Friday, June 30, 2017

CFRLS Notes (20): 13 Km March

The 13 Km rucksack march is part of the trip to Franham. Some might think it's easy but not after 3 days of patrolling, walking, rappling and other stuff. At the same time it's not as difficult as it may be seen if you're ready for that physically and mentally.
My story is different because I had reached the maximum number of failures before even being allowed to go to Farnham but they took me there anyways! It's a separate story but I have to say it here as it's somehow connected. When the platoon went to the training filed on a Mon. morning I was not part of it because I had already failed enough number of test that I would have to be re-coursed after a formal review of my file. I hung out with bunch of new guys without doing much until one of the staff received a call. He told me that I should get my stuff ready to go to the said training field! I only had 40 min. while the platoon had been given the whole evening! I tried to get everything as fast as I could with the help of one of the staff and hopped in the big truck which had come to the garrison.
We rushed there and I realized the guys were involved in a sort of exercise.
The march actually happened 3 days after that! There were other activities that we did in between which will be posted separately.
We wake up quite late although we could use the low temperature of the early morning and make a good progress. Obviously the recruits should be tortured both mentally and physically for any type of training or it's not worth it! We headed to the kitchen for breakfast and by the time we started the damn march the sun was high in the sky and was burning everything!
The pace was not as fast as 8 Km but still was fast. My rucksack was not weighted by the staff but I weigh it myself just to be sure it is not less than the standard. It was a little more than 38 lbs. which is at least 5 lbs. more than the required weight. The path is marked by milestones for each kilometer. A number of people started having problem just a few minutes after the start. I was trying hard not to fall behind. I believe a number of recruits faked injury or tiredness and discontinued the march. The Cheater was among them. I think more than 7 people didn't finish and that is mainly because it does not affect their final score. I mean if you're not failing and you won't be re-coursed why the hell would you march 13 Km in a hot day?! I did it just because I wanted to prove to them that I'm not weak. I had already been out of the platoon due to the number of failures I had.
A CAF helmet used by recruits and personnel engaged in combat.
No secrets are being revealed here as I found this picture in the
net! The star-shape, brown, plastic protective strap in the center 
is the one which protects the skull from the 1.4 Kg helmet and 
as well is the part which was losing its colour due to excessive 
sweating during the march!

I personally didn't see anyone stopping or fainting. I made sure that I get water from the last station that helped me to do the last 2 or 3 Kilometers better. When we reached there we didn't have much time. We had to perform casualty drag. My team member was heavy but I successfully finished the 25 m. drag. After two boxes of vegged oranges were waiting for us! I grabbed and enjoyed as many as I could. We showered and went for lunch after that. I think the march took more than 2 hours. I kept the time but later made a mistake and reused my timer without recording the desired time. I know the time was between 02:15 and 02:30 hours.
One interesting thing that I forgot to mention is that during the march I realized a colourful liquid is dripping off my helmet! It was kind of red/dark orange! First I thought I was bleeding but then I didn't see any reason for that! I took it off and tried to see what it was while marching! I noticed that sweat was fading the colour of the inner part of the helmet which is a plastic type of strap protecting skull from the heavy metal of helmet! This continued to the last minutes of the march. At the end my combat shit was socked in sweat and of course we were given time to shower and change before we ate. 
(Photo, above: This picture which was found by a random search in Internet shows a group of guys during their rucksack march. From the type of their backpacks and their uniforms I can easily say that they are CAF recruits. The area does not resemble anywhere that we did our march)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CFLRS Notes (19): Work-out Challenge

One of the good aspects of CFLRS is its PT or physical training sessions. You may have as many as 3 sessions a week. At time it might be 2 classes in a day. Staff are mostly OK and helpful. There was one guy that I had a very good relationship with because I always was fast, on time and engaging. I can't name him here of course.
One day he invited the entire platoon to a challenge after the work-out was finished. By reading this, he will find out who I am. It's OK. It's no military secret.
The challenge was to hold a Plank position for as long as possible. The winner would chose two songs and the staff would download them and play them in the next PT session.
So here we were all more than 30 people, all younger than me. We adopted the plank position and I waited. People had to give it up one after another. I had no pain or bad feeling. My only problem was sweating! It was streaming down my neck and chest! After almost 7 min. there was only me and a young guy, originally from Poland. A young fella who looked fit. Everyone was cheering and yelling and the staff was surprised that I was able to hold it that long! The other guy eventually gave it up while in pain and I won! I even held it a few seconds after he collapsed on the floor!
I presented my two songs to him the next session: Hell's Bells by AC/DC and one more that I can't recall but I'm sure I like it as much as the other one. It's hard to chose two songs among hundreds that you like from different musicians but that was a very good challenge and I liked it.
(Photo: AC/DC in a live performance playing one of their amazing songs)

Monday, June 26, 2017

CFLRS Notes (18): C7A2 and all the Related

Weapon handling is one of the topics which is taught in CFLRS. It's no secret and that's why I'm writing about it. Everyone could search to see C7A2 is the official rifle of Canadian Armed Forces. So I'm not revealing any secret in this post. The subject starts with a little theory about the rifle and it's components. In order not to reveal any details, as might be a problem, I'm just going to say that everything that a soldier must know to be able to use their rifle safely and efficiently, is taught. Anything from cleaning, assembling, disassembling, you name it.
The problem is, similar to other topics in the school, that the instructors want to finish everything quickly and make you a sharpshooter as fast as possible! There's a little exaggeration into this but they rush you and that's where my problem starts. There was this pig that did nothing but swearing and yelling! This asshole even crossed the line as much as saying that he hated a specific person in the group! Fortunately we saw that motherfucker psycho never again! That piece of shit deserved to be hit in the chin with the rifle butt but I drop it here!
Anyways the test day reached and my problems emerged! The main one was that I forgot a number or only one step and that made the whole thing messy! I failed the first test when I had a problem with the procedure which fixes a jam in chamber. It's a logical procedure but my mind was just absent at the time. I would forgot things without knowing! I then was given the second chance and that one was messed up too! This one was due to forgetting a safety step which is required to make sure that the rifle is safe and no round is left inside. As CAF wants its recruits succeed, I was given the third chance and this time I did it but it was very nerve racking! I was sweating the whole time and I don't think it was because of nervousness only. I had the heavy tactical vest on and had to move continuously. 
We were also given the chance to shot rifles in a simulator. The first time I was horrible! The aim was to have five shots close together and prove accuracy. In order to do that you need to aim, inhale, exhale while pulling the trigger gently, pulling with a little more force, without jerking it, and pulling completely, hold it for two seconds and let it go. The whole process should not be more than a few seconds. The longer you hold the rifle toward the target, the more tired you get and you lose your concentration. 
I took the above process in to consideration and when we went to the simulator for the second time, I used that in prone, standing, sitting and kneeling position and my results was much better. The most difficult position is standing, of course, because you don't have support. One of the instructors had a very good advice for us: Look over your sight and study your target quickly, get down and look through the sight, quickly apply the procedure. Come up for a rest and repeat the same if required. 
Then my next chance would have been shooting live rounds in Farnham but because I had messed up and was kicked out of the platoon, I missed that chance. However I have to mention that I later was taken there and had to do everything else but shooting! This will be seen in separate posts. Now that I have received my licence for safely using firearm, I hope I get a chance soon to try a shooting club of course when I settle down!
(Photo: A line of Canadian soldiers are practicing rifle shooting in winter conditions using their mitts. Looks like Kananaskis to me)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

CFLRS Notes (17): It's a Small World

When I was sent back to a platoon to continue my training I realized that two of the people that I had previously experience with were on the same platoon: The stinking Cheater and The Player. The Cheater actually helped me to get my stuff from the rest area(!) to the new platoon. The Player was the same fucking asshole who always had been!
In a small community such as a military training school you should be very careful because you might run to someone that you had some interaction with earlier. If the result if the contact is not good, it will lead to animosity and although people cannot do much harm to others in a military compound due to harsh punishment that they most likely face, it's always better to be careful. Even the staff could cause problem. Imagine you are in a platoon and you have poor performance. This would most likely be transferred to your new platoon, not only through your file but also by the staff who were pissed at you for ignoring their orders. In a nutshell: IT'S SMALL WORLD!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

CFLRS Notes (16): 5 Km and 8 Km Marches

There are two rucksack marches that the recruits have to perform during their training in the garrison and they are 5 Km and 8 Km marches, both performed on the pathway. They both are integrated with other physical activities: There's a series of obstacles which have to be overcame after and sometimes before the 5 Km march and there's casualty drag. For 8 Km, as it's more difficult, there's only casualty drag at the end. 
5 Km march was not hard but I barely have a recollection of that. I only remember that I feel off the Monkey Bar while only had two more to complete the first time and the second time I didn't go past the second bar! I also remember that a few guys had beautiful falls at different obstacles, including an Oriental gal who landed on her neck and couldn't move for a few seconds! Rather than that there was nothing special about that march.
During 8 Km march it was different though. The pace was very fast and I had to speed up to reach the person ahead of me a few times. A number of people had to stop and at the end a gal fainted! I can't tell if that was a show or she really lost consciousness because people do anything to get away from hard physical activity but we then did the drag and I was fine. 
My rucksack was among the few ones which was weighted and the Master Seaman told me that it was 5 lbs. heavier than what it was required. " Good Job " he added at the end.
The point for finishing these marches successfully is simply to keep a steady pace and drink water if needed. I believe more than 95% of the recruits pass that easily although some might feel extremely tired after that. 
(Photo: Members of the US Army helping a soldier during his 10 Km rucksack march. Again no cameras are allowed in the garrison and that's why I'm using this picture)

Friday, June 23, 2017

CFLRS Notes (15): CBRN

One of the stupidest classes I had during my CFLRS course was CBRN. The acronym stands for chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear. There, of course, were bunch of French guys from Quebec who were teaching this. The aim is to rapidly put on protection suit when such attacks occur. As usual the practical part of the practice was performed in numerous sequences that you have to remember them all, while they yell at you! Not to mention the thick suit which must be worn in a hot day would be a true misery!
I had already failed two major tests and I knew that I would be re-coursed and didn't want to participate but I had to. My hands inside the glove was socked in sweat! I also was very hot. I liked the part that they taught to drink from a canteen while we still had our mask on but wouldn't that be as well contaminated when we're under attack?!
The other problem was the speed that an individual has to have to put the suit and mask on, as soon as the signs of attacks are sensed. I guess I better not to write anything about the detail of the practice in case someone from DND is reading this but who, really, would be able to protect him or herself under attack, that fast?! And where in the word CAF members would be present that there would be a chance of a CBRN attack?! In Ukraine by Russian forces? In Syria by ISIS? In Afghanistan by Taliban? Or maybe in Mali by Al-Shabaab! It's obvious that CAF has added this class or subject to the curriculum just to fill the schedule. I'm not saying that protection from attacks is not required but we have to be realistic. My friend Mehdi, and I only name him here because I'm sure no one can get to him, was attacked by chemical weapons during Iran-Iraq War. Their unit, whatever it was, he said was attacked by Blood Agent. He said that the only reason he survived was that the wind blew the gas away from him. When he walked to the other side to check on his buddies, he added, that they were so affected that it looked like they had been killed weeks ago! Of course they didn't have any suit or mask but I don't think generally people or troops are able to react to something as horrific as that quickly and efficiently.
The other point here is according to the instruction the mask should be worn in a matter of seconds and the individual should shout: Gas! a few times! Here is the question:
If anyone is able to hear him with the muffled voice, he must be in such a close proximity that the chances that he doesn't realize there is an attack near them is next to zero. The people who are far away wouldn't help him. So why the hell should he do that?!
Anyways that's the question here and I don't want to write about this disgusting shit anymore. Enough said! I really disliked the practical part of the class like many other previous classes that the instructors think, as part of CAF policy, by being aggressive could force the recruits to learn!
(Photo: Pictures of the poor people who are injured or died as a result of a chemical attack is so bad that I don't think positing them here would be a good idea. I also cannot post any picture from CFLRS or its facility. Instead here there's a picture of an Iranian soldier he is ducked in full chemical suit. Obviously this is way after the Iranians were attacked several times and sustained casualties. This could also be a propaganda picture by the government just to show that they reacted to the crimes of Iraqis. In each way this shows how horrific the war is and I will write about that later)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

CFLRS Notes (14): Helping Flood Victims in Quebec

At one point after days of downpour in mid-May which caused catastrophic floods in parts of Quebec a number of us were asked to help. We first thought that we would leave the garrison and help the victims in different towns but all we were asked was to help a French group of NCMs with sandbag filling.
It was not such a difficult job as there were enough number of people and we switched. There was a big truck with a hopper in the back. The truck would be loaded by a bulldozer and then two people would fill up the bags through the hopper. There was a lack of consistency. A number of the bags would be filled 5/8 of their volume while other ones would be filled almost half. I tried to explain to them but they didn't like that! 
I guess we helped them for about one hour and a half. Not a big accomplishment or anything but it was good to do something positive with the time, especially the people who were suffering from the aftermath of a flood.
(Photo, top: A LAV is going through flood-affected streets of a town in Quebec)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

CFLRS Notes (13): Mama I'm Coming Home(!)

I haven't written here for a long time because I was sent back to a platoon a month ago but now I feel like I should go home. My performance was not bad at the beginning. I finished 5 Km and 8 Km Rucksack marches without a difficulty. I passed all of the theory tests with scores of above 85% (although it's not something significant! to be proud of!) but then my decline started and it was sharp!
I had a little problem with some of the platoon members which was mainly based on misunderstanding and cultural differences, I would say, but the staff don't give a rat's ass what that is about. They just yell at you and add a note to your file. Then I failed a stupid, easy test and then the damn Weapon Handling Test! The later was horrible because I even failed the retest! It was simply due to  forgetting the steps but that was a big problem. I finally was able to pass it in the last time. The instructor who was a nice French (from Quebec of course, like the majority of the instructors of CFLRS) Sergeant explained everything in detail to me and then added a note to my paper indicating that I should be supervised (probably closely) when I'm at the field. I didn't get upset or anything because he was right. I lacked confidence during parts of the test. It's over now because I'm not going to the field.   
My next and more serious problem was with damn marching. I was not able to react to the words of command promptly most of the time, especially when I was too tired as a result of lack of sleep or when I was on my feet for a long time. This was seen especially in the final test. I was on my feet for probably 20 min. before the damn test and I almost was not able to feel them! I failed the test miserably! This failure, combined with the Commandant's Inspection as well as a theory test and the failure of Weapon Handling for the first time, will kick me out of the platoon. 
The most ridiculous class we had, and I'm happy that I don't have to go through that was CBRN which stands for chemical, biological, radioactivity and nuclear attacks! A formality class which just pays a number of so-called instructors and fills out the school schedule! I will write about that in a separate post. The fact is I'm too old to successfully go through BMOQ without much problems and lack of sleep has a major role in my failures. As well I hate doing things such as cleaning (on my feet!), sewing, shoe polishing and other silly stuff like that, no matter how many times they say attention to detail! That's why I'm out!
(Photo: One of a few normal faces of Ozzy Osbourne, the singer of Mama I'm coming home. I thought that would be the best photo to be used for this post as this, hopefully, does not violate any of the CFLRS security policies)