Friday, June 22, 2007

It is AT Season

I started waxing poetic the other day when I realized that this time of year was when my last unit had its regularly scheduled Annual Training. I realized that in a circadian rhythm I had always been scheduled for significant events for the summertime period – many annual training cycles, but also my R&R from Iraq, my wedding 25 years ago. I guess this year for the first time I really had nothing planned and I was only jarred into that realization as I passed a convoy of vehicles heading for Ft. Drum for an annual training cycle…that annual summertime event I shared for 18 or so years.

I remember the planning, increased buzz of activity at the Reserve Center that preceded the big day that the Convoy was assembled and set off for the AT location – usually several states away. The ride in Jeeps or later HUMMVs on the interstate and the swelling of chest as cars would pass by the vehicle and waved, cheered, kids with faces pressed forward to see soldiers. The training time would be a flurry of overtasked days to complete every imaginable training task prior to the end of training period. The ride home and the cleaning, repacking and tired satisfaction that came from knowing that once again AT was successful and our skills were re-sharpened.

I have always given the analogy that serving in the Reserves was like Minor League Baseball. Provided older equipment, fewer resources and less pay, the game we played was the same as the Active duties (Major league) – The rules were the same, the playing field was essentially the same – Minor league players may not have had the flair or polish but they understand the fundamentals of the game. Occasionally we would get called up to play in an active duty assignment and all that we had was going to be required when playing on the bigger field.

Today, much of the reserve force has deployed to a bigger event, the amateur feel of Annual Training seems like we were just playing a game when we went to Pickett, Dix, Drum, etc…. But it was the basis for many part time soldiers stepping to the plate when called. Those bucolic summers somehow enabled the thinking green mindset and can do ability for the Reservist that I served with in Iraq. Now I guess I see the annual training event in a different light – I miss the fun and enjoyment of the annual event and know that our efforts really mattered to our country – So when you see those Reserve and Guard soldiers heading for Annual Training – wave and let them know how we appreciate what they are doing.

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