Anyhow, this week was the first week in the field. My initial reaction to the Infantry is this: This job is harder than you realize, and it's just the first week of field training. I mean, we all know it's tough, but it is seriously hard work, in ways that you normally wouldn't even think about. Waking up at 0400 is not even close to the hardest part. In fact, you get acclimated to it rather quickly, and "early to bed, early to rise" is vastly superior to staying up till 2 AM and waking up at noon. You feel better, get more done, and your day seems longer - which is good because that means there's more life for you to live.
We marched a mere FOUR miles to a shooting range with EIGHTY pounds on our backs to start the week off. ((I'll be honest - it nearly broke me in half. By the time we finish this course we'll do a 16 miler.)) Then we spent the week on the range shooting rifles, playing with night vision, and getting used to the field. So yes, I just got paid to shoot rifles for a week.
We lived on the range - literally. We put out our bedrolls, slept, ate, exercised, worked - all on the range in 100+ Georgia heat and humidity. We were not dry for a minute of it. Covered in sweat, grime, sand, dirt, and grass, we spent the week out there. After a while you don't really notice it.
It does wear you down though, in ways you don't think about unless you go through it. For example, think about how often you stand in a day. As in: run a stopwatch for time spent standing, and I guarantee you that we stood about four times the average while in the field. It doesn't seem like much, but even just standing in the heat and humidity of the deep south's summer with a uniform, boots, the body armor, and helmet is tiring. You have to get conditioned. Thus this four to five months of training, which from here on out is all conducted in the field.
Another thing you don't really realize is how soft your hands are. When you work like this, you wake up in the morning and your fingers and hands are just raw. Tying your boots hurts. Manipulating anything small hurts - like the snaps on your rucksack or buttoning buttons. It's kind of like when you've been outside in the cold for a long time and then come inside, except instead of feeling weird and being numb, your hands just feel raw. Your body has to be weathered in order to toughen up.
And this was just five days in the field! As opposed to one year in theater! There was no combat, no life-threatening situations, very little manual labor aside from the march. Just shooting. It's still tough. Tougher than I thought it would be, to be honest.
We marched about a mile and a half back from the range to our HQ with all that gear. As soon as we dropped our gear, we did some PT - three rounds of pull ups, up downs, and squats. Immediately after that we did an hour of combatives, which involves throwing each other to the ground and wrestling around getting even more filthy, if it's possible after a week of field hygiene. RIGHT AFTER rolling around for an hour we went into movements: running tactically across an open field over and over to practice our shooting and moving techniques. By this time the sun was up and joined us for training.
We cleaned weapons and turned them all in only to find that some of the scopes were missing. When this happens, the whole group gets put on lockdown till they are found. So we spent the entire day sitting in the sun, unable to go anywhere, until Cadre could find every single scope. They told us it was their fault they were missing, that some paperwork had been done improperly, but we still all had to wait around till it was taken care of. Finally, at 8PM we were released for the weekend.
Now I have two days to prep before going right back at it.