Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NArmy Training is done... enjoying a little time at home!

The last week or so of N-Army training at McCrady really flew by, it was over before we knew it, and all the whining and complaining (much of it was absolutely well-deserved) came to an end in a flurry of uniforms and equipment crammed into over-stuffed seabags... (I have some pics of all the packing the last night there, but they don't do it justice!)
In a nutshell I'd describe the 3 weeks at McCrady as some really good/valuable training wrapped up in a "hot mess" that is poorly managed by two competing organizations.  The overall experience for the training audience could be much better.  I tried to give some constructive feedback/critique, and I'll do more of that through the NOSC.

But for now... I'm at home!  Woo-hooo!  I get to be home for the holidays, before I fly out to Iraq.  I'm really lucky to have this schedule, and really feel for everyone else in my NIACT class that had to get on a plane for the desert the day after our last training day.  Good luck to everyone! 

I have a bunch of photos/videos to post, I'll upload a few at a time.
Merry Christmas!!

That's McCrady Training Center in my rear view mirror as I leave the base (and a bus full of guys going to the airport right behind me).

Friday, December 11, 2009

the end (of the first step) is in sight...

whew!  that was a fast few days!  It's Thursday night, tomorrow morning we get up at about 3:30am, to start the day with some low light M9 shooting before dawn, then a full day of shooting/training on M16 and other larger weapons.  The last few days have been mostly M-16 firing/qualifications, with a little humvee driving and training, and a few classroom lectures thrown in.  We should be done the middle of next week, and it certainly feels like we're close to the end. The time really has gone by fast - hopefully my time in Iraq will go by even faster and I'll be home before I know it! 
I haven't taken nearly as many pictures as I had hoped to take, but I'll make an effort to really get some pics the rest of the time.
A couple of pics, firing (not me) on the LOMAH range, and me at the range:

Well, really slow internet connection here, and I couldn't get a second photo to load...
Yikes, the helos are flying really low overhead tonight... shaking the barracks pretty good.
Stay tuned for more

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A little "white space"

Quick nap waiting for next medical screen...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We're gonna fire a lot of rounds while here...

We spent a few days this week qualifying on the M-16 and 9mm pistol.  It's a pain to wear all the gear, but pretty good training.  (I really feel for, and have a LOT of respect for, the kids that actually go to battle in all this gear.) 
We'll spend a lot of time on the ranges over the next two weeks, and will have some classroom instruction too on various topics. 
I usually don't have much time each day to jump on the computer, but if you use Skype, try to give me a ring sometime - "Bultar2020".  And once I get over to Iraq, I'd really appreciate an occasional call.  We do have a little time off this weekend, so I get to relax a bit.
Stay tuned for more!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

some training here...

practicing putting on Chem-Bio Defense gear...

and firing the M-16... 

and cleaning the M-16!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

did I say bored??

That didn't last very long!  Sunday night was a rough night of not much sleep with so many loud snorers in the room (about 40 guys in here), and up at 0500 for 0530 formation.  First day was some check in processing, and issue of a couple more bags of gear.  Last night (my 2nd night) I slept a little better, only because I had my iPod cranked up loud enough in earphones to drown out the snoring.  I'm starting with that plan right away tonight, before the snoring even starts (I'd better hurry, one of the loud guys is already going to sleep).
Another early start tomorrow, and I need some sleep, so that's all for now... stay tuned!

At least I was able to swap out my boots yesterday for some that fit!!

Crap, the snoring already started...

Oh, and to answer one question... yes, as many may know, it's common for O-5's (and junior) to have private "rooms" in Iraq, I should have one of those when I get there.  But as a few of us were discussing over dinner tonight, I believe that a lot of the "hardship" here is purposefully exaggerated, to put you through a stressful situation (in a controlled environment) to prepare you for whatever possible stressful situation awaits you in theater.  That might be one reason they call it immersion training. 

Sunrise this morning:

Monday, November 30, 2009


Well, in case you haven't picked up on the recurring theme so far... there's a lot of "down time", otherwise known as white space in this whole process.  We got here to Ft Jackson, SC Saturday morning... only to find out that we really don't have anything to do until Sunday night (about an hour from now).  We're actually staying at McCrady Training Center, which is about 15 miles across the big wooded base from Ft Jackson.
Since I drove down here, I offered to take a few folks into town (Columbia) with me.  I got a room at the Hilton and we went out for dinner nearby.  It was nice to sleep in a nice comfy king size bed with real sheets and pillows!  And the shower this morning was great too!  Now starting tonight I'm in my little bunk bed rack that's barely as long as I am tall, and the showers are the pits.  I guess this is all part of the process of getting us used to the 1-star accommodations in Iraq...
I'm in a barracks with 40 racks, and there are supposed to be 38 of us in here.  There are 4 showers (things could get crazy in the mornings).  There's a dining facility about 100 yards away, and it sounds like most of the time we'll get up, eat, and get on a bus to go over to Ft Jackson proper for training, then back here for dinner, and back to sleep.  I here it's about a 30 min drive over to the other side. 
Time to go over and see what dinner looks like here, then we have our "welcome aboard" at 7pm.  Here are a few pics of what I've seen so far...  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

That's me getting fitted for my gas mask, and the contents of my first (of 4) seabags of uniforms and other gear... 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

1 day of work crammed into 4 days...

yep, you read that correctly... this is a "short" week due to the holiday on Thursday, so we only have 4 days instead of the usual 5.  Which means we only have 4 days to complete about 1 day of work instead of 5 - whew, rough week.   ;)
Well I cleared medical today, so that pretty much means I'm cleared to go on the mobilization... tomorrow I'll finish up changes to my pay records to put me on active duty, then after I pick up my new uniforms on Friday I'm off to Ft Jackson, SC to start the Aaaarrrrmy training!  That will be about 3 weeks of what they call "immersion training" - that pretty much means they try to make it difficult for us on purpose, so we're prepared for the typical difficult conditions in theater.  So we'll have a bunch of guys sharing big tents or barracks, sleeping on cots, showers and heads a short walk away, long days of carrying around all your combat gear and weapons, etc...  I imagine we'll be up early in the mornings (5am?), spend a lot of time on the ranges firing M-16 and 9mm, and some time hiking through the woods, and pretty much be really tired when we get back to our barracks and go to sleep. 
But I'll let you know how it goes when I get there!
And here's another request for anyone using Skype to give me a call sometime - that might be my primary means of communicating from Baghdad, and I'd like to make sure it works well before I leave. 
(This pic shows how we spent most of the past 2 days...)

Friday, November 20, 2009

it begins...

Well, I'm in Norfolk, just finished checking in at the NOSC (that's Navy Operations Support Center) to start my mobilization.  There were about a dozen other folks with similar dazed and confused looks on their faces also checking in today.  I talked with a few of them, they're headed to all sorts of places, and I feel kind of lucky that I'm going to Camp Victory to work on something that is at least related to what I usually do in the Navy Reserves. 
Today was another day (ok, half day) of kinda frustrating administrative requirements and waiting around for someone else to work on checklists, forms, etc.  (Maybe I just have a low tolerance level for this kind of bs... I think I'm really going to be tested over the next year!  ;)  We're done for the weekend  until reporting to NMPS (Navy Mobilization Processing Site) on Monday morning.  (Kinda funny, we show up to start active duty on a Friday, "work" for a few hours, then have the weekend off... why not just start on the Monday morning?) 
The weather is nice, I'll enjoy a nice weekend, and get back to the "processing" (medical, shots, uniforms, etc.) on Monday. 
If you use Skype, give me a ring sometime, "Bultar2020". 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aaaaarmy Training Sir!

It's Tuesday night, and Thursday morning I drive down to Norfolk to go on active duty on Friday...  I'll spend a week there (that's Thanksgiving week...) doing more admin stuff, medical, get uniforms, etc., before heading to Ft Jackson for some "N-Army" training (is that pronounced "Narmy"?), that would be the Army training all Navy folks go through before heading to the desert.  Hopefully I'll be able to post frequent updates while I'm there to tell you all about it!  (I hope it's just like what Bill Murray went through in Stripes!)  I'll be there about 3 weeks, and then I'm getting a good deal among good deals as I get to come back home for Christmas and New Years!
More soon, stay tuned...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Could they make this any harder?

I'm down to just 2 weeks before I report for my MOB, and I have to say, it's been pretty frustrating lately with all the admin requirements...  Lots of paperwork, that really doesn't seem to matter much, but has to be done anyway (and then once I get to NMPS I'll have to do some of it all over again!).  And anyone that has ever had to use NKO knows how difficult - and time-wasting - that can be, but let me tell you... some of the courses you have to take for a mobilization are pretty bad (content and presentation, on top of the impossible-to-use interface).  I'm not usually one to publicly bash anyone/thing, but what a mess.  I'm actually looking forward to being in Iraq - just to have all the preparations and training behind me.  Of course I don't want to leave home, and wish I had a lot more time at home with my wife and friends before I go!!
Well, I'd better get back to the NKO training...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

a trip to San Diego before I go?

So, with the change to my orders (I don't have to report to China Lake until Jan, instead of mid-Dec), I won't be making a visit to San Diego mid-December like I planned...   It's great that I get to spend the holidays at home before I head out to Iraq, but I would still like to visit friends in San Diego before I go.  We're trying to figure out if we can make a trip to SD over New Year's Eve, and that weekend - and we're looking for ideas and input on making a trip out then... any thoughts?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

a new plan...

Time is flying by, but there's a new plan... I finally found out what my schedule is supposed to be (well, at least some of the details).  I still report to the NOSC in Norfolk to start my mobilization on Nov 20th, but after I finish my "Army" training in South Carolina I don't go right over to Iraq.  Instead, I'll report back to the NOSC for 2-3 weeks (over the holidays, and I can take some leave), then to China Lake early January, and to Iraq a couple of days later.  So I get so spend Christmas and New Year's at home!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stick Me Baby One More Time...

I'm still here in Norfolk supporting a couple of C2F exercises (part of my normal work with the Reserves)... and have been trying to get ahead on some of the preparation for my mobilization.  So, I've been taking care of some of the medical requirements - and let me just say this, I'm not an IV drug user, no matter how many needle holes you see in my arms...  Yikes!  drawing blood (missing the vein), shots for small pox, anthrax, hepatitis, Flu shot, PPD, TB (or was that TD?), Typhoid, and who knows what else.  You can't get all those at once (I guess it's bad to shoot more than one live virus into your body at a time).  So, I'll be back for more next month!
Meanwhile, I'm still finding out more about what I'll be doing, my schedule, etc.  Stay tuned for more!

Friday, September 11, 2009

what are those 7 steps?

I don't remember if it's 5, or 7, steps... but I kinda feel like I'm in "acceptance" now - after the initial shock. (Not that the steps of coping with grief really apply here!) Anywho...

Whew! Lots of info rolling in now... and lots to think about, and do to get ready. So the billet I'm going to fill is the OIC of a small detachment in Baghdad, at Camp Victory. It is a "Tactical Dissemination Module" job. The short description of that is that it's a way for ground forces to communicate with aircraft, to pass along call for fires, targeting information, etc. (you can find some info through online searches). And there's lots of info online about Camp Victory too - I'll hold off on posting anything about that until I have some first-hand experience! The folks I'll be working with are already talking about a possible change in my reporting date, so we'll see when I actually have to go (it might be later).
Well, I'm in Norfolk now, working on some C2F exercises that I already had on my schedule, so will be busy with that for next 2-3 weeks, but I'll add to this when I can. But once I get going with the MOB, I'll try to post often!

(Oh yeah, for friends in San Diego - I think I should have time for a quick visit before I go, but it depends on how/if my schedule changes. As is, I should be able to get to SD around 18-20 Dec...)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It begins... (What? I'm going to Iraq??)

Well, here's the start of my blog about my mobilization back to active duty, and tour in Iraq. I just got "the" phone call last week, Sep 3rd, and still don't know much about what I'll be doing, and my head is swimming with all the different things I need to take care of before I go...
Here's a little of what I do know - I report for duty in Norfolk, VA on Nov 20th, head to Fort Jackson, SC for some training, then out to China Lake, CA mid-December. Beyond that I don't know my schedule yet.
The "Noble Eagle" billet that I'm going to fill is "TDM Watchfloor, Officer in Charge"... no, I really don't know what that means either! (I think TDM stands for Tactical Dissemination Module - do a search for that.)
Stay tuned, I'll post more info when I have it, and plan to document the entire experience here.
(I hope to have easy access to my email while gone,, and I plan to set up a Skype account.)