CAST consisted of 10 training days that covered skills such as land navigation (how to read a map and work a compass); IED (improvised explosive device) training (how to ID and hopefully avoid setting off an IED while on foot); mounted operations (how to drive in a convoy including avoiding driving over IEDs, assisting passengers in IED damaged vehicles, and vacating vehicles); armored vehicle egress training (how to escape from a rolled over vehicle); urban operations (how to walk down the street in a village and survive); first-aid on the battlefield; how to fire our weapon (yes…I had to shoot a gun again!).
What did I learn at CAST?
- Wearing a flack vest, wearing a helmet, carrying 100 ounces of water, carrying a brick (that’s Army talk for walkie-talkie), and carrying an M-16 rifle everywhere we went is tough. All together it probably weighs over 50 pounds!
- How to properly prepare and eat an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). We ate these every day for lunch.
- When you’re hanging upside down in a rolled over vehicle and you unbuckle your seat belt, that heavy helmet really does protect your head when you land on it
- I don’t enjoy shooting guns…still.
- I have a whole new appreciation for what the Army does.
With that said, the most important thing I took away from CAST is basically that I joined the Air Force so I didn’t have to learn, or for that matter do, any of this Army stuff!!!
But all seriousness, CAST was a great crash course on skills that I hopefully will never have to put in practice, but if the situation arises I feel that I am prepared to do what I need to in order to survive and ensure others survive.