Sunday, August 21, 2011


Be back in two weeks. I'll have to update on this past OPORD week as well as the epicly fail Conan review.

Until then,

/salute world

Friday, August 19, 2011

Movie Log 08: The Change-Up

14) The Change-Up

Basically a married guy and a single guy trade lives for a while and realize that what they had in the first place is great for them. Not too bad for a comedy week.

The movie was actually pretty funny, though sometimes it relied more on shock humor than wit. Overall though, I laughed and had a good time at the movies with this one.

I didn't really get anything out of it though, like I did with, say, PLANET OF THE AWESOME APES... but maybe I purposefully went to the movies this week to escape the dread of my day to day life, not thinking about lessons and morals and such. In retrospect, the moral makes me cringe because it is so relevant: the grass is always greener on the other side, and you'll never be happy then if you can't find a way to be happy now. I could go into it, but it would just make me re-evalute my entire attitude on life, and I'm just not quite ready to be done being miserable. Next week: CONAN ARARAGARAGARGJHAREHGAH!!!!

Yes, that is baby poop.


When I first thought about joining the Army, we were still fighting house to house in Iraq. I thought for sure that that type of fighting was what I would be doing when I finally got into the fight (though now it looks more and more like that might not be the case). MOUT is by far the most fun part of Infantry training, in my opinion, so I was stoked to be doing a full week of it.

Except for of course, that I would be doing it IBOLC style.

To be fair, the training was worthwhile. After going through the usual bs classes on clearing a room and searching a detainee, and then after getting every single NCO's version of the "right way" to do everything you just learned, and then after doing it "wrong" fifty times according to every instructor and being made to do it one more time on account of "your" failures, and after NCO's bickering about who's way is better - we finally got to do some real training.

One of the best parts of the training was the padded suit fighters. We would have to clear a house with OPFOR inside wearing padded suits. We didn't know who was good and who was bad, so we had to react accordingly. The bad OPFOR would rush us and try to take our weapon while the good OPFOR would get down on the ground immediately. We then would have to subdue the guy in the padded suit. We were supposed to go 70% strength and speed, but lets face it, we're all infantrymen. It was 100% or get called out for being weak.

Another excellent training point was clearing a building with "simunitions." Simunitions are basically little paintball bullets that fire out of a real rifle and leave a much more accurate "paint" line on you when hit. The little buggers can hurt, too. I had one hit my hand and break the skin. Clearing a building is completely different with simunitions. Of course, as the most valuable part of our training, it was allocated the least amount of resources and time. We all 15 rounds and one turn through the building and called it done.

The last significant training point for me was the continuous operations aspect. We did a full 24 hours of operations into the morning, fighting our way into the city to take a building, hold the building till morning, and then exfil. I'll be honest: there were moments that I could actually imagine this being Iraq in combat.

All this would have been much more fun if I hadn't already been poisoned by the preceding weeks of fail. Oh well. Barely one month to go....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Movie Log 05-07: Apes and Leadership

So I've been lazy/unmotivated to write, but now I've got something to write about. Here's my blurb about the movies I've seen in the past three weekends:

11) Captain America: hitting people with shields is cool.
12) Cowboys and Aliens: I've already forgotten that I've seen it.
13) Planet of the Apes: SO GOOD. Officially the best movie I've seen since I started the run this summer.

Apes was so good. The entire time, I couldn't help but analyze the leadership qualities of Cesar, the main monkey.The way he brought the Apes together and then kept them together was epic. Let me point out some leadership qualities that I found worthwhile:

1) After Cesar got put into the chimp house, he got beat up by the dominant chimp (we'll call him Grey) during free play. That night when all the chimps were in their cages, Cesar escaped from his cage, released the caged Gorilla, and won the Gorilla's allegiance for freeing him. Then he opened up Grey's cage, brought him out where all the other chimps could see, and made him submit while the Gorilla looked on threateningly. From this point on, Cesar walked and acted like he ran that show, hands down. It wasn't in an obnoxious way, though. It was a forceful way. A forceful, firm constant reminding that he ran the show. Leaders need this attribute.

2) He shared his knowledge with the other monkeys. He was smarter, and so he started teaching the monkeys stuff to make them more powerful. Eventually, he steals the smart-drug and gives it to them all to bring them up to his level. Instead of keeping them low, he brought them up to his level.

3) He shared the spoils, and the responsibility. He made Grey his platoon sergeant, so to speak, and he stole some cookies and made Grey pass them out to the other monkeys. While Grey passed them out, Cesar stood in the middle of them as if to say, "I'm giving you this because I can, not because I have to."

4) He led the attack. He was always out front leading the run through the city. And he fought just as much as everyone else did. When something was about to stop them, he took care of it personally, like that machine gun in the helicopter.

5) He restrained the other monkeys from ripping every human they found apart. He was the moral check on his wild, rampaging horde. He directed their wrath and awesome power while keeping focused on the mission. I had this feeling that being an Infantry platoon leader would be similar to that.

In any case, it was some good movie, the best of the summer so far. Captain Thompson from BYU ROTC always use to make us do leadership analyses on random movies (like the Little Mermaid and such) - I think anyone studying leadership could get some quality lessons from this one.

IBOLC Week 10&11: Platoon STX and More OPORD

Playing some catch up here, but I'll keep it condensed.

Week 10 was in the field doing platoon-level exercises. Up to this point in my military career, I've only done squad-level operations, so this week was a learning experience - although I didn't actually run a mission as a platoon leader. The notable event of this week was the suck. I couldn't believe how much it sucked. Y'know, in ROTC, I always had a blast running operations. The kicker is the two-click movement through wet underbrush to get to the objective, the 48-hour straight operations, the patrol bases that you can't sleep in because you're on security all night... you never get THAT part in ROTC.

During PLT STX week I actually slept right on the ground in the dirt. I was so tired, and only had 45 minutes to sleep, and my sleeping mat was a full 30 meters away... and I just said, forget it. I put my face in the dirt, curled up in  a little ball, and went to sleep barefoot, since I had had wet boots on for about 36 hours at that point. When I woke up, we had a long movement (always with rucksacks) to the next objective. It was wet the entire time, and everyone's feet were soaked. Since the platoon leader was behind schedule, the instructors starting throwing artillery simulators at us - little firecrackers that make the sound of incoming artillery followed by an explosion. Whenever an arty sim hits, you're supposed to run away from it at full speed. We did this four about two hours. When the operation was finally over, we sat around from 1000 to 1600 because trans went to the wrong destination. I was so full of rage I thought I might explode. One of my platoon mates said, "These are the best Americans in the country right here. Who else works this hard?" I was so angry that I replied, "Who works this DUMB?" but he's right. No one works harder and through more suck than the Infantry.

The next week was another OPORD. It went much smoother this week, since we knew what we were doing. We planned and operation for an urban fight where we had to seize a building in order to allow follow-on platoons to seize the next buildings. As we were reading the initial operation order, I was getting pumped. Planning the mission was actually engaging, and I realized once again the unique role of officers.

Next week we'll be in the field conducting Urban Operations. Everyone in the platoon decided that they wanted to leave our sleeping pads behind, so for some reason we're going to leave the whole 10 ounces of weight behind and sleep on concrete and dirt for the next week. Awesome.