Friday, March 26, 2004

Out for a while...

I'll be out of town for the next few days. I am taking a much needed weekend vacation and going to the Smoky Mountains area to do a little camping and flyfishing. I also want to thank all the people who have stopped by and left comments, both favorable and critical, on my site. The simple fact is that I do this partially because I want to become a better writer, and maybe get something published someday, so I need the practice. The good comments keep me motivated, but the criticism is where I learn, so keep both coming lol.

This pisses me off. How could so many people take Palestine's side in this conflict. Where is the outrage when they blow themselves up in a market or disco? Generally speaking, Israel kills militants. They don't waste bullets on schoolchildren, shopping mothers or the family dog. They happily and accurately shoot and kill people who are trying to kill them, either directly or indirectly. Makes sense to me. If you make a habit of killing my civilians, I am gonna exterminate your ass. If you attack my soldiers...well you're still gonna get exterminated, but I will at least respect you a little more while I do it. If the Palestinians, who might have had some legitimate complaints in the past... before they took the Morally Covered and Concealed route, only attacked Military or even Government targets they would get a lot more sympathy from me, and presumably the rest of the world as well. But the Single Channel Plain Text answer is this; If you kill civilians on purpose... YOU MIGHT BE A TERRORIST. And if you are a terrorist, then you forfeit any legitimacy you may have once had.

It's similar to what's happening with the morons at PETA and ELF/ALF and all those other idiots. "Hey...I have a great idea. To protest SUVs we'll burn down a dealership and release more pollution in 2 hours than would've entered the atmosphere in 15 years." or "Here's another good one. Since I don't think the poor chickens should suffer just so humans can eat, and no intelligent adults will listen to our babbling, let's force our propaganda on 8-10 year old children. That way, not only will the adults not agree with us...they'll desperately want to beat the living shit out of us as well."

I don't even remotely agree with either of their causes, but I almost feel sorry for them. Haven't you ever heard of using both tactics AND strategy? You throw paint on me and you'll just receive a nuclear strength, big boy style, country ass whoopin'... and I'm liable to go shoot something just to piss you off now. You haven't changed my mind about a thing. But if you talk to me calmly and rationally, and I don't have ANYTHING else in the world to do right then, I might listen to you purely for the sake of amusement, if nothing else. We had a rational discourse...AND you didn't get your ass kicked lol.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

CompanyCommand is down

It’s a sad day. The website has had to restrict access to the general public. I’m not sure whether they will let non-Company Commanders register yet or not. Apparently a major newspaper (not sure which one) lifted information from the site without permission, and they decided it was prudent to keep it members only. This site provided COs (and other leaders) with immediate firsthand feedback from Company Commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan… rather than dry, generalized Army publications…coming out 6 months after you deploy. If you want to know more about what WAS available and how it had a positive impact on how we operate at Company level, you can read more about it here. I filled out a request for membership, but since some of the questions were like “Are you a current, former or future Company Commander?” I don’t have high hopes lol.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

EIB Testing...

Question : I'm going for my EIB in May. However, I haven't even been to Infantry school. So I am in a little bit of a disadvantage. I was wondering if there's any advice you can give me. Especially on how to train for the 12 mile ruck march. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks!

The Expert Infantry Badge is an important milestone in every Infantryman’s career. I am truly glad that I passed that milestone a long time ago and never have to test for it again…because it is a pain in the ass lol.

The EIB consists of around 35 separate events or tests that must be passed in order to receive the award. Some are major events, such as the 12 mile road march in 3 hours or the day and night land navigation course, and some are relatively minor tasks such as putting a set of night vision goggles into operation (following whatever sequence of steps they outlined during train-up).

It would be impossible for me to give you specific advice about all the events, because each year it is a little bit different. I believe that the final decision on what events and standards will be used is made down in Infantry hall at Fort Benning each year. Once the standards are sent out to each unit, they conduct their own testing…usually at Brigade level.

This post is primarily directed at SGT L. , but it might be vaguely interesting to somebody so I'll throw it out there...

Some highlights are;

The 12 Mile Foot March…

The load will be standardized, usually around 35 pounds or so. The best way to train up for a road march is simply to start with slower and shorter marches and work your way up. You should already be able to maintain a 14-15 minute per mile pace (hopefully faster) if you’ve been in ROTC for any amount of time and are about to be commissioned. The trick is just to get into a good rhythm and slog it out. Fortunately it is an individual event, unlike the cattle drives we have to conduct here with Privates on tactical foot marches. You will be able to take advantage of the terrain as you see fit. I have always ran down the hills and walked up them, and never had any problem keeping a good pace. (Disclaimer: running with a ruck on can be hard on your feet and knees, so don’t blame me if one of your feet breaks into splinters) The standard should be 3 hours. Make good time during the first half of the march, because your pace will usually be slower on the second half. It’s really not all that difficult. We had a Lieutenant run the whole thing when I was in Air Assault School, and I think he finished in just over 2 hours.

Land Navigation…

I have no idea what your current skill level is in Land Navigation, but here are some basics and some tips that help me out. To begin with, always be sure of your pace count. Verify your daytime AND nighttime pace count, and then get a running pace count just in case. I have seen people get completely scrambled and have to start the course over. If this happens you are going to have to move quickly if you want to finish in time. Your night time pace count will be different as well, because you naturally take shorter steps in the woods at night.

The tendency is usually to come up short rather than long, so if you get where you’re going and still don’t see your point, find a landmark so you can come back…and then walk a little further. NEVER… NEVER… NEVER leave any kind of gear lying around to mark your spot. You will lose it. This is a truly stupid mistake that is almost always made by at least one Private. Actually I made the same mistake with a flashlight while I was tracking a wounded deer last year, but a 2 dollar flashlight is not the same as a 100$ Kevlar or a 1000$ M4 …and it was my flashlight, not the Army’s lol. (I eventually found the flashlight)

If this doesn’t find you your point, begin to cast about in an increasing radius from where you ended up. If you move out about 30-50 meters (depending on how long your movement was) and don’t see it…go back and check your work. Check your azimuth, make sure you added or subtracted your declination when going from Grid to Magnetic, and definitely re check how you plotted your points on the map. Use the finest tipped pencil you can. If you have points that look like they came from a Sharpie marker…that could put you off by 100 meters or more right there. Ensure that your protractor is lined up with the grid lines when you plot your azimuth. It’s easy to get in a hurry and plot the wrong azimuth…it’s not easy by any means to walk a thousand meters out of your way and have to start over lol.

Although I have rarely had a problem with it, some people tend to drift toward their strong hand. In other words a right handed soldier might find himself drifting a few meters to the right for every hundred meters forward. This is usually because of a habit of walking on the right side of obstacles. Make sure that when you move around trees or whatever is in your path, you alternate sides as much as possible.

You can always use the tried and true “box” method for larger obstacles. However, if it is something you can see across, I usually estimate distance and shoot my azimuth to a steering point on the other side. This is a lot faster, but it takes a little practice and a lot of confidence. If you are unsure at all, use the box method. (SGT L. - if you don’t know what this is just email me again)

This is only the tip of the iceberg that is Land Nav. I have a handout, several pages long, that I made up for my Soldiers back at Campbell. It’s a combination of stuff from FM 21-26 and my own experience. If I can find it I will see about sending it to you.

Land Navigation is both a Science and an Art. Get the basics down first. Dig out FM 21-26 and read it from cover to cover. But understand that it doesn’t mean shit until you put a lot of time in out on the ground. If you are going to be an Infantry Lieutenant, you really need to get out there and spend a few weekends with your buddies out on the course. Most posts will accommodate you if you make contact with Range Control, and they don’t have unit training scheduled. The worst possible thing you can do (maybe not the worst, but close) is take your platoon out and get them lost in the woods because you don’t know what the hell you’re doing lol. Not that this is a rare thing for new Lieutenants to do, but it’s best avoided lol.



Practice some more…

Don’t be surprised if luck still bites your ass on test day… This is what put me out when I tested as a Corporal lol.

Adjust Fire/ Locate a target by Polar Plot…

Hopefully they have given you extensive training on this in ROTC, but if they haven’t …email me and I’ll give you some help that way. I don’t believe it’s classified or anything but it’s not the sort of thing I need to put out there just the same.

I will say however, that it gets a lot of people on test day. Make sure you know it back and forth before you step up to test.

The rest….

If your unit is doing a weeklong train-up, then just spend as much time as possible, after hours…weekends…whatever, going over the “easy” tasks. Break all the weapons down and reassemble them until you are sick of it. And then do it some more.

When you reassemble the M249… slow is fast sliding the bolt assembly back into the receiver lol. If you get in a hurry you will struggle with it and waste time.

Email me with any specific questions you might have and I will help you out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004



Some people out there just got excited…

They thought about running through the silence that permeates the neighborhood at 0530. Enjoying the absence of activity before the rest of the world wakes up and they have to start their real work for the day. Feeling the kinks and stiffness leave their muscles as they warm up and begin to really stretch their stride…wanting more speed and anticipating the point where they level out into the gray area between too much pain and not enough effort. They run and feel more alive than they will for the rest of the day at work.

The rest of us just groaned…

We drag ourselves out of bed knowing that we will run because we have to. It’s as much a part of our job as grading papers for a teacher or making cold calls for a salesman.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love to run…most of the time. But it’s a fact that in the Army you don’t have the option of running just when you feel like it, or when you are motivated or healthy or happy. You will run sick. You will run hung over. You will run tired, angry, sad and hurt. You will run because part of your job description is maintaining a level of fitness which will enable you to deal with the rigors of combat at all times.

For those of us who have been doing this for a significant part of our lives, it’s really not that big a deal. This post is concerned primarily with new or future soldiers who are unsure of how to get started and achieve a level of fitness which will allow them to excel in Basic Training and stay in shape until the Drill Sergeant takes over all aspects of their life (lol).

Getting Started…

I am writing this post in response to a question from a future soldier who told me she has been walking to school about 30 minutes each day. This is a good way to start if you have never been athletic before. You don’t have to walk for long but it is a good idea to begin loosening and toughening your muscles and ligaments before you take off at a dead sprint. On the other hand, if you have been athletic in high school you can probably start jogging at a light easy pace with little risk of injury. The idea here is to make sure you have a good foundation to build on before you start really pushing yourself.

Since you don’t really have anyone telling you when to run yet, figure out for yourself when you feel most motivated and really want to run. For me this is usually right before or right after nightfall…preferably before dinner. If you have to run after you eat, eat light and give yourself at least an hour or so before you take off. You can run whenever you want, but the main thing is to get into a routine. There will be times when you don’t really feel like running, especially after a few days when the new has worn off and your commitment begins to fade. Running at the same point in the day goes a long way toward preparing yourself mentally and helping you stick with it until the day comes ( and it will) when you start to look forward to it instead of dreading it.

Running is as much a mental exercise as it is physical. Your body can almost always take you farther than you think it can. It’s your mind that tells you to quit. It’s your mind that begins to make excuses for you as you start to get tired. Fight this tendency, either by just clearing your mind and refusing to even consider stopping, or by actively finding ways to enjoy yourself. Look around and enjoy the scenery. Sing a song inside your head. If you have an area where you can do so safely, listen to headphones.


This is my favorite way to run, but DO NOT wear headphones in a high traffic area, and always run facing oncoming traffic if you wear them on the road. Headphones keep you from hearing cars and if you decide to take a left in front of a vehicle you don’t know is there…have no doubt that the vehicle will win. For this reason, it is always (in my experience) against regulations to wear them while running on military installations. You should also never run on the road without wearing a reflective belt or vest. If you don’t have one yet, be sure to at least wear bright colored or white clothing so that drivers can see you from a distance.

Avoid overtraining…

This is simple. If it hurts…keep going. If you are hurt…stop. There is a difference between a general type of hurt that means your body is being pushed and stressed in the interest of better fitness, and a specific isolated pain that means a twisted ankle or a strained tendon or pulled muscle. You will absolutely be sore, especially at first while your body adjusts to the new level of physical stress placed on it. But if pain persists in a particular area for more than a few days, you need to take a short break and let it rest for a few days before you push it again. Don’t let your body psyche you out. It’s easy for beginners to convince themselves that they are injured, because deep down they don’t like pushing themselves for the first time in their life. But if you are unsure… play it safe. I know this might sound contradictory but I want you to be aware of both sides of the situation. Don’t push yourself to the point where you show up for basic training with a nagging injury, because this greatly reduces your chances of finishing BCT with the rest of your cycle. (And it’s a pain in the ass for us)

You should also put serious thought into your choice of shoes. You don’t have to buy the most expensive pair on the market, but go to a good running oriented shoe store and spend some time with the salesman. Have him tell you what type of foot/arch you have and which shoes will benefit you and protect your feet the most. If he can’t tell you this convincingly, he sucks and you should go to a better salesman or a better store. Running in the wrong type of shoes won’t cripple you immediately, but can have long term consequences…especially once you start running regularly.

Different types of running…

In the beginning you will most likely want to just jog at a relatively easy pace for awhile. Like I said before, you need to work your way up instead of jumping in at full speed and taking a chance on injury. Once you have a good pace built up, you can vary several factors to give you a decent level of fitness fairly quickly. Start by running the same distance, probably no more than two or three miles, at a slightly faster pace. Use a stopwatch or wristwatch to keep track of your time. Don’t sprint just yet. Set a goal for yourself and work your way up to it. As an 18-21 year old female in decent shape, this should probably be around 17-18 minutes for two miles right before you show up for BCT. As an 18-21 year old male you should shoot for around 15-16 minutes. If you don’t hit this goal…don’t worry, most don’t. You will still do fine once we get hold of you, but this is a good goal that will ensure you have no problems once you’re here.

If you feel like this is starting to be too easy and you want to really work on speed, you can begin to do either Fartlek runs or Interval running. A Fartlek run incorporates varying speeds on whatever course you’re using. It originated on winding trails (In Europe I think) where runners would sprint the straight-aways and then jog on the winding parts of the trail. Running Intervals is an awesome way to improve speed. You simply alternate laps around a track, sprinting one lap and then jogging one lap. There are specific times outlined in FM 21-20, but the principle is to push yourself at around 80-90% effort for a quarter mile…and follow it up with a very easy recovery lap.


Your runs should be around 20 minutes to begin with, including warm up time. (Always warm up before you start to push yourself). You need to run around this long to really get any significant cardiovascular benefit. Once you can do this fairly easily, start lengthening your time until you can run at least 30 minutes at a decent pace. This conditions your cardiovascular system to function more efficiently while exerting more effort.

Once again, most of all don’t push yourself hard enough to hurt yourself. I would rather have you show up out of shape than with a nagging injury. Hell, 80% of the privates who show up here prepared for BCT by stuffing their fat faces with enough Twinkies and soda to choke Michael Moore. Once you belong to us, we’ll get you in shape.

Disclaimer: This is my advice to you as a runner and writer… not necessarily as a Drill Sergeant in the US Army. This is not an official publication of the US Army, and in the interest of me not being fired, if you step in front of a car like a dumbass, or your heart explodes like a meat grenade, don’t come sue me or anything lol.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Here we go...

I guess I might as well see if I can adapt to this blogspot thing. I'm gonna throw up some posts from my old xanga site in the there will at least be SOMETHING to read here. In case I don't update this very often...I'll probably be back at the old Xanga homestead for a while. Here's a link.

In case you were wondering, most of what I've been writing lately has been answers to questions regarding the military and basic training. It's a tiny little niche, but one I found and don't mind occupying for a while.

I mostly started the blog thing to practice my writing, so that I can write the "great American Novel" someday. That way..I can live a fantastically extravagant lifestyle, far from the unwashed masses, looking down my nose at all the little people out there.

OK...just kidding. But I would like a nice bass boat...and maybe a new rifle or three...and my own politician...oh wait, I was gonna be serious.

Well...enough drivel. Hopefully this regurgitation of old xanga posts works out like I intend. If so...enjoy...if not...consider this the preemptive cursing out of the computer (*!!@%^#!@!!).

Also...if anyone knows how to enable a "comments" feature...leave a message in the "comments" section...uhhhh....