Chaplain Candidate Program: Annual Training 2010

Well, AT 2010 is fast drawing to a close. We have finished up our time out in the field and are now back at homestation. My AT this year has been with an infantry battalion. This has been a good experience and a learning experience. I spent my enlisted years in a maintenance unit in a support BN. We were decidedly not infantry. It was great for me to get to spend some time with the soldiers who make up the backbone of the armed forces, see how they operate, and rub shoulders with the officers and enlisted personnel.

I spent the bulk of my AT sleeping on the ground. I was literally sleeping under the stars. The ground was hard and not conducive to good sleep, but the experience of getting to live with a group of enlisted soldiers for the bulk of my AT was priceless.

I spent my AT playing a COB (civilian on the battlefield) on the cordon and search lane. I played the role of an Afghani village elder in some iterations and in other iterations I played the elders trusted advisor. Our goal was to give the soldiers going through the lane a taste of the distractions and situations that they would encounter during a real life situation of cordoning and clearing a village while trying to win the hearts and minds of the people in the village. We all took to our roles with gusto and forced the soldiers to really focus on their mission because we offered them numerous (and often humorous) distractions.

Running the lane was a lot of work because it ran 24 hours a day in two twelve hours shifts. We did not have enough COBs to alternate so we all ended up doing both iterations during the day. That meant we usually only got a few hours of sleep between iterations. It made for a very tiring week and by the time we got to the end of the training, we were all a little loopy. I nearly lost my voice from screaming at the soldiers about disturbing my chickens

I had the chance to visit with several of soldiers and talk to them about life, faith, family issues, and a number of other things. It’s amazing how spending time rolling around in the dirt and sharing a common mission with a group of soldiers can open doors for conversations about the most important things in life.

This could very well be my last AT as a CH Candidate and I will say that it has been one of the best. Those days that I got to spend out in the field were invaluable and showed me a side of the Army that I had not seen before. I am looking forward, now more than ever, to being able to minister to the men and women of the Army and to have the opportunity to teach them about my incredible Savior.

Below are a couple of videos from when we visited a mortar team practicing a skill that they will likely be using when they deploy.

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