Medicine Soldier

A View from Iraq


12.13.2004

My New Family

A quick recap to bring everyone up to speed on what is going on and answer some questions. I reported to my guard unit in Vermont on the 29th of November when we went on Federal activation requiring a train up and validation period of a couple months (for us 34 days). The location of the Mobilization center is in Mississippi.

The training here includes medical and dental processing as well as mandatory briefs on the military legal system the rules of engagement, area specific customs and considerations. We also have completed training on our personal rifles, three types of machine guns and two grenade launchers. Future training includes operating a base camp, mounted convoys land navigation, basic soldier skills, urban combat and reflexive fire techniques. We should finish all this the second week in January and then leave Mississippi for Kuwait. I don't know if we will stop in Germany on the way, but we will spend some time in Kuwait for more weapons qualification and area specific information and most importantly climatization. From there we will road march north in to Iraq and it is likely that we will operate in a base camp in the Najaf Area South of Baghdad. Hopefully we will stay there for our tour. I am already tired of living out of three duffel bags.

I am new to this company, in fact I had not met any people before 29 Nov. However, they all like and respect me. My function here is the Company Executive Officer. I am second in command to the captain and responsible for reporting our actions and status to the higher unit to allow the commander to focus on training or the mission. My other responsibilities include all our equipment from HMMWVS to radios and coordinating supplies and food. I have to be in sync with the commander when he is called away and meet his requirements but I also have to be a sounding board for him to make sure he does not push the company too hard or not hard enough.

The guys from Vermont are interesting. Being from the Northern tank Battalion many of them speak French-Canadian and have a little bit of an accent (well so do the southerners). One of the guys said he heard that the hunting registrations in Vermont are down this year and the deer population is up. Another guy said, "Yeah, we are all down here in Mississippi shooting plastic targets." (The Vermont Guard has about 1200 National Guardsmen, 800 are already deployed and another 300 were activated around the time I left.) We have a Russian who was in the Russian army. One day he said, "Come here, Sir," and I asked what is wrong. He said, "Nothing, I just never see a sober Lieutenant before." He then explained if a Battalion commander didn't like someone he just shot them there on the spot.

We just finished our week of day and night fire on the ranges. It was long days. We had to be on the range at 0630 in the morning and we often did not clear the range until 10pm at night and took the ride home to the barracks. Regulations require we shoot at night for qualification and deployment. Sleep deprivation started setting in and we still had to be able to shoot. Our sister unit from Alabama was shooting with us and they were overcome by the sleep monster. It is funny the places people sleep.

I want to thank everyone again for writing to me and sending me stories and pictures. I'd prefer that people wait to send packages until I am settled in Iraq. Otherwise I'll either have to carry or dump it on the way. I have gotten a few cards and some goodies already and they have been well used. Thank you.

posted by Scott | 17:48 Baghdad time | © 12.13.2004
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