Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weeks 3 & 4 - Language, Cultural Awareness and Counterinsurgency

For the last couple of weeks, we've been knee deep in classroom instruction. The curriculum here for deploying MiTT members starts with a solid foundation of FM 3-24's take on counterinsurgency. Instructors handed out homework in the form of Galula, Kilcullen, and Petraeus. The important thing to note here is that they're not just teaching this to the senior Non-Commissioned Officers and Field Grades, they're are teaching this to everybody. This includes to all enlisted and company grade officers that come through the training.

The goal is to provide every armed forces member deploying as a Training Team (TT) member a rudimentary knowledge of wide variety of considerations in play in their respective Area of Operations (AO), be it Afghanistan or Iraq. I have seen members here from the Army, Air Force, and Navy. While I get a minor chuckle at the cultural differences between services, the bottom line is that they are departing their traditional roles in order to assist the overall mission. Although, it's still funny watching them work their weapon through a clearing barrel.

Probably the most entertaining classes up to now are the Defense Language Institute (DLI) contracted courses in Iraqi-Arabic. They have done an outstanding job in putting together a talented group of individuals that perform the daunting task of teaching an alien language in what seems like an impossibly short time. They also provide invaluable insight in cultural awareness.

As we finish up this phase of our training we looking forward to the tactical phase. Vehicle, weapons, tactics, movement, and other traditional Soldier training awaits. We get in quality physical training in the morning and the food is nothing to complain about. All in all it's been a good couple of weeks as our team appears to have the right combination of leadership, common sense, talent, and experience.

I look forward to getting this mission underway.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

MiTT Week 1 - Lots of New Gear

I'm always nervous anytime I sign in to a new unit.  My degree of apprehension is largely related to my knowledge of the unit and the job.  My confidence is high if I am familiar with the installation and the unit mission.  To say I was a bit apprehensive about reporting to a new job of which I know very little is an understatement.  Like any good Soldier, I began preparing for my Military Transition Team assignment months in advance.

I studied a wide variety of books, both military and civilians.  My reading consisted of Field Manuals, Economics, Anthropology, Culture, Leadership, Interpersonal dynamics, etc.  I tried not to limit the scope of my research to any one topic, choosing rather a wide variety of materials.  I figured the success of my team was dependent on: interpersonal relationships, cultural awareness/anthropology, talent.  It could not hurt to expand my education on all three.

Anyway, back to Fort Riley.  We received our gear, lots and lots of gear.  This is my first time receiving a Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI).  All the coolest and latest stuff from body armor to backpacks.  Four duffel bags full to be exact.  I spent two days in the barracks piecing everything together and I am still not finished.  Some stuff I like such as the ACH helmet and the assault pack.  Other stuff I'm not a huge fan such as the MOLLE rifleman kit.

Still, it represents the massive investment they've made in equipping Soldiers with better equipment.  There is better out there, but it is not like the gear I deployed with back in 2003.  When compared to other combat arms units, we deployed with poorly designed gear.  Of course, we accepted the fact that the 82nd's and 101st's would always get the latest and greatest.  Back then there were haves and have-nots and we accepted that we would be poorly equipped when compared to our divisional counterparts

All Soldiers now deploy with the same RFI.  All Soldiers wear the best the Army has to offer.  It's nice to see that changed for the better.   Of course, the wearing and carrying of all this heavy ass crap will be a different matter.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A New Job and a New Patch

New assignment, new mission, new patch. Finally after years of bouncing around since my time at Fort Sill, I'm back wearing a bona fide patch. Hello Big Red One. Why isn't the One Red? Don't ask me, I am just a bit stoked that the Leavenworth Lamp is off my shoulder replaced by an insignia with history and tradition.
I am now the Effects and Operations Advisor of a Military Transition Team which will be assigned to an Iraqi Infantry Brigade sometime in January. I anticipate the assignment will be the most challenging in my career, but it also has the potential to be the most rewarding as the Iraqis continue to step up to the table and take charge.
This marks a transition in my blog as I will now focus on detailing the experience of myself and my team.