Archive for the ‘Pre-Deployment’ Category

Just an hour ago, my platoon returned to our barracks at Ft. McCoy from a 7 day Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX).  For it, we took all the training we’ve received over the past month and applied it to our mission (Horizontal construction).  I was put in charge of my platoon’s job site which was 100 meters of HESCO bastions.

I had to organize everything from requesting the equipment we needed, to planning the convoys out to our job site (on a FOB or Forward Operating Base) and security at the site where we could get the dirt to fill the HESCOs. 

Needless to say, I was very busy.  Along with all this, we had to deal with OC’s (graders) throwing “injects” at us where we’d have LN (local nationals = Iraqis) coming up to us on the job site for various reasons, indirect fire (mortars) and riots.  They tied the entire week together where we eventually had a Sheik (chief) from the local village involved after one of our dump trucks had a “vehicle accident” with a LN from his village.  He got upset with how we treated the victim and then himself.  So the mortars came more often until my platoon leader sat down in a meeting at the Sheiks house. 

A little background info on my platoon leader: he just returned last year from Afghanistan where he dealt with LN’s there and found out what they needed.  So he has a lot of experience with dealing with the locals.  Over allwere very impressed with how he dealt with the LNs and especially the Sheik.  We all feel very lucky to have him leading us.  Actually, I feel lucky to be with everyone in the platoon.  We were the shinning light of the battalion throughout this entire exercise.  When other platoons and companies were getting fed up with the BS that was coming down and losing motivation, we just kept driving on.  The OCs (as well with all the trainers we’ve had over the past month) said we’re among the best they’ve seen come through this mobilization process.  

Here are a few pictures of our past week:

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Thanks AP!  And happy belated Mother’s day, Mom!!  I love you!

We’ve been back here in Wisconsin for about two weeks and I guess its time to update this.  Not too much has been happening.  We’ve started more training, received more gear and clothing than we know what to do with and started learning how to put up with one another for a year.  So far, these guys seem to be better than the last group I went overseas with.  They are also a lot better at basic soldier tasks such as weaponry, first-aid and working together.  All great things to see at this point. 

We currently have a day of rest after we finished a section of gunnery range early.  Everywhere we go, the cadre have been telling us that we’re one of the best units they have seen come through in  along time.  The past two days of gunnery were for the gun truck crews where we’d drive down a lane on a live fire range, identify targets, and shoot them.  Roughly 90% of us actually scored high enough to qualify on the cavalry scout gunnery qualification range (if that means anything to you).  With everything we do as a platoon and company, we set the standard high for the rest of the battalion to follow.  Everyone here has been thoroughly impressed with everything we’ve done.

Other things that are going on are classes for Army Combatives (close quarters combat), Combat Life Saver (CLS: second level first-aid) and platoon training on our construction equipment.  All around, we’re keeping busy, trying to get the younger, greener soldiers squared away before we take them to the sand box.  Most everyone just wants to go over there now and get the job started. 

As always, I include a few pictures of what we’ve been up to.

Also, the following link is from the previous three weeks of training we had up here:

My time back home is almost up and soon I’ll be heading back to lovely Wisconsin…  We’ll be there for an unknown amount of days before heading to Iraq.  I’ll try to update a few more times before I finally leave the country.  

As far as the past week is concerned, I’ve done nothing but fatten myself on all the “good” food I’ll miss and hang out with friends and family.  If I wasn’t able to see you, I’m sorry.  I was only here for a limited time and I wish I could spend more time with everyone.  For everyone I got to hang out with; it was real, it was fun and I guess I would say it was real fun!  I got to spend some time with the newer part of my immediate family, the Leimbach’s, on Easter Sunday for a delicious meal.  Nick, my bro-in-law was even there, so it worked out that both the deploying soldiers in this new family could come together on Easter.  

Other than that, I’ve just been enjoying the last peaceful time I have.  Everyone has made it very wonderful.  

5 April 09

Author: Jon

I have to start out by saying that the past three weeks were the best training I have ever received in the Army since Basic Combat Training.  Three weeks of learning about and firing every weapon we may come across as well as learning the TTPs (tactics techniques and procedures) of the enemy and our own forces that are currently being used in the theatre of operations.  As well as being put on what the army calls “lanes” and being tested against OPFOR (opposition forces), basically role players in real life scenarios.  They truly test you on all the knowledge and skills taught those three weeks as well as your ability as a leader.  

The very last day of training we combined all our training to do a route clearance operation over a 15 km (sorry the army uses the metric system) road where we had to stop at a friendly village and gather intel on another, hostile village.  In the first village we found out there was two POIs (persons of interest) and a weapons cache in the second one.   From that, since I was the convoy commander of six trucks and 30 personnel, I had to plan what amounts to an assault on the second village and snatch the two POIs and blow up the weapons cache without killing every living thing in the village.   While my plan didn’t go as I had conceived it, we where able to go in with about half the soldiers as I wanted and meet the objectives while only sustaining one friendly injury and minimal civilians killed.  In truth, all got what they deserved ( two of the three civilians killed had grenades/IEDs on them and the last one, well… he was being an asshole to people assault rifles, as well as being in the group who had the grenades/IEDs) .  After the village was cleared and we rolled out, we pulled over for an AAR (after action review) and the OTCs (graders) told us that was the best they had seen in a long time.  The two groups that had gone through before us that day had been nearly wiped out as they had just driven into the middle of the village.  (Those two groups are not in my company nor battalion)

After that, we encountered a VBIED (vehicle borne improvised explosive device or car bomb for those that don’t love acronyms) and ambush.  Again, the graders said we did an outstanding job of eliminating the threat, treating wounded and recovering immobilized vehicles.  

Lastly, was what the graders call the “big show”.  And it was…  I’ll just say this to save time; it involved a civilian van on the side of the road with a fake injured civilian, a three room-5 man bunker, 5 IEDs, 2 enemy snipers and a choke point on the road.  After the bunker was discovered, it was a shit show.  Explosions going off all over the place, machine guns firing from both sides, soldiers being “wounded” and mixed civilian and enemy personnel seemingly everywhere.  It was probably the hardest combat environment I can imagine…  and the soldiers with me did exactly what they were suppose to.  While a team moved on and destroyed the snipers, the rest assaulted the bunker, employing smoke grenades and simulated frag grenades, covering each other while bounding forward.  The OPFOR told us it was the first time they were confused as to what was going on and they ambush convoys from the same location every cycle.   

I say all this to give my friends and family the peace of mind knowing that the soldiers I’m going over with have been through the best training possible and then have been tested in conditions as near as you can get to combat.  And we came out of the worst they could throw at us smelling like roses.  Actually we smelt like BO, gun powder and fuel (there were a few pyrotechnics), but you get my drift.

In any case, I’ll be home for about a week visiting friends and getting my affairs in order.  So if your in b’creek during the week give me a call and if your in c’bus this weekend, so will I.  As I will try to do every time, below are some pictures of what I’ve been doing:

25 Mar 09

Author: Jon

Sorry for the delay in my post, but it’s hard to get internet access here in lovely Ft. McCoy, WI.  Not the ideal place for spring break, but it will do.  So far, we’ve been in classes and briefs perparing us for the upcoming deployment.  I’ve included pictures below showing some aspects of our daily life.  As of now, we’ve had classes and gotten to fire all the weapons we will be taking.  This includes the M9 Baretta 9mm pistol, M16 5.56mm assault rifle (actually I have the shorter version M4), M249 automatic rifle (light maching gun), M240 medium maching gun, M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun, M40 automatic grenade launcher and the M203 single shot gernade launcher.  In other words, we’ve been having a great time.  There has been quite of bit of the usual Army BS along with some more than usual BS that can’t really be helped with us joining a new battalion.  My squad (13 soldiers under me) is really coming together as a team and that makes this a whole lot easier and much more fun.  I’ll stop trying to describe one and a half weeks in one paragraph and hope the pics help.

Yesterday, Nick Leimbach married my sister at Peace Lutheran Church in Beavercreek.  It was a wonderful ceremony with many friends and family members.  Because Nick is now being called up for deployment to Iraq, they pushed the wedding forward from Oct 09 to yesterday.  They planned it in two days, an unimaginable feat except that it actually happened.  I’ve put up a few pictures of the ceremony and dinner afterwards.

Nick and Amanda exchanging vows.

Nick and Amanda exchanging vows.

nick and amanda cutting the cake.

Nick and Amanda cutting the wedding cake.

Giving their toasts and thanks.

Nick and Amanda giving their toast and thanks.

12 Mar 2009

Author: Jon

So I’ve finally caught up with the other 21st century cynics and have my own blog.  Hopefully I won’t bitch too much on here, though.  It’s main purpose is to let everyone who wants to know how I’m doing in Iraq.  I’ll post pics and video occasionally, when I have the Internet and time to do so.  Otherwise, pics and video may be delayed as I snail mail them back to my website admin, who I’d like to thank.  Nice work AP!!

In any case, this is my last day at OSU till AU10.  And I’m procrastinating…  Tomorrow I have my sister’s wedding, then moving all my stuff into storage the next day.  Finally, Sunday I ship off to training before mobilization (mob).  And that’s the last time you’ll read about what I’m going to be doing in the future.  For security purposes it’s best not to post that kind of info on the internet…  I’ll just keep it to what I’ve done.

Back to not finishing these projects…