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What's cav like?

Someone on reddit asked me to describe life in the cavalry.

Well - it's a somewhat different world today. I was in back in the 90's - but some things haven't changed. 19D has a long basic/OSUT period - 16 weeks. You will probably go to Ft. Knox, the home of armor, in Kentucky. During that time you'll do all the things that a soldier learns; lots and lots of physical fitness, basic rifle marksmanship, military etiquette, first aid, basic tactics, nuclear, biological and chemical readiness, how to operate radios, a whole myriad of tasks.

About halfway through, you'll switch over to a greater concentration on your job in recon; vehicle identification, land mines, recon tactics (like doing a recon of a route, recon a bridge, zone recon, etc.) You'll also learn advanced weapon systems, call-for-fire, basic crypto, and how to crew an M-3 Bradley CFV. These days you probably also get trained on HMMV, Stryker and MRAPs, but I don't know for sure.

All that will get you ready to go to your first unit. You will have a shitty time punctuated by moments of pure awesome. The particular flavor of awesome you experience will be determined by what kind of unit you are sent to; you may be part of a cav regiment, you may be in the scout platoon of a heavy infantry battalion, or you might be part of a tank bat. Personally, I was attached to infantry, and the flavor of awesome I experienced was jumping out airplanes, helicopters and other moving vehicles; sneaking up on unsuspecting bastards and ghosting through their area of operations to bring intelligence back to the TOC, getting to call for fire from Naval gun batteries and calling for close air support. YMMV.

The flavor of shitty you experience will be fairly universal. As a scout,  your battlefield life expectancy is pretty short - typically you'll be told to at least break squelch before dying. Since you're basically sneaking around looking for trouble, if you do make an unfortunate contact, you'll almost certainly be outnumbered and outgunned. You'll also be doing almost all of your work at night, for obvious reasons. This sounds awesome and ninja, but is not - in fact, it means you'll have to sleep during the day.

And you won't sleep during the day. Because every time you get back to the barracks (or FOB, or whatever) and try and knock off for some sleep, some asshole officer will decide that only lazy bastards would sleep during the day, and he will holler for you to get up, and go clip the grass, paint rocks white, brasso the metal - whatever bullshit detail they need someone to do.

You will become an expert at avoiding officers. This will be the greatest of your ninja skills - to be in the middle of a base full of assholes who want you to clean things, and yet remain unobserved. You will find amazing and creative ways to avoid work.

If you end up in the Infantry as part of the cav scout platoon, you will stand at attention at big parades and watch every member of your battalion get an award, except your platoon, because you're not infantry, you're cav. No blue disk for you, no swanky blue cord. On the other hand, you'll be permitted to wear a Stetson, spurs (if you earn them!) and a yellow bandana to formal events, which is, quite frankly, fucking rad.

You will be the latest inheritor of a long tradition of American cavalry excellence, you will be part of a small, vital, elite and largely unappreciated cadre of soldiers who rather than avoid trouble, go into the night and seek it out, knowing that they're the baddest motherfuckers around.

But really, and in all honesty - you'll spend most of your time cleaning stuff.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
blanchemains
Sep. 27th, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
According to The Doctor, Stetsons are cool.
aghrivaine
Sep. 27th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
Let me assure you, formal military functions would have been vastly different with a fez instead of a Stetson.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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