NotOpodcast: Episode 6

Welcome to the sixth episode of NotOpodcast, where Michael and Anshel join me to discuss a variety of topics such as No Man's Sky, the latest in VR gaming, Anshel's experiences at VRLA (the Virtual Reality expo in Los Angeles), the new Samsung Galaxy Note7, the newest GPUs on the market, firearms in video games, and some basics of pistol mechanics.

The timecodes are:

Gaming - 1:00 - No Man's Sky, latest in VR gaming
Technology - 22:23 - VRLA (Virtual Reality: Los Angeles) Expo, Samsung Galaxy Note7, latest GPUs (Graphics Cards)
Firearms - 1:01:07 - Guns in Games, Basics of Pistol Mechanics

 


NotOpodcast: Episode 5

Welcome to the fifth episode of NotOpodcast, where Michael and Ron join me to discuss a variety of topics such as upcoming games from ComicCon, Nintendo's rumored NX console, Motorola as a division of Lenovo, red dots and optics, and the recent occurrences of violence abroad.

The timecodes are:

Gaming - 0:47 - Gears of War 4, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1
Technology - 34:05 - Nintendo NX Hardware, Motorola/Lenovo
Firearms - 50:27 - Red Dot sights, recent occurrences of violence abroad

 


NotOpodcast: Episode 4

Welcome to the fourth episode of NotOpodcast, where Kilroy and Michael join me to discuss a variety of topics such as the Pokemon GO craze, smartwatches and augmented reality, self driving cars, some background on the AR15, and the "One Gun" philosophy.

The timecodes are:

Gaming - 0:40 - Pokemon GO, Nintendo
Technology - 20:40 - Wearables, Self Driving Cars
Firearms - 36:38 - History of AR15, One Gun Philosophy

 


NotOpodcast: Episode 3

Welcome to the third episode of NotOpodcast, where Kilroy and Michael join me to discuss a variety of topics such the latest on E3 announcements from this week, physical phone keyboards, an in depth look at the upcoming Xbox Project Scorpio, the tactical triad, and ignorance about AR15s.

The timecodes are:

Gaming - 0:45 - E3, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo
Technology - 35:23 - Physical vs Software Phone Keyboards, Xbox Project Scorpio Specs
Firearms - 54:15 - Tactical Triad, Michael Moore AR15 Tweet

 


NotOpodcast: Episode 2

Welcome to the second episode of NotOpodcast, where Kilroy and Michael join me to discuss a variety of topics such as the rumored new versions of the Xbox One and PS4 consoles, the ways software is changing the hardware landscape, and how cheap we'd be willing go when choosing a firearm.

The timecodes are:

Gaming - 1:54
Technology - 19:26
Firearms - 27:37

 


NotOpodcast: Episode 1

Welcome to the first episode of NotOpodcast, where Kilroy joins me to discuss a variety of topics such as the latest graphics cards, gaming news, and which gun you'd choose in a bad situation.

 


Not Operator Returns From Hiatus

We know it's been awhile since you've heard from us, but Not Operator is back with a new status update video and we're looking forward to getting new content up on the site very soon.


Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XX – BCT 2

My friend and fellow Not Operator author, Kilroy, said he was joining the US Army last year. We realized that his experiences would make for an interesting read, especially when there are so few online writings about what it is like, emotionally and physically, to experience modern basic training and beyond. He agreed to keep a journal of his time, and that we would publish it to Not Operator.

Finally, we’ve reached the end of the series, as Kilroy completes his journal through Army Basic Training. He has since moved on, but due to both OPSEC [Operational Security], as well as the fact that it would be colossally boring, we will not be publishing his journal beyond BCT.

All entries in the Kilroy Joins the Army Series can be found here.

Without further ado, welcome to the final entry of Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XX – BCT 2.

 

Day 271

A day without much impact. With the other half of the company set to go to Omaha, those of us who remain behind are left to clean the weapons used for the machine gun shoot, as well as the standard order to clean our own M16s.

I spent the day drifting between tasks, coughing the whole time from something I picked up that was aggravated by inhaling dust and sand from the previous day.

My night is abbreviated yet again with a shift of CQ; the cough still present and combined now with a sore throat. The only thing I can do for now is just wait it out. There are only a small handful of things left to do here before we can call ourselves done with this experience – for good this time.

Come what may, all I can continue doing here is keep my nose to the grindstone and be grateful that what has happened has worked out so well in my favor. I’ve definitely seen all of this go much, much worse for people, and though what was supposed to be a 10 week challenge turned into some kind of multi-month struggle that I need to complete, at least I’m near the end.

On that note, an amusing story from yesterday comes to mind. As I was lying in the dirt, pretending to pull security with my designated battle buddy, we discussed the fact that so much of this experience is rooted in pretending and acting out a role designed to emulate the real thing, that the Army motto of “This we’ll defend” should be changed to “Let’s play pretend”. At the very least, I know there will be many of us out in the woods yelling “BANG!” at things in an upcoming exercise.

Our CQ tonight is being manned by an extra two people, this time dressed in full gear as a punishment for something that happened to them.

An unrelated point of interest: there are two prior service Navy sergeants running around completing Basic again for the second time in their lives.

Day 272

Today was another empty day meant for our recuperation.

We prepped our ruck sacks and began to stage them in preparation for Victory Forge. My sickness seems to be getting worse, bearing resemblance to what might be pneumonia.

Day 273

Today was the only day of our end-of-cycle PT test and I managed to pass this one with above AIT-standard scores despite my illness.

My voice is now gone, like it was in my previous time through Basic Training. I was worried about it enough that I asked to go in for some cold medicine in order to alleviate some of the symptoms before the upcoming march.

That appeared to have been a mistake; one of the staff there freaked out over my blood pressure, and they didn’t seem to care that I have a hypertension waiver.

I’ve been put into a non-training status and told I won’t be able to continue doing anything until they clear me to do so, meaning I’ll be restarted again because of the timing.

I can’t seem to get away from this. It feels a little bit like a curse that lingers in wait to ruin everything I try and do. I’m so close to the end now that I have no other description for this other than absolute despair.

Night falls with news given to us about force protection contingencies changing to Bravo levels, and our fire guard being amplified to include roving watch, door guards, and stationing even more people in the lobby.

I will graduate. I will continue on. I will not let this trifle stop me. This time will be the last time that I will need to do this. These are words that I simply cannot let be empty. My singular desire from this point stands to be that I wish to complete my training and graduate with this group. It will be done. It only seems to be so daunting because I exist in a time and place that lacks the patterns I’ve so keenly watched for so long.

Day 274

Morning comes disconnected and disjointed. Today is a sort of reckoning; I’ll be going to make my case in front of a second opinion in order to try and complete my training.

It’s a familiar melancholy, being back in a status where I’m not allowed to do anything. There’s literally a single training event left and I’m cutting it close to the wire. Those familiar with my situation say that my waiver should be enough.

My own body has rebelled against me here and I seem to be able to do nothing to stop it.

[Later in the day, Kilroy continues below].

My hopes for a swift correction at the urgent care clinic were dashed, with the given explanation being that they could not override the profile I was previously given. They made a recommendation to return to the TMC and try my luck there.

Returning to the TMC, [Troop Medical Clinic] I found it mostly empty, like an empty stage after a show. There, I ran into someone I’ve met once before, a PA [Physican’s Assistant] from the Victory Aid station that had treated me before.

Here she promised me a new solution, something that would help me while I’m arranged to hopefully return to training.

A few hours and some medication later, I’d been given a new lease on life. It was like awakening from a bad dream. I was given an RTD [Return to Duty] and told to go on my merry way.

As for lingering problems, I still have an issue with the cold I came in for in the first place. The cold symptoms I can deal with in the meanwhile, however.

Oddly, the congestion I was experiencing has mutated into a feeling in my left lung that seems to resemble the pain of the organ itself swelling up. Externally I see nothing, but internally the stabbing pain I’m experiencing is new to me. [Kilroy turned out to have pleuritis, which is typically caused by a lung infection. It ended up requiring a ten days of Levofloxacin].

Hopefully I’ll be better by tomorrow morning. Tomorrow marks the final required training event, and even with my current ailments, I feel confident in completing it. I can only continue to feel gratitude and move forward as I was prompted to.

Day 275

We were up early in the dark. My sickness was still bothering me as we settled in for the last and longest march of the cycle. The rhythm of the march was one hour of marching followed by 15 minutes of rest.

Eventually we passed into unfamiliar territory, past the cantonment of Dixie Road and the garrisons and out to the long, protracted training areas. Somehow the route manages to find every uphill path possible, ankle deep sand the whole way.

Day 276

This is the second day of Victory Forge. We were awoken at field hours for the day’s activities, beginning with more field PT in a fine layer of yet more sand.

After settling into the hasty fighting positions we were told to dig, we proceeded to do nothing for the rest of the day. The weather began to work against us, rising to ‘condition black’ (Heat Category V) [Temperature of > 90°F] for the afternoon, before it mercifully brought a thunderstorm overhead that halted all training for the rest of the day.

The actual area the activities were conducted in were different from Alpha’s and worse off for it. We had a single long march from a battalion FOB [Forward Operating Base] area rather than a series of short marches between different lane locations.

The day ended with us back in our tents, the looming threat of thunder and rain hovering above.

Day 277

We were up at 4:00 AM again, but no field PT this morning.

The day was spent running a long ‘react to contact’ drill, as well as a medical lane drill.

We ended the day with preparation for an early exit strategy to help get us ready for leaving tomorrow. They’ve promised us a repeat march back to the FOB zone.

I’m exhausted and my cough is worse. The weather heating up even further doesn’t help the situation.

Day 278

I was up earlier than normal to pack everything. We walked back to the FOB area again.

I should have been done with this by now. I continue to cough and feel sick, but my work – the real hard work for BCT, is done.

After returning to the company, we were given time to shower. However, that time was cut short by an order for us to come down and turn in our items not required for the upcoming inspection.

The night ended late, after a rite of passage ceremony to welcome us into the brotherhood of soldiers. Even this was different from how it was in Alpha.

Day 279

Today we were woken up extremely early to go do a ‘battalion fun run’. The rest of the day was spent cleaning our equipment and the company area in preparation for the end of BCT.

Day 280

I’m exhausted today after fireguard last night.

The low impact day was broken up with dealing with out-processing paperwork in the battalion classroom. I’ve never been happier than I was seeing the orders promising me delivery to Monterey.

I just have to hang in there until the fated day comes.

Day 281

We had a concert night tonight for Victory Week. Most people were talking about the pizza and other foods we’d be allowed to have.

Personally, I don’t really care for the idea and I’d rather be left alone in my own peace and quiet.

My singular daydream right now is about being in the airport waiting to fly out of here.

Getting us to the concert was disorganized and aggravating affair, as they filed us out in the heat, making whole battalions and brigades stand at the wayside of a road.

As we waited, I heard the cadre arguing about the pizza most people bought into. There was some disagreement about who was even supposed to have the right to order some.

I’m glad I opted not to join in and deal with that mess.

After a short parade, we were all moved down to the main area of the field and sat down in the grass to sit through a memorial service.

Once that was complete, people were allowed to get their pizza, which was a massively disorganized affair. It basically consisted of people rushing and swarming around the area where the pizza was.

Sitting back down on the grass, the concert went on in my periphery while I spoke with a friend.

Day 282

Waking up was difficult today. The late return from the previous day’s activities cost us sleep.

This is the final Sunday of the cycle. The day consists of what the previous have: weapons cleaning down to the smallest details.

Day 283

Today we were awoken an hour earlier than the time we’d been briefed on, and were told to turn in all of the gear we were issued previously. It turned out to be an all-day activity.

The weather continued to warm up, becoming unbearable by the afternoon.

Our evening meal was the Victory Dinner – an ostentatious display of congratulatory foodstuffs that had everyone else reveling in the experience. For myself, I only go for the sustenance. I’ve really just stopped feeling any great passion here in the experience. The moment of congratulatory revelry seems artificial.

After dinner, we continue to clean things, the end of the road clearly in sight now.

Day 284

We were up at 2:30 AM, early even for our standards.

Our first task of the day was cleaning weapons. This was followed up with an inspection while we were wearing the class B dress uniforms we’re set to graduate in.

My normal approach puts me ahead of the game in presentability before being dismissed.

The bulk of our day was spent in the sun, practicing the drill and ceremony of our graduation rehearsal – the weather made me wish I’d graduated back during the colder months.

I saw familiar faces from FTC in the crowd, our mutual recognition showing that small piece of joy where we had all overcome the odds to succeed together. Here we stood, finally, almost done.

After the outdoor rehearsal, we were shuttled to practice the indoor version in case of bad weather, but I was pulled aside to go to a briefing concerning my travel arrangements to AIT.

Once our exit packet preparation was complete, the company went on to yet another concert for Victory week.

This concert was headlined by someone from MWR [Morale Welfare and Recreation].

Day 285

Today was Family Day. Our theatrics and presentation were put to good use for the ceremony to hand us over to our families.

I spent the day revisiting the 120th to thank the cadre for the immense help they’ve given me and to touch base with old friends and familiar faces.

It was a joy to be welcomed back with open arms and to talk about how things are going in the clinic.

Following that, I went to the Victory aid station to thank the PA responsible for allowing me to continue to train.

We had meals at the Officer’s Club for lunch and dinner, giving the end of the day a feeling of contentment but not exuberant joy.

Day 286

It’s Graduation Day. We spent our time sweating in the sun and marching in uncomfortable plastic dress shoes that have shrunk since I wore them last.

The ceremony proceeded as planned, and I made use of the time afterwards to get an off post pass to go out and enjoy a late lunch/early dinner.

After returning to the company, we were kept up late into the night to clean and pack our bags.

Day 287

The day comes as an extension of the last. We changed our uniforms, took our bags, and turned in all the linen. The show is over and the theatre itself shut down.

I was taken by bus to the same airport I’ve flown from before. The entire feeling of going full circle brought a surreal air to our time spent waiting. This was simply meant to be a short, temporary, challenge that instead became something that ate almost an entire year of my life.

Finally, I’m proceeding down the path. Life goes on, and I know that whatever challenges I face beyond this point will be dealt with.

I touched down in Monterey in a haze. The in-processing at the DLI came at the expense of yet more sleep.

I’m awake into the next midnight trying to make a bed and arrange my room to the arbitrary specifications of the minutiae that the new SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] calls for.

Outside, the weather is a pleasant chill. I’m finally in Monterey, CA.

 

This ends Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XX – BCT 2 and completes the Kilroy Joins the Army series. Be sure to check out the rest of the site, and come back in the future for more military-related articles. That is, unless your thing is firearms, tech, or gaming, in which case we’ve already got you covered.


Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIX – BCT 2

My friend and fellow Not Operator author, Kilroy, said he was joining the US Army last year. We realized that his experiences would make for an interesting read, especially when there are so few online writings about what it is like, emotionally and physically, to experience modern basic training and beyond. He agreed to keep a journal of his time, and that we would publish it to Not Operator.

Kilroy tends to write his personal journals with pretty purple prose, so with his permission, I’ll be editing and paraphrasing his journal a bit to make it an easier read, with the help of my other friend and fellow Not Operator author, Michael. I’ll also be adding comments of my own in bold brackets [like this] to provide some extra context when necessary. If there’s large enough demand for it, we will post the full, unedited, version of Kilroy’s journal. To avoid making Kilroy’s experiences one giant wall-o-text, the journal will be broken up into an ongoing series of articles where it makes sense to do so. Plus, with Kilroy still in the Army, the journal is far from complete.

All entries in the Kilroy Joins the Army Series can be found here.

Without further ado, welcome to Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIX – BCT 2.

 

Day 261

Following the events of the two previous days, today was a low impact recovery day. The only activities assigned were weapons maintenance and preparation for the upcoming FTX [Field Training Exercise], which means we spent the entirety of the day locked up in a classroom.

The most noteworthy thing from today was a conversation with one of the Drill Sergeants about the status of the Army, training, and how Alpha’s methods were detrimental to our training. Another interesting note was that the Arabic music played during my first time through NIC (in Alpha Company) was apparently banned as being either racist or some form of unwanted brainwashing.

Day 262

Another Sunday, another end of the week. The additional sleep from the previous night comes as a boon, but many still seem tired. My mental state remains stable and my actions have become automatic.

It seems one of my previous cohorts has managed to reappear in FTC as a blue belt after having done her time as an injured person. [This means that she failed her final PT test after going back to BCT, which caused her to be sent back to FTC]. I didn’t really know that was even a possibility, but now that I do, I’ll continue to work to avoid it. I can’t imagine how it would be to return to that place in my condition. My only goal now is getting to Monterey.

Our Sunday went on as it always did in BCT: area beautification that is more designed to waste our time than to accomplish anything.

We’re all anticipating the upcoming field exercise for tomorrow. Organizationally, there’s no real consensus on half the stuff we really want to take. The oddity of this company comes from the fact that they expect us to bring one set of PT uniforms to wear in the field. I’m still not exactly sure what that entails for our activities out there.

Day 263

We had an AGR for morning PT before being bussed out to the FTX grounds, leaving us all even more tired than normal [AGR stands for Ability Group Run, which has the trainees running in formation at different speeds depending on the group’s capabilities].

The vast majority of the day’s activity consisted of digging and other maintenance of a hasty fighting position, a familiar task I carry no love for. After establishing our holes, we lay in them to the point of boredom and exhaustion, fading in and out of consciousness.

We spent the whole day in the holes, biding our time while the sun made its inexorable progress across the sky. I discussed my story, as well as the hip pain, with the platoon mate sharing the hole with me – he’s experiencing shooting hip pain down his leg.

The night was cold as I rushed to put a tent together. It’s a huge difference from the sleeping bags outdoors we used in Alpha Company. What a luxurious change of pace.

Day 264

Morning PT came as an annoying change in the field, starting the day with a pushup/situp drill. The poor sleep was no help to us as we did PT in the soft sand.

My friend who was having hip pain has gone to sick call, leaving myself and the other guy in the hole with us to carry his things from the sleeping ground down to the fox holes. The way this company seems to handle weapons and gear for sick call makes little sense – the battle buddy assigned to them must chaperone their things all day.

The day’s real content consisted of white phase testing, which was mostly just a review of materials I already had committed to memory. It included activities like M16 maintenance and use, radios, land nav, CLS lanes [Combat Lifesaver practice], and a single battle drill.

During the CLS lanes and the battle drill, our assigned squad leader froze while trying to manage the nine line medevac call and the squad communications, leaving me to walk her through it.

Afterwards, the buddy who went to sick call returned sporting a new set of crutches, just as predicted.

In an impromptu AAR [After Action Report] for the white phase testing, a conversation with the Drill Sergeant reaffirmed the fact that parts of Alpha’s training was superior to this one in the sense that we covered things there in earlier weeks that this company hadn’t even planned on covering.

The amusing activity for the day was when one of our DSs came through and ‘killed’ a number of people who were failing at pulling security and asking the challenge and answer password.

Day 265

Morning came too early and unwelcome, a light drizzle setting the mood for the day.

During the night, I had a shift of field fireguard, an activity which consisted of pacing circles around the campground and watching for potential mischief.

I was still saddled with the stuff belonging to the guy who went to sick call yesterday, which forced me to cart it down the hill to our platoon’s area of operations.

That was followed up with more field PT along with breakfast. Afterwards, we had our ruck march. The pace and safety precautions were a definite change from Alpha.

Halfway through the march it began to rain heavily. All of us concluded the march soaked down to the bone, and the only thing that saved this notebook from destruction was the MRE hot drink bag I shoved it into.

Lunch came slightly later, consisting of MREs.

Day 266

I was exhausted this morning. Everything about myself feels abused and completely worn out.

Morning PT passed without mention, the pain keeping me performing to any great standards.

After PT, we were rushed through chow and changing to a march out to the MSTF range - a medical simulation training facility - for review of tactical combat casualty care and how to run lanes of simulated casualty care.

Running the lanes with the squad I’m in was a disaster; no one was coordinated and many were simply not thorough enough in their actions to do what was required. The consensus as to the cause of this was the incompetence of our squad leader, who froze during the most chaotic sections.

We had a late lunch, followed by a march back. I remain exhausted, moments in the warm sunlight standing still almost putting me to sleep standing up

Up next is Bastogne – the US weapons section of training. They tell us we’ll be briefed about it today in preparation, but for the moment all that most of us seem to want is a good night’s sleep and enough calories for our bodies to repair themselves.

The open invitation from the WTRP [Warrior Training Rehabilitation Program] comes to mind – going in to sick call will guarantee me a profile for avoiding running or something else similarly meant to prevent re-injury. I want one, but I can’t bring myself to go in for it. Until the last foot march, I wasn’t actually experiencing any pain to write home about, but in these days following I’ve been experiencing some twinges that felt muscular in nature. I won’t be going in to get one until it hurts to stand again. As comfortable and familiar as I was with the FTC cadre and the way things ran there, I cannot afford to go back. My direction must be forward.

All I can do for the moment is look forward to Sunday. By that point, I’ll be solidly in blue phase and can mark it off as yet another small milestone in the brickwork of things I’ll never have to do again. This time I’ll get to the end of this journey and mark off the whole experience here in BCT as something I’ll never do again.

Do I regret how things have turned out? Of course. But I’ve met some good people and done some good things along the way. I can treasure at least some of the relationships and things I’ve witnessed. The bottom line comes straight out of those movie trailer tag lines: things will never be the same again.

Day 267

Twenty days left in this place and the others are counting down with excitement. In the meanwhile, exhaustion is the name of the game. We were woken up earlier than expected and rushed out to the PT field for morning exercise in our ACUs before being bussed to the Bastogne training range.

Our first meal was rushed to an extreme degree, and then all of us were sent to the range bleachers for the live fire demonstrations. The explosions of the M203 and AT4 grenades and rockets seemed underwhelming from the distance we were at.

After being organized and sent onto the ranges, actually firing the machine guns and explosive launchers really did come across as too fast and fairly underwhelming.

The training rounds for the M203 and AT4 were as unimpressive as could be. The belts of the MGs flew through them without much ado.

We left the range at 11AM and spent the rest of the day lazing about in the classroom cleaning the weapons we shot, as well as our personally assigned rifles.

Day 268

Today we had Remagen – grenades for live fire. We were told to gather in ACUs for the morning, eschewing PT for once. My mood feels slightly rejuvenated now after a small moment of Zen the previous night. It was the comforting feeling of being exactly where I need to be and doing exactly what I needed to do.

I qualified for the live grenade toss the first go round, but chicken winged my throw, ending up with a label on my helmet like a scarlet letter.

After more waiting came the briefing and transportation to the real grenade bunker – the same throwing sequence, just with lives on the line this time.

Herded into the tiny staging area, we were made to place our heads and feet up against the wall while waiting to go, and then shuffling along the wall. The task was made incredibly uncomfortable by the body armor and camelback we were wearing, causing all of us to stand distended at an awkward angle the entire time we waited.

Arriving at the receiving point with two live grenades pressed against my chest, there was yet more waiting to ready and stage for the blast lane. The sound of each explosion rocked the old bunker, sounding like thunder, with occasional pieces of shrapnel falling upon the roof like hail.

The actual throw and blast from my own grenades turned out to be as underwhelming as my experience thus far. Despite the proximity, I couldn’t even feel the shockwave from where I crouched after throwing them. Just like that, it was all over. Two grenades and then back into the bunker to suffer standing in line ad nauseam.

The whole company cycled through quickly and we were done in the early afternoon, coming back to a day full of weapons cleaning and the written portion of the white phase testing that displayed the same characteristics of Army academics I’ve come to expect here.

Converting over from FTC back to BCT has put me into an Erlenmeyer flask, isolating me from most relationships and the world at large.

Day 269

My PT score currently stands at better than AIT standards: 51 pushups, 68 sit-ups, and 16:17 run time, which is a comforting result considering how worried I’ve been about passing and risking falling back to hell.

After lunch, we wasted time doing area beautification in the growing heat before being gathered together to do the trifecta of dinner, haircuts, and a trip to the small PX here.

Prior to dinner, we were correctively trained for someone’s family member communicating a personal joke on the company’s Facebook page. The DSs took this as both insult and a breach of OPSEC for being called “grilled sausage” and spent 30 minutes wasting our time with more exercises.

Day 270

I awoke today with a special status as part of the detail for setting up the hand grenade qualification course. Arriving at the site was deja vu, the memories of when I first returned to Alpha Company from sick quarters.

Setting up the course was a relatively easy task, placing dummy bodies and stacks of training fuses at each particular station.

After running the course once, I relieved a set of people manning a station and spent the rest of the time re-fusing the dummies. The cleanup took up the rest of our time on the range, explosives accountability creating its own host of problems. Rejoining the main group left us waiting almost two hours for transportation. “Hurry up and wait” was the name of the game today.

Dinner led straight into even more training – dry fire runs of the theoretical live fire we should have been doing. Never in my life have I yelled the word “bang” more often without actually playing Cops and Robbers. The wait became needlessly long to cycle everyone through dry fire practice.

Day 271

At last, the day of Omaha [Live Fire Exercise].

The range has been revamped in a way that it all seems unfamiliar. Gone are the eclectic obstacles of broken concrete walls and burnt out cars, even the concrete bunker housed at the end of the course. Instead, this new range has been sanitized with simple wooden obstacles and that same accursed orange sand that clings to everything. This company runs blanks followed by live rounds, an almost unnecessary exercise that feels like time wasting, especially in comparison to how Alpha ran it.

By the end of the first run with blanks, that fine orange sand had already coated everything, inside and out. I got to inhale some of the dust on the low crawl.

Afterwards, before the first live fire run, we were forced to attend CLS concurrent training hosted by other sergeants.

The weather returned to familiar territory as the temperature escalated drastically. Un-blousing our ACUs is an act that still reminds me of all the summer days I spent here.

This company served us ‘juice’, the same sugary electrolyte engineered drink [It’s what plants crave] we have with our meals as a means of maintaining our water retention.

The pain and soreness I currently have feel skin-crawlingly familiar to the initial issues I had those months ago. We have precious little in the way of training events left and I must continue to function until I can make it to the end. After all is said and done, even if it’s another injury, at least having all of my qualifying events completed will allow me to change my status.

 

This ends Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIX – BCT 2. The next entry concludes the series as it follows Kilroy through the completion of his second round of Basic Training. Stay tuned for Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XX – BCT 2.


Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVIII – BCT 2

My friend and fellow Not Operator author, Kilroy, said he was joining the US Army last year. We realized that his experiences would make for an interesting read, especially when there are so few online writings about what it is like, emotionally and physically, to experience modern basic training and beyond. He agreed to keep a journal of his time, and that we would publish it to Not Operator.

Kilroy tends to write his personal journals with pretty purple prose, so with his permission, I’ll be editing and paraphrasing his journal a bit to make it an easier read, with the help of my other friend and fellow Not Operator author, Michael. I’ll also be adding comments of my own in bold brackets [like this] to provide some extra context when necessary. If there’s large enough demand for it, we will post the full, unedited, version of Kilroy’s journal. To avoid making Kilroy’s experiences one giant wall-o-text, the journal will be broken up into an ongoing series of articles where it makes sense to do so. Plus, with Kilroy still in the Army, the journal is far from complete.

All entries in the Kilroy Joins the Army Series can be found here.

Without further ado, welcome to Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVIII – BCT 2.

 

Day 246

I’ve been dropped right back into it. I’m being assigned to Echo Company, in the care of 2nd platoon, as they complete their fourth week of BCT.

From what I’ve seen so far here, the level of harshness associated with daily life is nowhere near what it used to be back in Alpha Company.

My time in FTC is over, and now I can proceed onward. I went from being unable to walk without the assistance of crutches to being able to passably run. I will get better. This is the eventuality. I’ll learn and I’ll move on.

Moving into my new living quarters here was easy, but I’ve not yet been issued the training equipment I need – I’m waiting on a weapon, a ruck, a helmet, etc.

My new company is currently doing rifle marksmanship, condensed in such a way that my previous experience with night shooting has become obsolete here.

Day 247

We started the day off with a PT test. My scores are up past AIT standard and I’m sure by the final one I’ll be fine. It’s a turnaround from how I felt about all this before.

In the meanwhile, I’m still waiting to be assigned any equipment.

My leg has gotten better, but it’s not the same as it used to be.

After our test, we were given breakfast at the local DFAC. The food is the same, but the local companies seem to actually pull KP [Kitchen Patrol].

This company has a very different feel from Alpha. The time given to eat doesn’t seem to be that bad – that or my habit has adjusted to incorporate it.

After breakfast, we spent time in the brigade classroom, which is a huge upgrade from the setup of the 1-34th battalion. The day drags on though.

Day 248

Up early for the final shift of fireguard. For some reason I feel a little bit sick – nauseated in my stomach after a night of dreams I can’t remember. My sleep has been light in recent days and I pop awake without much prompting.

The Drill Sergeants told me I’d be going out to the range with the company and doing minor details while the rest shoot to qualify.

[Later in the day, Kilroy continues below].

I spent the majority of my time writing a 2,000 word essay that was assigned to the platoon shortly before my arrival.

After lunch we were taken out, formed up, and made to clean the company area. Once that was done, we practiced drill and ceremony as a company before dinner.

We’ve told we’ll be going to the LOMAH range tomorrow [Location of Miss and Hit. As it sounds it’s basically a range that detects whether or not the shooter hit or missed their target].

This company is running an obligatory laundry service so my pay is probably being docked without my consent. I feel no real loyalty to the company so far; my peers are in that young and rebellious phase of their lives. One of the few people I enjoy talking to is a national security advisor to a state senator.

Day 249

We headed out to the LOMAH range with the sky overcast and a warning of rain. Without my equipment, I just wait, told I would be assigned to random details. The weather has cooled down some; the overcast coolness making the experience more comfortable than my last time here.

I wish that I could have finished BCT with Alpha Company. I haven’t taken much of a shine to this latest group.

Later in the day, after returning from the range, we were given our phones for the rare opportunity to make a 10 minute phone call. This never would’ve happened back in Alpha. Oddly enough this all comes directly on the heels of FTC, so it doesn’t feel all that cathartic. The others who haven’t done this before are rejoicing over the perceived privilege. I’ve been in this environment for far too long.

I sit and wait while my new platoon-mates clean their weapons, having not been issued one of my own.

This place is different than it was in Alpha. The building is new, but constructed in a strangely older style. The halls are narrow and a vast majority of our taught activities are conducted in 4 classrooms along the ground floor. The sizes of the bays are also smaller, 20 to 30 people in comparison to Alpha’s 60. The mood here is significantly quieter and somehow more annoying. All the members of my platoon have taken on the attitude of complete silence that some of the DSs find value in. We’re expected to know the Army Song here, something that we didn’t have to care about in Alpha.

My conversations with the national security analyst tell me that there’s minor upheaval in the upper echelons of the military concerning the way training is conducted.

With the easier standards, and my preparation in FTC, I find myself less tired during the day.

Another night of fireguard comes and goes quickly, the single hour shift flying by in comparison to the FTC standard two hour shift. By the time I’m done with my share of the cleaning duties and the tasks that I needed to do, there is no time left to be spent at the desk set up for fireguard. The announced schedule here is actually what is adhered to, so our 4:30 AM wakeup is a true time. This differs from Alpha’s times actually requiring you to do everything 30 minutes in advance.

Day 250

Morning PT was moderately tough. It was comprised of core, conditioning, and climbing, followed by pushups and sit-ups.

Today is another range day and I’m wondering what I’ll be doing. My only responsibilities for the time being are to show up in the right places, do PT, and breathe.

The range has single targets, and while the rest of my company goes to shoot, I’m left to wait playing the role of air guard, staring up at the sky watching for aircraft.

In the course of running errands, I accompanied an injured trainee to the hospital, bearing witness to the places I had been, seeing an injured trainee from who-knows-where dressed in full basic regalia – dirty, tattered ACUS, crutches, and a pack that lolled to the side. Staring out forlornly from behind dirty eye protection, he looked like an abandoned puppy waiting for a mother that would never come. It’s a reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I’ll exceed the standard and continue to improve.

Day 251

I’m up again for the same shift of fireguard. It’s like a twisted sense of déjà vu. In the usual cleaning duties we end up having to sweep up and mop the laundry. Tonight’s challenge is complements of a DS that dumped a bag of laundry detergent all over the floor since someone forgot it in there. If they actually wanted to keep the place clean they wouldn’t just dump out the contents of every bag.

I’ve been asked to skip PT in the morning to accompany someone who’s exiting the army – a process I’ve become too familiar with.

Given my status, I was pulled from PT to help guard weapons and watch one of the chapters and a con-leave.

Walking around this morning set off a pain in my hip that I hadn’t felt in a long time. If it gets worse I’ll have to struggle through it until I can at least get to the next phase.

The day’s training was cut short on account of rain. EST was as it always was, full of sand and suffering [Engagement Skills Trainer]. My role was to stand guard of the weapons. As the rain began to fall, I was given a poncho to borrow but told not to use the hood. The march out wasn’t horrible, or at least not as horrible as other experiences I’ve had.

Day 252

The cold has returned. After morning PT, we were bussed out to the range in a chill. We’re still in a place that I’ve been to before, leaving me unable to do anything of value. It’s cold enough that it makes it hard to write, my hands feeling numb.

I still don’t have any gear and my time is allocated to staring at the sky, waiting for low flying aircraft as part of range aircraft guard. It strikes me that my time back here in this company is like seeing a foreign remake of a television show that I’ve seen already. Everything is approximately the same – but different in ways that bug me slightly. Like I’m somehow both unsatisfied with their choice of casting as well as the fact that the general direction of the show seems repetitive.

After finishing the range time, we spent the rest of the day watching SHARP videos [Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention] on YouTube and cleaning weapons.

Sitting on the sidelines, I watched the platoon descend into bickering after dinner, the Senior Drill Sergeant assigning us new student leadership as a means of singling out our trouble makers.

Day 253

It’s Friday morning and time for the company to prequalify on marksmanship. Despite promises that I’d have gear assigned to me already, I’ve yet to be issued a weapon. I have a feeling I’ll be stuck shooting an unzeroed weapon.

I anxiously plan ahead to try and keep myself in shape, or in a condition bearing similarity to it. FTC received too many people from here and I don’t want to end up being one of them this cycle. I can only imagine how that would go down.

I find myself back at the same range I qualified on previously, except now the setting is covered in fog. It’s like an M. Night Shyamalan movie this time, the distantly familiar graffiti almost nostalgic.

I take my place on the sidelines again, watching others shoot as I wait for the day to progress.

Day 254

The morning comes too soon and PT today is a muscle failure workout. I feel nauseated and a general sense of malaise. My thoughts are scattered and still not quite on track. After breakfast I was finally issued a weapon, an M16A2. The rifle belonged to another person who’s leaving for con leave. Funny how things come full circle.

After receiving my rifle, I was taken out to the same range from the other day and told to zero. With nothing to do immediately afterward, I was given the opportunity to shoot an M4 with a CCO [Close Combat Optic, basically a red-dot sight] before we do ARM [Advanced Rifle Marksmanship] along with the other trainees who are here. Considering it’s been like 6-8 months since my last experience with live rounds, I don’t think I did too poorly.

I spoke to the commander of this company. It turns out that I’ve been at Ft. Jackson longer than he’s been in charge of this command. It’s a strange feeling.

The whole company has qualified and now that I have issued equipment I’ll be joining the company in regular training. We practiced Omaha lanes, grenades, and barricade shooting out at the PT field.

Laundry and clean clothes are becoming a luxury commodity again.

Day 255

Sunday again. Another week down and the end of the journey still feels like it’s a long way away. They bussed us past a PX yesterday with complete food court, and I realized that I recognized the smell of the food they were serving but couldn’t identify what exactly it was.

The day’s activities start with a voluntary PT session I chose to attend – I’ll continue to work on my running as I await the next test.

After lunch, we were made to do area beautification before being lined up to go to the PX and get haircuts.

The activity afterward was cut short by a thunderstorm and tornado warning to the area, followed up pouring rain. Due to the weather, we were made to wait in the DFAC as the torrential rain came down.

Day 256

This morning was slightly different than most. There was no PT today, as everyone had to head to Reception for deferred issue to get dress uniforms.

Since I’d already received my uniform, I spent the day sitting around and waiting for everyone else. My company for the day is a handful of non-trainers.

At midmorning we were made to lay out the company’s rifles for a 100% accountability check. A menial task, but nothing to really complain about.

Earlier yesterday, we received a platoon transfer for personal reasons – someone that seems to be widely regarded by cadre and trainee alike as being both incompetent and bizarre. Personally I find her reminiscent of a troll doll from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Lunch was another MRE followed by restacking the weapons.

Day 257

The day has been busy, morning PT and chow took us straight into activities and training related to the upcoming NIC course. [Night Infiltration Course].

Full battle rattle this time is stifling; I was given an IBA and a helmet a size too small, making it that much more difficult to breathe [‘Full battle rattle’ refers to his full set of infantry gear]. Low and high crawling practice led into a march to EST where we did CCO shooting practice.

I’m here burning out the last of my patience, watching the whole dynamic of the group imploding the same way I’ve seen it before. I can’t bring myself to care all that much. I’ve seen it before and it’ll play out the same way it always does.

Day 258

Up at night for a CQ shift. The assignment is a quick, though Sisyphean, task of mopping the common lobby and hallway. Walking through parts of the building elicits memories of a certain mustiness – the smell so common to commercial airliners.

My assigned buddy nods off with a special kind of dedication while the NCO on duty watches Game of Thrones in the background.

Day 259

It’s been a fairly low impact day thus far. After morning PT, we were promised live fire range time later in the evening. Since then, it has been nothing but weapons cleaning and personal study. The company doesn’t seem as prepared as Alpha did – there are portions of classroom instruction that have not been covered here but had already been completed a week prior during my first time through BCT.

The night shoot was not as impressive as last time. This company didn’t have tracers or some of the luxuries that Alpha had. However, this time around I was able to see through the NODs properly and use the laser sight effectively.

Day 260

Up early as usual, though we had less sleep than normal because last night’s shoot.

Everyone else seems to be concerned about the upcoming Confidence Course and the NIC crawl. I just want to get it over with. Once this day is done I’ll be caught up to where I was in training before I got injured.

The Confidence Course was new, but not particularly amazing. We were scheduled for five walls: the skyscraper, Jacob’s ladder, a zip line thing, and an inverted rope challenge.

Of those, we only did the skyscraper, Jacob’s ladder, and the inverted rope. Movement to the course was a foot march, which was an uncomfortable experience thanks to my improperly fitted gear, rifles held at port arms, and a renewed heat. The weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse, but I cannot tell how hot it really is.

After eating, and the sun going down hours later, we were herded to the event area in our platoons. The actual crawl seemed to go by faster this time, only hampered by the stricter buddy guidance rules here. The whole experience was a near repeat of my last time doing the NIC, save for the lack of firing exercises and the complexity of the activities at the end.

I’m up and awake from 3:00 AM - 4:00 AM for CQ, taking care to look at least a little bit alive while my partner seems to drift in and out of consciousness. In reality, I’d like to do the same. I’m the most exhausted I’ve been since showing up here, and getting myself downstairs to this place of duty is the hardest thing for the night.

All of us here brought back enough of the sand from the NIC that the floor in the bay has become beach-like. Thanks to our sweeping duties and the clothing and equipment we were wearing, we’re covered in the moon-dust like grit that still clings to all of us. Truly it’s back to the old motto of “Join the army, eat sand.

 

This ends Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XVIII – BCT 2. The next entry in the series continues with Kilroy going through his second round of Basic Training. Stay tuned for Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIX – BCT 2.