Sunday, August 28, 2005


Well, the past couple of days have been spent either in a class room or on a range. So, not a whole lot of explaination to do there. Our camp has kinda mellowed out a bit - no more prayer calls 5+ times a day. The training we're taking tries to acclimate you to the culture, so we'd have different songs running throughout the day.

So this lack of tunes from the speakers, makes for an improved day and morning! I continue to get good vibes from the soldiers I'm working with - many of them seem to really respect me and they seem to take my advice seriously.

While cohesion continues to develop, we draw ever closer to movement to the objective. This Labor Day I'm considering spending a little time in Philly. A couple guys and myself are going to rent a car and wheel our way over to the city. Scope the sights and sounds, have a couple drinks, kick back and relax before our cycle intensifies and continues to shuffle us overseas.

I gotta get going now, back into the woods for an evening filled with adventure and war games.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Finally, I sport the military fashion of the year

So I've managed to get my DCU's - a photo will follow in a couple days in another post - and now I look and feel like I'm apart of the team. Or something like that.

My time in the field has been minimized of late because I've so many administrative actions to take care of - what they are is more paperwork-shuffle related than direct, hands-on, computer work.

So, "it's a good thing," to quote family guy.

Well I must go. I'll post later, back to the woods for an evening with bugs. later all!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

More training, because I can't get enough!

In the woods after some Individual Movement Technique (IMT) training

So I've made it back in after a couple weeks in the woods. It's been ok. We've done a lot of what I'd consider "basic skills" training. So, that's amounted to a lot of crawling under barbed wire, shooting with a cornucopia of weapons, and some tactical stuff.

Beyond that, I've been working more communications issues, I had to play platoon leader for a couple days. They called it Convoy Commander - well when all the senior NCOs and junior officers are nowhere in sight, the formula calls for moi to run the show.

One of the soldiers in my adopted platoon told me the other day, "LT, you're the shit". I got a bit quiet and looked at the kid - he's about 18 - and started laughing as I asked him "Why is that?"

So, that was a good moment. I've also noticed a lot of other soldiers think they're being micro managed and I guess they feel I've been really liberal with my management style.

Well here's a picture of yours truely.

The Signaleer

Now that I've covered the past couple weeks, I must depart for more office-style work for my organization. Tonight, back to the woods! Until next time - stay tuned to this page.


Saturday, August 13, 2005

2.5 hour clean up.

We've had a rough week in the woods. There's more to come so I'm in dropping a line real fast while my clothes get washed. We had a couple of heat injuries this week (2) and beyond that everyone's spirits are up. The training is pretty good. Very physically challenging for the entire group which is a bonus. It's pretty hot up here. The temps are in the upper 90's but with the humidity it feels like 110/120. So, it's been heat-category 5 (the max limit) all week for us.

Beyond that the soldiers are starting to come together as a team. It's always a real treat to see that happen.

The photos below are from my dad's cell phone. He took them during our going away ceremony.

This shot is of our company forming up for the speech by our Battalion Commander and a couple of Generals.

Yours truely with mom.

Okay, that's it for now, I'm off to check on my laundry, get changed, and get my hind parts back to the woods!


Monday, August 08, 2005

Going out for a couple weeks

Well, I'll be in and out of the internet access area on post for the next couple of weeks. We're on the move here and it looks like I'll be spending a lot of time in the woods.

I'd suggest checking in once a week. I can probably promise atleast 1 post every week or 2 until August.

We've been busy doing more weapons orientation type stuff. Did some urban warfare training - now I know the difference between movies and reality when it comes to checking buildings. It's been a pretty solid experience so far.

Take care everyone and I'll post when possible.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Rex Quan Do

NBC - not the TV station

Last weekend we conducted Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC - yeah, not the TV station) training.

That consisted of learning how to use a chemical suit (see right - those poor souls are in what we call MOPP Level 4) suit, learn how to properly use our chemical protective mask, we learned how to properly use chemical identification tape, and how to properly apply charcoal pads to our bodies.

The rest of the weekend was spent in briefings, trying to coordinate some type of radio training for my soldiers and the battalion and getting some supply issues ironed out. So far, I think I've been doing well.

I have photos and will track them down from my Corporal for posting.

Automation Project

I decided to help out the my administrative brethren by writing a little web based application that they can use to track personnel and supply data. Writing software isn't something my job as a staff officer requires me to do. Since everyone has a communications plan and everyone has internet access, I've been left with a lot of free time on my hands... long story short, I started thinking...

I noticed that our administrative personnel have been having problems with getting their work completed in short periods of time. I asked them about what types of issues they've been faced with and it seems like they burn a lot of time shifting through some of the Excel files on their computers. Then they started asking me a lot of questions about Excel. I couldn't answer most of them because they seemed to be asking me questions related to a database problem. Then someone said Access.

Since I lack user experience with Access, I thought about all the instances that I saw people using Access and it just seemed to be really painful. Combined with what admin wanted - it started to sound like a custom software product might be more appropriate. So, I started exploring...

I did some research on this problem and I managed to dig up a couple of really cool Python modules that can read/write Excel files.

With this source in my hand I started writing code that would process infomation from Excel spreadsheets, correlate it, and then dump it all into a database for simple queries, editing, and output (in Excel format no less!). I think it'll help them increase their efficiency b/c a lot of their problems are related to information consoldiation.

They have too many Excel files floating around and they lack a good (and by "good" I mean "quick") mechanism for tackling report generation. Python's been really great for this project and getting it to work on Windows has been really painless!

Ok, so now that I managed to geek out in this purportedly non-geek blog... the time has come to discuss...

Rex Quan Do

On Monday, we were told to be ready to take a 0430 bus ride to a big parade field on this installation. We would be conducting 'Combatives Training'. In that field, we created a massive circle for all the soldiers in my company.

After a couple minutes of confusion, we were introduced to Rex Quan Do. Let me start by saying, this is by no means the man's real name. Nor is it how he introduces himself professionally. My roomate here is another Lieutenant named Curylo. He has christened our instructor with this name. I think it suits the guy. So as it has been spoken, so it shall be - now and forever!

I have no idea why but, the name is funny and notable. I think that's because the instructor shows up wearing a black short sleeve jujitsu gi that has a couple Ranger regiment patches sewn on it along with a Ranger tab and some patches from various martial arts schools.

Our instructor told us he used to participate in the Ultimate Fighting shows that you can catch on pay-per-view. He's refereed for that show a couple of times and despite his robustness he is very fast on his feet and he has a lot of proficency with his material.

We have been conducting this hand-to-hand combat training for about 3 days now with our body armor on. It's kinda tough moving with all of that stuff on but, once you adjust it's not so bad. The training is superb. He's really cut through the basics of fighting in a short order (movement, kicking/stomping, choking, etc) and my experience as a judoka and wrestler seem to have made a name for themselves with the rest of the battalion officership. They seem to think I'm some kind of rock-solid ninja or badass. Yeah, at this point I can imagine a couple of smiles breaking out.

Anyway. The instructor made sure to explain (on many occasions) that fighting for your life and fighting for sport are 2 different things. He's right. He's also managed to show us some interesting 'dirty tricks' that seem to make sense. His emphasis is on pinching in order to loosen up your opponent. Suffice it to say, I now have managed to experience enough pinching and shin kicking over 9 hours of this training to say that I am a battle hardend fighter. Now, if I could only rid myself of these darn bruises - I may actually look like one!

I managed to single myself out the other day at the end of practice. Rex asked if anyone was a wrestler in the crowd and I raised my hand only to notice mine was the only one up. I was then asked to enter into the circle with him from there he had me try a couple single leg take downs at a very slow pace. He showed how to stop those types of moves - his counter consisted of snapping the person's neck when I would normally throw a cross face. He also managed to pinch the hell out of my inner thigh and the under part of my tricep. Not too shabby and I figured the Private First Class that has been the Rex's "dummy" for the week needed a break. I know know that soldier's pain.

In all seriousness he's kept it simple and continues to stress simplicity. I think the guy is a jujitsu artist because many of the techniques he's showing us are similar to the child art of jujitsu - judo. No throws but, they are more take-down/joint/lock oriented.

Tomorrow we start knife fighting for dummies. While Rex was giving us requisette preparation training today I kept remembering Cable Guy. More to the point, the fight scene in the movie at Medieval Times. Fighting music from the Original Star Trek kicked in and I think I had half-way managed to create a joke. One of the company commanders seemed to pick up on it and we had a good laugh on the bus ride back to our billets.

Friday we conduct the ever expected live fighting session
- boy, I'm excited! I will ensure that my Corporal is there with my camera this time to take the photos of this event so that I may capture it in time for posting here later in the week. Speaking of which - I'll be out of the loop for "a while" we're going to be really busy this weekend so keep tracking this site, when things slow down I'll post more about it.