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.


Peter said...

Murph, I'm afraid 'blue veined throbber' suggests something entirely different . . . although equally profane from a military perspective!


Old NFO said...

heh... they are called MDT's (mobile dumb terminals) Murph. We did have something similar in the birds, but used FLIR most of the time just to be on the safe side. There was CAS, danger close, and aw S**T close, and you wanted to be able to make sure you were dropping on the right set of dots... :-)

Murphy said...

Peter: That was the idea, besides, is there anything in the military that is not somehow profane? Heh, for us, the BVT was a close relative of the more popularly known, 'Big Green Weenie'. Think I have a post on that somehwere...

Old nfo: That was/is always much appreciated!

Old NFO said...

Murph, I remember talking to a friend during Nam who was a Marine Phantom driver, he told me he was usually low enough to see faces at 500 kts. He said his go/no go was where the white faces were in relation to the frag zone.