The last week at Camp McCrady is pretty quick. The big events are learning to clear rooms (a la SWAT teams) and convoy operations. The biggest classroom training is SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape); basically how to prevent being captured and if you are, what to do to stay alive.
Room clearing is really fun. If you’ve played Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, or pretty much any other anti-terrorist type game, you probably already know much of what is taught. However, not everyone in the Navy plays these games and it shows. Though you learn the basics, there is no way you can learn enough to do it right. There simply isn’t enough time and the possible scenarios are too numerous to practice. But if you get the fundamentals down, you at least have a fighting chance. Just remember to clear your sector, don’t “tag” your team mates, and always look for booby traps.
The convoy was fun but boring, for me at least. I was a gunner but the direction I faced prevented me from participating in any of the firefights that occurred. I had 4 full magazines at the start of the exercise and I had 4 full magazines at the end. Very disappointing. But it was still a fun exercise; not that I want to do that all the time, especially in Iraq.
For this last week, all I can really suggest is start your packing early. I started about 3 days before we flew out and I still had to do final packing the morning of the flight. Also, if you plan on using the issued insecticide on your uniforms, do it early, either during one of the previous weekends or first thing in the morning. The afternoon thunderstorms make it very difficult to dry your uniforms in time to pack them with everything else.
If you are know you’re going to be doing a lot of convoys or other operations that may involve you becoming separated from your group, either because of enemy action or other reasons, make sure you stock up on survival equipment. Have something to start a fire, signal rescuers, etc. Though they recommend having multiple items scattered throughout your gear, realistically cost and weight concerns will limit the amout of gear you will have. Redundancy is a nice idea but not really possible when you have to consider you’ll be wearing body armour, helmet, weapon, Camelbak, et al. Since I won’t be going on many convoys I limited my initial investment to a magnesium fire starter, a combination survival tool (compass, whistle, thermometer, and magnifying glass), a small lockblade knife, survival mirror, a space blanket, and a couple of carabiners.
That’s about all there is for the last week. Next stop: Kuwait. It sounds like a rehash of what we’ve already done with lots of administrative processing, weapons familiarization, and convoy training, except that it’s in an actual desert. It doesn’t sound like fun and none of us are looking forward to it. Guess I’ll let you know how bad it really is.