Postcards from Tradocia

checkpoint clusterf***

As I said, here’s a replacement for today’s placeholder entry.

Here’s me wearing the gear:

Checkpoint training today – finally some real action.

We donned our full “battle rattle” this morning, drew our weapons, then boarded the buses to move to the training site. The MAT (Mobilization Assistance Team, the unit providing this training) gave classes before lunch about setting up a checkpoint, performing personnel and vehicle searches, and reacting to sniper fire. Then, after some tasty lunch eaten off a field-expedient dining surface (read: Humvee hood), the real fun began.

The platoon was split into two groups. As a member of the second group, I relaxed while the first group ran through the training scenario. Almost immediately we heard the boom of a grenade simulator and a few pops of 5.56 blanks; this didn’t seem to bode well for our survival on the course.

An hour and a half later, it was our turn to rock and roll. We locked and loaded (one magazine with 10 blanks each) and took up our assigned positions at the checkpoint. For my part, I was crouched in the back of the compound, ready to spring forward to assist other elements of the team. We didn’t have to wait long for the first vehicle to reach the checkpoint – the gate guards approached while the rest of us watched, then hunkered down as a “bomb” exploded at the gate, sending everyone diving to the asphalt. The platoon sergeant called for smoke and a grenade hissed a green cloud over the gate to cover everyone moving to pick up the casualties. Five minutes in and we already had two “wounded.”

A few minutes later (after regenerating our casualties), a mob of civilians dressed up as Arabs rushed the gate, screaming and gesturing, demanding to be let in. We formed a line and fended them off with a few well-placed (though simulated) buttstrokes, and amazingly no civilians got shot. Sniper fire ripped into the crowd, though, forcing them all to the ground while we all dashed for cover. I got “killed” by the sniper – a questionable call on the instructor’s part given my position, but whatever – and this sniper managed to “kill” 13 of us before being dispatched himself.

On the third scenario, most of our vehicle search team got blown up by a car bomb. I managed to get a shot off at the driver as he ran through the gate – would’ve hit him right between the shoulder blades.

It was chaos. The “fog of war” was very much in effect – the instructors obviously picked off our leadership early on, to cripple our organization. It was extremely instructive though – my only complaint was that we couldn’t run it again.

Tomorrow, not much planned. Saturday, gas chamber. Sunday, rifle qualification.


  1. Mom and Dad

    What a hoot!


    This is a very old post, but the anecdote’s humor never fades. You should check out when you get a chance. It’s a project for writers like yourself.

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