Monday, August 27, 2007

My New Favourite Song

(Not sure what the previous favourite song was...)

"Whistle for the Choir"
The Fratellis

And you can see Jon Fratelli perfoming the song unaccompanied here!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Core Military Skills

This week I have been on my 5 day Core Militray Skills Initial Refresher course.

The reason the Air Force runs a course like this is because we are tradesmen - ahem, tradespeople - first and airmen, or military personel second. Unlike the army where people are soldiers first and tradesmen second. So it became apparent in the last few years of joint exercises and deployments that we were a little lacking in weapons skills and needed extensive PDT (Pre Deployment Training) before racing away to save the world.
This course is designed to brush us up on the skills we learned on recruit course, then we will have a one day refresher every year. The end result is less time required for PDT.

The week starts out pretty full on and eases down day by day till Friday which is the test and then the afternoon off. Tough life eh?


Turned up at "Expeditionary Support Squadron." Carried out course admin. Had a quick half hour practice at handling weapons (Steyr 5.6mm Automatic Rifle) including Commands (Load, Action, Instant, Watch and Shoot, Fire), Instant Actions (what to do if we pull the trigger and the rifle does not fire - Suspected Gas Stoppage, Confirmed Gas Stoppage, Blockage, Reload, Unload drills) and Stripping the Weapon (bolt group, butt group, trigger group, gas plug and barrel)

Theory and Practical NBC. NBC stands for Nuclear, Biological, Chemical warfare. We need to know what to do if an atom bomb goes off (close eyes, drop to ground with hands and weapons under body, pray). How to recognise symptoms of biological poisoning and what to do (instant action or IA) if someone screams GAS! GAS! GAS!

The Chemical Safety Rule

Chemical IA if any of the following happens
EXPERIENCE: Bombardment of any kind
SIGHT any low flying strange or hostile aircraft
SEE any suspicious mist, smoke, droplets or splashes
NOTICE the following in yourself or others
- dim vision
- tight chest/difficulty breathing
- excess salivation
- runny nose
- pinpointed puplis
HEAR any alarm

We learned how to put a respirator (gas mask) on in less than nine seconds while holding breath and with your eyes closed. How to change the cannister (outer air filter) with eyes closed and breath held. How to shove biscuits under the mask, how to drink water, how to play soccer in full kit. Now we'd been taught all this before. It was just a refresher to kick-start us back into it all again.


More theory. How to search a bomb site, for victims. How to help the civil defence after a cyclone. What to do in the event of discovering an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) or UXO (Unexploded Ordinance). Safety distances to keep people away from IED's. Confirm, Clear, Cordon, Control.
After lunch we went out for a little patrol in the trees. What to do in the event your patrol is shot at by the enemy
Dash, Dive, Roll/Crawl, Observe, Aim, Fire (according to the rules of engagement).

Observation galleries - how to see hidden things. How to direct a group's fire at the enemy.
"Rifle Section! One Hundred Metres! Two knuckles right of white tree, enemy in the open, Open Fire!"
How to make up a range card so that everyone knows where the white tree is, and so that we don't fire outside of our designated arcs.
VCP - Vehicle Check Point. 5 areas to search, Interior, Exterior, Underneath, Boot, Engine Bay.
Detaining personal. Don't strip search them!!! Tell them why they are being detained, remain with them until you can hand them over to an MP, member of Air Security or the NZ Police.
More practice at TOETs (Test Of Elimentary Training) which is really just handling the weapon.
Load - load the magizine
Action - cock the rifle
And so on.
Home. Assignments to be completed ready for tomorrow.


First Aid.
Primary Survey, DRSABC. CPR. Severe Bleeding.
Fractures. Poisons.
- Thermal
- Radiation
- Electrical
- Chemical
- Phosphorous
Blanket stretchers, knot tying (clove hitch, sheet bend, reef, bowline, figure of eight) rope maintenance, types of bandages and dressings.
CPR test. ratio of 30 compressions to 2 breaths.


Fire Lecture. Actions on discovering a fire. Types of Fire Extinguishers
CO2, Water, Dry Powder, Foam, Fire Blanket. What was really interesting was BCF. This is almost completely banned as it is harmful to the ozone. However it is also required to put out magnesium and some other metals which are used in aircraft. If these metals catch fire it is really the only way to put them out and so BCF extinguishers are contained on the air craft only. The Air Force Fire Engines are different to the ones civilians have as they are designed specifically for aircraft fires. Though they also cover building fires and car crashes around and near the base.

In the aftenoon it's off to the range. I can't hit a rabbit at 10m with a shotgun, but I can get a marksman on a 200m range with a semi-automatic rifle. This however is the 25m range and too short to wualify for marksman. Still - 60/66, a pretty good score for a girl ;-)

More assignments, more study. Test tomorrow.

Test. 97% (I got one question wrong.)
Operational Test. Ours was the best group our instructor had seen. A quick 40 minute search and rescue. Victim has severe bleeding in upper arm. Unconcious. Stretchered back to the Incident Control Point. Pass.


I have two games of hockey this Sunday. 1st on one side of the city in the morning then off to the other side for the afternoon game. I'm not too keen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Greetings all, and my apologies for the long silence. Between one thing and another I have been lacking in the time and/or inspiration to write you a decent post. In the meantime, here is the beginning of one of my many (unfinished) stories, which I tap out on the computer whenever my imagination threatens to overload. It is similar in style to Simon's blog but I wrote this long before I discovered An Ordinary Life! I hope you enjoy.

The girl sat nervously on her grey pony. The animal shifted beneath her, picking up the tremblings of its rider.

“Father I am scared.”

A big man near the head of the column turned to look at her. Though his face was hidden behind a great black beard his blue eyes met the girl’s and he smiled.

“Mac will look after you, lass. You are safe.”

The girl relaxed a little with the reassurance but her father did not. He turned back to the front and she could tell he was waiting for something. The strong young man-at-arms known as Mac moved his own mare closer to his charge, determined not to fail in the task his Lord had given him. Other men gathered close, some on their strong chargers and others on foot. All of them were well armed and ready to protect their Lord and his daughter. All of them were waiting for the ambush. The girl looked nervously about her. For the most part their journey had taken them through fields and villages, but to get into the valley that was their destination they now had to pass through a dark wood. Across the narrow path in front of them was a felled tree. Mac had told her it was a simple but effective way to stop travellers so they could be surrounded and attacked.. Now her vision was filled with all the different ways the bad men might try and kill her father. Finally, in the silence, the Lord at the head of the column barked orders and men began to move. Six men at arms were deployed with what axes they could find – two tree axes and four war axes – to start clearing the road. A pair each went to the ends of the large trunk and began hacking their way through. The remaining two soldiers cleared the trunk of branches. By the time the men were finished they would be able to roll the wood out of the way. But it would take a long while. Lord Tratham would not allow any man to become complacent as he over saw the task. The men respected their Lord, and did not grumble when he did not join them in the hard work. If they had been in the safety of his own lands he might have helped, but he needed to remain on his horse to be ready when the attack came.

The girl became restless. She had been riding all day and wanted a break. In the beginning her journey had been an adventure. Her father had chosen to bring her in a goods wagon, saying that a carriage would draw too much unwanted attention. The girl had taken to giving up the wagon and instead riding her pony next to him, asking questions about the land they were travelling through. He had humored her for the most part, but occassionaly he complained that young ladies should not make great journeys on horseback and she should act like the noblewoman she would grow up to be, and take her place in the wagon. She would obey for as long as she could, but curiosity always had her calling for her pony before the day was done. Now she wondered if it would be safer in the wagon, which was covered. She heard one of the men give a grunt and was surprised to see him grab at her pony. Stepper shied into Mac’s mare and the girl nearly lost her seat as she watched the man. He had missed Stepper and fell to the ground. The end of an arrow was sticking out of his neck and blood was spurting from him. The girl screamed.

Her father whipped his horse around and shouted at Mac. As the air suddenly became a rain of arrows Mac grabbed the girl’s reins and hauled Stepper to him. Tratham was shouting more orders to the rest of the men and trying to get to his daughter. Just as he began to draw near the enemy swept out from the trees and into his men.

“Get Sari out of here! Get her to the castle, NOW!”

The girl could not say goodbye to her father, her voice had frozen, and she was whisked away. She looked back and their eyes met briefly before an arrow suddenly appeared in his chest and he turned his horse back into the fighting.

“Father!” She screamed. She nearly fell as the pony cleared the fallen tree and followed Mac’s Windward as she galloped away.

They didn’t get far before Stepper stumbled. Sari kept moving forward and she landed on the front of the saddle. It hurt and she cried out but Stepper could not stand again and fell forward. Without thinking the girl leapt from her pony and rolled in the dust. She fell further than she thought she would and when she finally stopped she lay still, trying not to cry. It was cooler and softer where she had landed than on the road and Sari didn’t move. Her head hurt where she had banged and she was sure there were scratches on her arms. They stung. She heard shouts and the sounds of fighting. Somewhere back where her father was a horse screamed and she whimpered when she heard it. Someone came down into the ditch where she lay and put a hand on her shoulder.

“Are you alright Milady? Will I be needin to carry ye?”

It was Mac. She sniffed and looked up at him. “I’m alright thank you, just sore. May I ride with you on Windward?”

He looked sad.

“I be greatly sorry Milady, but Windward bolted when I came for you. We’ll be on foot for now.”

Sari stood on trembling legs and brushed down her skirts.

“Very well.”

They made their way cautiously through the woods. Mac kept them off the road but he seemed to know which direction they should be travelling in. After an hour or so they heard the thunderous rumble of many running horses. They crept over to the road and peered through the undergrowth. As many as forty mounted horsemen thundered past. They all wielded an axe and a sword each. There were no shields and no coats of arms. The men were not riding to Tratham’s rescue.