Sunday, February 22, 2015
So... I went outfield last week; and boy that was a heck of a journey. Exercise Wallaby pales in comparison to the amount of shit we went through. It's hard to convey how hard it is because in all honesty, we did not do much work.
(correction by the time I finished writing this 3 weeks has passed since)
It all started on Day 1, when we had to set up camouflage for our tanks, and failed terribly. Poles meant to keep the net above the tanks broke in the midst of our efforts. The gods then decided to piss on us through a heavy downpour, soaking us to our bones. After thoroughly making sure that we are all wet, it stopped raining, the skies cleared up, bringing in the lovely, warm sunshine. But that lasted just long enough for our skin to become clammy, and for our uniforms to dry to the point of dampness.
Whatever we've done wrong to the heavens, it clearly decided to fuck us today of all days. Because it rained out of no where, and even harder than before. After struggling in the rain for eternity, we finally finished and took shelter. Except, there's one more vehicle that requires us to camouflage.
Night finally came, the one thing we looked forward to was fresh rations packets straight from the cookhouse in camp. Some warm food would definitely lighten the atmosphere.
But of course, for reasons known only to the devils, there wasn't enough food for all of us. 3 packets was all they could find, 3 fucking packets, for 9 people. Fortunately, we do have some food with us so the other 6 guys just had whatever we brought.
The night ended rather early and we prepared for sleep. I've said this before but I can't stress this enough, tanks are the polar opposite of the word comfort. It is pretty tough to sleep in a confined place where we can't stretch our legs fully or turn our bodies.
Morning finally came after a half-assed sleep, I had a full bladder as I woke and needed to "release the kraken", but nooooo. Of all things there was a swarm of bees above my head. And I'll admit it, I'm pretty scared of bees, not to the point where I'll run and scream; but I stay the hell out of their way!
That said, there really wasn't any way out for us. Turns out my friend behind me was having a mini panic attack as well. We tried many ways to repel them but to no avail, so we just shut ourselves in and hope that they'll just leave eventually; and they did, but that was an absolutely horrible way to start the morning.
The rest of day 2 was a waste of time as the fight began as the sun sets. We rescued some vehicles here and there, nothing really worth mentioning, until day 3.
None of us will ever forget day 3.
That's the entire reason for the title.
Firstly, our Bronco got stuck in chest high level mud. Then my vehicle attempted to rescue it. (keyword: attempted) In our efforts to pull it out, we got stuck ourselves before even reaching the correct position. I'm can't deny that it's my team's fault for being inexperienced, but honestly we have never faced a terrain like this before.
The location has tall grass all over the place, we checked the ground by jumping on it and making sure that it's hard enough for our vehicle to pass through. It wasn't exactly cold hard solid ground but it was pretty close; so we went ahead with it.
The moment the tank moved over that terrain, the tracks started sinking in way deeper than we originally expected it to. Turns out the surface was years of vegetation interweaving each other, forming some sort of a hard grass blanket over what was really underneath; sand. Just freaking loose sand. It's not that our vehicles can't go on sand, but it was almost like quicksand, and so, my vehicle got stuck as well.
We've started from ~6PM, calling help from 2 other companies' recovery team. tried everything we could've come up with. 10 hours later, we finally gave up at 4AM. We closed our eyes and tried to get some rest in our tanks within the armies of mosquitoes swarming around us.
At 6AM we got woken abruptly with someone banging hardly on our tanks.
"Take your rifles and all the important things and leave now!!"
I have absolutely no idea what the fuck was happening until we all gathered out on the road. Turns out some other unit is commencing live firing and we are in the firing zone.
I don't know what else to say about this. I also totally forgot to mention the lack of food and water because Day 3 was supposed to be the day we get our resupplies but because of our situation we were stranded some place else and they didn't even bother coming for us.
Day 4 was the day we caught up with our sleep because they just left us at some training shed with roughly 13 of us, with ~15 litres of water and 2 packet of combat rations (and some random small snacks); from 7AM till 5PM. Yup we just sat there, zoned out from our vehicles waiting for the whole exercise to end before we can move in and do our jobs.
That meant that by 5PM the entire battalion was moving back to camp while we have to get our own vehicles out, and bring back every other vehicle that broke down outside.
I know I'm complaining a lot but really, this is rather depressing.
We had to request help from our sister unit in order to get us out of the ditch. The other vehicle that was stuck in the mud had to be shovelled for 2 hours before they could find the part to hook up the winch. Thankfully the regulars were the ones showing their prowess so us NSFs just helped with the tools and what not. By the time we were done with our own vehicles and the other broken down vehicles, it was Friday 2AM.
We were all gathered and prepared to move back to camp but some guy in full gear came out of nowhere (in the forest) and told us that it's a no go for us. Apparently a different unit is starting their exercise now and they have effectively cordoned off the whole stretch of road we needed to go back. After many phone calls and wasted breath, we resigned to our fate of staying another night outfield.
Which wouldn't be that bad if not for the lack of water and food.
We gave up moving back at around 3+AM.
At 6AM a sudden heavy downpour just came all over our faces and bodies. That was one heck of a awakening call. Cutting down the drama in between where we get soaked and ran from vehicle to vehicle, I needed to tow a vehicle back to camp, which meant that I'm driving open hatch. Allowing the rain hit me everywhere it pleases.
Also, because my vehicle was stuck and all, the left track tension was loose so I couldn't go fast nor could I turn hard. Either of which will go very very wrong if I made any wrong moves.
To give you an idea of the situation in real life context:
Imagine a car with the left front and rear wheel not secured properly, you could still drive, but if you do anything stressful to the vehicle it'll come right off. And you're driving on wet mud.
The remaining admin matters were a pain in the ass but at least, after 4 days I finally got proper food in my stomach. I don't think I've starved so much before in my life, which made me realize what a privileged bitch I am.
All of these brings me to the point of my title. This was an embarrassing outfield. We were supposed to be the guys rescuing other vehicles and getting them to safety but we got stuck ourselves. I mean, I don't have the strongest sense of duty but I really have not failed so hard in life before.