By lex, on January 25th, 2012
Your host is back on the Crossfit track, the time which he has for such activities having been expanded by his more frequent absence from domestic duties. Also, something really had to be done about our creeping senescence, and this is after all a new year – a time in which it is customary and usual to start beneficial things anew, or renew good things once abandoned, or abandon things malignant. I’m rather too fond of my vices to give them up entirely, so getting back in the gym seemed a reasonable compromise. The combination of which inspired has inspired me to various and divers loaded functional movements over the course of the last cuppla, which have left me aching and sore in all the usual places, reminding me no doubt about why I had given the whole thing over in the past, not once but several times.
We do not only do air-to-air training here in Fallon, Nevada, but also a significant portion of air-to-ground training. Some of which must be conducted in close proximity to friendly forces, and which therefore require the assistance of a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), also known as a FAC (Forward Air Controller) to those of us who grew up hurling ourselves at the dirt before “Joint” became pretty much de rigueur in all things. Because of the jointness in it.
Our Beloved Corps has a quaint habit of rotating front-line flyers from the cockpit to serve as FACs in the trenches, the better to work along side those who may from time to time require and desire aerial fire support, delivered with exacting precision in close proximity. It is no doubt thought that this service simultaneously prevents the Wings of Gold set from taking on airs, so to speak, while providing a cautionary example to others of their cohort. Some of whom might otherwise be tempted to hit the pickle button on a Close Air Support mission without reasonable assurance that the weapon in question doesn’t do more harm than good. After all, it very might be you on day on the receiving end, fly boy. So mark your targets well.
The blue suited side of the Blue/Green team will train aerial observers for this role, the thinking being that one controlling aerial fires from above might have a cool detachment from those delivering those fires in the heat of the fray. But if you want to speak to someone from Navy who calls in fires wearing muddy boots, the odds are that you’ll wind up talking to a SEAL team member, who got his own JTAC training right here at NAS Fallon.
It may not surprise you, therefore, to learn that you can scarcely swing a dead cat around here without knocking the cover off a naval special warfare operator. Which fact argues strongly against any latent ambition you might have had to swing dead cats, lest you join poor Felix in his fate. Nowhere, apart from perhaps the classroom or the field, is the likelihood of such an encounter greater than in the gym on base. In consequence of which I have taken to leaving whatever dead cats I might possess in the car, to prevent some fatal misunderstanding.
They are easy to spot, whether in uniform or civilian clothes. Their BDUs are certainly not the blueberries one sees everywhere else, nor the woodland cammo of the old days, nor yet the patterns worn by the other services back in CONUS, but rather – I suspect – the relatively new MultiCam pattern designed by the Army for wear exclusively in Afghanistan.* Atop this they wear t-shirts covered by khaki fleece sweaters, and their heads are often topped by a khaki watch cap pulled snug over the ears. Their gait is relaxed and athletic, but their bearing otherwise decidedly un-military – hands are routinely stuffed into pockets. No one ever seems to call them on it, and as a contractor I don’t feel like it’s my place to set them straight. Nor am I all that well insured.
You’d think it would be a little harder to suss them out in civies, but it’s not. There’s just something in the way they carry themselves, a sense of latent potency and self-assuredness. When two or three are together, you can add the fact that all of them are in superb physical shape. I don’t know how it is in the other services, but if you put three sailors together – or three of their officers, for that matter – the odds at least one among them showing evident need of dietary counseling is abundant. Not so with a pack of operators. And in the gym, well.
One fine way to encourage a man of a certain age to greater exertions in the gym – or at least to suck his belly in – is to place a lithe young beauty in spandex in close proximity. I find that working out alongside a SEAL instead inspires me mostly try to stay out of his way while he gets his frogman on.
Which is a ludicrously self-absorbed way of introducing the trailer to something coming out of Hollywood that just might be good, for once: Act of Valor. * The story may be fictional – even if loosely based on real-world events – but many of the “actors” are anything but. You owe it a look, the theatrical trailer as well as the short video on the making of the movie.
I like movies, and generally sort the ones I want to see into one of two bins, “big screen” for spectacles, or “DVD” for those I am content to wait for and watch in the comfort of my own hooch. This one definitely goes into the big screen category.
Update: Wow, talk about topical. It’s hard for Hollywood – or anyone, for that matter – to keep up with these guys.
Update 2: Given the uncharacteristically militant braying and chest thumping in the left-wing blogosphere about the Somalia operation, one is almost tempted to “question the timing” of this operation, which completed very shortly before the president’s SOTU address last night.
We don’t much go in for that sort of thing around here, because contemplating the possibility that a sitting executive with no military experience whatsoever would place good men in danger for personal political gain leads to some very dark places.
** Original links dead; changed – Ed.