Sunday, April 25, 2010

In The Midst Of It

I've still been reading Ben's basic training blog ... he talked about being hungry for junk food, being hungry for more sleep after being elected "bay leader", he talked about being hungry for news from home. He talked about obstacle courses and survival training.

He was proud of himself for scoring "expert" in his marksmanship with weapons training (m16, or maybe m4, can't remember which), and he talked about scoring "expert" again in grenade training. He said, "The live grenades are…LOUD and very powerful. Standing about 500 meters away with a large berm between us, I still flinched when every grenade went off. Not only is it louder than every rifle, you feel the compression as if you were right next to the barrel of a gun as if fired. I was very impressed, and nervous. But it’s over now and I’m glad to have experienced throwing two grenades. (You should’ve seen how bad my hands were shaking after I pulled the pin out and prepared to throw.)" I read seriously, thinking that at some point Private Ryan will most likely be going through this training, and though it will be hard and it will be stressful, I will feel that the US Army has let me down considerably if the WTC really does prove to be "Basic Lite" as we have referred to it. I wish it didn't have to be so hard ... but I do want my soldier properly trained because if he is ever put in a situation where it is his life or the life of some insurgent loser, I want him to know how to make sure he can come home and tell me about it.

And then I read the next sentence ... "I’ve never thrown anything so far in my life," and at once I cracked up laughing. I bet that was true. I bet he'd never thrown a football that far, I bet he really had never in his life thrown something so hard and in such effort to get it away as when he pulled the pin from a live grenade knowing that that very second could end up being one of his last. But the air of seriousness remains. There is a reason he'd never thrown anything so far in his life, and there will be a reason that Private Ryan will have never thrown with all his might before, also.

People tend to downplay military training, that it isn't so bad because it is, after all, "only training". I am not going to pretend that what he is doing and will be doing in the next few weeks is anything close to being in the desert or being in Afghanistan or any other war zone ... but I will also not discount the dangers that are present in military training situations. The do use live rounds at some point, they do use live grenades at some point, and they go through volatile training that could be disastrous such as learning to make MRE's into explosive devices. Not to mention being new to the harshness that is military training, the stress and the mental abuse designed to toughen you up should you ever end up MIA or as a POW. Training may not be the "real deal", but that doesn't bring it to the level of being a walk in the park either.