20060615

Home for a few days

Well I am home from my abbreviated annual training for the Army National Guard. This year I was assigned to support an exercise for Battalion staff and above. Basicaly my job consisted of controlling a battalion of artillery on a computer simulation and relay and execute orders from the battalion. That really is a very simplified version of what was really going on, but it was a lot of fun. But it was also pretty low intensity from what I am used to. The simulation took place over about two days. The rest of the time was preperation to make sure all the computers and coms were talking like they are supposed to. If you have ever played a tactical wargame (as opposed to a first person sim) you will probably have a pretty good idea of what my point of view of the whole exercise was. One frustration was that we only had a 3 hour block of intruction on how to interact with this very complicated sim. How to move units, how to fire the artillery missions, how to request resupply, etc. Now, 3 hours to learn how to play what was (from my perspective) just a computer game seems like a long time, but I can tell you that it was not enough. After that we had another 3 hour block of practical exercise in an "off-line" sim that just involved the "fires" (Artillery cell) group. The first night (I worked from 2000 until 0800 - 8 PM to AM) all was going pretty well until about 2230 and then things started to get very busy. Having to control three firing batterys as well as their support units kept my fingers moving - not to mention trying to keep the information flowing to and from the Fires control center. At 2330 I noticed a platoon of enemy tanks (well, only 3 of them) moving up and getting ready to through the friendly infantry in front of one of my batterys. I called in a request to displace the battery and got only silence in return. I repeated this request several times until the battery come under direct fire from the tanks. To make a long story short the six 155MM howitzers shot over 20 rounds at the two tanks that had made it this far and did nothing to them. I lost the entire batterty, and the tanks escaped! This not only got noticed among the artillery community there, but the entire brigade and made to the overall AAR (after action review). *sigh* I should have fired barrages instead of individual direct fire shots. I also should have taken the initiative to move them without orders, but I was told that this is not my training cycle but the battalion officers so... the other twelve howitzers that I controlled performed very well and the only other 'losses' they sustained was a single soldier that had been injured somehow while the battery was emplacing - but even that was simulated for the brigade medical groups. They had to perform the evacs, etc. The second night went a lot smoother. Due to a variety of reasons (of which I can only assume) the sim was started from scratch once more. The same battery (Alpha, known as "Zues") was ambushed as they moved through a small town while moving to their second firing point. This time they were able to react much more quickly. The battery placed "effective fires" upon the enemy and defended themselves admirably with the loss of "only 10 men" and one howitzer. There is so much more that I could go into detail on, but over all it was a lot of fun. I was able to see how the various units within a brigade interact and how all the parts need to work together to effectively execute missions and get the job done. When we had a final formation I was surprised to be called forward. I was given a battalion coin for my work in the sim cell for "performing the functions of a Captain and for allowing an entire artillery battery to get decimated". :) I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I am more honored by receiving such a 'trinket' than getting some ribbon. I will have a post sometime about these little momentoes I keep, but for now this will do. :) "See" you all in another week or so. Verse for today: Matthew 6:19-21, esv “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust [5] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

1 comment:

ALP said...

Sounds like overall it went well.

Hope you enjoy your vacation.