12 May 2006

Advanced Convoy Training, Kuwait

Tuesday morning was the Humvee refresher course. Having never driven it before, "refresher" means that we really didn't have time to get the whole course (which takes a week at least) but they wanted us to have enough training to be able to drive around successfully. An hour and a half of demonstration and driving was enough for me. It's basically a big Jeep (and a heavy one at that), and any 4x4 enthusiast would have fun driving it.

Advanced Convoy Training started Tuesday afternoon with a drive to the middle of BFE (or BFK since we're in Kuwait), which really is in the middle of nowhere. We were issued 12 Humvees (a driver, 3 passengers, and a gunner) for our group and loaded up our rucksacks, and all the water and MREs we could fit. A short drive across the desert and we arrived at our location for the first night. Our accomodations included two room tents with no cots or bunks although it was air-conditioned. Did I forget to mention we brought along three days worth of MREs and there are no showers?

Wednesday was largely spent in the classroom learning and reviewing TTPs, with a few excursions outdoors.

Wednesday afternoon we returned to the same location where we were issued our vehicles for more training. Here the facilities were even better: instead of two tents, we had one, which was smaller than tents we stayed in during the first night. Simply put, there wasn't enough room. The Humvee became the sleeping quarters of choice.

Did I forget to mention that Wednesday afternoon our first sandstorm began? Just like you read about. It's raining sand, and you can't see a thing. The sand stings you as it hits you. Everything you have is covered in sand. Sand goes everywhere. Sand somehow finds its way into a Humvee that you're trying to sleep in!

Fortunately, the sand storm let up around midnight and I found that the hood of the Humvee was particularly comfortable (comparatively speaking, of course). A few hours of sleep can do you wonders.

Thursday morning was close quarters marksmanship which began very, very early (before 0500 qualifies as very, very early). We learned to fire from various positions and movements. Most thought it was a lot of fun, and also helped to reinforce our comfortability with the weapon.
Thusday afternoon/evening was convoy practice and rehearsal. All vehicles were assigned different roles and we went through different scenarios.

Finally, this morning (Friday) was our "final exam", which consisted of several stages. They tested our reactions to different events and overall we did fairly well. We were fortunate enough to have a live fire portion which was a lot of fun (at least for the gunners!).

Back at Ali Al Salem, everyone enjoyed their first shower in 3 days and their first actual meal in the same timeframe. MREs are OK if that's all you have, but they do wonders for the digestive system. I'll take an actual meal anyday.

Looks as if it'll be on to Baghdad in short order.
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