By David Hardt
David Hardt serves with Fort Lewis's 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker) in Baghdad. His column appears weekly here and in the Fort Lewis Ranger newspaper.
Preparing for combat entails the highest degree of attention to detail. Everyday for the last two laborious weeks, Charlie Companies vehicle squads have relentlessly worked fervently to get the Stryker variants combat ready. Having been on a vehicle squad last tour for a while, I can fully appreciate the long hours and sleepless nights that come with the job. While fixing the Strikers on occasion the men take breaks, relax, and shoot the breeze. During breaks, the squads always seem to find something creative to do. This time since the wind was blowing, the men decided to make a kite. This kite would be nothing like any other kite that I have seen. The men used three broke down meal ready to eat boxes, one white trash bag, number of hefty tie downs, 5-5o cord, coloring markers for design and hundred mile an our tape for stability. After 15-minutes of infantry creativity the kite, which the men named the Kuwaiti bat out of hell, flew gracefully high into the blue sky. Little things like this improve camaraderie among the men.
During week the whole brigade, gathered for the uncovering of the colors. This event had everyone awaking at 0300 in the morning, for a 0400 ceremony. As we walked from the tent to the formation area, I noticed that many men seemed to be walking like zombies through the desert – it was rather comically. Our company formed up and patiently waited for the ceremony to start. I unfortunately always seem to find my self behind the formation, so of course I could not hear a word of the speech. The uncovering of the flags ceremony concluded just in time before the sun started to make things uncomfortable. The rest of the day, the platoon squad leaders conducted classes such as, first responder class, 9-line medical evacuation and conclude with understanding ROE and applying strict discipline while in compromising Situations.
Everyone has a job to do in the platoon, presently I'm the communication person. If you have ever had worked with radios you would know that when one thing goes wrong, there is always more to come. The task this time; get the trucks radios filled then conduct a radio check in 30 minutes. OK, now that is easy to do, but when you have a whole company doing the same thing, you must except that something will go wrong. One of the requirements of the RTO is to be proactive. Personally, I like working on my own, so this job suits me well. Before I joined the Army my strong suit was teaching history and coaching basketball, now I find my self-being an electrician of sorts.
8:30 pm rolls round and all the C co trucks are on line. I gather the vehicle squads together and conduct the communications brief. “Ok guys this is what needs to be facilitated; drivers turn the power on in the trucks, Vehicle commanders prep radios for my fills, as well, lets get it done.”
Now in my mind this whole process would be rather simple. Make long night short, everything that could go wrong, went wrong. After running around like a chicken with his head cut off, fixing every problem that could exist, I finally finished 3 hours later
Our stay in this safe haven ended – I am now in Baghad. The days here have gone fast; we have all learned great deal about our selves, and the complexity of living with 80 other men. I would like the supporting families’ members, on the home front to acknowledge the fact, that this is no picnic or vacation, but indeed men overcoming situations and applying warrior ethos in every aspect of there life.