Wednesday and Thurday of last week were spent on communications. In some ways I feel like a time traveller, who has arrived from 20 years ago. When we used radios at that time all you had to do was turn two dials, master the on/off switch, and push a button to talk. Encryption was a vague esoteric thing which Comm people did. I was sorely nostalgic for those good old days when things were simple and you could talk no further than 5 kilometers on a good day with a PRC-77.
Imagine my suprise when introduced to 4 radio systems that are all keypad activated. We had two days of instruction which covered the basics of loading crypto data into the radios, programming channels, satellite, and various frequencies, entering satellite exact time into the radios, and then attempting to talk. It was pretty overwhelming. The instruction mostly consisted of following slide by slide the instructors prompts on how to accomplish the tasks. It would have been really nice to have a laminated 1 or 2 sheet go by for each system for future use, when the instructor and slide projector are not available. At the end of the training our 8 man group had to encrypt, load and talk on 2 radios of each type. Amazingly our group, most of which had never seen or touched these radios before got it done in about 30 min. The training tasks were accomplished, but I don't think I will retain much.
Thankfully the Army had a 3 day weekend. I caught a flight home and suprised the kids Tricia and I picked them up from school Friday. It was a wonderful weekend of eating together, biking downtown and swimming in the pool. I hope to have the opportunity to run home again during training. I will point out, however, that the Marine Corps can count all the way to 96 hours of liberty, instead of the standard Army 72.
Later today I am leading the US side of a Leader engagement (play acting) where we are to meet with our Afghan counterparts to discuss the need for wells so that the local poppy crop won't fail. It should be an interesting discussion.