Thursday, October 29, 2009

Under Pressure

Just a little OBE right now.
As anyone who has been in the Army more than one day knows, we have a variety of creative and memorable ways to let people know that we are busy. Not just busy, but overwhelmed, “have more tasks than can be humanly accomplished”, busy. Mine has always been that “I’m a bit OBE right now”. I’ve said that before in my previous civilian jobs and got the deer in the headlights expression from people who have no idea what I’m talking about. Of course, OBE stands for “Overcome By Events” and is a good way to let people know that either there is too much going on or the mission failed because, well, it was overcome by events.
Other colorful expressions are “up to my elbows in alligators”, “I’m in the weeds” and “my eyeballs are bleeding”. There are probably as many idioms as there are Soldiers who are busy.
Although I’m not there with them, I can probably guess what the 366th MPAD from Wichita, Kansas, is experiencing right now: they are up to their elbows in alligators. The 366th is the unit that is scheduled to replace us in early December. We’ve been tracking their progress through pre-mobilization for several months now and I am now proud to report that they have arrived safe and sound at their mobilization station, Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Anyone who has been tracking our progress through this deployment recognizes Dix as the mob station that we went through last January. It’s the final stop before the long plane ride to Kuwait and then into Baghdad. You might remember some of our trials and tribulations: medical examinations; more paperwork than there are trees in Jersey; more training; and of course, that glorious 4-day pass (I went to New York City, remember?).
But I also remember the first week and how much work it was for the command team, i.e. myself, my XO, and my 1SG. We had checklists and memorandums and multiple meetings (that always seemed to be scheduled at the same time). We were supposed to not only be in 3 places at one time but weren’t given the luxury of a vehicle to get us there. I remember walking to some of the required appointments…in 20 degree weather in the snow. I also remember the long days for the 3 Soldiers who had to make up the training that they missed at RTC the previous October (go read those blogs too).
But what I remember the most about that month spent at Dix in January was how the unit finally came together and worked as a whole, preparing for war. Although we’d been training together for almost 4 months, none of that brought us together as a unit like the time spent at Ft. Dix. Perhaps because we realized it was finally “real”. Ft. Dix was the end of the training…the next time we were out in a convoy it wouldn’t be through the fake village on the outskirts of Dix but instead the mean streets of Baghdad. The next time that we put on our “battle rattle” it would be to protect us from real bombs and bullets, not blanks and smoke grenades.
And that’s where the 366th is right now. Dealing with the realization that the end of training is near and that real life in a war zone is about to begin. But don’t worry, the 211th is a fine group of battle-weary veterans who have been shot at, blown up, run through the ringer, mistreated, misaligned and generally worn out. We’ve had our vehicle stolen, our laptops confiscated, our convoys/flights cancelled and our building almost hit by a mortar. We’re done. But we’ll be waiting for you guys at BIAP with a truck and a smile. We’ll ensure you are fully prepared to face anything that the mission can throw at you. So, get ready…here it comes.

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