Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Drill.

Another weekend sacrificed to Bravo Company. We spent Friday doing preventive checks and maintenance (PCM) on a lot of the equipment the platoon has. Fun, fun, fun... We started with our weapons. This is my rifle, sort of... I use an M-4, which is basically the ubiquitous M-16, with a shorter barrel, and a collapsible stock. There's an M-203 mounted underneath the barrel. The M-203 is a 40mm self propelled grenade launcher. Instead of a ghost ring iron sight, I have an M-68 close combat optic, essentially a laser sight. And mounted on the top rail, I have a PEQ-2, which is a laser sight that can only be seen through night vision goggles.

I sat down at the table, and broke down the weapon, ensuring it was clean and going through the PCM tasking, step by step, making sure the weapon will work when my life depends on it. When I began breaking down the bolt carrier assembly, I noticed a huge chip taken out of the gas tube. Yipee, my weapon's gonna be deadlined! Again... I had just gotten her back from having the crater in the star chamber repaired, a whole new upper receiver. Now I'll probably have to wait until they can scrounge a new bolt carrier before I get it back again. Argh.

After I turned my weapon in, my squad leader tasked me to verify that the company's brand new bunch of PAS-13s worked. The PAS-13 is a new thermal optic scope. It's bulky as fuck, pretty much useless for anything other than recon, but it's sooooooo cool. The PAS-13s were followed up by an inspection of the PVS-14s. These are monocular night vision goggles. Good stuff. After that, we inventoried the PVS-7s, the older binocular night vision goggles, that just suck. They were old, and missing pieces. The fun level was further crushed when a brand new NCO decided to supervise what I was doing. apparently he didn't think me competent enough to check if something works by myself. Despite the fact that I had already finished 3 PVS-7s, 10 PVS-14s, 5 PAS-13s, and my rifle, he thought it necessary to stop me and try to give a full lesson on how to conduct a PCM. I told him I had things in hand. He flips out and goes on a rant.

"If you don't listen to me, how are you gonna know if you have the dermis shield, the sacrificial window, or the... whatever the hell that is!"

"That's a strap, sergeant..."

"Shows how much you know, it's a..."
*flips to the itemized list, checks item 14*

"OK, so it is a strap, but that doesn't mean you're all hot shit!"

He proceeds to spend the next 5 minutes yelling at me about how if I was half as good as I thought I was, I'd be a general. I just chuckled to myself and kept working. I found it particularly entertaining when he started asking me what certain parts were, even though I apparently wasn't smart enough to conduct a PCM without his holding my hand not 15 minutes earlier. I wound up finishing the PCMs on 6 PVS-7s, he did 3.

After we finished all the PCMs on the equipment, we got herded into a classroom, where our new platoon sergeant broke down the promotion system. Learning how to climb the corporate ladder. I really appreciated this, because no one had really stopped to break down how all that shit worked in the guard to me. I have a real good feeling about our new PSG. He might not be able to replace our old one, but he knows what he's doing, and he knows how to handle soldiers. It was a good end for Friday.

Saturday started up with some refresher on small unit tactics. No big deal. In the off time, we swapped stories, most of which I probably won't repeat here, or anywhere. We then had a TA-50 layout, to ensure we had everything we needed for the upcoming deployment. In between, we broke for lunch, and we were allowed to go pretty much wherever we wanted, given the fact that we were allowed an hour and forty minutes to go eat.

So we were off to McMenamin's. On a Saturday, at noon, things are pretty slow. But the servers that day were just flat out gorgeous. Our server was a beautiful girl named Robin. Joe, yes, the same Joe off the recent 21st birthday, demanded that they put the Red Wings game on. The unstable sergeant from Friday decided to join us, and while most of us either watched the game, or played pool. Not Sgt. Psycho though. He proceeded to spent the majority of the time there trying to stare a hole through Robin's pants every time she came by.

I noticed noticed Robin was watching the Hockey game, when she wasn't serving someone. Sick of having the same conversations with the same people over and over, I walked over to her, and struck up a conversation. Just a little small talk about sports, school, and work. The rest of the guys gave me shit about it for the rest of the day. Whatever. It was worth it.

On Sunday, we were going out to Camp Adair, to build upon the training done on Saturday. So we drew weapons. Not wanting us to dirty up the weapons that we had cleaned and PCMed on Friday, they issued us the remainder of the weapons. Of course, my M-4 was now deadlined. So I got the last weapon available. An M-240B. A 28 lb hunk of steel that weighed twice as much as my normal weapon, and was about 4 times as unwieldy. Running with that thing sucks, running with that thing through the woods, really sucks. On the bus ride to Adair, Sgt Psycho sees that I don't have my usual weapon, and decides to take a couple of potshots at me. Told me that I finally had something I didn't know a damn thing about. Whatever, it might not be my primary weapon, but I know how to use it. I biffed it on a couple of areas that were thick with logs when we were assaulting through some objectives. It was irritating. Things reached their peak when we had our platoon movement to contact lane. I wound up in the assault element, and had to advance by bounds. I got up and ran, and as I dropped down behind cover, all of a sudden the barrel just dropped into the dirt. I looked over, and realized what happened. See those study looking bipod legs on the gun? Sheared 'em clean off. Whoops.

Meanwhile, some reporter for the Democrat Herald was taking pictures, setting up a story he's writing on the guard. I tried to be civil with him, because most of the other guys weren't. Most soldiers who've deployed OIF or OEF are paranoid of reporters, because the coverage from the media in Iraq and Afghanistan is so ridiculously slanted against the military that anything that gets said, or done, is used to demonize us and what we're trying to do. But good publicity is easier to come by inside the US, and is always helpful, so I tried to put my best foot forward.

We marched back to trans, and during the AAR, I'm sitting down next to the gun. SGT Psycho comes over and looks at me smugly, he looks down at the gun, sitting on the ground without the bipod. He picks up the 240, and tries to engage the bipod, only to realize that there no longer is one. Yeah, I'm not an idiot, what a surprise. We took trans back to the armory, and cleaned our weapons. I wrote out a 5988 form for the 240 I broke. We sat through another briefing on VA and Vet Center protocol, which was good, because too much of their resources are drawn up by Vietnam era treatment, and they're just now starting to understand the modern war. I'm surprisingly exhausted, but I haven't been able to con myself to sleep yet. I figured I'd do something productive in the meantime.

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