Wednesday, April 30, 2008

D-280: Departure

Keeping up with this blog while at Fort Jackson was obviously pretty difficult. Our days were long and regimented, and what little free time that was left was spent video-chatting with my wife and watching Battlestar Galactica episodes on DVD.

All in all, Fort Jackson was a pretty good experience. I feel pretty comfortable carrying and firing my weapons, and I understand a bit more about Army "culture," so I suppose all my learnign objectives were successfully achieved. Future RFF-611 IAs will be sent to a five week program in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, so this gouge won't be too helpful for them.

We're leaving on an airlift for Kuwait tonight, where our training will continue. The goals of the Kuwait training are more advanced convoy operations and close quarters combat, but also to acclimatize to the brutish weather. It is 95F in Kuwait at 4PM as I write this.

The biggest downsize to the training was that the second weekend was not free time. My wife was here on Friday morning and I had to train until 2200, and then return on Saturday until about 1400. We had a nice time together anyhow, but I think a little family time should have been worked into the schedule. Our airlift was scheduled a day earlier than expected which really threw a wrench into the training schedule.

I have been really impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of the Army staff. The Navy LNO office however, did not overly impress anyone. They worked banker's hours while we trained for the whole day, leaving very little time for customer service once we returned from the range. We constantly had to work around their schedule, which was extremely aggravating given the circumstances. The Navy still has a lot of work to do in the IA support department. Their is always big talk coming from the big wigs about making IA service a priority, but it's just rhetoric and very little substance.

For example, I took great pains to complete all my checklist items prior to reporting to NMPS. The only things I could not get taken care of on time were eyewear and a blood type lab (there was a clerical error in my medical record causing some ambiguity in my blood type). I finally got the blood lab sorted out here, but I had to visit the LNO four times! The eyewear from WPAFB never showed, the eyewear I ordered from NMPS finally showed up on Monday, but was missing the UVEX ballistic glasses. I am really pissed because I told the LNO medical department that I had eyewear issues on the very first day, I wrote it on my medical check in sheet, and I visited them. They never even looked into it. They have absolutely no contact with NMPS, so they never followed up. So now I get to go the Udari Range in the middle of the desert with two choices; wear contacts and try to keep them clean while living in a tent with no shower facilities or sinks, or wear regular glasses that won't protect my eyes from sand and be forced to wear the goggles over them all time. I am unhappy.

I met a lot of cool people here, most of whom are also RFF-611. None are going to Camp Falcon with me, but Victory isn't far away, and many of them will be there.

I have no idea what kind of internet access will be available in Kuwait. If nothing is available, I'll check back in two weeks from Baghdad.
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