Commentary Search

There I Was...

  • Published
  • By Capt. Daniel Morris
  • 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron
There I was... driving a Humvee through the swamps of Louisiana in the middle of the night using nothing but night vision goggles to navigate the rough terrain. It was quite an interesting experience. In fact, every day in Tigerland was interesting. In preparation for my deployment to Afghanistan I was sent to Combat Advisor training on Fort Polk, Louisiana, affectionately referred to as Tigerland since soldiers began training there in preparation for the war in Vietnam. The training lasted almost three months and made all the difference in preparing me for my deployment.

When the training began in August, I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't know anyone else attending the training. It didn't take long before our class began bonding and getting to know each other. Each day presented a new set of challenges and we had to work together in order to get the most out of the training. Through the weeks our class learned several valuable skills to take us through each of our unique deployments to Afghanistan. We started with more than 40 hours of Dari language training. Next we received an in-depth Combat Life Saver course. Each person walked away CLS certified. We also learned about Afghan cultures and religious beliefs became familiar with the programming and operation of each radio used in the area of responsibility, and the operation and maintenance of each vehicle and weapon system we may encounter while deployed.

Finally, and perhaps the most useful part of the training, was the intensive mounted combat patrol course. This combined several of our previous lessons and equipped each of us to fill the various roles associated with convoy missions, including being a truck commander and convoy commander.

Each section of the training was taught by the soldiers assigned to the 162nd Infantry Brigade. Most of the instructors were veterans of several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. It didn't take long for our class to figure out the invaluable knowledge and the experience of these soldiers was perhaps the best sources of knowledge in preparing for our deployments. The instructors were there to help each and every day and most weekends. They put in just as many hours as the students and really wanted each of us to absorb the lessons being taught.

The best part of the training wasn't the knowledge we received though. The best part of the training was the networking each of us did with our fellow Airmen. Our class was composed of almost 80 percent Air Force personnel (including two outstanding Airmen from our own 6th Communications Squadron) and these Airmen were some of the best I've ever had the privilege of working with. Everyone was professional. Everyone was motivated. Everyone took the training seriously. Each one of us worked together each and every day to maximize our time in training. We all knew that this was the time to make any mistakes, not on the battlefield.

Once we graduated, we all went to different assignments all over Afghanistan. When we finally arrived in Afghanistan we all knew we could count on our Airmen brothers and sisters for anything we needed, anytime. It was this invaluable networking tool that really was the most beneficial part of the training.

I saw my classmates everywhere while deployed and even worked with a few of them on a daily basis. On top of that, the bonds I formed with the other Logistics Readiness Officers proved to be most beneficial relationships I made while deployed. There were only four of us and we were all deployed to different locations throughout the AOR, however, we were in constant contact with one another. Whether we were discussing the Afghan Decrees, sharing our experiences as advisors, or calling to ask for advice on how to tackle the several logistical challenges associated with the Afghan theater, they proved to be the most valuable bonds formed during the 79 days of training at Fort Polk.

In conclusion, even though my time in Tigerland was long and sometimes difficult, I wouldn't change the training I received when I was there. The bonds each of us form when training to deploy will last your entire deployment and you never know when you will run into someone you already know.