Sunday, April 1, 2007


Back in olden times as travelers went across the country they would look for stones in the road that would mark how far they had traveled. These were called milestones. This definition still holds true, but today we use the word to identify a significant event in our lives. I have reached one of those milestones in my journey. This week we completed the training here at Fort Riley and we graduate next week. This is significant because we are now prepared for our mission in Afghanistan, at least from a tactical perspective. As I reflect back on what we have learned, we have had some incredible learning. The entire team has been trained on numerous weapons, vehicles, equipment, and possible threats and learned a great deal about the language and culture of Afghanistan. I will learn the specific duties I will perform when I arrive in country and meet with my counterpart there. I am thankful we will have a short break prior to flying over to Afghanistan. We received some positive news and we should have about 7 days instead of the original 4 days. I am looking forward to seeing my family.

It was an interesting week because there was definitely a feeling of "senioritis" as everyone was excited about completing the final week of training. Fortunately, we were well trained and going through the exercises this week went smoothly as we conducted drills testing our knowledge of what we had learned. You can think of it as our final exam and our actions came very naturally. I suppose we are all "lean, mean, fighting machines". (Yes, this is once again another reference from the movie "Stripes", and I can think of no better movie to illustrate what we have been doing.)

Early in the week, I did have an opportunity to do some specific supply training, which consisted of the Army contracting procedures, how to handle funds and business ethics. Yes, just like in business, we have to go through ethics training. In summary, we are not allowed to accept goat milk or goats as gifts from our Afghan counterparts. Not that any of us would even drink the milk lest we suffer the consequences of a week long engagement with the toilet. You see some of the food and drink in Afghanistan may not sit well with our soft American constitutions. Later in the week we conducted more convoy drills and battle drills designed to put together all that we had learned and see how we performed. Our team did pretty well and the scenarios were very realistic. On one scenario, we traveled in our HUMMWV's to make shift village with our ANA (Afghan National Army) counterpart and had a meeting with the mayor of a small village. We discussed the situation in his village and he informed us that there were Taliban forces just a short distance from his village. So we mounted up and set off to meet our informant who would direct us to the insurgent hideout. We stopped atop a ridge and met our informant who told us the insurgent forces were over on another ridge about a mile away. So off we went on foot, down one hill and through the woods and then up another hill. There we met gunfire (we are all using blanks, so it is a bit like playing Army men as a kid), we returned fire and defeated the bad guys. It sounds like a nice little trek through the woods until you remember that we were carrying that 70 pounds of gear on our body. Needless to say, I was covered in sweat and dirt. It was a fun exercise though and the team then had an opportunity to offroad a bit in our trucks. I have attached a random picture of me holding our M240 machine gun, a little "Ramboesque".

At the end of the week we thanked our Army training team for the great job they did. I also got a visit from my brother, Bill, who came into town from Dallas. It was great to see him and we had a nice dinner and went out for some drinks with the Navy and Army guys. He got to experience what military guys do on liberty (OK it's not that exciting we just drink, tell stories and curse a lot). On Sunday we spent that day touring Fort Riley, there is an incredible amount of history here. We went to the cavalry museum and looked at Custer's house (that is General Custer) and saw lots of statues and monuments. In my time here, I had not had an opportunity to do that so it was great for me too.

Well we graduate on Thursday, I am sure it won't be a big hat throwing ceremony, although I am going to suggest we all throw some boots in the air since we have so many. I doubt anyone will take my suggestion, something about a safety concern with that. Can you imagine the report, "Following the Class 17 graduation, exuberant students hurled boots into the air; 4 personnel sustained concussions, 6 personnel suffered lacerations on their shoulders and numerous personnel suffered stubbed toes." I suppose I will just take my extra boots home.

When you hear from me next, I should be home in San Diego, enjoying a nice break.

Peace to you all,


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