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Monday, July 03, 2006

KEITH LETTERS HOME #2 

Keith Letters Home #2

S/SGT Keith is an army veteran and civilian police officer who joined
the active reserves after the September 11th attacks. He and 10 members
of his MP unit have been activated for deployment to Afghanistan to
train new Afghani police officers. The unit is presently at a base in
the Southwest, training with a Navy unit before shipping out. The
series will be his letters home detailing his training experiences, and
continuing through his deployment. We withhold his last name out of
courtesy to his family and thank him for his service to our country.

July 3, 2006

Hello Everyone,

I can’t remember when I last sent you all an update, so I will cover the last 10 training days and that should be plenty of info.

We started our final phase of training and started off with TCP, or Traffic Control Point Operations. The purpose of a TCP is to, obviously, control traffic, but it is used more as a check point. The task was to establish this check point and control the flow of contraband in and out of not only our check point, but also the nearby village that was populated with role players. The training lasted for 3 days with the last day consisting of a practical exercise. From the moment we established the check point the scenarios started. I was assigned as the NCO in charge of the entry point nearest the village, and I loved it. It gave me a chance to use my brain, which the Army doesn’t always allow you to do. It was our mission to handle the “villagers” as they approached asking for assistance, taking photographs, trying to steal our supplies, and smuggle weapons or explosives through our point. Luckily, we were able to stop the influx of all contraband, much to the dismay of our instructors. Finally, they “killed” me by sniper fire in an attempt to disrupt our operation, but it didn’t work. Another member of our detachment, who is also a cop, took over and we moved right along.

At the conclusion of our training the instructors advised us that they had been trying to “kill” us all day long, but we weren’t giving them the opportunity. All in all it was good training and I enjoyed it very much. I especially enjoyed the chance to interact with the role players and have to think on my feet and adapt to the situation.

Immediately following the TCP training we moved into Convoy Operations which is, at minimum a 7 day cycle. As with all training we started off in the classroom before moving out in the desert to put the “battle drills” into action. Covered in the class were such things as, respond to small arms fire, road blocks, recovering downed vehicles, recovering personnel, communications, and of course, respond to IEDs. We spent the next 2 days practicing these drills before moving to the practical exercise. During the exercise we were presented with 9 scenarios while traversing an 8 mile course. Needless to say, the fun never stopped. Again, we all really enjoyed this training, and lets face it, this is an important training topic. I believe that approximately 85% of the casualties in Iraq are due to IEDs and Convoy Ops. Good thing that we’re going to Afghanistan.

After 3 days of that we moved into the live fire phase of Convoy Ops. The Army sure has changed, not too long ago the Army never would of thought of letting soldiers train and move under live fire. This cycle was to last 4 days, with the final 3 days spent on the live fire range. This again, was some very good training. I was assigned as the radio operator after the company we were attending the training with learned that I was a cop. We then spent 3 days moving up and down the live fire range executing the battle drill we had learned while the gunners in the Humvee turrets laid down massive amounts of suppressive fire.

On the final day the instructors decided to make me a casualty. The guys were so busy asking me what reports to send up on the radio, even though I was “unconscious”, that they forgot to put me of the Medevac. I told them afterwards that if that really happens my wife will initiate a full investigation into what went on and they’ll all end up on CNN.

Today, July 3rd, we spent the morning cleaning our weapons and the vehicles that we used. Then in the afternoon we moved under cover of completely unauthorized civilian clothes to the hotel of our Unit Manager. Once we arrived at the pool he treated us to grilled streaks, chicken, brats, and burgers. Who says Officers are no fun!?

As of today I believe that we have 10 training days left. After that comes validation for deployment, and hopefully a pass or some leave. I will keep you all posted on those developments as the become more clear.

Well that is all for now and I will send another e-mail when I get the chance. Personally I would rather train everyday so that I can move onto the next portion of this deployment. As you all are aware this time spent training doesn’t count towards the year that we have to do in theater. I love and miss all of you terribly, and can’t wait till I get the chance to see all of you. Also, I continue to be moved beyond words by the support shown to my family. When I get home, the drinks are on me!

Love and miss you all.
Keith

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