Welcome to another issue of Life in the Swedish Army, the bi-weekly dump of entries from my diary, being written as I go through national service in the armed forces of Sweden. See my wu in this node if this is the first of the LitSA rants you've seen. It contains some background info which will be expanded later when I get to writing a proper LitSA metanode.

It'll soon be time to go from learning about stuff in classrooms and closed-off practice areas to going out and doing it for real, in the field. Starting tomorrow, we will be learning how to drive the all-terrain vehicles we'll be using to haul our telesystems equipment around, and once that's done (in three weeks) we will go out into the field and will be expected to do all we've been practicing for the last couple weeks with no supervision or help what-so-ever. I am really looking forward to it, we did a small training session where we had to get the system up and running without help or ability to communicate with the other groups, and it went super. I think the officers are quite satisfied with our progress in telesystems training so far.

October 1, 2002 - 12:19
Feels like it's been ages since I wrote here last. Even my pen, which is usually the epitome of trustworthiness, seems willing to give up and it took me a while just now to get it to actually produce some ink. Maybe I'm subconciously saving pages in my notebook, which is a good thing if looking at the world from a purely economical point of view, I suppose. We're not approximately halfway through our telesystems training. All of the basics are far behind us, and we're starting to feel confident in our own abilities to get the system up and running. Well, at least that goes for most of us. There are a couple of rotten eggs who I'm hoping will not get in the way of we who know what we're doing.

There's a big event coming up thursday: A so-called "education control" where the skills we've acquired during the last few weeks will be tested. At least that's what I think will happen. At the moment, however, that's pure speculation because the schedule for the days in question is really quite unclear as to what exactly we'll be doing. As for right now, we're going to be learning how to set up so-called "high antennas", a smaller variety of our 25-metre masts. The high antennas work as extensions for our portable model 180 radios. Boring stuff! Fortunately, I might be able to excuse myself from part of that stuff because I'm going to have to get going to the hospital soon. Just as my toes were getting better, I got some kind of an allergical reaction and now I've got red dots all over myself. Weird, but they don't itch, so it's not very troublesome.

October 3, 2002 - 21:43
Finally done with today's activities. From 0715 hours to just a few minutes ago I've been on duty, though I spent the first seven hours of the day eating, resting, reading about FreeBSD and surfing the web on the library computers. So what has happened? Well, today the long-awaited education control was up, a kind of one-day field exercise where a group of soldiers has to solve various problems - they need to be able to do stuff like pinpoint their own location on a map, avoid getting killed by lurking enemies, carry a wounded friend to safety - stuff like that. I was looking forward to it, but no. Due to a new infection in my right big toe (which I've recently had surgery performed on) my CO said I wasn't allowed to take part for medical reasons. So I had to wait in my barrack room, time I spent resting and composing an article on the subject of digital music piracy (did I ever tell you I'm a journalist? Well, now you know).

Finally, at 1358 hours, the order came: I was to go get one red Volvo 240 GL, retrieve some food, and then help serve dinner to the soldiers who were out in the field on the education control. Of course, I wasn't expected to serve 150 people by myself; a few others who had been excused from the control for varying reasons were assigned to help me, but for some reason they seemed to be suffering from a lack of enthusiasm at the start. It took a bit of my leadership skills to get them working! Once the initial troubles were overwith, however, everything ran smoothly. After we finished serving dinner and were transporting the jars to the dishwashing room, I got the opportunity to talk to a visiting officer from Switzerland about S1. Gotta love international visitors (we don't get that many for obvious reasons). Right now, I'm back in my barrack room and am looking forward to a good night's sleep, likely to be interrupted around 2 AM when my (now orienteering) friends return home. Oh well.

October 10, 2002 - 10:39
Hand grenade training day. It's a short week; yesterday we came (and did nothing of substance), today we'll be training with real hand grenades (dangerous stuff!) and tomorrow we'll go home again. As for right now, half of us are waiting for lunch while the other half are 300 metres away (minimum safe distance) throwing grenades. About every two minutes, there is a big explosion, and you can almost feel the ground shaking. You can definitely feel the shock wave even at this distance. In a short while, it'll be our turn to throw. There's medical staff on call should something go wrong, but I'm hoping we won't have to make use of their services. I don't quite feel like getting blown up today.

(Notes): I didn't have the time to write anything after I threw my first real hand grenade, but it was an interesting experience to be sure. At 300 metres, you can hear the explosion pretty loud, and there's a faint, yet noticable, vibration in the air. At two or three metres, even with a concrete shield, you REALLY feel the shock wave, and the flying debris is pretty cool, too.

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