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October 27th

I am now the future platoon leader of 3rd PLT, Alpha TRP, 1-40th CAV, 4th BDE (Airborne), 25th ID.

I got an email from my future Troop Commander at Ft. Richardson this week.  He seems like a pretty good guy and I'm RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED to get there and get to work.

Here's an excerpt from his email that gives a pretty good idea of what I'll be doing.  I broke down the acronyms and unfamiliar terms in the parentheses for you pogues out there.

 
Understand the RSTA Battalion (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Target Acquisition) concept.  You will maneuver a 6 vehicle platoon.  You have TOWs (Tactically Fired, Optically Tracked, Wire-guided missiles), MK19s (automatic grenade launchers), M2s (.50 cal), LRASSS (Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System), and Javelins (anti-tank shoulder fired missile).  You should have some basic ideas on how you want to employ those weapons systems on a screen, an urban patrol, and a dismounted/mounted patrol.  If you have any 19D instructors that know RSTA I suggest to talk to them.  Just remember that this is a new concept and what they did in the past may not be accurate.


Talking on the radio.  If you canít talk on a radio in a logical, comprehendible manner, you will have trouble as a 19C.


PT.  You need to be able to do the CAV fitness test one day, Jump and ruck 10.3 miles the next, and then go into the field, in Alaska, the next day.  I say this because, that was exactly what was asked of me my first month here.  We are a light airborne infantry BDE.  As much as you think you are in a mounted RSTA Troop, you will walk 10 times more than you will drive.  If you can do your job after busting your [butt] on a dismounted patrol while sleep deprived, then I know you can do your job riding in a truck.

 

Man oh man oh man I can't WAIT to get there! 

Here are some sketches/paintings I found online that I took a rather strong liking to.

 

Scout Humvee with TOW missile. 

 

Then and now. 

That's the LRASS system mounted on the Humvee.  It allows you to thermally acquire targets up to 17 km away and positively ID them as friend or foe at 12 km.

 

We start the SOSO (stability operations and support operations) phase of OBC on Sunday.  That means we learn how to operate in an urban environment and conduct dismounted patrols and handle civilians and stuff like that.  We literally learn how to kick in doors and clear buildings and do "cordon and searches" and stuff like that.  Very cool.

That's all for now.  I love my job.

-Tom

 


 

October 25th

Tactics is still going strong.  Even though we already had our OPORD exam we still have to write one almost every night and be prepared to brief it in the morning although the Black 6's mostly concentrate on the guys that need lots of practice.  I haven't briefed in over a week so I know I'm straight, but I still put a bit of effort into the homework.  Not too much, but enough to where if I get called on I can get through a briefing.

 

These pictures are from the terrain-model rehearsal I conducted when I was appointed the Platoon Leader for the day's mission about 2 weeks ago.  First you brief your order and make sure everyone understands what's going on by talking them through the operation and showing them on your sketches and then you go outside and do a walk-through rehearsal where you iron out any last minute questions about the plan. 

 

While I was upstairs briefing my tank commanders, the drivers and loaders from each crew went outside to build the terrain model.

 

James Kim, Mike Porges, and Justin Ottenwalter hard at work.

 

Briefing my platoon.

 

During the rehearsal.

 

The simulators at the Close Combat Tactical Trainer (CCTT).

 

Executing my plan in the simulator as the platoon leader.

 

Map?  Check.  Radios?  Check.  Half decent plan?  Check.

Get some.

 

I found out today I have a slot for Ranger School.  I'll start February 6th and graduate April 7th.

RLTW.

 

-Tom

 

 

 


 

October 19th

I'd have to say that 90% of the time I have a whole lot of fun and learn a ton of stuff about tanks from the training we get in the CCTT simulators, but it's days like today that I get to the edge of losing my mind.  WOW.

See, there are 4 members in a tank crew.  Ours consists of me, my good buddy Joe, and two other window-lickers that, in the words of our NCO instructor, "are seriously f@%$ing over the rest of the crew."  Patience doesn't even come close to describing what it takes to get along and work with these other two yokelheads.  The one I described a few days ago is actually getting a lot better and will ultimately become a competent "leader", but the other is... damn near hopeless.

He was our TC (tank commander) as well as the Platoon Sergeant for one of the missions today and if not for his incredibly stupid and completely irrational decisions our platoon would have succeeded.  He single-handedly started a chain of events that led to our complete failure of the mission.  Frustrating?  Yeah, that's a good start.  

SFC Linder, our platoon "Black 6", pulled me aside today and after giving me his assessment of the situation (see above comment) asked me my thoughts.  I told him I would be scared out of my mind if this kid was my platoon leader and gave him innumerable specific examples of things I had noticed just in the past few days.  No control of the tank when he's the TC, no control of the platoon if made part of the leadership for the mission, no situational awareness, utter incompetence, the social skills of an 11 year old, and the attitude of "I graduated from Texas A&M and I don't like others telling me what I'm doing wrong."

Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but I have YET to see any shred of intelligence or rationality from this kid. 

 

Ok, enough venting. 

 

Life really isn't that bad, but today was one of those days where you just want to take the person at fault and kick 'em square in the teeth.  Twice.

-Tom

 


 

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