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Grantham

Mon 3rd Feb: First aid day. Given by Royal Green Jacket infantrymen, so nothing we didn't know already. For some reason I was expecting, given the circumstances, a higher level of training given by medics. Weapons handling test in the evening. [email]

A Coy had eaten all the happy pills
A Coy had eaten all the happy pills

Tues 4th: A fucking cold day on the range! Snow - blizzarding - lukewarm tea. We're all dressed for the desert. Typical army - we're training for the Gulf in arctic conditions, though it's harldy their fault. Frozen fingers slow magazine loading, and the damp near-freezing ground makes 'prone' uncomfortable. Got through reasonably quickly, finished by lunch instead of taking all day.

Rob and Oswin arguing like little boys on the bus on the way home. The army-issue humour has finally reached gutter level - obscene sex, messy toilets and generaly lots of old 'war' stories.

The training is looking horribly vague and basic even at this stage. The RGJs are doing a good enough job and are friendly enough, which is a bit surprising given they are being 'left behind' to cover for firemen who earn considerably more than they do, and they are training a bunch of STABs that will be going.

We need driver conversions from our old beaten Land Rovers to some Wolfs borrowed from the HAC (I think ) HGV licences, lots of NBC decon practice, time to kit out vehicles, get fit(ter) etc. And what about extra weaponry? Rumour has it at least some of us will be 2km behind the NBC recce Fuchs. Which is 2km behind the front of the front line. In soft vehicles and with DROPs. What about LAW? Are we self-defending? If not, who is going to do it?

The laundry here is closed. The 'surplus' store is closed. We are 'gated' (that is, the soldiers are gated, not the officers). It is starting to look horribly Gibraltar like* but this time for real. It is getting scary. The good news is that Jake - Harry Flash in the flesh, and my immediate commanding officer - has switched personality to one that takes the role seriously. I am impressed.

Bad news for Jay who runs a recovery service with another WD as one of his drivers. The replacement he hired has disappeared. His business looks like it will collapse.

Spent too long talking about those WDs who had appealed themselves (or asked their companies to do so for them) and whether they should stay in. So I don't have time to go the gym, and will have to retire to the bar instead, ho hum, and email home.

Thurs 6th: Death by PowerPoint.

Iraq background. Personalities: Hussein, Uday The Playboy, Qusay The Extra Mad amonst others. Alot of moustaches, Rip would have a field day. Military: experience from Iran/Iraq war and Gulf War Part I, been bombed a lot over the last decade, 400,000 troops (Republican Gaurd 74,000, 'special 8,000, the rest milita). NBC: no nukes, have used chemical weapons before including Vx and sarin, suspect anthrax & botulism; have had time to prepare and have a variety of delivery mechanisms including SCUDs. Excerpts from 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Band of Brothers' seem to have become part of the training materials.

Stress Control - which started with a comment from the psy man that even talking about it might not be healthy, so we were an experiment!

We're all done now - trained up Professional Regular Soldieres in five days. Off to the bar for a celebratory drink [email]

I love the phrase "Performance Degredation" - the military term for being pooped out, exhausted, knackered, wiped, head-fucked, etc...

Next: Knook Camp

* I got a poor impressions of our two units' management abilities at summer camp at Gibraltar the previous year. It is an unfortunate side effect of the TA being part time. Civilian managers very rarerly want to just swap desks and in-trays for their weekend warrior activities. So you tend to get junior ranks with management experience, but more importantly senior ranks without. This is good - the TA is largely about learning and doing things you don't have an opportunity to do in civilian life. But unfortunately the cavalry are a 'traditional' bunch (read old fashioned) and many officers believe they are 'better men' than their soldiers. Some, even more unfortunately, are so carried away by the position, status and glitz that they think they can do no wrong. This is very worrying when you're heading for an environment where you count on your managers to learn very quickly, especially from their mistakes. [an error occurred while processing this directive]