In my last post from Iraq, I lamented the fact that I felt like only a peripheral member of the “warrior brotherhood,” that my experiences during OIF didn’t stack up to those of others who were in more intense situations. In swapping “war stories” with others at WLC, that feeling abated somewhat; I realized that while I had it easy, I was there and just by showing up and coming back I had accomplished something.
Still, it was extremely strange to be talking about our time in the war with guys who were barely old enough to have a beer.
As the long days wore on – getting up at 0430, in bed around 2230 – it became clear that WLC was going to be another Army experience that was supposed to be hard but through some twist of fate ended up being easy for me. I went to Fort Jackson for basic training; it lived up to its moniker of “relaxin’ Jackson.” AIT was a bore. Even Iraq was about as easy as it could have been – and then WLC. It’s not like I picked the “easy difficulty mode” when I selected “Army National Guard” from the proverbial drop-down menu; things just have seemed to work out that way.
The coursework was almost entirely electronic; each seat in the classroom had its own computer terminal and there was a web portal for the course that contained links to all the PowerPoint slides and Army field manuals and regulations covered in the instruction. It was pretty slick for a computer-savvy Signal dork like me; some of the guys with lower line scores (*cough*MPs*cough*) had a little more trouble getting the hang of searching PDF files and whatnot. The electronic FMs were a mixed blessing – at times I’d be cursing the inability to just flip physical pages to find a reference, and at others I’d be singing the praises of Adobe Reader as I hammered some obscure term into the search box.
Day 07 was also “hump day” – the halfway point of the course. Funny, that halfway point came a lot more quickly than my last stint of active duty…