We have been getting up even earlier than normal and shooting our weapons a lot to pre-qualify and finally qualify. We also got outfitted for our MOPP gear, or CNRB (Chemical, Nuclear, Radiological and Biological) gear. Friday we started convoy, IED and land navigation training and continued yesterday with a practical land navigation exercise (our squad was the first one back!) and more convoy/IED training.
A shipmate fires the Big Dog: the 50 caliber.
We learned IEDs, specifically victim-activated IEDs (where the victim triggers the bomb by picking up, disturbing or touching it) kill more U.S. servicemen than all other combat- AND non-combat-related sources, including being shot.
The bottom line is don't touch or pick-up anything when you're in the field.
Today's MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) includes a heater to warm up your food.
Apparently the insurgents in Afghanistan have a little more honor than those in Iraq. Iraqi insurgents would emplace their IEDs, set back and wait with video. When the bomb detonated they would not offer any other resistance or battle. In Afghanistan they use the IED to stop a convoy for subsequent attack.
Afghan insurgents are very clever: they hide or camouflage the weapons so they're almost impossible to detect. I guess this is to counter their poor shooting and inferior military capability, but it's such a cowardly way to fight because they place these bombs among civilians inside cities!
What I find very interesting is a parallelism between Hollywood movies and real life: the bad guys do wear black to faithfully (pun intended) represent evil in the battle with society.