Friday, September 17, 2010

Mid September

What did we do this week for the basic officer leadership course, you ask? Thanks for your excellent question. I wrote a few blogs back that I wouldn’t give you a blow-by-blow account of my experience here at Fort Jackson, but I don’t have much else to talk about these days. In the early part of the week we took an exam on maintenance and supply. Honestly, any biped mammal with a pulse could ace the frickin’ thing. The instructor practically spoon fed us the questions and answers. The rest of the week involved convoy training. These last two days gave me the most important training I’ll receive, because if I ever get deployed overseas again I’ll most likely be a part of a convoy running a mission from point A to point B.

On Wednesday we got some exposure to the blue-force tracker known as FBCB2, a GPS-based computer software that allows soldiers to keep track of friendly and enemy positions on the battlefield. I had received a modicum of exposure to it when I trained as an intelligence analyst at Fort Huachuca five years ago.  Thursday was probably everyone’s favorite day, as we simulated the convoy experience with a virtual scenario on the computer. We each got to manipulate our “avatar” to drive, run, shoot, and the like. Today was a long hot day in full battle rattle. We went out in teams of twelve to run a convoy in four Humvees.  What few insights I gained these last few days might save my life or the life of my battle buddy some day!  Granted, a training exercise isn't the real thing, and experiential knowledge trumps academic knowledge any day of the week.  Who knows if I'll draw upon this four-Humvee convoy experience as a confidence builder and frame of reference downrange?

I should also mention that we did a lot of running this week—about 12 miles on Thursday morning, at least for me and the class leader who went back for stragglers.  My classmates are great, by the way; I haven't yet come across a bad banana in the bunch.  The contrast between us and a class that we had to pair up with last week for weapons qualification was considerable.  Despite our diverse backgrounds, we're all helping one another.  Too often cliques start to emerge and sometimes people group together according to race. It's just part of our hard-wiring.  Serendipitously, this hasn't been the case for our class yet. Nice.

I’ll be spending my fourth weekend here working out, reading, and writing.  I'll give some thought to the courses I'm scheduled to teach this spring semester: two sections of early modern Europe and two sections of women in Western Civilization.  I've taught these courses before, but I'm always trying to improve them.  Perhaps I'll venture outside the base tomorrow or Sunday.  And where will I go? A coffee shop and Wal-Mart, most likely. I lead an exciting life, no?  Heretofore I've lived a rather solitary existence on the weekends; it's a restful time to re-energize myself for the week.  Autumn is around the corner.  I can't wait! (I think I'm going to be a princess for Halloween this year.)