Field Training Exercise 3 was the one most people were looking forward to, and it was definitely worthwhile to be anxious for. I packed a duffel bag completely full of all the clothes and gear we needed for the three night stay in the field. Basically, this was a big “camping trip”. I wanted to refrain from using that term, because it wasn’t all fun and games like camping on your own.
We set up an operating base in the middle of the woods. There were a total of fifteen huge tents we set up. Some for sleeping, eating, and conducting base operations. We were supposed to sleep in smaller shelters we brought, however, the weather became too cold and we consolidated in bigger tents with potbelly stoves and cots. I didn’t complain about that, but there were some privates who didn’t know how to maintain a fire and filled the tent with smoke.
We set up a huge perimeter around our base to protect it. During our time there we ran missions in a makeshift middle-eastern city called MOUT City (Military Operations in Urban Terrain). We ran day and night missions with a certain scenario to complete. Our main night mission was the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I know I’ve said other things have been my best experience, but things keep topping other things! This night mission we used blanks for ammunition, colored smoke, flash bangs, sim grenades, and our M4’s and M249’s. We moved as a squad along with a drill sergeant clearing rooms and taking out enemies. It was a rush moving around in the dark with guns and loud bangs going off around me. It was the closest experienced event to an actual combat zone.
During FTX 3, we had field chow and MRE’s for meals. Thinking back, it was hard to believe we were out there for three nights. It makes me want to go camping when I get back home. I love campfires and adventure outside. Anyway… back on subject, we tore down everything in a few hours the morning we left. Now all that was left was a 16K (about 10 miles) ruck march back to the company.
This is the longest ruck march we are required to complete. I was pretty excited and knew I would be able to do it. The march took a good amount of time to complete, but most of us made it back successfully with blisters and sore shoulders and all. Our ruck sacks we roughly 50 lbs. I believe. We took a few breaks in between. During the beginning, the hills were straight up and down. Near the end, there were smaller elevation changes.
Once we got back to the company after FTX and the march, we ate dinner and they released us for showers. We all went four days without showering. It showed and definitely smelled. It felt so great to get a hot shower. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see my bunk bed after sleeping on those cots. It was a very good night, and everyone slept really well.
FTX 3 was a huge training event, and I learned a bunch! It was great comrodery between other soldiers as well, toughing out the cold and surviving the missions together. Our next big FTX is number five, and that will be in AIT. I am counting down the days!
Until next time,