Sunday, January 29, 2006

This Week In Rock

Earlier this week, as we returned from the gym, ready to get off work for the day, we came back to our company area to find Joes running around like beheaded chickens and pissed off NCOs grumbling. Everyone was directed to the arms room to draw weapons out and start cleaning and not to plan on getting off any time soon. No one had any idea what was going on, but pretty much everyone was pissed. It was at this point that I chose to float like a leaf down the river of military bullshit, and I went along with it.

I am not angry.
I am not self righteous.
I am not tired or sick or hungry.
I need not gratification.
I need not spare time.
I do not feel.
I do not need.
I do not want.
I simply am.

A perfect prayer for an underpaid twenty year old with a bottle of CLP (clean, lubricate, and protective oil) in one hand and a rag in the other, scrubbing the tripod of a .50 cal machine gun that has nothing to do with him. All in all, it wasn't a big deal. Just a bunch of angry people complaining, and lots of hustle and bustle, and eventually, the day was over, and all was grand.

I'm a bit scatterbrained right now, but I'll give you the interesting part of the week, which was pretty much Friday. We woke up at 2 AM to be ready for formation at 2:30. At 3:00 AM we drew our weapons out of the arms room, then my platoon sat in the War Room (briefing room) while we waited for our turn to go to the weapons range. At 6:30, we piled into a Deuce and a Half (generic army truck) and headed out to one of the pop up target ranges.

Let me run that by you again. This is a perfect example of Hurry Up and Wait. We woke up at 2 to be in formation at 2:30 to have our weapons at 3:00 so we could sit around until 6:30. I can go over that again slower if necessary, but I think its apparent. There is no math in that. No sense at all in wasting so much time, BUT what are you gonna do, right?

Once on the range, we headed to the ammo point, strapped NODs onto our kevlars and grabbed two mags of ammo to qualify with our M4s, only in the dark. Most of the boys in our unit have infrared laser targeting whatevers mounted on their M4s. We mortarmen don't. We're a minority like that, and as always, we get stiffed a bit. The NCO briefing us told us to wear our NODs over our non-firing eye. That only works if you have the laser sight, but I went along with it anyway. So one eye is seeing green, the other one is just seeing the red dot from your optical sight, which ISNT a laser sight, just a red dot inside the optic, and it doesnt shine a dot on your target. Not laser. Just want to illustrate that. So one eye sees night vision, the other sees blackness with a red dot. Somehow, this is supposed to work.

I hit one target.

I hear the scores for guys in the other firing lanes, all of whom have those lasers on their rifles. And then I mentally damn them. I went back to get more ammo and get back in line, and as I walked into my new foxhole, I reflected on what had just happened and what I was instructed to do. It was at this point that I decided that I was going to be an insubordinate little baby. Consequently, I switched my NODs to my left eye, which I normally shoot with because its my dominant eye. I also fired left handed, because that's how I'm used to doing it. Being right handed but left eye dominant basically means that you're going to have to shoot left handed.

So I flicked my NODs on and turned the brightness of my optical sight's dot down low so that it didnt cause a glare in my green eye. When the loudspeaker from the Tower instructed us to do so, I slapped a 20 round magazine into my M4 and slapped the side to release the bolt catch. I got good and comfortable, leaning against the front and the side of the foxhole, not even bothering with the sandbags in front of me, which never seem to help me.

My lane consists of different shades of green. My right eye can barely make anything out and its already starting to hurt. The lens of my NODs slowly fog up, and I have to tactically time when to wipe it off with a gloved finger. A target pops up, and there's a light at the base of it that briefly shines to help point it out. I put the white dot (that's supposed to be red normally) on the center of the target and initiate the chemical reaction that slams a 5.56 mm bullet through the target, which promptly drops down. Another one pops up, and I redirect my aim, I squeeze the trigger, the target drops. Soon, I fire at a target, it goes down, but I had also sensed that familiar feeling when your magazine runs out and the bolt doesnt slam forward again, but instead locks itself to the rear. I wait as smoke streaks out of the ejection port. We're instructed to load our second magazine, which I stuff in and smack the left side of my rifle to chamber another round. When I hear the words "Watch your lane," I flick the safety onto Semi and resume my safari. I qualified quite well for night fire.

After that, we waited until the sun came up and it was bright enough to fire without NODs. We then ran through normal qualification, and I shot like absolute shit, always barely qualifying. I soon realized that my sight is slightly off, and had to apply a little Kentucky Windage (compensating for a poorly zeroed weapon by aiming slightly off the target to correct the difference). We were out there for quite a while, and they ran us through firing orders in an extremely efficient manner, which pleased me. I'm sure that was their goal. I kept shooting until I had once again secured Expert Rifleman status. I need that to try for my EIB, which I probably won't get this year, but I'll sure as hell do my damndest. I've spent time messing with a 240Bravo machine gun (which I'll probably become very familiar with anyway), disassembling and reassembling it and performing the functions check, etc, because its an EIB task, and one that I was a little worried about. I still need to master the M249SAW machine gun as well. The 9mm pistol is a joke. As goes for most people, if nothing else gets me in the EIB Trials, it will be grenades. Those bastards are difficult.

That's basically all that's going on. Preparing for EIB and getting people trained on other things as well, though I'll stay hush about it, even though I'm 99% sure it doesn't even matter. Better safe than stupid.

Now to prepare for another week.

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