Some quick admin notes.
First, I have tweaked the blog (I truly do hate that word) so that all of the members of the Team can - in theory - start adding to the blog as well. I will keep going as the primary, but this is a team effort after all, and this is our site, so... just don't be suprised if other folks pop up.
Second, on the pictures, you CAN download them. If you left click on a picture, it will blow it up. Right click, you can "save picture as" to your computer. You can never get enough Team Med-fah!
I am also going to start talking a little more about training and equipment; I will keep it somewhat civilian friendly, but let's face it, we ain't in Kansas anymore, Toto. Now that we are packing heat everywhere we go (each of us has an M-16A4 and M9 service pistol), and there will probably not be a picture you see from here on out without a rifle or pistol in it somewhere, I really don't want to dance around the issue. Plus, in all honesty, I think that knowing a little more about our equipment and training (all unclassified info) should make you feel a little better, a little more confident in our abilities. This place is more than a little dangerous, but frankly, after all of our training since May, so are we.
If anyone has any questions they want me to address in the blog, ask me, I'll be glad to write at least something. I am getting the impression that this thing is starting to take on a life of it's own, and AS TIME ALLOWS, I will be glad to address what I can. I say "as time allows" because we are about to get to our battalion and it is almost showtime for us.
Had some great training today from a SEAL named Mike (they aren't real big on military decorum or last names) on how to tactically enter and clear a building. Also some classes today on financing and how to pay for services and buy stuff from the Iraqi populace (namely, how to be a field ordering officer and contracting officer). That is actually a pretty good snapshot on what the spectrum of our capability has to be. Have to be ready to draw down on the bad guys in a full up gunfight, and then the next day submit the paperwork for cash which we will take out into town to pay locals to build a mud wall around the camp. All through interpreters, some of whom speak english at a second grade level. How did an simple artillery guy end up in this mess?
Hey, a quick "Kistler-ism" from a conversation overheard the other day between Master Guns Traylor and Master Guns Kistler. As a set up, Jimmi Hendrix is playing on the radio of the bus we are on, and Master Guns Kistler is a semi-truck driver by civilian trade...
Traylor: "Hey, Master Guns, here's some music from your time, back in the day!"
Kistler: "Oh yeah? Who is it?"
Traylor: "Jimmi Hendrix"
Kistler: (Pause) "Who is that?"
Traylor: "Jimmi Hendrix!?!? You don't know who Jimmi Hendrix is?!?!?"
Kistler: "No, ... Does he drive a truck?"
I thought I was going to choke.
From yesterday, we did finally get to meet the Iraqis. Met about a platoons worth in the afternoon to review (i.e. learn) checkpoint operations; how to properly stop and search cars, how to deal with belligerent drivers (Top Radke had an Oscar-winning performance as the driver, drunk on too much water). Gave us a chance to start learning how to communicate without always having an interpreter. Really all went quite well. The Iraqis LOVE having their picture taken. They will literally stop WHATEVER they are doing to pose for a camera. Quite strange. There was also at least one fruit-loop that just wanted to ask us about Michel Jackson. Hit at least half of us up with "MICHAEL JACKSON! MICHAEL JACKSON!" I have no clue. We then got on the bus and took a driving tour of the base and then out the front gate, "outside the wire", and walked the road with the US Army major in charge of the security. Met an Iraqi with 5 wives and twenty five kids. We couldn't believe it: FIVE WIVES! (I bet you thought I was going to say TWENTY FIVE KIDS). Just kidding, honey!
OK, gotta go. Class tomorrow, then practice driving in a tactical convoy, and that will pretty much eat up a day. Will be back at least once more before driving out.