Friday, January 20, 2006

The Second Week of Training

We have just completed our second (and final) week of training at Ft. Jackson.

On Monday, we had a weapons refresher training, which included reorientations on the M-16, M9, M240, .50 Cal, Mark-19, and SAW. We also learned "Reflexive Firing" Drills, in which you fire at targets of opportunity by raising the rifle from the "Low Ready Position" (muzzle of the M-16 down, butt adjacent to the upper chest) to a firing position. This drill emphasizes speed of fire over precision, and is a better simulation of real-life firing than shooting from a prepared position.

On Tuesday, for only the second time, I managed to zero (aligning my sights) my M-16 in the minimum number of rounds possible. Then on Wednesday, I shot a 33 of 40 on the qualification range, a higher score than my best effort while on active duty. (And this despite the fact my 100-meter target was effectively camoflagued by the late afternoon shadow that fell across my firing lane). I still am short of being an "expert" marksman, but I shot well above the Company average, and am somehow becoming a better shot as I get older.

Part of me thinks this must be a by-product of maturity, and that I am no longer rushing my shots, breathing correctly, or jerking the trigger. But I also think that it has something to do with what is at stake in this training. During the Reflexive Fire drills I had perhaps my deepest realization to date that I could find myself in combat in the near future, and be forced to make split-second decisions on whether or not to fire my weapon. And whereas it was possible to coast as a lieutenatnt with less than perfect knowledge of various technical matters, now it is critical that I know how to man and trouble shoot all the heavy weapons systems.

We concluded training with classes and training on convoy and urban operations. It was good training, but once again, only a fraction of what we will need to know and be proficient at before deployment to Iraq. Tomorrow I am off to Ft. Bragg, NC, for a one-month course on Civil Affairs conducted by the Special Operations Command. I do not know if this represents a significant change in my eventual duty position or not, but like most of the other soldiers and officers here, I am eager to get to Iraq and begin performing my mission.