commentary on Politics and a little bit of everything else

Getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan…….

A piece on how the U.S. Army gets its troop ready to go fight in Afghanistan…..

CAMP GUERNSEY, Wyo. — Looking for a place to prepare for its yearlong combat tour in Afghanistan in September, the infantry battalion that calls itself “the Wild Boars” settled on this remote patch of windswept high plains.

For a month, its soldiers battled blizzards and sub-zero temperatures, conditions that are common to Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain. They practiced shooting almost straight up steep ridges, and straight down. They shot daytime and nighttime. They shot while running and they shot while running and wearing heavy packs. They practiced rappelling their wounded down mountainsides. They practiced calling in live artillery fire. The logistics guys practiced pushing hot meals, water and ammo out 15 miles to remote patrol bases. They ran night patrols and practiced chasing down insurgents who had set ambushes for them. In accordance with the Army’s three imperatives, they moved, they shot, they communicated.

For the first frigid days they felt sorry for themselves, coming as they did out of the semi-tropical warmth of Fort Polk, La. Then they got down to business. They lived hard, waking with frost on their sleeping bags, shaving in ice water, eating with their gloves on. They knelt in quick huddles, hunched against a cutting wind, to game plan their maneuvers. And at month’s end, they flew home, having first practiced how to gracefully reintegrate with their families at Fort Polk, a skill critical to keeping military families intact.

President Obama’s “surge” of 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan is well under way, with the final units arriving late this summer.

Less visible is the continuing rotation into and out of Afghanistan of the 83,000 U.S. troops already there on 12-month deployments. Combined with the 86,000 U.S. Army soldiers serving in and around Iraq, the war imposes an unrelenting schedule on troops and families. It means soldiers spend weeks away from home on field exercises, replicating the conditions under which they will operate in combat.

And the coming deployments are expected to be hard ones, despite the Obama surge. “We are not likely to see the dramatic decrease in violence [in Afghanistan] that we saw in the first six months [of the surge] in Iraq,” Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in the region, told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. “2010 will be a difficult year, a year that will see progress in reversal of Taliban gains, but also a year of tough fighting and periodic setbacks.”

March 23, 2010 - Posted by | Blogs, Government, Media, Men, Military, Other Things, PoliticalDog Calls, Travel, Updates, Weather | , ,

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