After just about four months of training at College Station and here at Fort Dix, we're finally finished with our pre-mobilization training and are gearing up for a flight to the Middle East.
Yesterday was our last training event and we went out with lots of bangs...shooting to be exact. We had to participate in a base firing exercise which is basically a scenario where our camp or base is getting attacked and we have to defend. Now, if that scenario was real, that means the crap REALLY hit the fan. If public affairs Soldiers had to race to defend after the MPs and the QRF had their shot...let's say we would do well.
Our set up consisted of two towers and two fighting positions flanked by hummers. Each team held a tower and a fighting position and out in the open were a series of targets we had to kill. Orange targets represented civilians and the green were the enemy. Our instructor/controllers told us that units sometimes shot the orange targets and one unit shot over 100 civilian targets!
So, we shot off 1000 rounds of blank ammo (dry run) and then we switched to live ammo and the exercise kicked off with incoming mortar rounds. BOOM! We start shouting, "I'm up!" and rise up from our cover to begin picking them off. Above us, the people shooting from the towers have great views and better sights on their M4s and they're killing 'em. Yellow and purple smoke swirl around, providing concealment and we begin to forget about the cold weather since we're running around, shouting and shooting.
After the last of the ammo was used to knock down the remaining targets we were told by our instructor/controllers that zero (0) civilain targets were hit during the exercise and that it was a first. So, we were stoked. Now back to that scenario....if we had to defend our position during an attack we'd do well. We may be Public Affairs, but we have some shooters in our unit. Each time I popped up to kill one, it fell because someone else already shot it and I had to shift and line another one up in my sights.
Overall, it was fun. We are now beginning to pack and organize for our flight...whenever that is. We'll be leaving the cold of New Jersey for the hot sands of the Middle East. Talk about traversing the extremes.
Starting tomorrow, our 4-day pass is in effect and I'm heading to Atlantic City with two others (no, I don't gamble). It's a nice time to unwind, relax, grab some--no, LOTS of Starbucks, pick up some more books for our trip, watch the movies that have my attention (Underworld 3, etc.), and eat REAL food. It's our last shot of freedom before a year high tempo public affairs operations. I'm looking forward to it and so are the rest of the Soldiers in my unit.
I'll end this one with shout outs to my team: SSG Burrell--he's kicked butt with transportation and team organization, editing stories, and I'm really fortunate to have an assistant team leader like him. SGT Taylor--awesome job managing supply issues and team organization. He's a field monster who we rely on to kill when/if we have the need. SGT Heise--she's a workaholic and a very good broadcaster. Her stellar attitude brings all of us up and having her around will definitely be a plus. SPC Fardette--another one of my awesome broadcasters. He's done what's needed without fail and is a great asset to the team. SPC Anderson--the last of my broadcasters who has lots of potential. She's been able to manage training, a new marraige, and pre-deployment issues very well and continues to surprise me with her shooting. SPC Alperin--he's constantly learning about the Army and his stories are improving considerably. I'm sure he'll add Arabic to his arsenal of languages after a few months in Iraq. That's my team, I'm sticking with them.
Until next time...