Combatives Training

One thing I’ve never done in the Army is get trained on hand-to-hand fighting.  We spent a day at the gym getting this training.  It was mostly wrestling skills, and honestly I don’t think I’d ever use anything I learned if someone were to jump on me.  But it was a fairly interesting day.  They call it US Army Combatives.  It’s based on Jujitsu. 

Here are the photos.

LTC Thomas survived.

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A couple more from weapons training.

A few days ago, we went out to fire the M-203 grenade launcher.  We used practice rounds, which means that they fire off just like regular rounds, but only leave chalk markers on the targets.  It was the most fun I’ve ever had at any Army weapons range.  Some people were quite good.  I managed to get a few rounds through a window at 100 meters, and even hit a target 200 meters away.  Here are the pics.

Having too much fun!  (note my hand is in the wrong place — right in the breach of the grenande launcher!)

Thanks to MSG Dickerson for emailing these photos to me!  She’s an army photographer….

Life at Hunter Liggett

The barracks are large, about 30 guys sleep in each bay.  We have old wall lockers and metal-frame beds with mattresses on which we can put our sleeping bags.  Most everyone has a laptop computer to watch movies or surf the net.  I like to use Skype to video chat with my family in the evening.  Here’s a picture:

 

Generally some idiot wakes up at 5AM exactly and then turns on all the lights.  Breakfast is at 6AM, and training begins at 7:15 most days.  The past week has been a lot of time at weapons ranges, where they use big cattle cars to transport us.  Here’s what the cattle car experience looks like:

 

And it gets even better on the inside:

The name “Cattle Car” is appropriate. 

Generally we have evenings free to work on our stuff or play on the computer.  This is my last few days of training here, and I’ll be back in Camarillo for most of next week before we fly out to Fort Bliss, Texas.

Nature at Hunter Liggett

The training can be tough, and the weather is still very hot in the middle of the day here. 

One nice thing about this place is that it is really very pretty.  Lake Nacimiento is nearby, which is a popular spot (my neighbor in Camarillo drives 150 miles north up here to go to a cabin he owns on that lake).  It’s far away from major roads, although there is an old Spanish mission right on the base territory.  There are rolling hills and trees, with grassy plains:

And there are lots of animals here.  They have several reptiles, and they say there are coyotes, mountain lions, and the like (very rare).  What I’ve seen are the tarantuals and rabbits, and of course several squirrels and bluejays, as well as other birds:

 

So yes, Fort Hunter Liggett can be a lovely place.

Weapons Training

We’ve been doing weapons training.  M-9 pistol, M-16 rifle, M240 and M249 machine guns, and the big 50-caliber gun.  Yesterday was a VERY long day, and we were out doing night-time shooting until about 11PM, and it was very cold and windy.  Some people were out for 15 hours on the range yesterday.  Today was all classroom training on the heavy machine guns.  Photos below:

And yes, I did shave my head during this training.  It is a LOT easier to manage when you have a ‘doo like this.

Agenda for Ft. Hunter Liggett

We’ve received weapons training over the past few days.  Basically a day of classes on heavier machine guns, as well as individual rifle and pistol training.  Yesterday was range qualification day.  I hit 25 of 30 targets on the 9mm pistol pop-up range, not as well as I’ve done in the past but a very good score overall.  Tonight we will be doing some night-firing of our weapons.  It should be interesting.

The next few days are weapons.  Then we get into training on IED avoidance (how to avoid roadside bombs).  We will spend a day doing “combatives,” basically they teach you to fight with your hands and feet.  The rest of the training is convoy-related training and lanes.  The idea behind this is to show you what to do if you are in a vehicle convoy and get attacked.  I’ll never be in one, as I’ll be flying in and out of my base.  In fact, only a small part of my unit will ever be allowed “outside the wire” of the base where we are going.

So that is what we are up to.  I’ll try to post some photos soon.

Body Armor Day

Yesterday was the equipment issue day, as mentioned earlier.  They gave us a ton of new stuff, including body armor and the new ACH (the helmet), which is a big improvement over the old helmet.  Like the new ACU uniform, the ACH relies on velcro instead of awkward straps and clips. 

A photo of myself wearing the new helmet and body armor is below.  The photo doesn’t convey how heavy this stuff is.  There is a large ceramic plate in the front and back, said to stop 7.62mm bullets.

Brian in ACH and Body Armor

Brian in ACH and Body Armor

Anyway, today we had several training sessions.  They taught us about the radio system, medical evacuations, and some other things.  One really cool thing was the Humvee evacuation training (HEAT, I forget what that stands for exactly).  They have a machine which includes a full passenger compartment of a Humvee, and then it rotates the thing at any angle, including fully upside down.  They make you escape while it is upside down.  It was great training, because several people have died in Humvee rollovers.

So it’s getting late now, and I plan to be in bed by 9.  Up by 5AM.  That’s the routine here.  Good night…