NOD: Night Optical Device. We were issued AN/PVS-14 monocular night vision devices (MNVDs) today – much to everyone’s excitement. It’s like Christmas! We’re doing a test exercise with them tonight, since no one’s ever used them, and I think it’s gonna get crazy. Bored soldiers + empty barracks + high-tech toys = night infiltration MISSION.
It’s somewhat surprising how well-equipped we are, considering the horror stories in the news of other Guard units having to buy their own body armor, performing ridiculous vehicle modifications, and the like. We have new weapons, new body armor, night vision equipment, and soon we’ll be getting new generators and radios for our trucks – not bad for a lowly reserve-component unit.
Yesterday we visited the 1st Cavalry Division museum. It was a good museum, but what was most surprising was the comments from a couple of our troops. We were walking around the outside of the museum, gawking at the fleet of armored vehicles from WWI to the present – including captured Iraqi ones – and PFC P said to me, “It’s surprising how all of the Iraqi vehicles were made by the Russians and the French.” I tried hard not to let my jaw drop. Is the meme of “the US supported Saddam Hussein” so strong in the press that people actually believe that we supplied the majority of his weapons? Apparently so.
(Just for clarification, the Iraqi army is equipped exclusively with Soviet (now Russian) weaponry, with a few French and Brazilian items thrown in – this is why you never see a mob of Iraqis running around with M16s or Humvees.)
The birds in Texas are rather spectacular. In place of crows and common grackles there are enormous iridescent navy-blue grackles with staring yellow eyes and deep v-shaped tails. They have two calls: one sounds like squeaky wheel bearings, and the other like a fire alarm. Then there are the flycatchers – it seems like there are two species on base, one being a normal-looking type (yellow-bellied flycatcher?) and the other being the scissor-tailed flycatcher. The scissor-tail is so named because of its enormous tail feathers – easily twice as long as the rest of the bird’s body – that stick out like a pair of scissors. Both of these birds perch on the powerlines and trees around the barracks and are often seen darting and weaving like tiny, impossibly-maneuverable fighter jets in pursuit of big insects.
Tomorrow we’re back on the rifles again.