Tuesday, 25 March 2008

13 March - Week 7

Well, it's been a pretty massive week in the context of what I will be doing for the remainder of the year. When I initially signed up, I almost went 'Rifleman' but was advised to go ECN500 because I was unsure and this would allow me to pick my job during training. I chose my job, Dental Assistant, and was happy with my decision and had pretty much planned the rest of my year. I thought this was all good. Then, a few days after I don't all my paperwork, I was told my transfer to the job was not allowed, an dI had to choose between five jobs.

While being here, I have thought a lot about what I believe, what I want to do and what I won't do. Guess what - two of these five jobs are jobs I will not do. The other three are jobs I would do, but have no interest in, and feel I could achieve more from this year if I was home.

So what does this all mean? It means I'll be home a lot earlier than I intended to be. For the last few days, I've been in a weird state. I didn't want to stay and I still don't want to leave. I've thought it all through and have put in all the paperwork for my ROR/delistment. I'm disappointed I won't be completing the year as I said and intended, but I'm also very excited about what the rest of the year now holds. Still feeling a bit weird and annoyed about it all, but confident I've made the right decision.


Posted on behalf of MJ Waters.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

06 March - Week 6

This week has been pretty good, the weekend especially so. On Friday, we had our first of two character building days with the Padres. This was put in place because it had been shown that soldiers with strong character and something to strive for or hold on to, react better and are more capable in adverse situations and during recovery after the fact.

During the day we discussed in small groups about what our beliefs, faith and attitudes are and how they correspond with and affect our values, and therefore, our behavriour. This was a nice change from the usual conversation subjects of girls, farts, gossip and sex.

Saturday was the 1st of March and the Army's Birthday. To celebrate this, there was an athletics carnival run. It was a spectacular event. Highlights were: the tug of war, seeing our platoon commander destroy the opposition in a race, the brawl that broke out between my company - Delta - and Alpha Company before the day had even really begun (we smashed them). I also managed to grab myself a medal in the 400m - I cam first. After the carnival we had local leave. We also had local leave after Chapel on Sunday.

Monday we went to the war memorial in Canberra. A great experience, but we only had a one hour tour and then one and a half hours to look around ourselves, which is nowhere near enough time. The rest of this week we have been doing first aid. A lot of time spent watching powerpoint presentations and taking notes, but the prac is good fun, and will be worthwhile knowing.

Another interesting fact is that we're past halfway. Today is day 45 since enlistment - not that I'm counting. We're on the home stretch.

I hope all's going well for everyone else.


Posted on behalf of MJ Waters.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

27 February - Week 5

G'day Everyone,

Realised I haven't really covered the routine that goes on here. Every morning we wake up at 6:00am, yell, grab our bottom sheets and go stand in the hallway. This is followed by 15 minutes to shave, get dressed and make our beds; and 15 minutes to do our morning duties which is cleaning the laundry for me. Then usually 20-30 minutes to have breakfast and be back with our teeth brushed.

Lunch is at either 11:30 or 12:00, but before this we have 4 periods of stuff to do. This is either lecture on something, physical training, marching or shooting. Today we had a 5km pack march in the morning, then stretcher carry, and now I'm sitting around at hte range waiting for my turn to go fire my shooting test.

After lunch there are another 4 periods of stuff. Dinner is next at 5:30pm or 6:00pm. This is also sometimes followed by some periods of learning stuff - a lot of the time though we have admin & revision, which means we do our ironing, polishing of brass and general cleaning whilst having a chat to the guys in our rooms. By 9:30pm everyone is usually pretty stuffed and it's time for bed. Really, everyone's stuffed by 7:00pm and we have to wait around until 10:00pm to go to bed. So at 9:30pm we go have showers and get changed into our PJ's. Once we're all finished this, we get our mail, read that or do some reflection, then it's finally time for bed. Then BAM!, after another terrble night's sleep, it all starts over again.

There are some days that are a bit different, like Sundays when we get up at 7am and have some time up at the chapel from 9:00am till 10:45am. We'll usually come back and do some work in the afternoon. Saturdays we've started getting local leave now, which means we go into Wagga Wagga and buy stuff and hang around, doing what we want while dressed in our own clothes; jeans, belt, good shoes and a polo shirt - tucked in, of course. I'm starting to get into the swing of things here. Also, it's almost halfway. Yay!

Posted on behalf of MJ Waters.

Monday, 25 February 2008

20 February - Week 4

Yet another week has gone by with a few things learnt about myself and the army. The biggest thing that I struggled with this week was my shooting. I failed my first practice shoot this week and felt like I'd let my platoon and myself down. I hadn't been able to apply myself to my shooting because I was wrestling with the fact I was learning to hunt down and kill another person. I don't consider myself a very aggressive person and I've never been in a real fight - "white line fever" aside; even then, I don't really fight or punch on with people. So I find it weird that I would consider killing someone else. I hadn't thought I would be so uncomfortable with this but I've now realised it goes very much against where my values lie. I understand the need to reatliate and to protect those who can't do so for themselves, and I can see the military's role in this, but I don't think it's my role. I only think of other ways to try and do those roles besides the military answer.

So, because I couldn't remain focused while thinking I was trying to kill someone, I had to change this. I now approach the shooting as a sport. This had an immediate effect - I came equal third in the next shoot.

On a lighter note, we got to go on the big obstacle course today. After weeks of learning the specific techniques that we are to use going over the difficult stages, we finally go to apply them. Was really good fun. Our platoon got in trouble for talking when we weren't supposed to and not listening properly, but apart from that, it was good. Running, jumping, dodging, swinging, balnacing, climbing - all that good stuff.

Another pleasant event at Kapooka - we also just got promoted to blue tabs. that means we are one step closer towards getting out of this place and apparently we have some new privileges. I'm still not sure what they are. We get local leave this week, which is awesome and should be fun.

Posted on behalf of MJ Waters

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

13 February - Week 3

This week, the time finally came for me to face the thing I had been dreading this whole time. Actually, even before I got here, it almost stopped me from coming - The High Ropes Confidence Course. So I'm not a big fan of heights and have known for a while that at some point in my life, I would probably do a high ropes course. I've always wanted to avoid it and have done so on one or two occasions. This one was unavoidable. I had to do it.

So the time comes for me to climb up the post to where the wire course starts, 10 metres above the ground. At the top, I started breathing a bit faster and the heart rate increased. Then it was weird - I managed to keep myself calm, while suspended 10 metres above the ground. I didn't think I would have the capacity to do this.

The course consisted of the usual ropes course stuff, with the 2 worst things being the log or plank walk and 'Jacob's Ladder'. The log was, well, just a log that was roughly 10 metres long, round and a little creaky, that you had to walk along unassisted. Real easy on the ground... a little different 10 metres up with a breeze and the odd shake or two from others falling off the other sections of the course. 'Jacob's Ladder' was the worst in my opinion. It's a 30 cm wide wire and wood ladder that tilts when you unevenly spread your weight. Like the log, you had to walk across without assistance. The course also consisted of abseiling off a 25 metre tower down a wall and an overhang.

It was a really good day and an incredibly satisfying experinece to have done it and I was very surprised at how well I did. If I had been made to do it a few years ago, I don't think I would have done anywhere near as well - or in a better way of putting it - 'as composed'. Something that made it all the more spectacular was that we got pizza, garlic bread and soft drink that night, plus two hours free time.

I attribute my success on the day to maturity, strong will, time spent visualising myself succeeding, work on high places and up ladders with my father and the heck of a lot of praying I did before the day.

I'm a very proud, happy and relieved person at the moment,

Matt Waters.

Posted on behalf of MJ Waters.

Monday, 11 February 2008

05 February - Week 2/Week 1 of Actual Program

This week has flown - the time is now really starting to tick over. Our platoon is also really starting to work well together and are switching on to life here. About halfway through this week, I was a bit down on the experience, but a few things managed to life my spirits. Firsly, thinking about what I'm hoping to do next year, as well as pausing and remembering where I was - Army Basic Training... how cool is that? Look... it's pretty cool and that thought keeps me excited. I also have to remind myself that I put myself through this to test myself and it seems to be working.

This week's highlights were:
  • showing up our sister platoon, 33 Platoon, by performing much better at the physical training, PT Indoor Obstacle Course, which also happened to be incredibly fun
  • firing our first live rounds today from our Steyr - good fun, but disappointing because we only got 10 rounds.

Tomorrow should also be fun; we're going to the WTSS - Weapon Training Steyr Simulator (I think that's what it stands for). This is a virtual simulator of the gun to test our accuracy before we use the real stuff again. All in all, it has been an awesome week. It felt more fun and I'm getting a bit more used to the whole thing.


Posted on behalf of MJ Waters.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

30 January - End of Week 1

G'day all,

So the first week has been and gone - initiation week - so not really a real training week, but still quite testing and fulfilling. A lot has happened as you might have expected. We get told a heck of a lot of information over short periods of time and are expected to use it straight away. This is done either in practical lessons or lectures - sound familiar to all you uni attendees? The big difference is I'm at work 6am - 10pm, with very little time to sleep on the grass/couch. The culture shock of being told to do stuff all the time and being yelled at was a bit hard to handle at first, but it does have a purpose and a place.

As a platoon we have been working hard on our marching and have just been issued our guns. It's weird to be wandering around carrying a rifle and practicing safety checks on it. We also just learnt how to strip, clean and reassemble the rifle. It's really intense and we've just started doing more physical work, so it's starting to become physically and mentally draining. I threw up on our first physical training session, mainly because I didn't anticipate the amount of sprinting and had a huge breakfast. This didn't sit well...woops.

Apart from that, it's all been pretty good. Actually, most things are like that here - when you're throwing up it feels like it takes forever and is the worst thing in the world, but when you look back on it, it wasn't so bad. The days are now starting to tick over a bit. As I alluded to before, the difference parts of the day feel like they take forever, but looking back on them, they go pretty quick. The worst part of the day for me is waking up at 6am and having to yell HALLWAY 3A at the top of my lungs, while grabbing my sheets and heading out the door. Too much yelling and movement for me. I hate it but hopefully I will get more used to it.

All in all, it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be, but now that it's got more physical, it's getting slightly tougher.

Hope all is going well for everyone else.

Peace and love from your gun-toting friend.

Posted on behalf of MJ Waters