with no platoon means staff work ... just in another country).

And if I
did recycle Ranger School, I'd have to kiss Afghanistan goodbye. And then I would have been studying all this Dari and Pashto for nothing. Damn the military-linguistic complex.

So I looked to the next unit on my wish list, the 101st Airborne (Air Assault (it's not actually Airborne any more (but they can't change the name because the WWII vets get mad (the
Band of Brothers guys)))). Every brigade deploying, and a fine unit to boot. The branch manager said he couldn't get me in without a by-name request. So I emailed a very nice letter to an S1 with the usual bits (Pathfinder, PT score, favorable comments from ex-girlfriends). And got my orders changed the next day.

I'm now set to deploy in the Fall, which means I have ample time to recycle Ranger School (which is not my intention, but spend a week at Benning and you'll hear enough horror stories that you begin to doubt that anyone has ever graduated Ranger School, ever) and get into other training schools.

I won't be a paratrooper, but I will get to go to Afghanistan, be in the only existing Air Assault unit, and live a short drive from Nashville (I've started listening to country music to prepare myself).

Mostly, I think I'm just excited to know that I will be one of a very select group of Americans who know how to spell both "lieutenant" and "rendezvous."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

IBOLC isn't really so bad

I realized that my first post on IBOLC painted a rather dismal picture of my training. Everything I wrote is still true, but we do also have lots of fun, and the focus of the course has slowly transitioned into officer training (instead of whatever we were spending our time on the first few weeks). My trainers seem more in their element in the field than in front of a slideshow.

We've done basic and "advanced" marksmanship (moving targets = major fun), started OPORDs (not fun, but I like them because I'm good at them), land nav nearly continuously for two days (falling in holes in the dark never gets old), and machine guns (lots of fun, lots of cleaning). One could possibly almost say I'm beginning to learn some of the skills required of an Infantry Officer. Possibly almost.

I could easily have enjoyed Field Artillery, or being a Combat Engineer, but I chose Infantry because I thought it was the most elite and would attract the best people - a notion my classmates have vindicated completely. The other LTs have to be the best quality men the Army commissioned last May. Loathe as I am to admit it, it might have to do with half of them being West Pointers. There can't be more than five or six ROTC grads in my platoon! (likely because ROTC boys get stiffed with the later BOLC dates). At any rate, it's as educated, intelligent, and well-traveled a bunch as I've seen in any of my training so far.

For the sake of my ego, I'd like to mention I was one of two LTs in the platoon who maxed our initial APFT a few weeks back. The BN SGM came to PT formation one day to award coins to everyone who maxed... too bad the cadre hadn't calculated the scores yet, and I can safely say the matter has been forgotten (but it works both ways - a dozen of us were supposed to go to the CO's office for failing a layout, buy that too somehow slipped through the cracks of the tightly calibrated machine that is IBOLC).
Also, the rest of my platoon is in excellent shape, better than I am, but the APFT was in freezing rain. Anyone who has been here is familiar with the 1-mile track that's made out of some special mixture of tightly packed sandy gravel, and turns into an even more special mixture of gravel and mud if you add water. And we were in summer PTs (shorts and a t-shirt), so unless you could really run, you didn't max it (I ran about 45 seconds slower than normal). And, of course, there were those who were unfairly persecuted by their grader/forgot how to do a proper pushup.

P.P.S. It wouldn't be War Is Schlep if I didn't sign off promising to disclose big news on a later date. So I incidentally have some big news, which I'll disclose on a later date when I have some time.