Sunday, June 29, 2008

Crash Bang Boom

All foreign service officers who go to a high-risk post are required to take a week-long class affectionately known as "Crash & Bang." The course includes fairly extensive medical training and learning how to detect surveillance (bad guys watching us). But the most popular parts of the course are the firearms training, evasive driving training, and explosives training.

The firearms instructors are mostly former Marines who know a lot about guns. We learned how to operate 2 kinds of pistols and 2 kinds of rifles. These guns were not designed for my tiny girly hands. If I'm ever in a situation where I have to quickly pull back the slidey thingamabob in order to shoot a pistol, I'm in trouble. My aim, however, is fantastic!

The evasive driving training was a lot of fun. I must admit that it took a couple laps around the course to get rid of my "driving to the mall" mentality and let my inner speed demon take over. We learned how to break while turning, how to control a spinout, how to go backwards fast (not my strongest skill) and turn around, how to drive from the passenger seat, and how to ram another car (both forwards and backwards!). All of this training culminates in simulations meant to test our abilities if confronted with blockades, gun-wielding terrorists, or roadside bombs. I can proudly say that I did not flinch when the instructors set off the big boom at the last curve.

Finally, we learned a little bit about explosives. Did you know that some detonation cord is so wickedly flammable, that if you laid it out from L.A. to N.Y. it would take only 10 minutes for the ignition to travel across the country? The instructors demonstrated different kinds of explosives, although I'm not entirely sure what I'm supposed to do with this knowledge.

The training definitely brought home the sobering reality that I'm going to a war zone. A few weeks ago I was describing the Crash & Bang class to my mother, who asked why I, who was not permitted to have a car or drive in Iraq, would need to take a driving class. This was one of those moments where I knew she wouldn't like the answer. Chances are I'll never have to use any of this training, but they teach us these things in case the worse happens.


Harvey said...

So cool! I want to drive from the passengers seat!

Please be careful in Iraq though!

Unknown said...

The ramming the other car move sounded awesome, though fingers crossed you don't have to use it!

Safe travels and a safe assignment in Iraq!