It’s a No Go

So EIB is over. If you didn’t read about EIB you can find moreĀ here. It is basically a week long test that soldiers go through to say they are an expert at their craft. (Honestly, it reminds me of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.)

On Monday, the brigade had around 850 soldiers start EIB.

Monday consisted of a PT test, day land navigation, and night land navigation.

After PT around 450 people were left. After the navigation part, 200 people passed through to day two.

Tuesday-Thursday were lanes with specific tasks that are judged on every minute detail. If you do not get through a detail or task, you are given a No Go.

You are allowed 2 No Gos.

For the entire week.

Each day more people fell off the ranks.

Going into the 12 mile ruck march on Friday, there were less than 20 soldiers left.

Only 12 soldiers out of 850ish were pinned with their Expert Infantryman’s Badge.

Unfortunately, Tom was not one of those. Only one person from his company made it through the week. Tom made it until Wednesday, so he did not get to do the last lane or Friday’s march.

Personally, I think the entire unit was doomed from the start. They have been working up to this for awhile following all the codes and learning the rules one way. Then just a couple days before, they changed the rules so that they could only get two No Gos for the entire week, instead of the initial 2 No Gos per task. They also didn’t allow them to challenge their No Gos like the rules stated, so they weren’t able to be heard by the graders if they thought their No Go was unjustified. They got to protest, but no one listened like the rules say they are supposed to. Tom wasn’t even allowed to talk to the next highest rank about his only no go. And when his Platoon Sergent tried backing Tom up and fight for his right to challenge, both Tom and his Platoon Sergent were kicked off the lane. This was the end of the test for Tom.

I am still astonished by the fact that the passing rate for the week was less than 2% of the brigade. It just seemed pretty messed up to change the rules. I mean the graders got 6 No Gos when they passed, why would they change it all of a sudden? Not my fight, but it seems a little ridiculous to put all this time and effort to get the brigade ready for this week and make it nearly impossible for anyone to pass. Any Army class is supposed to be a 20% pass rate, and here they sit with only 12 people newly minted with the badge. A lot of time and money for just 12 people, but what do I know.

So in true infantrymen fashion, all of the men have been poking fun at the notion of “No Gos” since they aren’t “experts.” Tom has been shouting it for the past few days at anything that he finds disapproving. And this weekend at a get together with some of our Army family, of course this was a running joke for the night. No go this, no go that.

So they all seem to be taking the defeat well.

Before this all went down though, Tom was really excited about land navigation. He is really good at it. It just comes so naturally for him. However, he was still concerned about the course time limit to find the four points, and was looking for ways to shave off time and make things as easy as possible.

Tom’s brain went to work to invent a handy map holder to attach to his uniform.

He is a map checker. He is constantly re-evaluating his route, just to make sure that he is doing what is right with the land. So he will look at his map at least once every 2 minutes. His thought is that if you aren’t willing to always re-evaluate your route, you may screw yourself over without realizing it because even a minor mis-step can take you way off course.

He was keeping the map in a ziplock bag in his pocket, because inevitably when they do land nav the weather is miserable and wet. So you can see over a couple hour stretch how checking a map ever 2 minutes can be cumbersome.

So we bought:

  • one old army duffle bag from a surplus store in town
  • clear plastic vinyl
  • snap buttons
  • velcro
  • cotton webbing
  • We also had to buy a new sewing machine…
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Crosby was not impressed with Dad taking over the living room for Army stuff.

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Here is he making sure all the pieces fit where he wants them before sewing everything together. The green pieces are the old duffel bag cut up in squares. Then the vinyl plastic is on top to keep it water proof.

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He added Velcro so it would fold up nicely and stay put.

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He put the snap buttons on the straps so it can be attached to the FLC (vest).

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Then it was just a matter of sewing everything into place.

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He even made pen holders on the backside. So clever.

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This is the FLC. He just used the snap straps to slide into the FLC molle. (those horizontal strips you see)

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Modeling off his creation

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It just flips out so he can read it just like that. Now he doesn’t have to fumble through his pockets and a crumpled map in a ziplock bag anymore.

So even though he didn’t get new bling for his uniform, he did get something new for his uniform. This one seems more practical if I might say so myself.

Also I might add, it was pretty hot to see Tom use the sewing machine. Just saying people, a man doing crafts deserves a one way ticket to my heart. Lucky for me, I already snagged this crafty soldier.

So what exactly does Tom do?

I have been asked by so many people what does Tom do now that he is back from deployment. He is an Infantrymen, so his job in reality is to be deployed to the front lines. So people are always curious what he does when he is at home.

A few people think that he is on vacation now and are shocked that he goes to the “office” everyday. Although he does have the next 9 Fridays off…

Anyway, he still works while he is stateside. He goes in every morning for PT then they do various trainings through the rest of the day and then round it out with some more gym time if possible.

The trainings vary depending on the time of year. These are just some of the things they could be doing:

  • land navigation-how I interpret this is like a treasure hunt. They get coordinates and have to find their way around the woods. They will do this during the day and at night to get a feel for the land in different situations.
  • range time-practice shooting
  • Company STX (situational training exercise)- go out and practice attacking things or reacting to contact. Usually they have actors, and they have a mission to accomplish. They will get a brief and then have to go in and do what they would do on deployment. Did you know the base has entire fake cities to use for training? They even have people who will speak in other languages so they can work on how to converse with various populations that cannot communicate in English.
  • live fires-this is similar to STX (if not the same thing) but with live ammo instead of blanks and more about short attacks and without the actors obviously.
  • medical training- from proper bandage techniques to dealing with a casualty
  • detainee operations
  • clearing rooms how-to
  • classroom portions of the things above
  • and as my husband says getting dirty and eating MREs–>”the things that men do best”

But every once in awhile they rotate into a special duty such as funeral detail or flag detail.

Tom had to do funeral detail back in the spring. This is exactly what it sounds like. As a veteran, you can have a full honors military funeral where soldiers will come and do the ceremonial things such as the flag over the coffin and the 21 gun salute. So the units rotate this duty and are on call to serve the area. For the funeral Tom did, they had to drive a couple hours out to perform the service.

Flag detail is here on base and Tom had it this last week. This also rotates around the units. The unit has to raise the division flag each morning and then lower it at night. And as we learned this morning in the torrential downpour, it occurs no matter the weather.

Being a history major, I knew that there are a lot of rules with flags and how they are displayed:

  • if displayed with other flags, they must either be smaller or the same size as the US flag, but none bigger
  • unless… flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace. The order of precedence for flags generally is National flags (US first, then others in alphabetical order in English), State (host state first, then others in the order of admission) and territories (Washington DC, Puerto Rico, etc.), Military (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard), then other.
  • has to be lit if displayed overnight otherwise it must be taken down each night
  • inappropriate for it to touch the ground
  • The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position
  • represents a living country and is itself considered a living things

There are tons more. It is actually really fascinating reading about the history and reasons for some of them.

But here are two little tidbits about the flag that I learned in the past week that I had no idea about!

One, did you know that the flag on a soldier’s uniform appears to be backwards?

I had never noticed it until Tom mentioned it this week. And here is an explanation why.

Army Regulation 670-1, “Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia,” updated most recently September 5, 2003, addresses explicitly the proper and lawful placement of the U.S. flag patch on the Army uniform.

The regulation states that when authorized for application to the proper uniform the American flag patch is to be worn, right or left shoulder, so that “the star field faces forward, or to the flag’s own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer’s right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward. The appropriate replica for the right shoulder sleeve is identified as the ‘reverse side flag’.”

So it is like they are all flag bearers all the time. I love American symbolism.

And two, Tom told me a legend of things that are hidden in the flag poles themselves.

Each should have a bullet, knife, and matches so the last surviving soldier can continue fighting (with the knife), and if need be destroy the flag with matches (to prevent it from being captured), and take his own life with the bullet. Apparently, soldiers should not let the flag or themselves fall into enemy hands which ensued these dark measures hidden in the flag poles. Yikes.

Thanks for letting me geek out on some American history and symbols. I still remember trying to teach that silly red 5 block about flag history during my student teaching and getting so frustrated that they were not as excited and passionate as I was. Probably one of my worst days in teaching because I felt like a failed as a teacher and an American, and no I am not kidding. That was a bad day.

I digress.

I went and watched one of the days when Tom’s unit was lowering it. (I was never awake to watch it go up.) It is something that people can go and watch anytime, which is pretty cool. Although I felt like a creeper hanging out in the bushes with my camera. I wasn’t really in the bushes, just behind them. It just looks like it in some of my pictures. I wasn’t really sure where I could stand so I kind of lingered in the parking lot.

It was pretty cool to watch and listen to all these things you never think about. Army education-Armucation.

There are a lot of pictures so just get ready for some America.

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Tom got to shoot off the cannon, which I think made the whole 12 hour work days worth it.

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The one below is my one of favorite shots of the day.

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And there he is just staring at me, which he later told me that he was trying to tell me to move closer…ugh I can’t read lips or minds.

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It took a long time to bring the flag down and fold it, but think about how big it is and the fact that it cannot touch the ground and has to be folded in a certain way. They had to practice this a few times. I mean you don’t want to be “that guy.”

I will admit there were parts of me that wanted to race under there like you did when you had parachute day in gym class. ‘Merica.

And here is where I look like I am a lurker in the bushes.

Then there were several minutes of slow salutes and parading out.

So that is flag duty.

I am going to wean off doing a craft/home improvement every time I’m on here. Shocker, I know. Things are dying down a little for us, and I think Tom would not be happy with all my honey-do lists that come with the projects. Plus it is costly! I will still do projects pretty regularly because that is a huge stress relief, so don’t worry about the creativeness drying up! It just won’t be every entry.

Hope you had a great Monday!