When I was selected for this deployment I was told that I was going to have to attend a training school called "CAST"--Combat Airmen Skills Training. It involved 2 weeks of field conditions, living in tents and wearing body armor, low-crawling through the weeds, and shooting multiple weapons for qualification. To say I was slightly apprehensive about going is a slight understatement.
What I found, though, was (after a couple of days) a manner of calmness that I had not expected. The days there are very structured. There is very little confusion as to what comes next, what the plan is for the day, what uniform you need to wear, or what you need to do. At night, there is absolute silence across the compound. It amazed me that the thin g I feared the most--more chaos--was virtually eliminated by being at CAST.
Beyond all of that--it was fun.
I was the lead truck in our convoy details. I dove into the dirt to unload magazines into the "bad guys." I ran out into a field of fire to drag wounded soldiers back to cover. All of these things are matters that I will NEVER have to do, and if I do have to do them--things have gone horribly wrong in any conflict that we are involved in.
But what I grasped the most from CAST was that I left with an abundant awareness that I was going into a combat zone, and I need to get into the mindset that I was doing so--something I had not done yet.