Each morning had a quick breakfast and had to line up at formation. The soldiers would form up first and the civilians would continue the lines they started. Needless to say, the soldiers were much more efficient at this. At morning formation the schedule for the day and report times were announced.
The days were long and scheduled. Each day had it’s fill of briefings and activities. We received information on the country, first aid, IEDs, green on blue attacks, security, as well as a cultural awareness course.
Along with the briefings, was a seemingly unending amount of paperwork. Medical paperwork, legal paperwork, emergency paperwork, flight paperwork, financial paperwork, gear paperwork…
Most of the briefings and meetings were held in a large permanent tent-like structure that fit the whole group. In between briefings and courses we would get a quick break to stretch. We got to know many of the civilians and soldiers who were processing through with us. One DoD civilian brought a foot ball which we tossed in the field behind the building. Getting to move around was fantastic after sitting still for so long.
The longest day by far was medical and gear issue. We were up before the sun and on our way to the medical facility. Here, they made sure our paperwork was in order and that we had all necessary immunizations and prescriptions. Following medical, we were bused to the gear distribution warehouse. Before we were issued anything, we received a list of the items we were to collect and a crash course on assembling our Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV), also known as body armor. After, we grabbed a shopping cart and duffel bags and made our way to each station to receive our gear.
It was a busy and sometimes stressful week, but we met some amazing people and were ready for a long trip to the other side of the world.