Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Beginning of a Journey: Becoming an Air Advisor, Part III

This past week, we got some more time in the classroom learning about Afghan culture and ways we can offend them. The amazing part is that their culture is so different from ours, it's really not that hard. Simply point or touch them with your left hand, and you've greatly insulted them. Ask them a question they don't know the answer to in front of others, and you've insulted their honor. They must save face. Its a good thing I'm giong through this course!

As I mentioned in my last post, we also spent a significant amount of time out in the field this week. We had an entire day of weapons use. I've shot the 9-mil before and am fairly comfortatble with it, but the first time I shot the M4 (basically an improved M16) was to qualify right before coming here. I was still trying to figure out where the trigger was and how to sling it. I was hopelessly lost trying to figure out how to shoot it when you can't reach your shoulder pocket because of the body armor! I can tell you that their course here was incredible! I am now much more comfortable with both weapons! Those of you that shoot know how good it feels to be confident with the weapons you use.

Another day, we did land navigation (orienteering in Boy Scout terms). I thought, "Finally! Something I know how to do!" But, even though I was already comfortable using a map and compass, I am now fully task-certified on navigating using UTM (a much more user-friendly land-nav system than lat-long). Look out Boy Scouts! We'll talk about this on the hike! When we did the practical exercise, I unknowingly teamed up with a guy that actually graduated from the Naval Academy and had to learn to do this stuff out on the water. Needless to say, we rocked the course!

The latter half of the week was driver's ed. Seriously. Well, okay, maybe it wasn't your daddy's driver's ed. We learned how to safely push our vehicles to the limits and learned a little about the physics behind speed, brakes, and tires. For example, you get much more traction staying off your brakes in a turn and trusting your car (tires) to do the work for you. Of course, if you do that too sharply or at too high a speed, you risk a rollover, so you have to know your vehicle's limits. We got to feel a few of those limits doing sudden lane changes, slaloms, and high-speed turns. Cristi has now declared that I'm no longer allowed to teach Addison how to drive. I just don't understand! Wouldn't you consider those to be critical skills everyone should know? I mean they keep telling us they're teaching us things that apply to much more than just the combat zone! What do you think?

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