Home > ASBC, Training > Week 6 and Graduation

Week 6 and Graduation

Week Six was last week, the final week of my time at ASBC.

Week Six is mainly Blue Thunder all over again (at a different location called “Vigilant Warrior”) but this time around you’re mainly applying what you’ve learned over the past several weeks. Some ASBC classes do Blue  Thunder on week 1 and Vigilant Warrior (VW) on Week 6, and other classes do Blue Thunder on Week five and VW on week six. I’m not sure which I’d prefer really.

Day 1 VW: We left at about 0800 in the morning on that Monday. The buses took us somewhere near Wetumpka I believe, as the route looked familiar since it was the same one we took to go kayaking. The first thing we did was find our tents/unpack a little/ and get everything set up. We then did the Assault Course (oh joy…) It’s like Field Training, but a longer distance and you do them together as a flight. With almost black flag conditions, this was absolute hell. The plus side is we didn’t have to wear our battle rattle, but it was still way too hot. About halfway through I was getting really dizzy and lightheaded due to not having eaten that much the prior 24 hours. Definitely wasn’t a good idea, but what can you do when you just don’t feel like eating. Later on we rested and recovered from the Assault course (definitely needed it) and we did the IED lane. This was kind of spooky shit as we saw all the different IED’s in a close up fashion and how they all worked. We then walked the “lane” where IED’s were placed along it so we could see the real life application of what we were up against. This was definitely a learning experience.

Day 2: Day 2 we spent out in the field doing Base Defense and Land Navigation. My chalk of 6 flights started off with the Base Defense portion. I was a radio man in one of the 8 Defensive Fighting Positions (DFPs) and went to assist my DFP in building our fortification. We started moving sandbags and there were a couple of huge spiders, and a fricken 4 foot long snake. This definitely made me NOT want to get inside this bunker like structure knowing those things were just in there. Oh what fun! I really cant stand spiders at all. Needless to say I dealt with it, and we manned the DFP for 3 hours while we were occasionally attacked (with paintballs) It was a hot three hours, and we didn’t kill anyone but we also weren’t killed either.

Land navigation was a bit interesting. In the morning the chalk that did land navigation had to do land nav as well as fight enemy opposition along the way. Due to the black flag conditions (black flag=fricken hottttt) we didn’t have any of our paintball gear on or battle rattle…so that made it a little cooler. Navigating through the thick woods of Alabama wasn’t exactly a vacation though, but we did it.

Day 3: This was mainly site cleanup and our “capstone.” I had a lot of fun for the capstone event actually. The two squadrons square off against each other for the capstone in which the 12 flights from the gryphons and the 12 flights from the blackhawks each man a base and defend it. My flight’s job for the capstone was to be one of the three mission teams. Occasionally a mission would come down from our headquarters saying we needed to go do this or that. If we completed the mission we’d get points, and whichever squadron (Gryphons or Blackhawks) had the most at the end won. Our first mission was to scout the Blackhawk base and engage a few defenses to test their strength. I was pointman, and once we eventually made our way to their base we decided that myself and another guy would pop off a couple shots to engage them and thus test their defenses. This didn’t work out too well in my favor as they were deploying a mission team (12-14 people) with the same exact mission we had. I was right next to the road in pretty decent concealment and the guy with me stepped on a branch and snapped it. All 12-14 of them wheeled around and faced the TWO of us. I started laying down the paint and took the first two closest to me down, and turned to engage the rest when I got hit by about 8 paintballs. Three broke, one in the face, and one in each arm. The other guy ran for it back to our flight. After still being fired upon for a good minute they finally figured our I was indeed dead when a member of their mission team came and used me as cover. I got up and went to the road to walk back. When I did I turned around and faced their ECP to get some intel and there sits about 50 people with paintball guns…all pointed at me. THAT was fun.

After sitting in the medical tent for 10 minutes in the Air Conditioning…I was “respawned” back to my flight. About 45 minutes left in the capstone we went with the other two mission teams to all out engage the enemy base. We took the middle area and started making our way. My flight decided to take a left route while I was at point in the middle and one of our guys was still far right. I decided to stick with him and make sure he wasn’t separated, and at the same time secure the flights right most flank. We ran into three separate patrols of three people each (just “wild weasel” and I.) I’d hide behind some good cover and be pretty well concealed while he would engage and draw their attention/fire. They’d start to move up to engage and I’d line them up and take them all down. We did this for awhile until we started to run into a rather large force of blackhawks coming our way, and we also linked up with the surviving portion of our flight. At this time exercise was over =(. We found out that we won (the Gryphons) because we were able to retrieve the “black box” which was the main objective of the day.

The rest of the day we just cleaned up the base and waited on the buses to go back to Maxwell.

Graduation Day!: We had our last squadron commander’s call, which we found out that we were last out of all the flights for the assault course. The SQ/CC said these are the “final results” so everyone was giving us shit because it seemed like we were the last flight overall in the gryphon’s…Which we found out later wasn’t so, that was only for the assault course. We also did our final feedback with our flight commanders. My Flight Commander for the most part confirmed what I already knew about my leadership style/who I am in settings like these. I come out of the gate reserved and a little “shy/quiet” but I build up relationships with the people around me and gradually assert myself over time when the opportunity arises. The weakness in this is in settings like ASBC or field training, where we are all working together but competing at the same time…Is I don’t like to step on other people’s toes, and instead want to help them to succeed. If the rest of the flight are all speaking up and out-loud constantly, I’m not going to add another voice to that mess. I wait until my input is needed, or the input I have is needed. I’m not saying people that speak up all the time are bad, in no way at all. (JB I’m talking about you, you don’t talk too much, I promise…you’ll be a damn good officer.) Those people do what I can’t and that’s get the ball rolling early on, but to succeed you also need me there to make sure you have all the help you can get. It’s a nice mix I think, because too many of either kind will just pose problems. I also need the out-loud leaders to help me become more assertive, so we help each other. My flight commander said “I’m not going to tell you to speak up more, or be more forward, because that’s not who you are…you just need to put yourself in a role where you’ll have to be in that leadership position earlier that way everyone can see what you can do.” The problem at Field Training was I really didn’t find that niche or that role I could really hit a home run with until the very end…While other people, like JB, stood up early and often and showed that they knew what they were doing and we could follow them. I like to wait…wait for the chaos to start to develop in a given instance, when it’s most stressful…kick it in the balls and show it who’s boss. I did it at Field Training, I did it at ASBC. Both times I stepped up and really did well were during two exercises that were pretty chaotic. So moving forward into my career, I need to find that chaos earlier and get out of my comfort zone to make sure I’m seen as the leader earlier on. So it was useful feedback, and it’s nice knowing I have what it takes to be a good leader. Not really sure why I always want the chaotic stressful situations though…

After feedback we had graduation. Graduation was about an hour long with a couple of the senior leadership of the school talking to us and giving us some nuggets of wisdom to take away from it all. After that we went to flight room, got our diplomas…said our farewells. I made a lot of friends here at ASBC, and I think a couple will carry on. I certainly hope so.

It was a bummer to  finish and the flight be no more, but I was ready to move onto my next step. (and getting out of Maxwell wasn’t so bad…but Laughlin it just a hell of a lot smaller and going to be just as hot.)

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Categories: ASBC, Training Tags: ,
  1. Becky Lathrop
    6 July 2010 at 09:05

    So I take it the Blackhawks won? This week sounded pretty intense between the weather and what you had to do. I’m glad you didn’t pass out from heat stroke 🙂 It’s nice you had this time to learn new things and make new friends. I’m anxious to hear when you leave for Colorado and I look forward to your next blog.

  2. 6 July 2010 at 14:20

    I guess I forgot to add that part in…No the Gryphons won…we captured the ultimate objective of the day and won.

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