This Friday, I and my chaplain assistant will head to Fort Dix to to the Air Mobility Warfare Center for our contingency skills training. The focus for us will be on combat operations in urban environments and defensive operations involving convoys. This is the last segment I need to be full up and ready for deployment to the war. Chaplains find themselves in a unique situation in combat environments. We are classified as non-combatants by the Geneva conventions, and under orders to not carry or utilize weapons, even in self defense of ourselves or our fellow troops. We can be shot at, but we can't shoot back. However, we can respond as anyone else to render first aid or even self-care in the event someone is hurt. And it is important for us to know how the troops will respond in the even of combat so we do what needs to be done to take care of ourselves so we can keep ourselves and our wingmen from getting hurt.
I'm going to the war. Can't say where or when -- but I'm heading there into the thick of things. I've already started collecting the gear I will need. I know my location and my time frame. To be honest, I'm looking forward to the opportunities associated to get involved in the lives of our airmen and women and even our soldiers and sailors who will be there. I'll certainly miss my family and friends, but this is one of the reasons I joined for. I will say though, that I will miss being here at Andrews. We have new leadership and several new chaplains coming in and they are all first rate. It will be an exciting time this fall to watch the new ministry develop here.
Out in the war, operations are truly a joint endeavor. There is way less distinction between the operations of the services than when I was last in the military in the early 90's. I have a wedding coming up for instance for an Army captain whose unit I serve as its chaplain as it is attached here at Andrews. Out in the war, there is almost not distinction between the services. Everyone works together to get the job done and work to make sure we all come home.
I've been doing some research to better prepare myself for what is coming. I found this video which I found very enlightening about convoy operations. This 2nd video helps one understand the saying "you don't hear the bullet that kills you". I hope to have an opportunity to tag along on some of these rides and to get out with the locals to add something to the efforts that are being made to bring peace and stability to so many places in the world right now. Other video from Iraq can be found here & Afghanistan here
On a side note, one of our reserve chaplains is also a member of the LCMS like myself. He has a congregation not to far from here. This is a good thing for my family, as the local one's we've visited so far have not been a good fit for my family. It is only about once every couple of months that we have a chance to go to services on Sunday morning, but it will be good to have a place to go and touch our roots and reinforce our identification with our tradition on a regular basis.