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Old 02-04-2010, 03:10 PM
TactTm1 TactTm1 is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 287
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AJ (and all):

The photo of your Dad at Camp Shelby makes me think of 2 things. 1) How many of our fathers made sacrifices and understood the need to keep our nation free and 2) the fact that Camp Shelby is still a staging area for our troops. AJ, can't you just picture your dad reaching in and flipping on a light in that barracks?? Just 3 days ago, i got a letter from my friend who is a Big Cheese and making his stop at the Camp. He is making it a practice to send out a monthly update, so i thought I'd post this one here, just because of its tie in to Camp Shelby...plus it is interesting how many changes have taken place in battlefield tools and tactics. Hope this isn't considered a hijack the thread.

Friends of “New Orleans Own” Washington Artillery,
On January 8, 2010, the Washington Artillery mobilized for one year of active duty service in support of our nation’s global war on terrorism. We reported to our new readiness center on the recently renovated and re-opened Jackson Barracks and were transported via charter buses to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The first three days were spent moving in and establishing Command Posts (CPs), organizing Soldiers in their barracks. This is not an easy task. Gone are the days when you simply open a building, flip on the light switch, hang a map and telephone your higher headquarters and let them know that you are operational. We had to array two different satellite dishes to establish uplinks that enable digital communications for a local area network (LAN) called the Command Post of the Future (CPOF). We had to do the same thing on a similar system for tracking logistics. We also had to establish multiple tactical radio systems that are essentially encrypted. We also established a third radio up-link with a satellite as a redundant method of communication. The map on the wall has been replaced by operational graphics that are displayed on multiple tracking real-time events. Literally, as an event occurs, it populates or appears on our graphics. We all wear headsets with micro-phones so that we can cross-talk across the LAN. You can imagine all of the jokes going around with staff members wearing headsets imitating Vince, the “SHAM-WOW” salesman. Our telephones have all been replaced by voice-over internet protocol phones (VOIP). The only thing that remains the same from the CPs of the past at is the light switch.
We began our tactical training with a focus on battle drills and battle field visualization. In other words, battle drills are the specific actions that are based on events. When you receive small arms fire you do this; if you sustain a casualty you do this; if you hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) you do this. It may sound simple but it is not. All of this battle drills are coordinated among every member of your vehicle platform; typically a HMMWV or MRAP. Your vehicles actions are synchronized among the squad who is synchronized among the platoon, etc. We continually rehearse these battle drills until they become a function of muscle memory or a reflexive action like breathing. We have also been focusing on battlefield situational awareness and having a common operating picture among the battalion and adjacent forces. One of the tools that we use is Blue Force Tracker (BFT). It is like a civilian GPS however it shows what everyone is doing, not just you.
Much of our time has been spent on individual weapons qualification (IWQ) and crew-served weapons (CSW) qualification. Special emphasis has been placed on training with our weapon optics and night vision scopes (thermals). Some weapon systems have fixed mounts while others are worn by the Soldier on their helmet. We were also issued Improved Outer Tactical Vests (IOTV) or body armor along with knee and elbow pads, ammo pouches first aid kits etc. Each Soldier fights with about 50 pounds of equipment by the time we load out with our basic load of ammo. It takes a little getting used to but it is not that bad.
Living conditions at Camp Shelby have been adequate. The Soldiers are sleeping in 40 men open barracks while the NCOs and officers sleep in either 2 or 4 man rooms. The higher your rank, the fewer bunk-mates. The food is prepared and served by a local catering company. The food is actually very good and in large quantities. The best part is that there is no cooking or clean-up requirement for Soldiers. Our focus is solely on the fight. Morale is extremely high and only getting better as we anticipate the Saints victory in the Super Bowl. We have ensured that our training will cease at about 1500 hours so that we can all watch the game. We did the same thing for the NFC Championship game last week.
In closing I would like to give credit our successes at Camp Shelby to the overwhelming support that we have received from the home front. This support has been the foundation from which our high morale is sustained. It is an honor to serve our great nation and to be a part of this great group of Citizen Soldiers called “New Orleans Own” Washington Artillery.
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1/141 Field Artillery
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