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Author Topic: First SAREX in a few years...  (Read 4045 times)
Stonewall
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« on: February 23, 2013, 06:34:26 PM »

I've been out of the game for a while.  My last bivouac was in 2008, and that was more of a "camp out" rather than an FTX/SAREX.  The last time I actually did any Ground SAR stuff was in 2006, so I was a little nervous about my skill sets being a little rusty.  Not the case!  It's like riding a bike.

It was all ELT search, using old and newer style L'pers; triangulating, body knolls, compass/nav/GPS work, flight line checks, etc.  Pretty nuts & bolts stuff.  But I found it interesting that no one had used the old Jetstream radio that [used to] cost $19.99 and perfect for use on a flight line, basin, or parking lot to narrow down the location with minimum sensitivity.

Other than that, it was great seeing cadets out there learning or honing their skills.

On that note, in comparison to BITD, don't get me started

[turn on humor mode]
These guys don't know what tough is!  It used to be so tough to earn your GTM.  These cadets/seniors wouldn't have even been able to complete our ground team indoc course.  We wore ponchos when it rained, not Gore-Tex.  Our angle head flashlights weighed 10 lbs.  And C-Rats, not MREs with cappuccino mix, and our 1 qt canteens without "straws".  Wearing jungle boots in the snow.  26.620 radios as big as cinder blocks with 50 inch antennas.  A "new" squadron van with 89,000 miles when we got it.  And every crash site was up hill, both ways.   It was so cold that we thawed out our boots over fire until we could smell sock burning.  Yeah, that was when ground teaming was hard corps! [/humor off]

Edit to add - one thing I did actually find amusing and chuckled to myself out loud, is at the end when we were doing a ramp check and walking about 1/3 of a mile from the squadron building to the FBO, I noticed the 9 of us were gaggled on side of the road (with vests, of course) with nothing but notebooks with a/c ID info and a radio.  Truly, all you really need for this task.  But as cadets BITD (80s into the 90s), we would have "rucked up" and made it a tactical road march with half of the team on each side of the road.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2013, 06:46:13 PM by Stonewall » Logged
NIN
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2013, 06:48:10 PM »

But as cadets BITD (80s into the 90s), we would have "rucked up" and made it a tactical road march with half of the team on each side of the road.

3-5 meter spacing so one grenade wouldn't get us all...
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Stonewall
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2013, 07:13:00 PM »

But as cadets BITD (80s into the 90s), we would have "rucked up" and made it a tactical road march with half of the team on each side of the road.

3-5 meter spacing so one grenade wouldn't get us all...

Naturally  ::)
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ol'fido
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2013, 08:44:14 PM »

I was actually thinking about this today. You know that 3-5 meter spacing actually has some use in daytime for doing trail searches. If you are separated like that you can use your eyes more to scan your surroundings. If you are bunched up right behind each other, instead of looking for clues, everybody will be watching the back of the person in front of them. Also, if one person wearing gear falls, they won't take out the whole team like a row of dominoes. So being "tactical" does actually have some real use in SAR.
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Lt. Col. Randy L. Mitchell
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Duke Dillio
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2013, 09:22:32 PM »

Rucking up with the old medium Alice packs with the metal frames that weighed more than the Rambo bayonet that you always wanted....  And with the old foam sleeping pad strapped to the top....  Ah, the good old days....
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Stonewall
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 10:11:06 AM »

Rucking up with the old medium Alice packs with the metal frames that weighed more than the Rambo bayonet that you always wanted....  And with the old foam sleeping pad strapped to the top....  Ah, the good old days....

Medium?  MEDIUM rucks?   ::)
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ol'fido
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 11:09:41 AM »

Rucking up with the old medium Alice packs with the metal frames that weighed more than the Rambo bayonet that you always wanted....  And with the old foam sleeping pad strapped to the top....  Ah, the good old days....
Never used the whole pad after basic. When  I got to my unit after Benning, we would cut the pads in half, fold them up into a square, and stick them down in the frame between ruck and the kidney pad. The top edge got stuck under the part of the ruck that slipped onto the frame. I was also issued a shelter half in Hawaii but never used it. Poncho hooches, baby! Best I ever saw was a 17 poncho hooch Hilton.
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Lt. Col. Randy L. Mitchell
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Stonewall
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2013, 11:16:34 AM »

Rucking up with the old medium Alice packs with the metal frames that weighed more than the Rambo bayonet that you always wanted....  And with the old foam sleeping pad strapped to the top....  Ah, the good old days....
Never used the whole pad after basic. When  I got to my unit after Benning, we would cut the pads in half, fold them up into a square, and stick them down in the frame between ruck and the kidney pad. The top edge got stuck under the part of the ruck that slipped onto the frame. I was also issued a shelter half in Hawaii but never used it. Poncho hooches, baby! Best I ever saw was a 17 poncho hooch Hilton.

Yep, did the same thing.  Cut the ground pad (we called them something else) to save on space/bulk, and never used a shelter half except for Basic Training.  We carried 2 ponchos and bungee cords.  One poncho for your hooch, one to cover your gear.  I honestly never wore a poncho once due to rain, except when we were forced to in Basic Training.  If it rained, you just got wet.  If it was cold and raining, you threw on your wet weather gear, until we got issued Gore-Tex. 
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ol'fido
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2013, 11:23:32 AM »

I wonder how much money Brigade Quartermasters has made off those OD bungee cords they sell? I know I bought at least two packages of them and I imagine nearly any 11B who has served in the last 25 years has bought at least one on average.

I always shake my head in wonder when I see cadets or anybody else these days trying to set up a shelter by stringing a rope between two trees and draping the poncho or tarp over it. :P They have grommets for a reason. Use them! Somebody teach these people the right way, please!
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Lt. Col. Randy L. Mitchell
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Stonewall
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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2013, 11:42:49 AM »

Somebody teach these people the right way, please!

I'm working on it!  8)

In addition to the BQM Bungees, I also invested $4 in 4 aluminum tent stakes.  Really, for a good lean-to, you only need 2 stakes and 2 bungees; but a delux hooch required 4 stakes and 2 bungees for the high speed "t-top".

Another thing in the Army as an 11B (I was light infantry too) is that we either had our Large ruck, or only our LBE.  There were no 24 hour packs back then.  My LBE consisted of 3 ammo pouches, 2 compass/first aid pouches, 2 canteens, strobe pouch, and a butt pack (PRC-126 when issued).  My butt pack has my poncho, 550 cord, bungees, tent stakes, stripped MRE and weapon cleaning kit.  The 3rd ammo pouch had a mini-flashlight, lighter, spoon, maybe a snack or two.  Although not a smoker, I always seemed to have a lighter on me for burning 550 cord.
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ol'fido
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2013, 11:54:59 AM »

Always wore the compass/first aid pouches on the pistol belt either side of the buckles. Only an idiot or some POG would wear them on the suspenders unless they were a masochist who enjoyed the pain of having it jammed into your collar bone by an 80 lbs ruck. We also wore out LBEs unbuckled until some POG 1SG wrote into the Army Times after Just Cause complaining how sloppy the 11Bs looked. After that we would take some 550, tie a 6" loop to the female buckle and hooked in to the male end. That was before they had the ready made ones.
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Lt. Col. Randy L. Mitchell
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Duke Dillio
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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2013, 12:14:04 PM »

Rucking up with the old medium Alice packs with the metal frames that weighed more than the Rambo bayonet that you always wanted....  And with the old foam sleeping pad strapped to the top....  Ah, the good old days....

Medium?  MEDIUM rucks?   ::)

The medium rucks were always free...  I had to save up to get a large one and that took me a couple of years...
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Woodsy
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« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2013, 01:17:34 PM »

Stonewall,

I think one VERY important point that you're missing here is this was NOT a ground team exercise, it was a UDF scenario.  If you need to carry a pack at all, you're probably already beyond the scope of what UDF is intended to accomplish.  Remember, UDF = boots on concrete. 

I was very excited to see the cadet participation!  I've never seen so many cadets at a SAREX before.  Usually they're more flying oriented and only few cadets show up.  I think some of them have caught the ES bug and hopefully it will rub off on their friends. 
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a2capt
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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2013, 01:38:54 PM »

Well, boots on concrete or.. boots "near" civilization, because out west, there's quite a few places that you just make a turn and the next thing you know, it's as good as B*E, and you can climb a little and see the city right over there, yet you fall down and get stuck, no one will know you're there until the vultures are circling.

Hence the "team", and the constant communications. As for carrying a pack, yeah. My stuff stays nicely organized in the vehicle. As I'm not ever too far from that, and all of it's safety features. :) There's plenty of others that will go bustin' butt off into the wilderness. Someone needs to support them closer to civilization.
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Stonewall
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2013, 01:52:08 PM »

Of course I said this...

It was all ELT search, ...

About the packs, it was my attempt to illustrate the difference between different generations of cadets.  BITD there were no UDF teams or levels of GTM, and as cadets having a lot of fun doing that stuff, we took every opportunity to make it "tacticool".  Even walking down the street to do a ramp check would have turned out to be a full blown tactical road march with all the gear, albeit 1/3 of a mile.  Then, upon reaching the OH BEE JAY (objective), we would have doffed our gear, set it up in a neat and organized formation, and provided an equipment guard (usually 2) as the rest of the team searched the ramp.

Practical?  Probably not.  Fun and tacticool?  Hell yeah!

I was very excited to see the cadet participation!  I've never seen so many cadets at a SAREX before. 

This makes me  :(

After looking at some other squadrons' FB/websites, I've seen pictures of them in the "field" and it looks more like a camp out bivouac than an FTX/SAREX.  Meaning, while they may conduct some GTM type training, it appears that the purpose of the bivouac is more kumbaya than it is training.  And that's fine if that's what they're there for.  I went to a squadron bivouac in 2009 (may have been '08) and here I am, the late 30s senior member showing up to live out of my ruck sack, and cadets pulled out extension cords for their laptops, had civilian clothes, and family/cabin style tents.  Breakfast was eggs & bacon, while lunch was sandwiches with all the fixin's.  I literally had EVERYTHING for the weekend in my ruck sack.  I think I have some pics somewhere of this. 

Today we have a planning meeting for the cadet side of the house and I hope to implement some "annual exercises" like so many units have done successfully in CAP.  I personally have experience with a 25+ year annual event called "TAC COMMEX", as well as "MOUNTEX" and "WINTEX".  These are annual GTM-type field activities that are planned around the same time frame year after year and become of the culture.  "Hey man, remember SWAMPEX in 2013?  That was way better than SWAMPEX 2018...things have gotten weak".  You catch my drift.

Cadet involvement in ES is a balancing act.  Many seniors disagree with cadets being involved because they think it's a grown-ups game.  I argue that it's a "mature person's game", and I've known some silly senior members that have fallen victim to the physical demands of GSAR, while I have NEVER seen a cadet have to be pulled out of a REDCAP.  YMMV, but one of my goals is to get these cadets interested and involved in going to the field.  I consider 15 cadets at a SAREX to be disappointing, so hopefully in the next year we'll start seeing better numbers.  But at the end of the day, if I only get 5 squared away cadets taking part, I'll be satisfied.

I found this gem from when I was a 1st Lt...



Also, I found my 2009 post about my last bivouac.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 04:18:16 PM by Stonewall » Logged
ol'fido
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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2013, 03:42:55 PM »

Never been real thrilled with the term "Urban" Direction Finding Team. The closest "SUB-urban" is 90 miles from me. The closest "Urban" is about 100 miles away. Until a few years ago the road to the local airport didn't even meet the "concrete" test for "urban".
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Lt. Col. Randy L. Mitchell
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Duke Dillio
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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2013, 04:18:06 PM »

Never been real thrilled with the term "Urban" Direction Finding Team. The closest "SUB-urban" is 90 miles from me. The closest "Urban" is about 100 miles away. Until a few years ago the road to the local airport didn't even meet the "concrete" test for "urban".

It was just a way for the comm yuppies/fat and fuzzies who couldn't make it in the field to get a GT rating without having to buy a whole bunch of extra equipment.  The GTM's were happy b/c UDF's don't get badges.  The UDF's were happy b/c they could deploy as couples instead of teams and didn't have to lug around a bunch of extra gear.

NOTE:  If this post offended you, you are WAAAAYYYYY  too sensitive
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JoeTomasone
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2013, 04:26:36 PM »

Never been real thrilled with the term "Urban" Direction Finding Team. The closest "SUB-urban" is 90 miles from me. The closest "Urban" is about 100 miles away. Until a few years ago the road to the local airport didn't even meet the "concrete" test for "urban".

It was just a way for the comm yuppies/fat and fuzzies who couldn't make it in the field to get a GT rating without having to buy a whole bunch of extra equipment.  The GTM's were happy b/c UDF's don't get badges.  The UDF's were happy b/c they could deploy as couples instead of teams and didn't have to lug around a bunch of extra gear.

NOTE:  If this post offended you, you are WAAAAYYYYY  too sensitive


It also reflects the ridiculousness of dragging a 24 hour pack through a populated area while looking for a beacon.  No need to get all geared up with your 24 hour tacticool pack when you can't throw a rock and not hit a 7-11.  I've let my GTM expire since the gear I've assembled has never left the house except for training.

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a2capt
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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2013, 04:34:51 PM »

For probably opposite reasons, I never got too interested in ground team since it was nothing but a Gear Show and Tour among those who did, and I figured UDF and Comm was good enough. After all, those who go tramping though the woods and weeds, need a support base somewhere, too.
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Stonewall
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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2013, 04:38:35 PM »

Never been real thrilled with the term "Urban" Direction Finding Team. The closest "SUB-urban" is 90 miles from me. The closest "Urban" is about 100 miles away. Until a few years ago the road to the local airport didn't even meet the "concrete" test for "urban".

It was just a way for the comm yuppies/fat and fuzzies who couldn't make it in the field to get a GT rating without having to buy a whole bunch of extra equipment.  The GTM's were happy b/c UDF's don't get badges.  The UDF's were happy b/c they could deploy as couples instead of teams and didn't have to lug around a bunch of extra gear.

NOTE:  If this post offended you, you are WAAAAYYYYY  too sensitive


It also reflects the ridiculousness of dragging a 24 hour pack through a populated area while looking for a beacon.  No need to get all geared up with your 24 hour tacticool pack when you can't throw a rock and not hit a 7-11.  I've let my GTM expire since the gear I've assembled has never left the house except for training.

And that's why I said this...

Quote from: Stonewall
Practical?  Probably not.  Fun and tacticool?  Hell yeah!

Again, I'm not arguing in the least, that it makes sense to march around a city in full kit during a UDF mission, nor would I allow it to happen, ever.  Nor has it happened under my 20 year watch as a GTL/Senior.  In fact, my point has nothing to do with real mission functionality or effectiveness.  It is solely about generations of cadets.  Let's not turn this into a "this is how it should be done, and only this way" thread.  Seriously, I'm not arguing tactics here, I'm simply discussing mind sets of cadets...that is all.  As adults, we all know it makes no sense to pull our gear from the truck to walk into an FBO for a ramp check.  So let's get beyond that, shall we?
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