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  • #16
    Just returned from AMEDD BOLC. The following is a fall-2013 update of what's already written here on the subject, as I promised I would do.

    BOLC AMEDD 201310 Part 1

    If you are waiting between flights at any airport during your travel in uniform, visit local USOs, where you may sit comfortably and purloin a softback to read during your flight, at no charge. Just leave it after done at next airport's USO facility.

    Myself, I'm somewhat of a micro-manager, and I travel loaded for bear. Meaning, I overpack. You can currently carry up to 5 bags while traveling on orders. Do not carry even three bags, I met people who went to BOLC carrying only one, a carry-on, and they made it alright. The more you carry, the more cumbersome your movements will be. Again, travel light. You are told to carry three ACU uniforms and two sets of boots, I think you can do well with only one set of boots and two uniforms. I would reserve one for rough use on Combatives and LandNav. Carry _at least_ six changes of socks and underoos, pack them in sets for daily use within 1 gallon Glad bags. This makes them much easier to find within your duffel bag. Bring two covers (patrol caps), as these tend to get misplaced. Also bring extra sets of name tags, shoulder flags, ranks and unit IDs. Myself, I ld also bring an extra set of protective glasses, if you lose the one you are given, you won't be allowed to shoot at the range. Prescription glasses may be used in lieu of Eye Pro.

    Taxi to and fro FSH and airport is about 20 minutes and $30.00 each way, plus $3-4.00 tip. Just affer arrival, I phoned the Base Hotel I was assigned to, and they told me to go first to Blesse's Hall to get the signed form that allows the Hotel to accept you. Perhaps they thought I was bringing my POV. Fool that I was, I went directly from the airport in Taxi, with my three luggage bags _and_ backpack. I surmised they'd have an easily accessible room to temporarily leave luggage while reporting. They didn't, and its impossible to carry those bags up the steep front stairs rising before the entrance. Lesson: never assume anything. BTW, It is not pleasant have people look at you like you are some sort of retard. Thanks to a courteous USAF junior officer, I was able to reach the Hotel, leave the bags and return to Blesse's Hall in time.

    I believe the best Hotel rooms are in the renovated section of Bldg. 952. We were given comfortable single rooms, WiFi included, but there were no safety deposit boxes. If you bring your Laptop, it will not be protected, but I would nonetheless, plus your CAC reader. We had a courtesy printer and desktops down in the lobby. You can check your EMail in the former. If you bring your laptop, scan all your important documents so you can print them at the hotel if need be, or carry them in a flash-drive. You can also bring a HDMI cable to connect your laptop to the room's big screen LCD TV. Your room also has a small Microwave and a fridge. Stock up on sodas and microweable food at FSH's commissary. Bldg. 952 also has exercise rooms, with typical equipment, tread machines et al...

    AMEDD C&S/ Blesse's Hall is right across the road from 952, a 10 minute brisk walk. The other Hotel is bldg. 1384, within the FSH base proper. There's a laundry room at each floor. I usually threw my soiled clothing in the machines right after arriving from the Field. Should you wait until after you have gotten a well deserved (and long-dreamt-about) warm shower, you can bet good money someone will have placed their soilies before you. Then you'll needlessly have to wait a long while for your turn. People will travel between floors to find empty washing machines, specially on Saturdays. *Note, buy your laundry soap at the Commissary, or overpay by buying the little detergent boxes available at your Hotel. Bldg. 1384 has a distinct advantage, it is the arrival/departure point for the buses (Chocs) that carry you to and fro Camp Bullis. Bldg. 952 residents need to either march their way carrying Duffels, Kevlars, Vests, Backpacks and laundry bags, or find a kindhearted driver that will take them between bldg.1384 and 952 on Friday's afternoons _and_ Monday's mornings.

    Army is big on dress-right-dress. Everything you leave at your bunk in Camp Bullis needs to be within either your backpack or duffel bag. Should you leave anything outside or hidden beneath your sleeping bag (the cadre searches them), it will be confiscated and then returned when you leave next weekend. This applies to towels, cell phones, chargers and extensions. The only visible things allowed will be your boots and running shoes under the cot, your _locked_ duffel bag, and your backpack/ Kevlar (helmet)/Vest ensemble (if not wearing same). At night, you'll hang your uniform from a rope over your bunk. If you place some loose long plastic zip-ties on the rafters above your head, you may hang other items directly from them, without them all sliding to the middle of the line. Bring two wire hangers for your pants and shirt, so they can air separately. BTW: I didn't need Febreeze or Lysol sprays for either uniforms or sleeping bag.

    You carry your rifle with you ALWAYS, even to the Porta-Potties (PPs) and showers, unless some arrangement to the contrary has been allowed. Bring a small spray can of cleaner (PExtra!) for your rifle, as the stuff they provide is not good, and to boot, you'll have to chase down whoever has the bottle. Ask first _what_you can use, as some solvents are not compatible with the rifle's action. Also, bring one of those multi-tool folding knives/pliers like Leathermans.

    We didn't have showers for the first week at Camp Bullis, possibly to familiarize ourselves with field conditions and how grunts live. I would bring a Camp Shower bag for this first week (Which you can buy at the local PExtra for $9.00). After the 1st wk., hot showers are turned on, so just discard the Shower Bag, or carry it back to the Hotel on your weekend pass. Alternatively, you can take a two-canteen quick-rinse while sitting at the PPs, and many did exactly that. You can also do the same in the shower areas when water is not running, provided the doors haven't been locked. Careful with the resident scorpions!

    Remember, the more crap you have stored in your duffel bag, the more difficult it will be to find stuff, and close it on mornings (bring a small lock!). Those extra minutes of fumbling around will make you the dear of your Platoon should you be late for formation. Never be late for morning formation. You will only have 30 minutes after wake up call to form. Myself, I wen to to sleep earlier and woke up 45 minutes before actual wake up call, and it allowed me enough time to shave, brush and do my morning visit to the PPs, avoiding the characteristic long lines . Do not drink water after 1800 hours so you won't need to piss at night. Remember you have to wake up your Battle Buddy (BB) and don your APFT uniform plus rifle to go sprinkle! Finally, I'd go back to my cot and sleep a little more until actual Wake Up call, then change from my APFT uniform/ jammies into ACUs, which I left ready the night before. Stuff everything else inside the duffel bag, then march to formation.

    BTW, bring some Ear Pro to use while sleeping in your Tent. There will be about 20 individuals sleeping on same, and as luck will have it, some will be snorers. You neither know how loud nor how far their cot will be from yours!

    A word to the wise, you are always in an Army approved uniform, no partial wear allowed, that means either full ACUs or full APFT, no flip flops while going to the showers, covers on always with ACUs, and not walking around outside your Tent in your tan T-shirts. You may be instructed at some point to don your weatherproof jacket, pants and boots. Most soldiers would rather get soaked than wear them as you will overheat very easily, the ambient temperature being close to 100 deg. F. Unless it is a direct order, I would avoid wearing them _under usual conditions_.

    I carried with me four alarm clocks: One mechanical, two battery powered, plus a CHARGED cell phone. Again, way of an overkill, just use your cell phone as an alarm clock. Notice that your only chance to charge same is when you return to barracks for the day, consequently bring electrical extensions, a MUST so everyone can charge theirs. And don't leave the extension outside when you leave for AM formation, or you will lose it for the whole week! Phone signal while at Camp Bullis is extremely poor (specially if your company is ATT). Cell phones are rather convenient way to keep in contact via text messaging with the other members of your PTN /Squad, specially on weekends at FSH.

    While at Bullis, MREs are OK, but kind of messy and complicated. You need enough time to open and heat them (many just eat them cold) then take care of the trash. You'll be lucky if a trash-can is nearby, so you may need to carry the trash with you (bring an extra gallon-sized Glad Bag for such cases). Often times, you are simply called to formation or to move somewhere else, right in the middle of eating your MRE. BTW: While heating, leave your MREs almost horizontal, so all of the pack heats uniformly and not merely the bottom. In my case, more often than not, I'd take it easy and would just eat a couple apples or oranges for lunch, or alternatively visit Mama's omnipresent Food Truck. TG, she'll follow the trainees anywhere!. Her Hot-Dogs and the soft shell flour Tacos are rather decent, even the Tofu ones, plus the ice cold drinks are very welcome. Carry about $50.00 cash to Camp Bullis each week to spend at Mama's, but she also takes plastic. Always carry a couple oranges or apples in your backpack (BP) while in the field, you can get these during breakfast at the Chow-Tent.

    Now, this takes me to critters, of which there are many at camp Bullis. We got snakes and mice in our tents, and a couple big nasty looking spiders. Do not eat anything within your tents, period. If you have food, hide it within at least a couple glad bags, then eat same outside the tent. There are scorpions below the floor of the Showers. Always check your boots and clothes before donning. Do not shower sans flip-flops. Depending on the ambient temperature, you may want to duct-tape the area between boots and pants, so bugs and ticks can't get in while you walk through the underbrush. Unless it is too hot (and you'll be told when), keep your sleeve cuffs closed.

    When going to the field, spray your uniform with DEET 40% (again:PX) , then cover your fleshy exposed surfaces with Deep Forest 90% DEET lotion (PExtra!). I never got any undue insect attention thanks to that cocktail, except a pesky hornet which seemed awfully interested in my BP's outer pocket, where I kept an apple which I forgot to place inside a bag... Capish? Always check where you sit or stand, fire ants abound. You don't wanna dance to the tune of an ant orchestra playing within your uniform. Entrance to the tents is where you'll find most invading critters, and safest would be the center cots, so spray DEET 40% at both of the Tent's entrances to discourage inquisitive pests.

    In the field, make sure your BP is well closed, sometimes you'll be ordered to leave your packs laying on the ground for a long while, which means critters may find a way inside. Leave your food inside glad-bags to control the smell. I once discovered my apples half eaten, and I was careful !. Also, if left long enough, the heat will half cook or melt any choicy tidbits you bring with you, specially chocolate and gummy bears... A rather interesting combination, BTW.

    Always carry in your lower pockets a mini-towel, and a small Neomycin-plus-pain-killer "NeoToGo" antiseptic spray (Exchange!), you will get to use it (or a comrade will need to). Don't forget to bring and use the highest protection sunscreen available. Also, always carry with you a small pack of moist towelettes, and a glad-bag with disinfectant Lysol towelettes to wipe PPs seats. You are warned: There will be many times when you won't find toilet paper at the PPs. Bring a ton of baby-wipes, you can use them for everything, PP services, personal hygiene, and even to clean your rifle. You can either buy small packages to carry with you, or buy large packs and carry a few towelettes with you within sealable glad-bags. Make sure you do not confuse the Lysol towelettes with the Baby Wipes if you pack them in Glad-Bags...XD

    In our case, road marches were short affairs, none of those 10 milers we hear so much about. Probably 3 to 4 miles, carrying vests, full canteens, backpacks and your rifle. While the marches themselves were easily tolerable, if not pleasant, the horridly hot weather was not. You will need to hydrate continuously. If you wait until you're thirsty, you are courting disaster. Once your physiologic thermostat is off-kilter, it is very probable you will experience subsequent overheats and faints. You will have failed the course and probably be let go off the Army. DO NOT TOY WITH HYDRATION.

    Dehydration and overheating are life-threatening complications. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you feel an aura or a spell coming over, stop, rest and drink. Tell your BB immediately. If there's ice nearby, apply to your head, neck and temple area, as well as to the inside of your forearms REPEATEDLY. If there's no ice, douse this areas with water REPEATEDLY. These surfaces are highly perfused by blood vessels and doing this will decrease your core temperature. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU FAINT, be proactive.

    Regarding Camel-Baks (CB), they are both a great help, and a great headache. I brought the latest "Antidote" type, kinda big, and needed to hook it externally to my BP (with clips purchased at the Military Clothing Store (MCS), do buy many carabiner/alice clips in all sizes! ). Whenever I donned or removed my BP/CB, everything tangled, tugged, or it moved the BP's balance off-center, becoming a veritable PITA. Yet, when you are only wearing your vest, or less, it is very comfortable and practical. User's Tip: While wearing your BP, simply place the CB inside (letting its tube emerge through the half zippered closure) and save yourself a lot of grief. That, or simply do the same to its bladder, and leave the carrier bag in your duffel.

    Canteens: You will be provided two. I would rather buy new ones at the MCS: Some of their previous users might have used those old canteens to pee in at night, to avoid leaving the tents, and having to don uniforms plus wake up their BB to go with them. Also, if you use your own newies, you can add the powder drinks you get from MREs (two envelopes per canteen, at least), thus making warm water more palatable while in the field. You can't use powder-drink-packs in the canteens provided by USAR, as _that_ smell remains, and they will be rejected when you return them.

    I did not have any problems with feet blisters, so mole skins and all other kinkiesque measures, such as wearing calf-length lady hosiery beneath socks, were not needed. (Those guys looking forward to the experience of wearing silky panty-hose, feel free to ignore this . I did chafe a little between thighs, which was promptly taken care by judicious use of Talcum, half-thigh-long "Boxer" underpants, and "Body Glide" Anti-Chafe, a product that helps inner thighs slide against each other with less friction. Again, get all at the PExtra camping section. BTW, I did use top rated wool/breathable socks and "Gold" brand corn starch talcum, a thin layer both _within and over_ socks. I also used Dr. Scholls day-long gel inserts. Gels work well for average 3-4 miles marches, if you're doing ten-milers, use the the foam type instead of gel insoles. You can find all this at the MCS.

    PART 2 following
    Last edited by celtan; November 4th, 2013, 04:39 PM. Reason: spelling


    • #17
      BOLC AMEDD Part 2

      Regarding office supplies, bring several black pens, as you will lose many, especially those worn in your ACUs sleeves. The LAND NAV area is covered with lost pens. Also bring automatic pencils, the cheap kind. And transparent paper protectors, the ones used for binders. Buy binders at the Exchange to store your documents. Get a couple of those small notebooks that fit within your jacket's pockets, making them easy to carry around. I don't think you need to get the more expensive rain-proof types, itís pure overkill.

      Bring lots of gallon sized glad bags. Space-saving bags are also useful, specially to store your sleeping bag. Gallon sized Glad sealable bags are great to carry your replacement underwear when going to the showers, or to carry your toothbrush/paste, shaver, cream and shampoo. In the showers, you will need to store everything in an area over the shower curtains, and sealable bags help keep all neatly together. Store the dirty underwear in another sealable-bag. Carry everything in a larger shower/personal hygiene bag, as no one wants to admire your soiled Hello-Kitty underoos. Don't forget to bring large nail-clippers, sounds geeky, but a broken nail while at field can get extremely painful if you can't trim it.

      Lamps and flashlights have to project red, green or blue light. Ostensibly, this is to prevent loss of night-vision, but also because white light at night is considered a sign of an emergency. You don't want to bring the attention of the cadre, because if there's none, then they will provide an emergency. Head-lights are very popular, specially to read maps at night. I swear by my 26 lumen Petzl Taktikka, which still is kinda expensive at $35.00. There are several others, some even from Duracell, more powerful and at half the price. Check the Exchange, the PExtra and the MCS, and don't be in a hurry. Don't buy one until you see all. Remember that the lumens they mention is for all the LEDs working at the same time, and what you need is only the red LEDs, which are usually only one or two. Some lights use a red lens which you slide down as needed. One head-lamp sold at the MCS has 40 lumens with a red sliding lense, which is all-right, and was decently priced. These headlamps can be used either on your head or on your Kevlar (helmet). The down side of head lamps is that if you use them within your tent, your head movement sprays their light all around, and you may wake your comrades (even if it is red light).

      I would recommend you also buy the 4 inches long 3AAA bat. pwrd. single-LED 70 lumen Coleman-brand flashlight (includes blue and red lenses) which is available at the PExtra. It is relatively inexpensive (~$25.00 IIRC), and I found it extremely useful both for LAND NAV and within tent and camp. A word to the wise, there are some hog-hunting 250 lumen red torches out there, which can illuminate wide paths of the LAND NAV course, the cadre knows about them, and while technically OK, they may get you in trouble, or so it was implied. Besides the flashlights, there are some small red-LED key-ring minilamps available at both Exchange and MCS, which are great for use within the sleeping tents. You can also buy red button-lights, that you can pin on you or your BB's ACU, or even trees. This help keeping tabs on each other in the dark, or to set a reference point around which to search for your Markers. In fact, I had even concocted a plan to use a red laser-pointer to mark distant objects, aligned to our azimuth vectors, as a crude form of dead reckoning. Sound, yet never got to actually do it. BTW: Bring extra batteries!

      Regarding LAND NAV, it is _as important_ to interpret the features on the 1:50,000 scale map, as to calculate correct bearings/azimuth. It would be advisable to bring a good magnifying glass to help you distinguish more clearly the ridges, roads and related features. Remember to carry your map in a gallon-sized glad-bag, to prevent it from getting wet during a sudden downpour. I'd also advise to tie that bag to your belt with a string, as we found a couple lost bags with yellowed maps, protractors and marker codes still inside. Note: If you lose your map and notes, you'll get an automatic no-go, as you can't prove you found the assigned markers. Consequently, It would be advisable for both members of the team to keep copies of the markers codes. A word to the wise, you'll be graded equally both for number of markers you find as for the time you return. If you find all 8 markers, and you return 5 minutes late, you are a NO-GO. Better to return with the minimum 5 required than late, so be wary of elapsed time while looking for them. TG, my LANDNAV buddy convinced me to forget the final marker, or we wouldn't have made it.

      Gloves are also pretty useful when moving around the field, specially at night. They will protect you from cuts and splinters, caused by broken branches while traipsing through the forest. If and when you fall, due to poor night visibility or the many bush-overgrown post holes and ground depressions, they will help protect your valuable and eminently frail hands and fingers. You also need to protect your eyes, wear your Eye Pro lenses always while at the field. I was preaching about the virtues of EyePro when I became a poster boy for same. During day training, I stuck my boot into a hidden post-hole while going down a ravine. I fell like a sack of potatoes, tumbling do through the dry, broken branches. Their ends stuck me at the exposed facial area and eyes, badly gashing the former. Had I not been wearing my protection glasses, I'd be partially blind today. This is even more pertinent during night LAND NAV, most definitely a serious risk to consider.

      About weather, I went to Camp Bullis at Fall, the best time of the year so temperatures were not that extreme. During wintertime, you'll need a regulation quilted underjacket, available at your MCS. You can also bring a fleece overjacket, if you combine both as needed, Asgard's Frozen Giants of Yrmyr will have no hold over you. That plus regulation gloves, remember you have to use both the leather gloves and the wool undergloves,or none at all. A word to the wise: Just make sure you truly need to use cold-weather clothing. Mornings can be a little nippy, but as you start marching, your core temperature will rise significantly due to the exertion. If you need to stop to remove your BP/Vest and then your underjacket, your fellows will leave you behind, and your BB will be pissed. Don't piss off your BB...

      On the infamous Gas Chamber event. Remember to don your mask when getting close to the shack, as the gas lingers around the entrance and you can fall prey to it way before even getting into the chamber. Within the chamber, getting too close to the burning chemical will increase its concentration and your oddss of inhaling same. On your way out, avoid inhaling as soon as you get out of the door, not only is your mouth full of gas, but the area right outside the threshold has a high concentration of it, so you will suck it in on your first breath. Walk several steps away from the door, exhale your mouth contents, THEN inhale!

      Regarding your rifle, you will grow so accustomed to carrying it with you, that sometimes you'll start looking around for it when it's already on your shoulder. Even so, exhaustion will play nasty tricks with your mind. I had to carry many rifles, left unwittingly behind by way-tired comrades. I thought it could never happen to me, as I was specially wary about this issue. It just so happened that after one exercise, we were given the chance to drop our BP, vest and kevlars, and get some food at Mama's truck, parked conveniently close by. I found myself somehow at Mama's line, pleasantly unencumbered by neither equipment...nor rifle! In fact, I couldn't even recall how I got there, just some hazy, vague recollection of letting it all fall at the base of a tree, along with other stuff from my squad. TG it was within LOS, and I beat a hasty retreat to recover it, hoping that nobody had noticed and they were as dazed as I was from heat and exhaustion.

      It's hot out there at the Rifle Range, and you'll lie exposed under the sun while wearing your head-oven (aka kevlar), so make sure you are hydrated and carry full canteens. As soon as you enter the area, make sure you keep your rifle's muzzle downwards and in the direction of the targets, even while unloaded and walking to your assigned position. Do maintain your glasses clean, and preferably clean their inner surfaces with antifog towelettes. Don't set them tight against your eyes, allow some space between your brow and the frames, or your breath will be trapped and fog the lenses. It happened to me, and it is extremely frustrating to have your instructor order you to fire, yet the only thing you are certain of position is the instructor himself thanks to his yells. In fact, I could only see peripheral targets lying in the adjacent lanes belonging to my comrades. There was I, with no other targets and a full clip... TG, I was able to retake the test, and easily qualified subsequently. Note: always tap the forward assist before taking your first shot, and make sure that first round is properly loaded.

      During combatives, remember to be exceptionally gentle, a couple ounces of excess pressure can strain a joint, snap a finger, or even a large bone. If either you or your antagonist gets seriously hurt, whoever gets incapacitated will need to retake the whole course all over again. It's that simple.

      Since we are on the subject of risks, avoid them as much as possible. Anything that doesn't take you to your objective is secondary. I saw people running at night on a surface coated with loose rubble, or overexerting doing PT the night before an exercise. I saw people needlessly get hurt, with strained ankles et al. That's a sure way to get out of the race, why risk it? There will be ample time for martial arts training and running after BOLC is over.

      Last notes. While at FSH, the Commissary, Exchange and MCS are somewhat far away from bldg. 952. (Another store, X-something, sells liquor and other what-nots, stay away from same, and don't let yourself even be seen standing close or in the general vicinity to its entrance, as its way-off-limits). Taxis for use within the base are extremely cheap, about $3.00 per route, use them. Alternatively, you can walk your way over there, which is what I did. My chosen physical exercise was to power-walk all over the base, safe, useful and relatively fun. Note: When walking in groups of three or more, you need to appear to be marching (no need to holler commands). It helps to have someone marching beside acting as leader, the higher the rank, the better. You will meet lots of field officers at FSH, so the higher the rank of your leader, the less to worry about whom to salute, plus only the squad leader needs to salute. When in doubt, extend a verbal courtesy, its the least you can do. If you meet a car carrying a small flag (aka Command Officer Flag), salute same, it's carrying a Field Officer (ie. Brass). Play it safe, always salute and give it right of way, as some occupants are actively looking for a chance to teach trainees military courtesy, or else.

      When taking classes at FSH, avoid the temptation to go downstairs for a Starbuck's Coffee during recesses, you _will not_ make it back in time, period.

      Save yourself time that could be otherwise be better spent, make sure you have already qualified for your APFT prior to BOLC. Bring your form DA705 completed, including recent weight and height. BOLC is not designed to make you either qualify for APFT or make you lose weight.

      Make sure you know your 9-line MEDEVAC and also basic Triage procedure and classification. Memorize the Army Song and the Soldier's Creed. Review SINCGARS procedure beforehand.

      You will find many references on Youtube that deal with M9 and M16 disassembly, basic drilling et al. Some attendees bring softbacks to read in those rare occasions of spare time, I used mine instead to review the BOLC FTX manual.

      Regarding gender issues. While wearing ACUs, we were all a bunch of "guys". It was not until we were back at the Hotel on weekends, and back in our civilian garb, that I was reminded some of the "guys" were females !. In this respect, weekends will clearly be the time for guys to avoid trouble.

      Last, leave your rank behind, neither ask nor expect special treatment because of such, and refuse it if offered. Help and assist your fellow officers. At BOLC's end, I got the distinct impression that was truly what all was about, reaching objectives via team work versus mere personal attainment.

      Good Hunting!
      Last edited by celtan; November 12th, 2013, 02:04 PM.