The best training I ever got

While on active duty I was stationed in many places. I was in Desert Storm and OIF 2003-2004. I have trained until I thought I couldn’t go any more. But the best training I ever had was one event at Ft. Polk in the late 80s.

We had a system called P1 and P2. P1 was field time (two weeks, generally) P2 was recovery and prep for field time. I thought it sucked more than anything I had ever done, but looking back it was some of the best training ever. I was young, dumb and full of crap.  

I was a tanker during my years in the Army. When I got to Polk, they were over strength on tankers so they sent me to a mortar platoon. Most know what that is, but just in case you don’t, Mortar are grunts that deploy with mortar tubes. We were mech with 4.2 inch mortars. We usually traveled in M113s.

Well, the time came for us to train for our Expert Infantry Badges. There were two tankers in the platoon and we could not earn the badge because we went through armor basic, not infantry, but my platoon sergeant said “you DATs are going to do it anyway”. (DAT, Dumb Ass Tanker) So we trained and trained. We road marched until our feet were bleeding.

One day we were told to load up a ruck and get our gear, we would be staying overnight. They took us out at dusk in a deuce. They gave each of us an MRE and a map and we topped off our canteens. They dumped us all at different points in the woods so we were alone. We were not allowed to team up.  They then told everyone where a rally point was and they gave us an hour head start before they unleashed the scout platoon on us. That was the best escape and evasion training ever.

The event started at dark and lasted through the entire night until mid-morning the next day. Fear and desire to win drove me through that training. I walked and ran through pine forests, swamps, hills and creeks. There was no sleep that night.

I completed it and the next morning as the sun was coming up and stepped onto the LA 10 hardball and smiled. I was freezing cold, soaking wet and had traveled through some of the thickest forest I had ever been in and using only a map (no compass).

Sometimes the best training you will ever get is by doing, not by reading.

I was speaking to a very intelligent Patriot last night and they were speaking about people in America not wanting to do the heavy lifting any more. We all know what is coming and we must prepare in ways other than just buying food, guns and ammo. We must do.

I admit that I have gotten lazy over the last few years. I assumed that the shape I was in on active duty would last forever. I found out that that is very untrue. Beer and Gumbo aren’t the best ways to stay in shape.

If you are physically able, I challenge everyone to try this. You may not have a scout platoon chasing you, unless you can get the local militia to chase you. Keep it simple. Get a ruck, some water, a map and make yourself move through an unknown area at night with low visibility as fast as possible. Try it without all of the goodies in your bag and see what you can do. If you can do it with a map and nothing else, imagine how you will do with your bag of tricks. You may be miserable at the end, but you will have learned more about survival than just about any other way. We will all probably be faced with a situation like this in the future.

Remember this, half of an insurgency is escape and evasion. 

It may not all be in an area that you are familiar with. This training can be priceless. We need everyone in the fight not lost in the woods or worse captured by the enemy and killed. The time to train and prepare is ahead of the storm, not during the storm. And yes this DAT did get his EIB and still cannot wear it. Thanks a lot SSG Holmes for pushing me to my limit and way beyond.

8 thoughts on “The best training I ever got

  1. Ah yes, Infantry training. Got mine at Ft. Benning. I have always loved going off the marked trails while hiking, relying on my skills to come out safely. Stupid? Maybe. But I never failed. This was during the pre-cellphone days as well. My wife wonders why I have so many regional topo maps. I just respond – “well, you never know”. Stay Alert, Stay Alive.

      1. Whew, Georgia is bad enough state-wide! Good grief – sand, swamp, heat, cold, rain, dust, snakes, bugs. You name it, GA’s got it!

        1. have you ever noticed that all of the REMF bases are in awesome locations and the combat troops end up in the hell holes?

          1. No, not at all. But it still makes me wonder why all the smaller boots were unavailable/already gone when the shipment arrived at a base near the Korean DMZ. Good thing I wore an 11 1/2 😉

  2. ” The stateside version of Vietnam” Ft Polk was utilized in the movie “Tigerland” a depiction of boot camp, the canon fodder had to go through prior to going to Vietnam Good flick. The making of the movie extra feature gives a good expose on the virtues of that fine “tropical paradise” It was watching guys do the fish flop, from being in formation for hours in the heat that i fondly remember , being from the north. Survived that torture

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