Sunday, May 31, 2009

End of Week 7

This is my team (1/2 of all the Navy in my class)

It is now Sunday and week 7 is complete. Only 5 days left of training.....

Week 7 was interesting. On Tuesday, we drew our weapons from the armory, then had a morning class on how to plan Urban Ops (Operations). After lunch, we went out to the range and did SRM (Short Range Marksmanship). This is where we became familiar with shooting the M4 from many different positions. We walked towards the target while shooting, turned our backs to the target then turned back around to shoot, and also turned to shoot the targets from both our right and left sides. We also did transition shooting. This is a double tap with the M4 (2 shots), then letting it fall to our sides (on our sling while always maintaining positive control of the weapon) then a double tap with the M9. This was repeated over and over. Then, we shot another range where we got up from the prone position, ran to a building, shot a double tap out of each window standing with each shoulder, then ran from the building, shot kneeling from each side of a barricade, then ran to our final shooting position where we shot standing while resting the non-firing arm on the hood of a blazer. It was fun.

On Wednesday, we went to another range where we learned and practiced Battle Drill 6. This is how to enter and clear a building. We only learned it. We are not proficient at it. It can take a team at least a month of doing nothing but Battle Drill 6 everyday for a month to become proficient. We broke off into Team 1 and Team 2 and took turns entering buildings. The final building had 2 "insurgents" firing rounds at us. We used wax bullets and fired back. Needless to say, we need alot more practice....

On Thursday, we had a mounted combat patrol class in the morning, then used computer simulations to practice in the afternoon. Again, another item our team needs to practice. We have some basic concepts, but need to practice, practice, practice. 

Friday and Saturday were more lectures. We had an Air Force LT COL and a civilian doctor from CSTC-A Command Surgeon (Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan) come talk to us about what is going on in Afghanistan now in Medical. I will be working for CSTC-A once I deploy. They gave us background information on what the overall plan is to ramp up the Afghanistan Medical System for ANA, ANP and civilians (Afghan National Army, and Afghan National Police). They gave us some reference cds with extra info for us to go through.

Today was another half day of fishing out on Milford Lake. It was myself, Dennis, Andrew and Rob. I don't have the pictures on my computer yet but will post them later on this week. We had our best day of fishing and landed about 15 fish including 2 big blue catfish. We kept the catfish and brought them back to the barracks. We cleaned and filleted them, then dipped them in batter and fried them on the grill. We lit some charcoal, heated some oil up in an aluminum roasting pan and fried the fish. Best catfish I have ever ate....then again, it was the first time I have been out fishing and someone caught some catfish. One more additional note...we caught the cats on lures we were using for bass. That is unheard of. You never catch catfish on lures....

I will post again later on this week....GRADUATION ON FRIDAY!!!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Week 6 is complete and Week 7 has begun as I return to Fort Riley. I was home for the weekend after a 96 hour liberty. (Now that I am doing the Army thing, I have to call it a 4 day pass). We ended training on Thursday after lunch and a group of us headed to Kansas City. We had supper in the Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, then spent the night at the Econlodge before flying out early Friday morning. It was a great break to fly home to Maine.

Week 6 was a week of death by powerpoint so no new pictures. We were in class all day learning about COIN or CounterInsurgency Operations. At least that will be the last week of day long powerpoint lectures. Other than that, not much to update on the blog....

On a side note, I ask that you reflect on what Memorial Day actually means....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

End of Week 5

It is Sunday night and the end of another “tough” week at Fort Riley. (As some of you know, I can be sarcastic at times.)


Monday was another day on the range. We got up early and convoyed out to the range to qualify on the M4 and the M9. The Army qualifications are much easier than the Marines and Navy. The Army does a “Tactical Qual” which is only getting rounds downrange and hitting the target. All you have to do is wait for the target to pop up then put one round in it to knock it down. None of the putting so many rounds into the rings and adding up the score. Each target knocked down is one point. One round for one target. The M9 was 30 targets and the M4 was 40 targets. We did the M9 range, then went to the M4 range and zeroed the iron sights then the M68 scope. Once zeroed, the M9 qual was 20 rounds foxhole supported (standing in a cement foxhole and resting the rifle on sandbags), 10 rounds lying prone in the dirt without sandbags, then 10 rounds kneeling. We were done by lunch. We went back to the range later that night for M4 night quals using the PEQ-2. This is using a laser mounted to the M4 and our night vision googles. Too easy (that is a new Army saying…too easy). It was 20 rounds foxhole supported (just like the day shoot) then another 20 rounds from the foxhole but without resting the rifle on sandbags. Shooting at night consists of looking over the M4 with the NVG’s, putting the laser on the target, then squeezing the trigger. Again, too easy.


Tuesday was some classes in the morning followed by shooting the M19. We each shot 32 rounds. See the video…


Wed was another day of classes, learning how to call in Fire Support with a practical exercise that was computer based. After work, I went for a short flight with Andrew. He has his own plane. We flew around the base, then went to Topeka. I got to co-pilot on the way back. Andrew is also a flight instructor. I got to fly the plane for take-off (with his assistance of course.) That was fun, but don’t think I will ever be a pilot or own my own plane.


Thursday was another day of classes. This time we learned about Laws of War and Rules of Engagement. Another day of death by powerpoint.


Friday was yet another day of powerpoint lectures in the morning. This time we learned about detainee ops and how to “Tactical Question.” After a short lunch, we got to don all our gear, then convoy out for a practical engagement of a town. My truck crew got to kick in the door, search the house, and collect evidence. I t took about 90 minutes, then we were done for the weekend.


Sunday was a “tough” day of fishing on Milford Lake. Fort Riley has a marina on the lake. We rented a boat for $55 for 4 hours and 4 of us went fishing for the afternoon. (Now you probably understand some of my sarcasm).


3 more weeks of class then goodbye Fort Riley and goodbye Kansas….

Sunday, May 10, 2009

End of Week 4

                                                             {Shooting the SAW}

I know it has been too long since I last updated my blog so I will catch everyone up. Week 4 has mostly dealt with crew served weapons: M2 .50 cal, M240B machine gun and the M249 SAW (Squad Assault Weapon).


Monday was an easy day. We were off during the morning, and only had 2 leader’s engagements in the afternoon. This is where our team “interacts” with an Afghan team. We have to work out some given scenarios.


On Tuesday, we were issued our Team Humvees, radios and crew served weapons. I am the gunner for my truck, so I have the M249. We have 4 trucks on Team 2 (Black Beard) and 3 trucks on Team 1 (Neptune).  Black Beard 1 is the lead truck, Black Beard 6 is the team leader and second truck, then Black Beard 3 and Black Beard 4 (my truck). The Army has cut some corners with our training so we only have 1 up-armored truck. My truck leaves a little to be desired… it is extremely fun in the rain. Black Beard 1 & 3 have the other weapons, each with a M240.


Wednesday consisted of classes on the weapons, how to tear apart and put back together, and how to load. No real instruction on how to use. We also had classes on the M4 and the M9.


Thursday was the longest day of training. We mustered outside at the trucks at 0515 so we could convoy to the range. Per normal training, there was a lot of hurry up and wait. We were at the range with an Air Force Team so there was close to 100 of us shooting. The range was 10 lanes, each with a Humvee and a weapon. Everyone shot the 50 cal, then the M240 and finally the M249. We finished the day shoot around 1600, then convoyed back to the barracks for supper. Lunch was an MRE. We then proceeded back to the range at 1830 for night quals. We shot the both the 50 cal and the M240B with thermal scopes. We finished the shoot and left the range around 0400. By the time we got back to the barracks, parked and put everything away, it was 0500. We showered and napped for an hour. We had to be at the armory by 0800 to clean all the weapons we shot. It was only supposed to be a few hour evolution, but took all day. We finished around 1600. We ended up going 36 hours with an hour nap. When I finally got to bed Friday night, I crashed for 11 hours.

                                                        {Shooting the M240B} 

                                                             {Shooting the 50 cal}

Saturday and Sunday were days off. Gary Sinise and the LT Dan band played an USO show here at Fort Riley on Saturday night. We went to the concert and it was a great show. Prior to the concert, we tailgated with our Army bunk mates at the barracks. If you have time, go to

                                             {Gary Sinise in gray t-shirt on bass guitar}

Monday will be another day at the range, this time shooting the M4 and M9. Hopefully it won’t go until 0500 again.


Happy Mother’s Day… 

Shooting the SAW movie