Saturday, February 20, 2010
Training in Kuwait
This week’s blog comes to you from a Starbucks at Camp Virginia where we are gathered waiting to find out when we fly out. It can always be worse.
Our five days in Kuwait were spent acclimating to the heat; it was in the high 80s, and completing more training. We had several more lectures on convoy operations, recognizing and dealing with IED’s, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle egress training (similar to the earlier humvee egress training but in the vehicle in the picture, a humvee on steroids), and a final “capstone” convoy operation at Udairi range just North of Camp Virginia.
We were up at 0200 Wednesday morning for our drive to Udairi where we spent the next 36 hours. We fired our weapons again in the early morning in Close Quarters Marksmanship (CQM) training. It was a little scary having a bunch of people who don’t normally fire weapons firing them 18 inches from each other. Fortunately, no one was shot. The rest of the morning was PowerPoint presentations on IEDs, counterinsurgency tactics, and prep for the convoy op. In the afternoon we had a convoy practice “run-through” and finished at 1800…..a very long day. The highlight of the day was having to stop the convoy for about 15 minutes while about 100 camels crossed directly in front of us. I am trying to find someone who took pictures, but have been unsuccessful. We slept in sleeping bags on the floor that night. I laid down at 1830 and was asleep in 5 minutes. No hot chow (MREs – which, for me, meant protein bars and the beef jerky Nancy sent), and no running water - so no showers - or even the ability to splash water on your face. Thank God for baby wipes! We completed the convoy op the next morning in about 2 hours. Our group had 8 humvees and I was selected to be the gunner in the 8th vehicle. For those of you unfamiliar, the gunner is the badass dude positioned at the top of the humvee who gets to fire the machine gun (see picture). They use Third Country Nationals to play the insurgent roles which makes this training much more real. They had great simulations of IEDs going off and used green flares for machine gun and RPG firing. It looked eerily real. In the end it went well and the only problem for me was that I had sand in every hole and crevasse in my body…and I’m talking S-A-N-D! I hate getting sand between my toes at the beach so you can imagine how miserable I was. Anyway, our training is complete and reality is beginning to set in. We are (finally) getting some news from the medical personnel we will be relieving and the word is that it is relatively safe.
I spoke to RK and he will be picking our group up at the airport. Nice to have connections in the middle of nowhere.
Here is a link for Udairi:
Hope to post next week from Kandahar. Say a prayer for those fighting this week in Marjah.
Posted by John Eck at Saturday, February 20, 2010