Monday, May 11, 1998

Making weekend war

Published in the Columbia Missourian

The Headquarters Battery of the 128th Artillery Regiment, Missouri National Guard, trains one weekend a month and two weeks a year to stay ready for their two main tasks: 1) to serve the state of Missouri in times of civil distress, like floods or other natural disasters; and 2) to serve the United States in time of war.

During the rest of the year, the members of the National Guard have regular jobs like most other people: working in offices, teaching, doing various kinds of skilled work, and so on.

But on their training weekends, they prepare for war. It's not just a matter of being physically ready, but also of having plans for events that might happen. They plan a lot. Each weekend they go home having planned a little more. The next month, they come back and pick up right where they left off.

The men in the upper right photo are officers preparing for a mock battle they will fight in a couple of months from now. The man in the upper left photo is a soldier practicing combat maneuvers with his squad.

Humvees are the military's main method of moving people around during exercises and combat. The trucks are built with large tires and high ground clearance, so they can get through almost any type of landscape. They're still nimble enough, though, to drive on regular roads.

The inside of a Humvee has room for about four people to sit. (In a Humvee, everyone wears a seat belt because it jolts around so violently!) There's also room for a lot of equipment on the floor and in the rear storage area.

When they're not in motion, the vehicles can be used as tables, desks, or chairs. The tough metal can take it if soldiers sit on the vehicles or put weaponry or other things on them. Humvees are built to be rugged.