Fort Sill, the home of the US Army’s artillery, also hosts a number of other training activities. For example, I did the second phase of the Basic Officer’s Leaders Course there, the infantry phase. It’s a harsh, rugged landscape with a fairly unforgiving climate. Scorching hot in the summer, freezing cold in the winter with winds that cut through you like a knife. In other words, a great training environment.
Great training environment? Surely I must be kidding. No, I’m not. Misery focuses the mind, monotony and harsh conditions prepare the soldier for war. Napoleon said “The first quality of a soldier is constancy in enduring fatigue and hardship. Courage is only the second. Poverty, privation and want are the school of the good soldier.” He was right.
So at the moment a close relative is enjoying the hospitality of Fort Sill while she undergoes the US Army’s Basic Combat Training, an eleven-odd week gut-check.
Forgive me if I’m a bit distracted by this. I’ve managed a bit of writing for a friend, but I haven’t done much else. Right now she is in the communications restricted phase, the trainees typically don’t get phone privileges for several weeks after the start of the training process.
I have only vague, blurry memories of Basic. Hey, it was 27 years ago. Stuff like watching my supposedly perfect, inspection ready wall locker getting its painstakingly arranged contents dumped out into a heap on the ground. Running in the early morning. Stuffing food into my mouth faster than I thought possible. Long hours on the drill field. Learning the care and feeding of the M-16 rifle. And so on.
It is a moment of supreme disconnect for me to imagine this young soldier going through this hell, when I remember holding her as a baby. I know she will be beaten by pugil sticks. She will throw a live grenade. She will choke on riot gas… the list goes on.
So yeah, I’m a little preoccupied at the moment.
Hope to get to some serious writing, beta reading, whatever, soon. These dog days of summer are eating at me pretty bad.
In other news, Space X continues to do the miraculous, they caught one of their first-stage fairings with a recovery boat lately. This will save some six million dollars per flight. Also, there’s some work going on with solar sails; people are working on proof-of-concept stuff. Pretty awesome.
My thoughts keep returning to Fort Sill like one’s tongue worrying a broken tooth, though.
Good luck, soldier.
You’ll need it.