30 August 2008

The upper body workout of Satan

The Interceptor Body Armor is good stuff. I've got a couple of wicked chunks of shrapnel at home on a shelf I pulled out of mine last tour. I am a believer. There's always word of something newer and better out there, but this stuff is nothing to turn up one's nose at.

However...in the ongoing attempt to make even combat as safe as is physically possible, and, in fact, to let nobody ever die for a lack of equipment, the Army has added, by my count, six pieces of additional crap to the IBA since the last time I had one. And, since they are new to us, and since this is a training environment, we are staring out by wearing every single piece of the system.


When I last did this, we wore the vest, plates, collar and throat pieces (well, gunner wore the throats). There was some other arm stuff I wore when riding in the turret, but most of our guys opted for mobility and skipped that when they were dismounted. And pretty much nobody ever wore the much-maligned "pecker protector."

It's a fine line between protection and agility, and it gets sorted out as time goes on. But as for the first day back in this system, attaching all available bits and pieces had us all grumbling this morning. Well, wearing all available pieces had us grumbling this morning. Attaching all the pieces had us grumbling last night.

"How the Hell does this..."

"What in the fuck is the supposed to be for?"

"How many damn pieces are there here?"


A bitching Soldier, they say, is a happy Soldier.

29 August 2008

Free Stuff!

Okay - that might not be entirely accurate. Crap the Army gives me is not, I suppose, technically "free." You've paid for it, and, with only a one-year exception, so have I.

But I got a big bag of cool stuff, and I didn't have to fork over any cash, so that's good enough for me. We call it RFI - Rapid Fielding Initiative.

The long and short of it is - all the cool stuff that's out there that hasn't had time to filter through the Army's procurement and distribution process is simply handed to us during mobilization.

We kicked the old ALICE pack and frame to the curb, and got this adorable pair.

Aren't they cute? On the right we have the Great Big MOLLE Rucksack. Beats the heck out of the old metaland-pipe frame on the ALICE packs we were using. It's also supposedly a big improvement on the briefly-attempted plastic ALICE frame that seems to have crashed and burned shortly after release. One the left we have the companion assault pack, which can be attached to Giant Ruck or carried separately.

For carrying stuff one might want faster access to, they really hooked us by providing this year's premiere ensemble - the MOLLE Rifleman's Kit.

Although I'm not sure entirely why we were issued eight zillion rifle magazine pouches, it's a nice setup. However, experience in an M1114 teaches valuable lessons, and so the interesting part is minimizing the "pieces of flair" to keep one's sides and back more or less clear. I have a much easier time envisioning a requirement to unass my truck at a high rate of speed without hanging up than I do envisioning a situation in which I need 360 rounds and can't get to a fellow soldier or my vehicle.

We also have a Giant Pile of Extreme Cold Weather clothing, but that picture didn't turn out very well, and who wants to look at a giant heap of long underoos?

My personal highlight was the part where we chicks each got four desert tan Patagonia sports bras. That's one item we know the supply sergeant won't want back when we come home!

This is a dramatic improvement in issued gear over what I received when I did this in 2005. If we didn't want to use woodland ALICE gear clipped awkwardly to our DCU IBA that time, we had to go out and buy our own stuff. That sucked, and I'm glad we're not doing it any more. They're giving us what we need, at the beginning of the process so we can train with it, and everything matches.

Of course, there are more supply issue evolutions ahead of us, so we'll see how much crap we finally end up with. But if it continues to progress as well as the RFI did, I am prepared to be happily impressed.

28 August 2008

All fun

all the time.

I've executed another move, and am back at the Groundhog Capital of the Eastern Seaboard.

We've made the jump from pre-mobilization to actual mobilization. Which means that things are about as annoying and confusing as can be imagined. They will remain annoying as long as we're here, but the confusion should ease in a day or so.

I got another anthrax shot today, narrowly passed a hearing test (I was sitting next to some LTC with a very active digestive tract, which didn't help me trying to catch the tones), and listened to several excruciating briefings.

Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen. However, it's not all dreary from that perspective. In my next post, I'll tell you about RFI - Rapid Fielding Initiative - in which process we receive a giant bag of really cool stuff.

25 August 2008


for all the kind words. It sucks the big one that the furry critters in our lives have such short lifespans in comparison to ours. But dog people (and, yes, cat people too), know that going in.

The saving grace of this happening right now is that things are very busy, so I haven't had too much down time.

Again, thanks for your support in this crappy time.

24 August 2008

Sad day

We lost Casey today.

After a period of decline and a couple of scary days, she finally reached the point where mercy was the only option.

So I drove home from the Reserve Center (crying), and up to the vet (crying). Fortunately, the Mister handled the drive back (crying).

I've not had to do that myself, and it is truly one of the godawful things about being a grownup.

I've always been a fan of the idea that if there is any kind of Heaven, it involves our dogs, and that they are probably waiting for us in some sunny field, chasing squirrels and rolling in the grass. I did have to modify that a little for Casey, since her heaven would, based on her criminal record, probably feature black children on bicycles, riding slowly enough to catch.

Good dog. Good dog.