Monday, September 22, 2008

In The Field

Our pre-Iraq training has moved to the next phase: "FOB Victory". The First Army headquarters at Ft. Dix has constructed a full-sized "Forward Operating Base", or "FOB", out in the forests of New Jersey. This FOB is supposed to resemble in every way an actual US Army base in Iraq or Afghanistan: trailer showers, port-a-johns, concertina wire, defensive perimeter, tent barracks, bomb shelters, guard towers, etc.

Mobilizing units spend 5 days living on the FOB, taking classes in Arabic language & culture, doing field exercises (traffic control points, small-unit infantry tactics, personel & vehicle contraband searches, etc.), and just generally living the FOB life. They even have a loudspeaker broadcasting the Muslim "Call to Prayer" 5 times a day in Arabic. Eerie!

One of the few saving graces of being a deployed Army Reservist (if you can overlook the long hours, the low pay, being separated from your wife and children for months on end, and the whole "getting shot at" thing) is the bonding within your platoon. If you are lucky, your unit rapidly gels into a fraternity-like group, a social dynamic that is difficult to recapture outside of college.

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