Thursday, February 28, 2008

OCD as an Asset, Pt2

There are basically three different types of gear in the Corps.

  1. Serialized gear.
  2. Serialized gear.
  3. Serialized gear.
Personal gear. This is everything and anything that has nothing to do with the Corps. Yeah, sometimes you hear reference to ones personal gear while out training or on patrol, but that use is for when there is no such thin as personal gear, or better to say, your personal gear is your field gear. Clear as mud? Great.

Field gear. This is everything that is issued to the Marine for use in day to day life, training or combat. Good examples might be your sleeping bag, cold weather gear, unis, boots, pack etc. etc. (and once again, felt especially during the humps) etc. This gear is infinitely more important than ones personal personal gear (at least in the eyes of the Corps), like DVD players, mp3s, or private collection of uh... alternative reading material.

Serialized gear. Anything with a serial number. This is the only real type of gear, in the eyes of Gunnys and higher. Rifle, binos, compasses (compi?) NVGs, k-bars, bayonets, machine guns, mortars, the list goes on and on, and 'be the one' to lose it, you'll find out that the hassle is coming out of you're ass, boyo.


No one from your chain will give a rat's ass about your new duds guaranteed to attract the ladies, but they will make sure you are properly attired for duty. True story, "Size!" barked the Staff Sergeant, crouched over the box of... disturbingly scented gas masks. "Large!", I responded, trying to simultaneously hold my breath and sound off 'like I had a pair'. "This'll do, get outta my face, Pfc!", he shouted, tossing me a medium sized gas mask.


When it came time for weapons issue, you first receive your weapon(s), check and ensure clear, then read off the serial number. You sign (always sign, c.y.a) in triplicate. One copy to the armorer, one to the individual, and one to the scribe (poor schmuck who keeps the paperwork). Any issues with the condition of the weapons should be noted (and signed) and documented right then and there. Not so much a big deal with the stuff you got time and time again like rifles, but for the items like binos and NVGs that might get issued around. If it was broke and you were the last one in line to have been documented as using it, well, stand by...

So one day a couple of the Corporals were hanging out in one of the classrooms, discussing, er... personnel issues...

"Anyay'all remember Lcpl. Feo?", asked one of the senior Corporals. "Nope", Nu-uh"s, and "Huh?"s, were the majority response, with only a few guys commenting in the affirmative. "He the short and chunky Panamanian?", one guy asked, got out about a year back? Senior Corporal responded, "Nah, he's the tall Meskin dude. I heard from a friend of a friend that he's working as some sort of stripper nowadays."

"Gay or straight?", I asked, among the color commentary.

"Why, you interested?" came the response.

I should have seen that one coming...

As we started to discuss the intricacies inherent in modifying the Marine Corps Dress Blues into a suitable stripper costume (velcro top would be easy, the rip away pants might be a little more tricky), and just as one Marine removed his cammie blouse to demonstrate the proper twirl of clothing while thrusting ones hips, one of the Sergeants came into the room. He wasn't amused by one of the jokers calling the room to attention. He passed some word about the upcoming range training, medical, and promotions. That's when we found out that Mikey was going to pick up Corporal.

Back to business.

We decided that along with the rank, Mikey was going to have to pick up some additional responsibilities.

There were essentially two determiners of importance for us, and they were rank and billet. Unfortunately (or fortunately), 'boobies' were not in consideration. Rank is what... your actual rank is, like Corporal, Sergeant, Captain, etc. Billet (maybe better 'position') might be described as what you did, like gun team leader, platoon commander, ammo tech, etc. We had more than enough senior Corporals with established positions in the platoon, no schools were likely for the immediate future for him, so we needed to find something for him in-house.

I suggested we make him the Serialized Gear Corporal for the platoon.

This was initially met with some reservation. Most of the guys knew about Mikey's... unique characteristics, and we spent some time analyzing his prospects for the position. Some were worried about his obsession with the Platoon Sergeant, excessive hygiene, or odd habits. Some were hesitant after discussing his incessant counting of... just about everything. A few argued that the constant counting might actually be considered a Good Thing. We argued that he was so anal-retentive when it came to organization and gear-super-accountability, that it would be darn near impossible for us to lose or 'temporarily misplace' any item of serialized gear, even if we wanted to, with Mikey at the clip board.

He just about had a spontaneous flaming ulcer when he found out he picked up Corporal, and he was now responsible for all the Platoon's serialized gear. Poor bastard.

Usually, after all Marines had been issued personal weapons and serialized gear, and all teams had completed their issue of mortars, we would take a platoon count. This count would be held by the Serialized Gear Corporal, and supervised by the Platoon Sergeant. It would entail the Marines with the gear in question holding the item in the air for the official count. Usually took total, five minutes. Mikey took about 20. He wanted to check every digit of every number personally.

He took to sidling up to me and everyone else in the platoon several times a day, striking up a conversation, "So... how about the weather, huh?" while trying to surreptitiously read our serial numbers. If we went to take a leak, we could usually find him at our mortar positions when we came back, peeking over the shoulder of our Marines, reading the numbers off the mortars.

He started calling platoon-wide serialized gear checks, several times a day. Our Officer initially loved it, because he was big on constant gear accountability, but eventually even he got tired of hustling over for yet another check. He made the call that we would go back to how we did it before Mikey, one check before heading to the range, personal to gun team accountability during the day, and the occasional platoon check at night.

He suggested we move Mikey to some other position in the platoon, not as a demotion, but a transfer of responsibility. We never did misplace anything while Mikey was running the checks, though...

Monday, February 25, 2008

OCD as an Asset, Pt1.

One thing that I learned from the Corps was how to best utilize the individual Marine. I usually had a list somewhere of alternative skills that my guys had. Some guy liked tooling around with low riders back in the day? He'd probably be a better guy to get to look at a Hummer in a pinch than the guy who used to build his own computers. Computer super-nerd boy? He was gold when it came time to bypassing my many deficiencies in that subject.

One morning in the field, just after reveille, I had packed up all my gear and was trying to decide how much of the dreaded Jambalaya MRE to choke down (I was at a meeting when the MREs were handed out, and true to form my guys screwed me, again). We were winding up another live fire, but could still expect to be out for a while - and I was Starvin' Marvin. A Marine we'll just call Mikey was just across from me, going through his morning ritual.

As best as I could figure out, his morning ablutions consisted of removing the extra bags kept in his pack at all times, carefully unpacking the individually waterproofed bags, inspecting the bags to rips or holes, and counting them to ensure that none were misplaced... since the last time he counted them. He would then carefully go through the steps to apply his facial cleanser, acne cream, and skin tightener. While this was setting, curing, or whatever you call it he would brush, floss, and gargle. After the facial necessities were complete, he would reapply deodorant. If needed (and it always seemed needed, to him) he would change all skivvies, placing the dirties into a separately marked, waterproofed bag. He would then go 'talk to a man about a horse', taking with him the bags marked, 'wet wipeys', 'tp', and 'hand sanitizer'.

Finishing up, he would carefully pack everything up into their individual bags, and load the bags back into his main pack. His pack was always huge, compared to just about everyone else. He could hump it all, so that was never a problem. Oh yeah, all the extra crap that I just mentioned, the cleansers, gear, and clothes? This would be for a training op of about 2 or three days. Week long trips? Fuggetaboutit.

He had a thing about socks and his feet.

Don't get me wrong, one's feet is a very important subject to the regular infantryman. To not take care of your feet is just asking for trouble. Foot powder, mole skin for blisters, and extra socks are all stuff that a smart guy might have around, just in case. Bringing roughly 4 pairs of socks per day out in the field is a little extreme.

Good tip: Roll the socks down from the top of the sock to the top of the boot. I don't care if it looks like a high school cheerleader's sock, the roll is inside the trouser leg. This will prevent the sock from sliding around and bunching inside the boot, which will cause some serious blisters after enough miles.

The morning in question, I gradually lost what little interest I had in the Jambalaya as I watched him go through his ritual. He finished up with the socks, inspecting them for rips, holes, or other deficiencies. He then carefully wrapped them back up, and packed them into the waterproof bag. This bag went into his main pack, which was then cinched down by exterior straps, which were then tied off an tucked away, to prevent accidental unravelling and pack opening.

After the pack was closed up to his satisfaction, he placed it on the deck and opened up an MRE to eat. While waiting for the heat packet to warm up, he paused, sighed, and started the process to get back into his pack. He dug through his gear until it came to his package of socks, opened them up, conducted another inspection, repacked them, closed the bag, packed the bag, cinched his pack, set it down, and continued to eat. Five minutes later he did it again, but this time counting aloud as he went through the socks.

Ten minutes later he was at it again.

This time, when it came time for sock inspection and counting, he looked up, noticed me staring at him, and sheepishly asked if I would count his socks, or at least overwatch his inspection.

I told him what I thought of the situation, but kept in mind I would never, ever, not even once, have to worry about him not having his hygiene gear, change of clothes (up to about 4 pair), or missing any of his personal gear.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Apparently, I have made notice on a few forums, here and there. To the latest group of guys and gals, welcome!

In the vein of greetings and (more) present time stories, I thought I'd mention the to-date few shooting competitions that I've attended. The first one was pretty interesting, if not a little frustrating.

Arriving at the range, I noticed that there seemed to be about the regular percentages of folks there. Mostly older (than me) men, a few ladies, a few younger guys. Some were obviously current or former LE or military, some were just regular shooters. A fairly wide range of weapons present, heavily favoring glocks and ARs.

There was a number of commandos present, complete with LBVs, cammies, and roughly one of every accessory for their particular Evil Black Weapons of Mindless Death and Destruction.

Lessons learned:

1) Going a couple of years without shooting a rifle will show. Alot. Dammit.

2) Going slooooow and dusting off the rifle memories will still result in hits. Slow hits, but hits.

3) Some people collect stamps or books. Others play billiards. Some (civilian commandos) apparently do nothing but shoot. And buy camo. Thankfully, I kept my pie-hole shut when it came to commentary on the fashion selection & sense of some of those shooters.

4) Funny how introducing a few scenarios, barriers, and time restrictions can really put a kink into my self-alleged pistol sniper abilities. I still maintain that I shot multiple shots through the same hole... in the moving target...riiight.

5) I probably didn't do as terrible as I imagined when it came to just the pistol. Transitioning from the pistol to rifle to back again, however... I bet I looked like I was friggin' juggling flaming bowling balls through a brain lock, or something. My rifle mag changes look like I've never seen a magazine. Or a rifle. Or my hands.

6) I'm envious of those couples that both truly enjoy shooting.

7) Like a couple of martial arts I've been involved with, the ones you really have to keep an eye on aren't those that are young, in shape, or geared to the nines. It's not that they aren't good, but it's those sneaky devils, soft-spoken, humble, plainly equipped but well trained, and with more than a few grey hairs that you really gotta watch. Even if you can't really appreciate all of what they're doing, watch 'em. Seriously. Wow.

All in all, it was a very good experience. Those that I spoke to were most helpful in explaining the rules and regs for the occasion. Info and advice were free flowing, all day and in all areas. There was just the right amount of good natured ribbing when it came to the shooting. There was much food for thought when it came to experiences and areas to focus on in self-practice.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Is therre ani rezon whye spel chek dosnt seeme to b wurking, animore?

What's Arabic for, 'If I just close my eyes, maybe they won't see me'?

I was in the FOB's HQ room, conducting a qualitly control check... on the coffee, of course. I was also interested in conducting a raid of opportunity of the candy cup on the Staff Sergeant's deck, but he knew a good thing when he saw it (twizzlers), and he also knew a sneaky Sergeant (moi) when he saw one.

It wasn't gonna happen, I was beginning to fear.

Might as well get an AO update while I was here, I thought. While perusing the items of interest next to the AO map (and keeping an eye on the wary Staff Sergeant), I noticed a pin at a well known intersection. It was at a cross-roads in kind of an out of the way location, and to my knowledge, hadn't really seen too much action. We had different colored pins for the Area of Operations (AO) map, color indicating what type of event happened. The color of this pin indicated that it was an IED/Landmine recovery, unexploded. Jumping to the events description page, I got kind of pissed and had a chuckle, as well.

Seems that one of the other MAPs had been in the area, checking out some convoy's report of suspicious activity. Now, we all knew that 'suspicious activity' as reported by a convoy could be nothing but complete bunk, reported as an immenent attack, to legitimate intell... reported at the end of the convoy, roughly 5 hours to late to act upon. The good Sergeant however, wasn't taking any chances (good for him).

Arriving at the intersection, he paused for a moment to take stock of the scenario. Like I mentioned it was in a kind of an out of the way location, with not much but some rather large hills off in the distance to the east and a few small, rolling hills off to the near west. The intersection itself was a 'main' road, north/south, with one lane of travel each way. The intersection part was a road that T-intersected the main road, leading off to the east, and eventually a small town by the river. The Iraqi dirt and dust was everywhere but the poorly paved, cracked road top.

The Sergeant directed his MAP to go off road to the west for the intersection approach. By avoiding the road alltogether, he didn't have to worry about civilian traffic, a possible SVBIED (Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device), or buried IEDS or landmines. Weaving his way through the hills on the west side of the intersection, he noted that traffic was very light (possibly a bad sign, as the locals tended to know about and avoid any immenent threat), and that other than one nomadic goat herder way off in the distance, there were no people within view, wandering around. There was one small building, about 300 yards away from the intersection, in the southeast corner. No other buildings present, and besides the hills he was currently occupying, very little in the way of defilade for an enemy to hide in.

He dismounted his vehicle, slowly climbed one of the hills, inspecting the terrain along the way, and then by using one of the squad's personal scopes, got eyes on the intersection. It was fairly evident that someone had been very naughty recently, right along side the south east corner of the roads. The Sergeant called it in, got the EOD rolling, blocked off the road and then noticed something interesting.

What would you think, if you were the Sergeant on the scene, when, after discovering what was later determined to be an IED of a HE mortar round origination, you noticed, amidst the complete lack of local persons, driving, walking, or anywhere else in the immediate vicinity, you notice two guys hanging out on the roof of the only building around, looking right back at you... through binos of their own.

What do you do, in a situation like that? Pop the bird? Wave? Let Ma Deuce say, 'hi!'?

He wandered over, to make introductions, sure.

He found two very nervous local guys up top, and around the back of the house a wheelbarrow with some IED making materials / leftovers. On the guys he found a patrol brief for one of the up-coming convoys.

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, over.

There are lots of locals in the bases and FOBs in Iraq. They can be found in jobs ranging from landscaping and maitenance to working in the Iraqi National Guard. Undoubtedly, some are not who they claim to be, and are actively working against us. Part of the game, I suppose. They do what they have to do, and we do what we have to do. We (at least most of us) keep that very strongly in the forefront of our minds, and take the utmost in care in any and all paperwork that could give anyone an edge up on us. Looks like someone in the convoy's origional station wasn't so careful.

I did get a chuckle out of the time, effort, and nerves that must have been expended by some very sneaky desert-ninjers, only to hand the result of their efforts over to two amateur schmucks who, after doing what was reportedly at best a half-assed camo job on the IED, pick the worst hiding spot in a terrible ambush location.

I left the HQ, only temporarily in failure for my constant search for sugary deliciousness, to see who on the FOB had a cigar or two with which I could toast my fellow Sergeant's successes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Just got a change of address notification for a bank account.... that I've never had.

Guess it's better than a credit card company, wondering why I haven't paid 'my' bill... that I somehow acquired while on ship and halfway around the world, or perhaps the collections agency inquiring as to if I was going to pick up the slack for some numb nuts that put my info down to buy a car... in California (no need to check the profile, I live in Texas), or, probably my favorite, it's a heck of a lot better than one of those VA letters that start out with 'Unfortunately, our continuous dumbassery and lack of information security has resulted in your personal information getting lost... again. Please accept our heartfelt blah blah bladdity blah....


Ah well, it's about time for another credit check anyways....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day


As if anyone could forget, right?

In honor of this most important (right now, anyways, commercially speaking) day, I wanted to post a love song. A song about true love, romantic love, all the things that makes one tingle.

Ah yes, this'll do.

'For Me', by Stephen Lynch.

n.b. As a comedian, Mr. Lynch is quite the funny guy... er-to my sense of humor. For any of those that might wander the halls of youtube for more of his stuff, stand by to be offended. Heck, y'all probably will be offended by this, right here, by content and language.

As for me, I love it.

Now that we have that first one done (hope the soda stain will come out of the carpet and off the computer screen), here's another 'love song'.

'She Gotta Smile', also by Mr. Lynch.

This one could be about a number of Marines that I know - his friend, that is...


Maybe there's hope for my wayward package(s), afterall. Link is to an article detailing a postcard, mailed in 1929, that was recently delivered.

Yup, that's what I thought, too.

One of the roughly bajillion classes that we got before our 'world tour' was regarding mail. The Staff-NCO who gave the class was full of helpfull information, including the use of field expedient postcards (MRE box sections, probably one of the few good actual uses for some of them besides, you know, choking them down), free postage, and rules & regulations regarding authorized items in the mail system.

He told a few horror stories about guys trying to mail home explosive and grenades, with the predictable result.

He mentioned the fact that he got a care package during his second deployment... that was mailed to him during his first deployment.

Basic rules of thumb were;

Don't mail anything stupid, like grenades or landmines.
Don't mail anything valuable, either monetarily (electronics) or personal ('special' pics of the ole lady).
Don't mail anything issued, like gear, weapons, or First Sergeants.
Don't mail anything (else) on the prohibited items list. This one would change about 3 times a week, so if you weren't sure about mailing the First Sergeant, just wait a bit. The list might change.

You know, it's funny, the way one can accumulate stuff when living out of ones seabag. Aside from all of the reading material that I brought along with me (actual reading material, guys), friends and family were good about mailing a couple of books to me with most of the care packages. Mom and Dad would send a few disposable cameras with their packages, and the rest of my stuff I would amass when the opportunity arose.

What would happen with general 'Any Marine' care packages was this. Whoever was on mail detail would take note of the address, and prompty ensure that it went to a 'random' platoon. 'Random' means, of course, his own platoon. As admin was always on primary mail detail, guess who got the choice pick of goodies?

Never fear, though, for I had A Plan.

See, a Sergeant of Marines has to make a lot of rounds throughout the day. He might have to go visit Company or Battalion Command, might have to meet a number of NCOs and Occifers from outside his chain, just to make sure that his guys weren't getting screwed when it came time for acutal work. I'm not even going to mention much the abilities of nearly all Lance Corporals. Heck, one of their more popular monikers is, 'Lance Criminals'. Those guys can mostly fend for themselves.

Well, all Sergeant were all once Lance Criminals, as well.

I would take note of which office had the goodies, and might actually snag some loot before getting chased off my some Staff Sergeant. I might casually pass along the word to one of my sticky fingered charges, and that was pretty much the end of my part of the operation. Occasionally, I would see a couple of my guys running around a corner with a tray full of Dr Peppers, boxes of candies, or other assorted goodies.

Remember, Marines don't retreat. They just make rapid tactical advances to safer positions. Especially when facing hot pursuit by some cranky Corporals.

It wasn't all that bad, you know. Some of the other platoons' guys wouldn't mind one or two Marines going through their 'platoon box o' goodness'. Most of the stuff had been pretty well picked through, already, and most of the guys were pretty generous. When roughly half a dozen Lance Coolies from one squad are observed skulking around a box full leftover smokes and dip, well, that could be a sign of an impending non-official raid by friendly forces.

Back to the link and the theme of this story.

Round about a month left in country, and I realized that I was going to have to start thinking about getting all of my crap back home.

Being alive: Good Thing.
Realizing I had too much crap for one seabag and pack: Not.

I started divvying up all my stuff, all of the things that I would hand off to the guys who were relieving us, and all of my personal junk. I had quite a bit, too. Other than issued gear, I had a folding stool, tons of books ranging from fiction to classics, about half a dozen ammo cans, containing all kinds of stuff ranging from extras (extra batteries, extra slings, extra of just about... everything). I had a CD player, DVD player, and quite the collection of CDs. I had tons of paperwork (seriously, I was at the burn pit for friggin' days.)

I had lots of cold weather gear, 'cause whod'a figgured it would get that cold in the desert? I made out better than most guys, as it was, because in addition to the issued stuff, I had brought some of my own cold weather gear. Just about everybody had to buy, 'aquire', or have more stuff sent from home, though, when it got no shit below freezing a couple of times. Yeah, waiting for cold weather gear (roughly 2 to 3 month wait) when it was already cold was a bit rough, as some guys found out.

I wound up mailing somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 boxes back home.

In the excitement of getting home and the various festivites of same, I didn't even realize that I was short a box or two for quite a while. At last estimate, it was the box that contained nearly all of my extra-backup cold weather gear (yeah, obsessive, I know) and somewhere around 3 or 4 disposable cameras.

At the very least I kind of hope it was returned to Iraq to someother guy with a simlar name, so that somebody might get some actual use out of it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Too much input CAN be a Bad Thing

A little lesson in comm;

Of course, mileage on this will vary, depending on the unit, mission, and branch of service...

My Company was a Weapons Co., acting in country as a MSR/ASR security element. That is to say that, instead of utilizing the 81mm mortars that my platoon was trained for, we would be traipsing around the roads and dunes in Hummers, as sort of low-tech mine/IED sweepers, convoy & raid security, and general (or General's) beyotch/gopher.

Go figure.

Mission Accomplishment and Adapt, Overcome, & Party (or something like that), we needed a way to effectively communicate between our squads, the Company, Battalion, and any other units that were in the area. When it came time to suggest radio handles, we had plenty of suggestions.

Unfortunately, 'Pork Sword of Death', 'Gunslingers', 'Big Johnson', & 'Jihadi-Fu*%ers' were all nixed as call signs.

Someone decided that since we were split up into MAPs (Mobile Assault Platoons), we would just KISS, and go by MAP 1, MAP 2, MAP 3, etc.


Being that there were multiple vehicles in each MAP, the call was made that the MAP would internally go by a color designator.

For example, MAP 1 might be designated 'red', so if one were to get a radio transmission from, say, 'Red 2,3, or 4', you would know what vehicle in the MAP was calling you. If you got a call from 'MAP 1', it was automatically known that the MAP 1 Patrol Leader was on the other end.

When it came time for color selection, the only thing that the Staff Sergeant wanted was that no two MAPs had the same color, to avoid any possible confusion between MAPs in the field. He approached me with the color assignments to date when I was meeting with a few of my Corporals. I paused our vital conversation on the importance of maintaining a lint-free pooper when out in the dunes for extended periods, and thought of a color.

ME: Uh, if red is already taken, guess I'll go with... white.

SSGT: Nope, that's MAP 2.

ME: Uh, alrighty then-

SSGT: Map 3's blue.

ME: Hmmm, ok.

[Turning to my Corporals]

ME: Any recommendations?

Ever helpfull, they responded.







I gave them the hand and arm signal familiar to all Marines, that of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's, 'choke yourself', and responded, "Black will do fine, Staff Sergeant."

He grunted something unintelligible, and left the tent.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Funky Music & Geek Solidarity

I was cruising throught ye olde blogroll today, when I happened to chace upon Speaker's post.

I too, am a geek from back in the day. I can be found listening to all kinds of music, many types that would definitely make some of y'all shudder, giggle, hurl, and/or cry tears of boredom.

Like I wrote in his comments, beat boxing's not really something that I would normally go for, but there is something to be said for dedication and creative musicallity. Course, that got me thinking about John Pointer (If you're curious, go to 'audio samples', and listed to 'The Flame' - good stuff), ...and after an extended scenic tour throughout various video sites, I landed on an old favorite, John Butler. This guy... well, this guy is not one that I would ever think that I would enjoy listening to, what with the hair (dreds), nails (ouch), and politics (hippy) - but man, can he play.

You go, you hippy man, you!

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I had the opportunity early in the year to do a ride along with an old buddy that went from green to blue, so to speak. It was quite the interesting experience. Apparently, the evening that I showed up at the substation was also the first time that a number of the soon-to-be-new police officers were going out for their ride alongs. For the life of me, I had a number of flash backs to whenever the new PFCs would wander aimlessly around the base, practically begging for some old salty Gunny to tear into 'em. They all had the same look on their face. I was happy to say that I was able to restrain myself from screaming out, "BOOOOT!!!" during the entirety of the time that I was there at the station. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that it was a good decision...

One of the first things that my buddy did when we got to his car, was to double check all the gear. I forget what the name of it is, MVD or MVT or something, but it is the laptop lookin' thing in the squad cars that is used for everthing from checking locations, to writing reports, to probably playing some pretty neat games, or something. When he booted up the system, he entered in his password, muttered, re-entered in his password, grumbled at its slowness, accessed a few databases, entered in another password, mumbled definitely-not sweet nothings at the previous officer who declined to update the system, entered in a password to allow updates etc, etc, etc.

"Technohooya kinda reminds me of the BVT we had in Iraq", I commented.

He started to chortle.

One of the neat thing about improvement in technology is the filtering down of said technology to the grunts, the shape it takes, and how the Marines are able to implement it.

I remember the class where the squad leaders were introduced to the Blue Force Tracker.

Most of us that weren't on patrol were gathered up one day and given a class by some anonymous Lance Coolie. This motivator really knew his stuff, and was pretty excited about the Blue Force Tracker. What is the Blue Force Tracker, you ask? Imagine near the top of the wish list of a squad leader, he wants a neat little tool that'll track his position, give him a bird's eye map of the area for... about ever and a half, let him know where other friendlies are (hence the Blue Force Tracker name), etc. etc. etc. The result is a laptop looking thing (industrial-strength grunt-resistant Hummer desktop-ish thing for the infantry). Back to the Lance Corporal, I think he ordered a pizza and was playing ninja games on-line with it, too!

I think pilots have had this stuff for a while, but for us, it was brand spanking new stuff, and Neat-o, at that.

Now, we had some pretty bright guys as squad leaders, guys that have now been promoted to staff-NCO positions, gone out into the business world, made some good money... and me. I was kind of relieved to find the same glazed look on the Marines' faces as mine. Not that it wasn't interesting, it was just a lot of information to swallow on short notice, you know?

I somehow figured out how to turn the thing on and off without letting the screen light me up for all the enemy in Iraq and how to figure out the GPS on it, and off we went. I sure as heck wasn't going to toss all my maps, personal GPS, and compasses, though.

Like alot of the other things in the military (and law enforcement, as I hear it), some stuff you learn in class, the proficiency you gain through actual experience.

There's this one squad, I won't mention any names, that soon thereafter decided to test out the capabilities of their Hummers. Most of the Hummers were hand-me-downs, and the suspicion was that most, at some time, had been rode hard and put up wet. Kind of a good idea to find out exactly where the speed capabilities of said Hummers were, right? Well apparently, the C.O. can, on his BFT, look up all of his little squad bunnies, to find out where exactly they are, and how fast they are moving. Know what kind of killjoy it is to get a 'return to base' call... for speeding?

The colloquial name of the Blue Force Tracker (BFT) was shortly (and permanently, thereafter) changed to the Blue Veined Throbber (BVT), capable of getting one into trouble when least expected.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Am I the last loser to still catch myself writing '2007' on my checks?

Sheesh, It's not even January anymore!