I spent the last week "in the field", and by that, I mean at Yakima Training Center. We, my friends, played the part of the bad guy, the OPFOR (opposing force). You'd think that'd be pretty fun right? Well, at times it was.
We woke up on Sunday and got all of our gear loaded up, and played the waiting game. Then some E6 (Staff Sergeant) came out and rattled off a lot of words to us, which we pretended to listen to, and we then finally piled into two vans, and down the Yellow Brick Road did we travel to this fun training center we'd been hearing about.
How the HELL is there a desert in Washington?!
That's what everyone was calling this area, a desert, and I suppose it made sense. Then I realized that it looked exactly like the place I grew up for 12 years in Montana. I grew up in a freaking DESERT?! Dirt and dust everywhere. And this was at the Yakima military installation, I'm not even talking about the actual field.
We got our barracks for the night and crashed there after many hours of boredom. Invest in a PSP if you're in the army, I'm probably going to go out and buy one after I post this. Better investment than the ACUs...
The next morning, we loaded all our gear up into an FMTV (big truck) and we piled into humvees and strykers to ride out there. I'd never ridden in a humvee before, so that was pretty sweet. The doors are like rubber tarps with metal rods for the frame. Reassuring. Humvees are pretty noisy too. Strykers are actually more quiet, believe it or not. After a long, dusty, boring, bumpy convoy ride, we arrived at our destination and more or less set up camp. And then we, the OPFOR, did NOTHING. We seriously didn't do anything at all the whole day. Why are we here?
I remember coming out of one of the Porta Johns and seeing all the vehicles in the camp and the soldiers hanging out in small colonies with this huge open sky above our plateaulike hill, and a river ran around two sides of our camp off in the distance, and on the other side of it was some small town, and the sun was setting, and it reminded me of a scene from the original Star Wars where Luke is on Tattooine and is being a big whiny baby because no one loves him and James Earl Jones didn't hug him enough as a kid, and he's watching two of the suns set. I thought it would be funny to take the panorama I recorded and add that mellow star wars music, because I am a really big dork.
The next day, we prepared for our first ambush. Let me spare you the monotony and let you know how all of our attacks against the infidels went.
-Prepare, takes like five minutes.
-Ride to ambush site, takes like 20 minutes.
-Prepare ambush, takes like 10 minutes.
-Wait, takes like two hours.
-Engage the stupid heartless evil American imperialistic dogs with the most massive Jihad ever, takes like two minutes if Allah even remotely likes you, otherwise thirty seconds.
-Be dead and wait, takes like anywhere from a half hour to two hours.
-Return to camp and wait for another mission, takes like two or three more comings of Christ. I swear I saw him walk by a few times while I was out there.
Now, for OPSEC reasons or whatever, I'm not really going to touch on how we ambushed them and how they reacted and what worked well and what didn't. Besides, I had enough of that at the repetitive AARs (After Action Report).
Anyway, just heading out there, or when we'd roll out in Strykers to do another mission, or anything, just having all those vehicles around and people doing the jobs they signed up to do, I actually felt a little like an actual soldier. Strykers are cramped inside, and when they lurch forward, they make a sound that you'd figure a big five year old with a tuba would make. I found this slightly entertaining. More entertaining than when I found out that dust and sand had gotten inside the earpieces to my iPod. The field is rough. Especially when you're sleeping outside because you and your friends dont have your own vehicle yet, and everyone else is racked out inside their strykers, humvees, and five-tons, and when you wake up for your 0200 guard shift, you find that your sleeping bag is covered with a thick layer of frost. I pouted.
An LT from the unit we were supporting dubbed me Chandler, from Friends. Apparently I've always got some witty quip or remark. I suppose I could see that happening. Overall, for as long as I was out there, not a whole lot really happened a lot. Maybe I'll write more if the mood catches me, because I'm clearly not into it right now. So yeah, in summary, we went out to a desert and did stuff.
"How was your week dear?"