Today was another “Good Army Day”. I’d claim that saying as my own, but it’s not, as a person far better than me and who has more good “Army Days” than I came up with it while they were deployed. What it means is a day where you're not all distraught with the military and you could actually enjoyed being a soldier. Today was one of those days. What started off as a slow morning of vehicle equipment training and more basic training skills turned into a day of driving armored vehicles and excitement on the range at night. This afternoon, we did a combat HMMWV (Hummers to you civilian types) course. Granted, it really wasn’t much of a combat course as we didn’t do any shooting and moving, nor did we do any Bo and Luke Duke jumps over the local creek. It was more of a familiarization of the new HMMWVs the military has in service. From the outside, it looks pretty similar to the vehicles I use to drive when I was in a while back, but looks are deceiving. They cram a lot into this new truck and it’s decked out with a lot of survivability bells and whistles that make me feel pretty confident in it’s ability to keep me relatively safe in a war zone (plus it has air conditioning, which works sometimes to drop the temp inside from 140 to 120!). Now, nothing is every 100% and this truck is definitely not an armored tank, but it is an Up-Armored HMMWV and it is designed to help keep more Joes coming home in one piece, which is always a good thing. It’s much heavier than the old HMMWVs and we had to learn how it handled on and off the road. Plus, just for giggles, they threw in some complex obstacles that we had to maneuver to simulate driving in Iraq. Not only was it very cool, it was also very surprising how this heavier truck handled. One would expect it to be slow, but if you mash the gas, it’s a lot more nimble than I expected. I was punching it through sloppy melt water puddles and slaloming through burnt out vehicle obstacles like it was a Jeep Wrangler, only my jeep had armor and guns on it.
View from the turret
My commander pretending that he has something to shoot
Training continued after lunch with a ride in the HEAT (Hummer Egress Action Trainer). It’s basically a Hummer shell that is put on an actuator that rotates the vehicle to simulate a roll over. They do this so you can learn how to get yourself out of a situation where you could be upside down or on your side due to your vehicle rolling over from an IED or an accident. After three trips of being rolled around in this thing, our team got the hang of it, even with all of our gear on and boxes of MRE’s and such in the cabin smashing into us to emphasis the importance of strapping your gear down. I hope I never have egress a burning or damaged vehicle, but at least I know now the actions to take in case I do (which is the purpose of training).
After dinner at the chow hall, we waited for it to get dark and commenced on our night driving course. This is where we drive on the roads and trails with no lights on and use our night vision equipment to navigate. If you want to get the feel of how to do this, try driving your car at night while looking through a 4 inch pipe. It’s a little difficult because the goggles tend to distort things a little, plus you only get a small view of the world through the lenses. We had a thunderstorm/tornado/blizzard warning tonight which made the sky dance with an eerie green lightning in the distance through the goggles. A little excitement was had when one of trucks in front of us on the course burst into flames because the operator forgot to disengage the parking brake and caught the back of the brakes on fire. My track ended up running up and helping them out and the flames were eventually put out. A little crazy, but even crazier when it’s pitch black and you don’t have the luxury of lights. Of course we ended up pulling out the flashlights and turning on the white headlights to make sure everything and everyone were okay, but soon we were on our way to do some more combat night driving. It was fun and I have to say that I did pretty well. In fact, I felt like I had to do well to disprove the myth that all Asians are bad drivers.
So, after an exhausting day of Army training, I’m off to get some sleep. Tomorrow is suppose to be full of fun stuff like snow, wind, and obstacle courses. The combination of them should make for an interesting day.
My pile 'o gear