FTX APRIL 6th-8th, 2012
MISS PEMBERTON'S ART CLASS
Above: Toad provides security as an SMVM platoon escorts Miss Pemberton's art class to safety during exercises on Easter weekend, April 6th-8th, 2012.
April 6th, 2012, 1400 hrs: Weapon M and Thighsaac got the keys for Cabin 2 from the park ranger and did a recon of the trail. Cabin 2 at Bald Mountain is the cabin that Dr. Jack Kervorkian used for two of his patients. The SMVM intended to use it for training.
The cabin was secure, and the trail was usable and relatively dry. Some nimrod had rotated one of the trail directional markers, but we corrected that. Bald Mountain seems a bit more hilly than Island Lake. This makes for a bit more strenuous walking, but also better pictures, so it's a decent trade-off, I guess.
I wasn't sure what kind of turn out we were going to have, given that it was Easter weekend, but I was very pleasantly surprised. 11 JMC young-uns were present Friday night, and another good handful of militia members were there as well. It looked like the drill was going to go off as intended.
During the morning briefing, the guys were kind enough to sing Happy Birthday to me, as it was my 45th. It was also Baby Chops' 12th birthday. Kind of a great way to spend a birthday, at Bald Mountain, doing training! Hell yeah!
The point of the exercise was to safely evacuate an art class from a threatening environment. The scenario that was set up was one in which students from the prestigious Johnson-Merril School of Art were given an assignment, while on a field trip, to draw their favorite prophet. One of these students posted about this assignment on some social media network, thus bringing the ire of a local terrorist group, Farouk-Al-Salit (whose stated goal is: They want the world, they want the whole world). The militia's mission was to safely and quickly evacuate the students to a safer location. The students were between seven and seventeen years old.
Miss Pemberton's Art Class.
Wait. We don't have a manual for that. Most of our stuff is drawn from military experience (many us are veterans), or military field manuals (all of us are literate), or some previously developed knowledge. There seems to be no such previously developed plan to evacuate art students. Yet, this is exactly the type of thing that we might have to someday do.
So, we came up with a plan, hastily, and on the spot. We sent out a front security team, and a rear security team, and left and right flankers. We also embedded two militia people, and a medic in with the students, AND (this is the cool part) conscripted the two oldest male students to act as student security, in the event that we were all taken out. These students fell in, one at the front of the art class, and one at the rear. Since we had arrived at the cabin in our vehicles, the drill allowed us to have an extra weapon or two and some extra gear with which to equip these two young men. In a pinch, since most of us also have side-arms, we could arm even a few more folks, if absolutely necessary.
Ah yes, we can herd cats....
When we came to a halt or a rally point, the kids were to try and get down and hide. The conscripts (okay, we didn't forcibly conscript anyone, they volunteered...) made sure they kids were hidden and secure. Surprisingly, even the ones with brightly colored clothing managed to hide well most of the time.
Security, security, everywhere.
At choke points or linear danger areas, the flankers came in and went across to help with far-side security while the kids waited.
About halfway along the 2.1 mile trail, we increased the likelihood of contact, and used more of a bounding overwatch type of movement, bounding the front security team and the flankers, and then bounding the kids up to the next position when it was safe to do so. This was more time consuming, but good practice. We think the best way to do this period might be to just bound the kids from one safe position to the next.
Get down, get off the trail, and hide.
Toward the end of the drill, we simulated an injury to one of the students, and practiced a medical evacuation. This is when everyone sang Happy Birthday to Baby Chops. At first, we used militia guys to carry her, but then we gave the Juniors a chance to help transport their injured cohort. They did surprisingly well for juniors (okay, Bubba helped them out, too).
If the Juniors carry their own wounded, we can provide more security.
The overall hike was just a touch over two miles. We are now more confident in being able to herd children along to safety. Kudos to Cam and Rich for adding to the security posture, and to the lovely "Miss Pemberton."
While lunch was grilling up, (seriously good chili, for the hot dogs) it was time for "Militia arts and Crafts" with LFB, as some of us learned how to make "survival bracelets with 550 cord. Some kind of cord is one of the five minimum necessary survival items, so wearing a para-cord bracelet means you have at least some cordage available at all times. Between militia people and bushcraft people, you should be able to find someone to teach you this, or make one for you.
Not all para-cord bracelets have to be a tactical color.
You can also keep some paracord handy by braiding some into a keychain, rifle sling, dummy cord for certain gear, and things like that. Even though this was initially aimed at the juniors, you can see quite a few of the grown-ups made these, too. Maybe we will have some of these at Field Day in June...
Following the arts and crafts segment of the weekend's training, Bubba took charge of a JMC infiltration exercise. He demonstrated several different facial camo patterns, and talked to the kids about sneaking up to the cabins using cover and various movement techniques. I walked the kids out a few hundred yards, showed them how to use vegetation to enhance their camo, and then let them try to sneak up on our cabin.
Bubba showing Baby Chops how to use camo paint.
Patience is a virtue, of which he has a great deal.
The kids get their briefing. Fairy Girl has her pack on because, "That's my GEAR."
Watching the kids dart and skitter around as they tried to sneak up on us was was probably nearly as much fun as they were having. From our vantage point, we could spot almost all of them, as they crawled and rolled and darted from tree to tree.
And here was the thing: They GOT IT. They showed a good grasp of tactical movement. These kids, who will hopefully someday replace us in the militia movement, used terrain features, and low crawls, and cover very well, almost instinctively. Several times, I found myself asking, "Hey, where did they go?"
The kids all did an excellent job, and they all were properly sneaky. Fairy Girl was the first to reach the objective by sneaking around behind the cabin, after hugging the hill right in front of us. We spotted the ones with brightly colored shoes or sweat pants at a greater distance, so maybe next time they will consider that. All of them did a great job, but we need to mention Rich for cutting through a cold swamp that was chest deep. In April. Yeah. Hardcore points, there.
All of the kids said that this was pretty much the most fun event in which they have participated, and they would love to do it again whenever we can. Fun AND tactical value, in one event? Points to Bubba for running this.
But we still had more learning and training to do on this fine, fine day! There was a demonstration of how to break down and perform a function check on an AR15 (hey, not everyone has these, and it's not a genetic trait). Next time, we might do this blindfolded, or standing on our head. Still, it's good to show folks who don't have one how to do this. God knows there are enough of them out there....LFB has an older style AR, without the forward assist, so that was neat to see. AR's are fine machines, but they do require maintenance.
And there was also a block of instruction on breaking down an AK variant. These are reliable, and there are lots of them out there. In the event that you ever find an AK that actually needs to be cleaned, you should know how to do this.
We even saw how to break down one of those nifty Kel-Tec carbines, and how to break down my Daewoo .223. After having this for over 25 years, I finally figured out why there is a cut in the bolt (It's for the ejector, which is TOTALLY different from the AR.) (Thank you, Grasshopper...)
LFB even did a knife sharpening demonstration, which is something that some of us (ahem....me) should learn to do better.
So, after all of this, and some more hot dogs, some of the folks had to go, but some of us stayed and did a night patrol.
We took the blue trail, which is quite a bit steeper than the white trail, that we had taken earlier, as it was getting dark, and then we took up a defensive position for stand down. After 30 minutes or so of this, we picked up and moved along. Fritz had a really neat night vision device, which we had to check out, and everyone had a red light, which they gleefully demonstrated. Okay, we suggest a blue or red light at night, but I suggest an even more tactical approach of NO light. Movement was slow and deliberate, and in some of the heaviest pine groves, it was completely pitch black. The slowness was due to the point man's absolute refusal to use any light at all. (Um, that would be me...)
Even in the dark, I could tell that this trail had some awesomely scenic views, and so I MUST hike it again soon in the daylight hours. Bear has verified this.
After a full, busy day, we sacked down in the cabin, and the outside guys in their tents. The next morning, Easter Sunday, Mrs. Moore had candy for the kids, and we cleaned up the cabin area for the ranger to come inspect.
All in all, it was one of the best birthday and Easter weekends that I have had. I really want to thank everyone who came out and also my wife for being supportive of this on Easter weekend.
See you all next time!
Click here for the Photobucket album of the April 2012 training.