Wednesday, October 04, 2006

CIF, SRP, and ACUs

Today was stressful, but we got everything done.

What made it stressful for me was that we had a full day of processing planned, but I knew I also had to get to the dental clinic for an exam, and I knew I needed a filling. We never made it there yesterday, and it was dicey today. But the longer it took for me to get over there, the less time there would be do deal with any issues before everything closes on Friday for a four day weekend. Since I'm supposed to fly out for Kuwait on Tuesday 10/10, there's no time to play with.

We started off at the CIF at 0730. There we were issued a country-specific set of field equipment. This was mostly the standard Army field equipment like I've always had, although some of it was in desert or ACU camouflage pattern. Canteens, rucksack, sleeping pad, duffel bags, wet weather gear, cold weather gear (!), NBC protective suit, protective mask, etc. The only thing I got that I haven't been issued before was one of the new protective vests.

The equipment is a curious mix of old and new - they are in transition to a new configuration of load-bearing equipment completely based on the protective vest, but they don't have all the stuff yet and so are still issuing old stuff as well. Some of it doesn't really make sense, and I think I'll leave a bunch of it behind and buy a few of the newer items that they didn't have, so I have a complete and correct set of equipment.

I was really disappointed to see that they issued me an inflatable sleeping pad. Had I planned to use it to sleep on, it would be great. But I was expecting the old closed-cell foam pad, and was planning to use it as an exercise mat. It turns out they don't issue those any more, and since I left mine at home expecting to get one, I'm SOL. I'll need to buy one here if I can. I don't think it's a practical item to ship over, but it may come to that. I can't do my bridging exercise on very many surfaces without tearing up my forehead, and that pad is one that I've found that works. Darn!

I walked out of there with three duffel bags of stuff, although very loosely and carelessly packed.

After that we went to the SRP. This was the real thing, for which my trip to Ft. Snelling MN was a rehearsal. It was a real cluster. They had a variety of stations, such as legal, finance, etc., and we had to go through them all. Once again there were a variety of groups in a variety of stages of processing, this time including civilian contractors. I felt very frustrated at all the wasted time, repetitive paperwork, and conflicting instructions from different people. To add to the inefficiency, they scheduled us to start at 10:00 AM, actually got started at 10:45, and no sooner finished all the preliminary briefings and started processing us than they started sending their people to lunch. So we sat around and missed our lunch while they went and got theirs. (Oh, by the way, we didn't get any breakfast, either, since we had started early trying to beat the rush, failed, and missed it after all). So not only was I feeling time pressure, I was also hungry. They do have packaged meals for when you miss chow, but we didn't have any in our vehicle so we were SOL. Anybody who knows me can imagine that I was a bit irritated. But I got the important things done, including finance, and got all the right pay options started. The work they did at Ft. Snelling and at Ft. McPherson before I came sped things up a lot, so it went pretty quickly once my turn came.

Once we got through the SRP, I was able to get over to the dental clinic and get an exam. My file was totally empty since they sent my reappointment physical and dental exam to HRC back in January, and it never got to my unit. So they had to start from scratch. It turns out that I can get the filling I need in theater, so it won't keep me from deploying. That was a major relief, and I felt much better after learning that - all the pressure is off now. Just the normal stuff to take care of.

After the dental clinic we went and picked up our ACUs (Army Combat Uniform - the new digital ones). We made it just under the wire. That was a very efficient operation - they had our stuff all picked and packed in the biggest Ziploc bags I've ever seen. We were in and out in a matter of minutes.

After that we got back in time for the evening meal (hooray!). After chow I ran a few errands and came to my hangout here at Subway to get on the internet.

Tomorrow we go for a variety of training and briefings, and on Thursday we go for weapons qualification and I don't know what else. I'll have to put together some of my field gear to go out there - I was really hoping to just take it all up to Ft. McPherson before messing with any of it, but oh well.

I managed to complete a module of CGSC yesterday, my first in over two months. I'm going to try to get another one done tonight. I have two hours before they close and kick me out...

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