On Monday, I flew out to one of our unit's other operating bases, FOB Tillman. In case you're wondering, it was named after former NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman. The FOB is situated in a valley between a couple of mountains and is a stone's throw (or rocket lob, as you'll find out) away from the Pakistani border.
The main purpose for coming out here was to help the Battle Space Owner (BSO) with figuring out how to engage a couple of smaller sub-tribes in the district who are seen as hostile.
At roughly 0300 yesterday morning, I set out with a platoon conducting a ground movement (that means we walked) to a nearby village to meet with some of the elders (called a Key Leader Engagement, or KLE). We left at night (because it's a little too dangerous to walk on the road during daylight) and arrived at our destination around 0500. However, it was still dark and nobody in the village was awake. So, we all just sat on the side of a big hill until the sun came up and people started moving about the village. Despite the cold chill running down my back, it was a beautiful sight to see the sun coming up over the ridge line. Absolutely breathtaking (or maybe that was from the walk).
After meeting with the village elders and learning about all the things they need (pretty much the only thing they talk to me about), we made our way back to base. However, since it was daylight we had to take another route, this one up and over a few ridge lines. Back in the states, I enjoy this kind of stuff. Give me some trekking poles, a little water and I'm good to go. Yet, with about 70 pounds of armor strapped to body and my M4, it was another matter. I got to stop and admire the views at the top, and nobody started shooting at us, so all in all it was a good trip (with the exception of the sprained ankle I got while stepping down into a dry riverbed).
Why am I still here, you might ask? Well, funny story. I was standing on the flight line this morning, waiting for our helicopter with about 8 other guys, when we started taking indirect fire (IDF). In other words, the enemy started shooting rockets at us. We had a couple land within about 200 meters of us, and the other 6 throughout the day haven't done any serious damage; however, because of the IDF, they cancelled all flights for 24. Hopefully we won't get shot at anymore so I can go back to OE!
One of the other guys waiting on the bird was an Army Chaplain. We were chatting up our favorite college football teams. While in the bunker, waiting for the "all clear", he looked at me and said, "You know, the shooting started happening when we were talking about UT Football." This is going to be a long season/deployment, I thought to myself.