Chronologically speaking: It begins with mud

The day before I flew out to Suffield, Capt. Derek Forsythe, the Base Public Affairs Officer (PAFO if you prefer) called to make sure I was bringing some good rubber boots.

In short: The man saved me from 10 days of muddy misery. Thanks!

The roads were akin to WW1 trench systems (minus the corpses and rats). Vehicles were stuck in multiples and road access and egress were increasingly limited. In some ways it was all kinds of fun: slopping around, nearly rolling vehicles, holding on with blind faith as you drove into some unknown sinkhole. At the same time, the toll on vehicles quickly accumulated: Transmissions grinding down to nothing, differentials blowing out, metal tow cables snapping and shearing clean into windshields. Also though, it became a real challenge to keep the training on track and the units stocked with essential supplies. More to the point, the less-than-clear connection between this brigade level live fire training and the about-to-begin training mission added to the sense of redundancy. Certainly, grumbling is one of a soldier's inalienable rights, but there was a sense, barely masked, that this EX was the wrong one at the wrong time.

It's not fair to end it here though as there was much good to come from the time in Suffield. For many of the troops this was the first chance to work together before deploying, and there's always the ethos that all training is good training... especially if it's raining.

Near the end of my visit, when the night at CS8 (Adm. Coy HQ) became hairy with multiple stuck vehicles, a roll-over and onagain-offagain emergency water run, The CQ of Adm. briefly rolled up his shirt, Daisy Duke manner, showing off his buff-gopher torso. There's no photo, but it was a nice little moment of furry calm from the man who held the evening's whole show together.

Here's some mud:

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