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WanderingEng  ·  1141 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: [Trip Report] Combat Field Training 2017

I was in the 32nd Brigade, 1-120 FA. My home armory was in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. We usually drilled at home eight weekends, then we spent four weekends and our summer two weeks at Fort McCoy. Fun fact: I got out December 2004 after serving my six year enlistment. They were stop lossed in May 2005 and activated in August. I sometimes think how different my life would have been had I joined six months later.

When I joined we had 155 mm M109A5s, guns that had been obsolete for at least a few years, but that's how it goes in Guard units. When we switched it was to the M119s. In FDC we rode around in M577s, something that wasn't particularly comfortable or fast, but it looked kind of neat and was warm and dry in any weather. When we switched to light artillery we had to give up the tracked vehicles and stick with HMMWVs.

Guard members at the officer and NCO level are fantastic. E-1 through E-4s are hit-or-miss. Half are in it for the college money, and half joined because they got out of high school and didn't really know what to do with their lives. The college kids (I was one of these) are mostly pretty good. They (we) understood things like grid coordinates quickly. The sort of lost guys (at least at the time (early 2000s) my unit was 100% male) could be all over the place. Some were good at field stuff; ask a specialist who's been in for 4-5 years to set up the camo with a couple privates, and they'd get it done and done well. But some were just as challenged at taking control of a military situation as they were their personal lives. They seemed perpetually kind of lost.

As a lower enlisted (in the Guard nearly the only way to get E-5 is to re-up), my observation of the officers in FDC was if they had good NCOs and a good relationship with them, it was an awesome place to be. If one enjoys being in the field (it's called field artillery after all), it looks great. My NCOs were great. They really knew their stuff and worked well with the more experienced specialists and the younger guys and worked well with our officer. He knew when to step in and when to stand back.

I'm totally lost on the uniform acronyms. I had BDUs, and I heard about ACUs but never had them issued to me. Beyond that, no idea.

There were a lot of good times, and I look back on my time fondly. I'm glad I served and glad I got out, and while I'd have deployed if they'd told me to, I'm glad I didn't have to.