An essential guide to all things army; explore the intricate structure of units, troops, ranks and roles that work together to keep our borders safe.
Blood and Mud
Thud. Crack. Thud. The whistles and drones of the artillery whooshing overhead were nauseating. Whilst they had long ago become familiar sounds, they had never become comforting ones. Relatively new sounds to a battlefield, it was the power and quantity of these weapons that was unprecedented. Impacts that were detonating hundreds of metres beyond the wire were strong enough to shake the Earth into liquid sludge underneath the feet of the hundreds of men crammed into thin cutaways scaring the ground. The enemy returned the barrage with their own. These impacts buckled the knees of any lucky enough not to be caught in the concussive blasts. What little fauna remained in the churned up landscape fled. I wished I could flee with them.
Are You a Leader?
Through nearly 13 years of military service, I have held many positions. While on Army active duty from 2006 to 2009, I got field sanitation certified, ATGM certified, Combatives Level 1 certified, and trained on multiple Stryker variants. Primarily, my position consisted of being a driver as well as dismount. While in the Air Force Reserve from 2010 to 2016, I underwent multiple courses for supervision and leadership, 7-level in Air Transportation, and shifted between a working, training, and supervising roles in the Cargo section, before moving to ATOC (ATOC meets up with aircraft to give/receive reports from the crew, so the crew can have their plane loaded/unloaded). Now, I am a Drill Sergeant in the Army Reserve. I have re-certified in Combatives Level 1, and recently, had a self-reflection on my leadership potential.
How to Become an Army Recruiter
The United States Army Recruiting Command's (USAREC) motto is “Provide The Strength;” and to do this, the army demands aspiring recruiters to meet set high standards before they can become an Army recruiter.
Peace in the Middle East
Approaching the seventh anniversary of my “Freedom Day” (when I got out of the service), it seems fitting that I would take some time to reflect on a few more of my memories from that experience.
The Desert's for Startin' Over
I finally cheated on my diet. After about a month and a half of vigorously avoiding meat, the inevitable happened. Sadly, it wasn’t even something sexy, like most of us “Broccoli Heads” cheat with. In truth, I understand that if/when we cheat, it’s almost invariably with “pork butts," or as the family down south call it: “fat back.”
As the bullets slammed into the side of his vehicle; Team Leader Chris called into his radio: “Hello Zero, this is Charlie One Two, Contact, Wait Out.”
From Frontlines to Heavy Books
“INCOMING! GET ON THE FLOOR!” This is how nearly all military movies portray war. You are sleeping in your bunk/cot/bed, and suddenly someone is screaming to get down. Perhaps in the very beginning of the War on Terror it was this way, but it wasn’t my experience. I went into the Army after graduating high school in June 2006. I got an awesome $1,000 bonus as a 19K, or M1 Armor Crewman. Meanwhile, every other person there received a $40,000 bonus. Little did I know, there was a huge bonus increase before I went to OSUT.
I often joked after my 12 months “In Country” that I was on the brink of diabetes, after a few months of back to back meetings with the Iraqi Army (IA), and IP’s. Fortunately, that was not the case; despite many a cup of chai quickly downed during the aforementioned meetings.
“When the Smoke Starts to Clear...”
Mission Critical SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for besties (mejores amigos/amgias)- Code blue/Código Azul: Los amigos (o amigas). Friendship sustaining activities/chats. Ex. include: Lunch/coffee; "Recoil therapy"; and album listening parties. Code orange/naranja: *Life* sustaining chat needed (The Fray). Helpful Hint: Listen *actively* (Do NOT talk over your buddy; do ask pertinent questions; and definitely offer empathy/sympathy). Code red/Rojo: "No sh*t", this is "Real World"; NOT an "Exercise." Ex. include: SOS-"Save Our Ship" (not technically accurate); BHD- Bravo Hotel Delta (emergency "landing"), wherein QRF (Quick Reaction Force) may/may not be on standby; and/or supplies/morale critical (low on water/ammo/food). Code yellow/amarillo: Love interests are involved/desired (positive light). Ex. include: "I have dates for the two of us"; "I need a date"; and "I have a potential for you." Code white/blanco: There's finna be "a beautiful death." Bring your tools and let's team up to "hammer" this problem out. (Sidenote- Violence as an absolute LAST resort.) Code black/negro: New life. Code purple/morado: General kudos are in order. Ex. include: Graduations; initial properties; Freedom from Uncle Sam. Code green/verde: General reference to La familia. Ex. include: "The Fam's throwing something. Hope to see you there." Code sky blue/azul cielo: "We need to settle this like Grunts and roll in the grass til we have a 'mutual understanding.'" Spoiler Alert: King T'Challa never yielded. (Sidenote- Do NOT kill your bestie in "ritual combat." Make each other tougher, bond, and commit to better communication in the future. [Side, Sidenote: General guidelines to follow at another time. For now, NO ankle locks.]) If either party is unable/unwilling to physically fight, prudent alternatives are acceptable; preferably Chess (the only game that really matters). Code brown/marrón: "We've been sh*t on" and/or "It's time to serve some knuckle sandwiches." (Same sidenote as Code White/blanco.) Code pink/rosa: Variable/Audible/Contingency plan #1 (Plan Bravo/B). Ex. include: "Pop smoke! It's too many of them." Or, "Our position is compromised! Back to Rally Point #4!" Code gray/gris: Variable #2 (like Code Pink, though less cool).
A Soldier Who Flew Higher...
As I walked through the already opened door, I felt that my tears were hotter than the rest of my body. I looked down to see one ladybug jumping from person to person as they entered the room. Right away everyone wanted to flick and squish it, but I felt like it was so odd that it stayed for a few seconds and was on to the next. As I lightly placed it back on the plant so it could continue to greet others, I realized each step was getting heavier but so much lighter as I went on.
Anxiety and Depression = 22
22, that's the number on average a day veterans take their lives. While we are inundated with that number whenever we have an event, or get ready to deploy, for some that number is just that, a number. Unless you have been through it, or know of someone that is has happened to, you feel for those in that situation. Like many other things in life, if it really isn't directly affecting you, its just another after thought. I know, I was one of those who felt the same way.
To feel the cold wind across my cheeks would tend to be a pleasurable experience in most cases, but not in this one. The wind only makes the reminder of where I am and where I have been for the past week a bitter one. The cold gives me chills that have been all too familiar during the time I have spent in this nest. This nest has become a prison of my own advantage.