As I said in my earlier mail, we have been doing various bits of training, but let me relate an adventure we had the other day.
Since we had some extra slack time (during acclimation and waiting for our scheduled ranges), the battalion commander and I thought we should go down to southern Kuwait to see and meet folks we would be dealing with in our higher HQ. We gathered the several senior folks who should go down with us, arranged an NCO to drive the 16-passenger bus and set off.
Well, the warrant officer who was navigating, only had verbal directions. No map. Not even a strip map. After an hour of rolling across dirt roads in the desert, and then a couple hours rolling down the highway in the direction he was told to go, we roll up to a Kuwaiti checkpoint... What??? The very nice border guard laughed at us and told us we were at the Saudi Arabia border and we needed to turn around and go about 200 km (back) to where we wanted to go.
What?? Saudi Arabia??? Who has the map? Why doesn't the guy up front have the map? Give it here (so I can give it him)!
So we set off back the way we came with the warrant officer now having the map... Realizing we would run low on fuel, the driver and warrant officer decide we should stop at another base camp and fill up. OK. No problem since there is one coming up. We turn off the road, following a sign to Camp Victory...
Now it is important to understand that all the camps are way out in the desert with only vague (to me) dirt roads leading to them. We follow the road in the direction of the camp (which we can see in the distance), until the road ended in a berm, with no way over. We turn and go along the berm, hoping to go around or find another road leading over. All of a sudden the bus slows down significantly. The driver (not being very skilled at off-road driving) presses the gas harder and the wheels start spinning, sand flying everywhere. We are stuck! The back wheels of the bus are buried almost to the axle. We futz around digging and using rocks and cardboard MRE boxes and other stuff under the wheels, but no luck. The driver doesn't understand how to go slow enough the wheels won't spin and we just keep digging deeper.
So, after making sure I have my "Camelbak" water bag, I set off across the desert to a sand quarry we can see which had some Kuwaiti construction guys working at it. I remember the scoop-loaders which were lined up near the quarry. Although driving a scoop-loader isn't hard, I fortunately find a couple of guys working. Now I don't speak a lick of Arabic or Farsi, but I manage through gestures and pointing to get the idea across. One of the guys grabs a chain, and after letting me climb on top of the loader, we set off. It was pretty funny with me coming to the rescue of the bus, like the cavalry, chain in hand, riding atop a scoop-loader.
Although we tried to thank the guy, money wasn't interesting (presumably because it is too hard to spend US dollars in Kuwait). However, MREs and bottles of water were gratefully accepted.
We never did find Camp Victory nor our original destination, but found
another camp to get fuel. We returned home, planning to go the next day down to
Next installment: 3 days in the field, doing "Close Quarter Marksmanship" and "Convoy Operations" with live ammunition.
Peter / Terafan