In these troubling times, it is important to find like-minded citizens and organize. The Second Amendment recognizes the right for the citizens to form militias. The Utah State Militia is one such militia. It's mission is to protect the Constitution of these United States and defend the rule of law in this nation, and in the state of Utah. Unlike other so-called "militias," the Utah State Militia is not merely a rag tag armed group of people. It falls under the definition of a well-regulated militia due to the scope of it's mission. Everything is above board and legal. There is no nefarious agenda, no racism, no hatred, and no law-breaking. The people who comprise the Utah State Militia are concerned citizens, patriots, and 3 Percenters. They love their country, and are willing to do whatever it takes to preserve it as originally intended.
I knew about the field training exercise (FTX) a few weeks ago. Prepared to head out today, I found an inch or two of snow on the ground, I awoke to a little more than I bargained for.
Getting set up was a bit slower than it would have been. Temperatures were below freezing, and the snow was piling itself on. We arrived at the muster point about a quarter to 08:00, and by the time we finished with formation, and getting all our gear situated (about 09:00), there was already 4" of accumulation on the roof of my Jeep Cherokee. Needless to say, the makings of a very interesting day were in process.
At the start, we received some basic instruction on triage and first aid. It was pretty basic, but much of the information made for a great refresher course for me. I imagine that others with less first aid experience learned a lot of new things. I also learned some really good things about triage, and determining who receives aid first on the battlefield, as well as how you know to triage someone out. That's code for letting someone die because there is no way to treat them in the field, and you can't waste resources when other lives can be saved.
I volunteered to be on the first patrol, and since my wife was attached to me, she came with. My good friends both ended up in the same squad with me. Given that we've taken to calling ourselves the Dirty Rotten Bastards, I knew this patrol could be very interesting to say the least.
Now mind you, this FTX is rudimentary and basic on purpose. Many of us involved have never served, and while we have a general idea of how patrols are conducted, there were many things I did not know before that I know now.
The snow kept falling throughout the patrol, and didn't let up until we had made our way back "home." The snow made it really interesting because as we would maneuver during enemy contact scenarios, we really couldn't tell what sort of stuff we might be stepping on beneath 5-7" of the white stuff. At one point, I got up and tripped as I began my rush. I'm glad my sling was squared away because I pitched my rifle into the snow and buried it. As I stood up, I moved forward, blew the snow out of my Aimpoint lens, and provided cover for my buddy, who ran up to my position in some really dense scrub oak.
Aside from just learning basic infantry tactics, I got to know my gear a little better, and how my system interacts with me, my rifle, and my ability to use them all effectively. They were the little things - like my idea that the Aimpoint lens covers should flip down because they create a lower profile wasn't such a great idea when I tried to flip down the rear cover. I couldn't do it with winter gloves on because the brightness adjustment knob was too close. Before I ended up turning the lens covers around so they flip up instead, I had to use my knife to open it. That sucked. However, I'm glad I moved my knife to the right hand side of my chest rig instead of the left. That was a lesson I learned last time I took the rig out.
I wasn't totally surprised with how little water I was using up there. The cold air just didn't leave me all that thirsty. Eventually, I forced myself to drink from my Camelbak so I wouldn't dehydrate. Some of the work we were doing was really tough. Running through the woods with our load-outs wasn't exactly easy. Let's just say I have a lot more respect for the men who wear this crap every day and kick in doors for a living. My plate carrier is on the way, so my load-out is only going to get heavier. Time to hit the stair climber at the gym.
The lesson included a lot more than just defensive perimeters. It looked at how to set up ambushes, communication, radios, etc.
One of the guys got an idea into his head that we should set up an ambush on the squad that should have been returning by the time we concluded our lesson. We had a natural choke point right outside the stationary position, so myself and two other guys headed up to the top of a ridge, and dropped down into some thick trees, getting ourselves sufficiently set up to make an effective ambush. To other guys were stationed down on the road in good fighting positions. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I gave the signal to my buddies that the patrol was in my sight. Now, mind you, no live fire was conducted during this FTX. So we basically waited until they were in the kill box and yelled "BANG! YOU'RE DEAD!" It was a fun exercise to say the least.
All in all, it was a good time. I met many fellow patriots who were willing to brave the cold and snow to make it out to where we were training today. Nobody was injured, and everyone sucked it up without complaints, despite the cold.
I also want to add a final note. Someone on Facebook saw a picture I posted, and criticized our lack of snow camouflage. This was my response to him:
I should point out that all this gear is expensive. It took me well over a year to square away my first chest rig. When you have a family, a house, cars, and every other expensive thing that takes money out of your minuteman budget, like eating, you find that accumulating gear, especially gear that works, takes some time. In the meantime, however, we can train and learn the basics. And when we have the gear, and we've fully vetted it into our system, then no problem. Until then, we run what we brung. And I'll never EVER criticize a fellow patriot that comes out to one of these FTX missions with nothing more than blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a rifle. In my humble opinion, fancy gear is not a prerequisite for patriotism.