Letters from a Foreign Land | Part 2

By October 28, 2008Military

Today, as I was sitting around looking at the other men in my unit, I commented that we led really privileged lives. Other suckers have to pay thousands of dollars to tour different exotic countries and experience unique cultures, whereas I get PAID (while not very much) to do the same thing. Granted, I’m sure that when you pay for the trip, instead of cruising on Uncle Sam’s dollar, you don’t get shot at, blown up, or not get to bathe for weeks at a time, but it still seems like a pretty sweet deal. I realize that many of you don’t come from a military background, so from time to time I will try to explain a few things that will help you understand my ramblings.

Here goes: I live on a FOB. FOBs or Forward Operating Bases are bases located forward (Tim, did anyone ever tell you not to use the words you are trying to define in the definition? Screw you, Tim! Am I arguing with myself again?) into unfriendly terrain with the purpose of securing ground and providing support to the locals. In actuality, FOBs are targets located in hostile territory surrounded by people that are not sympathetic to your cause. To add to that fun, resources tend to be extremely limited, making mission accomplishment very challenging – but hey, that’s what I signed up for – if it was easy, they’d call it mortgage derivatives trading, right? I mean – who could screw that up?

Now that you understand that I live miles away from anything useful surrounded by people that generally don’t like me despite my sunny disposition, you will appreciate the fact that training for my next fight with ORGANIZATION when I get back can prove rather challenging.

Anyone that has ever met me knows I am somewhat energetic, but I’m a freak when it come to physical conditioning. Not working out two to three times a day drives me absolutely insane. In case you missed it when I whined about this previously, we have somewhat limited supplies at my current home away from home (have no fear this will not dissuade me). (I love parenthesis) “and quotation marks”. Anyhow…Like I was saying…THIS WILL NOT DISSUADE ME! Anyone can do pushups or go for a run. Many may even find some graspable object located 5-8 feet off the ground for pull ups, but when you know your opponent is in some Dolph Lundgren-like altitude chamber using $300k worth of gym equipment while eating the best food money can buy, you realize you have to do your best to make things a little more fun, if not more imaginative.

So I work with what I’ve got.

In the Army there are always certain things in abundance: Crap, lots of crap especially in a combat area – scrap metal, car chassis, goats, etc.. We basically blow things up, or get things blown up around us, leaving me with plenty of material to work with. My typical approaches are as follows:

1. Find some Crap.

2. Try to jump on top of it. If you can, then see how many times you can do it without smashing your legs against “it”. This is tricky. Box jumping is a science and an art. You have to know your ability, and more importantly, how to gauge your ability. I use landmarks on my own body. At first I was jumping things waist high. Then I would move up one rib at a time. I’m sure you can imagine the locals seeing this crazy white guy walk up to some inanimate object, and then jump on top of it and then walk up to something a little taller and try it again. And then the inevitable occurs – I eat it, bust my shins, and fall on my face… Not to worry, though – repeating this chain of events has enabled me to now jump things at nipple height! Isn’t that exciting?!?!? I also have bruises up and down my legs which I think of as a bonus.

3. Throw it. I love finding all these things that once served a useful purpose and seeing how far I can throw them…and then running to it, picking it up, turning around and throwing it again. I do this until the thing I’m trying to throw ends up trying to throw me. The heavier, and more awkward the object is, the better. I look at this as yet another opportunity to impress the local audience, who for some reason are always watching (at some distance now) with a certain mild trepidation. They’re not sure what is going on, or the reason for me yelling every time I chuck a transmission. All they know is something strange is going on and they don’t want to miss it.

4. And lastly – my favorite: Slamming! While it’s fun to pick heavy things up, it’s even more fun to throw them down. I mean straight down. Tires, ammo cans, water bottles – you name it and I bet you I can slam the living daylight out of it. It all sounds simple enough. Find something heavy, pick it up, slam, and repeat. In truth, however, a lot more goes in to it. First of all you have to make sure that you don’t slam yourself, which just hurts. Second, you need to ensure that the thing that you are slamming will not in some way be able to attack you after you slam it(you would be surprised at how vicious a tire is if slammed incorrectly). Finally, you have to take the audience into consideration (their fear is palpable during the slamming process). Even though they are now standing even further away the last thing you need is a dead local from a armored truck tire that went awry.

If any of you find yourself in INSERT MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRY HERE, please feel free to use my regime.

Well, that’s it for now. As always, thanks for your support.

Tim “TKO” Kennedy