This will be a little bit different than my previous AAR. I won't be going into the details about what we did as much. Instead, I will try and share what I learned that hopefully will be beneficial to you. I'm going to break this up into parts as well.
I would like to thank the host of the class and his wife for allowing us to use their land for training and for providing us with 3 delicious square meals a day. That allowed us to get in more class time by not having to stop and prepare our own meals. In addition, it tasted light years ahead of any MRE. It also provided ample opportunity for creating a stronger team cohesion as we ate around the campfire.
As has been previously stressed, PT before hand will help tremendously. This time around, my endurance was much stronger and I was able to recover very quickly. Do PT. It does make a difference. Also not eating Wendy's Chili Cheese Fries the night before helps as well.
The SUT portion of the class was a more condensed version of the previous SUT class I attended. However, despite this, Mosby was able to teach the same information.
Things learned via observation and demonstrations:
- Don't use the digital pattern ACU's if you can avoid it. Mosby doesn't call them I SEE YOU for nothing.
- In a side-by-side comparison against natural terrain, ACU digital did not blend. You'd be better off wearing earth toned street clothes.
- Don't show up to class with every item of your gear, from your hat to your boots, in black.
- You can't hide well dressed in black, day or night...you end up looking like a Tactical Timmy.
- Secure your CamelBak at the bottom so when you dive for cover, your forward inertia doesn't cause it flop on top of your head and over your eyes, obscuring you vision.
- As hilarious as this was to observe, in a real life situation, this could get you killed.
- Make sure the ruck you use can also hold your sleep system.
- Attaching your sleep system to the bottom of your ruck ends up hitting you in the back of the legs as you walk and causing a shift in balance with every step that you have to work harder to counter-act in addition to slowing you down.
- Make sure you purchase a quality ruck that won't burst at the zipper
- A busted zipper tends to allow your items to fall out as you patrol.
- 3-point slings are a hindrance
- Going prone with a 3 point sling slows down your target acquisition.
- Don't take your Ranger Buddy's word that his chamber is empty. VERIFY!
- Twice, a round was found inside a supposedly empty chamber in someone's rifle. Make sure you remove the magazine before racking the slide to empty the chamber. Then have it independently verified.
- For training purposes, wrap a strip of neon colored tape around your magazines
- I did not and lost a full magazine. Someone else did and found theirs.
- Keep your bolt carrier wet to prevent malfunctions.
- A couple of rifles started to malfunction regularly due to the muddy/dusty conditions until a liberal amount of oil was applied. Clean your rifle in the field whenever possible.
- Paint your rifle
- It's a tool. Paint it to match your surroundings and break up its shape. Krylon - $4. Black rifles pop out and are very easy to spot in a field environment due to their un-naturally straight lines.
- Ditch the sunglasses.
- They reflect the sun like a beacon for the enemy, and are easily identifiable even if the rest of your face is not.
- Use camo face paint liberally.
- Break up the shape of the human face. The human face is extremely easy to identify. Reapply as necessary throughout the day.
- Boonie hat trumps baseball cap.
- Baseball hats are easy to identify due to their un-natural rounded shape. Boonie hats allow for the attachment of foliage to break up the shape of the human head.
- When stalking, slow movements on your belly are best.
- Mosby was able to crawl up to our patrol base with out being detected despite our best efforts and 360° security. In our defense, it was dark.
- Stay in the shadows and use micro-terrain to navigate.
- When the patrol signals to stop, move to the shadows, don't stand in the open.
- Don't be afraid to modify your equipment if it will make it work better.
- Those of us with leg holsters learned how to modify them to ride up closer to our hip, thus allowing easier access to our sidearm. Ditch the top strap and shorten the drop strap to make the holster sit higher.
- If you can hide from human eyes in daylight, you can hide from NODs at night.
- NODs are not magic. Hiding from them is easier than trying to hide from eyes in the day.
- Rain ponchos come in handy.
- A short rain decided to stop by. Ponchos kept us dry. In addition, they can be used to construct a shelter.
- Cold weather sleep systems really work.
- Make sure your sleep system works for cold weather.
- A Casualty blanket can come in handy.
- If your sleep system is not adequate, you can wrap a casualty blanket (reflective side in) around you to reflect your own body heat back on yourself.
- Dig a hole, crap in it, then cover it up.
- Some person(s) apparently didn't know, or didn't care about basic field hygiene methods for disposing of your crap. Not only was this unsanitary, and evidence of your presence for enemy units to locate, it was disrespectful to the land owner.
- When contact is made, ditch your ruck while prone.
- A ruck on your back in the prone makes you easier for the enemy to spot you and kill you. Practice getting it off in 5 seconds or less while prone. It can be done.
- When going prone, pay attention to where you will land.
- A few people landed on cactus. I happened to land on spot that pushed my magazines on my war belt up into my ribs as I landed. Cracked two ribs. Be careful, but be quick.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Your speed will improve as well as your movements and proficiency.
- Bigger isn't always better.
- There were three .308 rifles in the group, which meant more frequent reloads and less lead being thrown downrange at the enemy.
- Always look around to see what your team is doing and communicate.
- The lead patrol team failed to notice the other patrol teams signal to stop and kept on marching.
Part 2 here.