Friday, January 18, 2013

You're in the army now (OoouOuh)

It's been two weeks since i joined the mandatory army training of Finland, and let me tell you, it's been both interesting and really hard. Good thing i don't have a problem adopting to the new environment, sure, it's not nice being separated from your family and most of you'r friends, but i'm good with that stuff. And i still get weekends to myself. 

Except for the first weekend that we spend in the barracks. 

So let me break down the basics of the army:

Every male of the age of 19 has to serve at lest 6 months in a brigade he chooses, there are different brigades focusing on different things around Finland, the one i'm enlisted in is focused to artillery, but there are multiple branches available. I choose the place because i live 30 minutes away from it, there's about 600 people enlisted yearly in the brigade that i serve in, so it's not a small place at all.

Actual pic from the brigade that i serve in.

So, each guy who joins any brigade will go through basic military training which lasts 8 weeks, during which they (and also i) are tough basic soldier skills like gun control or marching. 

After the basic training there's a couple of months of special training, basically, after the basic training each man will choose a "specialty" which will determine the duration of your service too, for example, a basic artillery man will serve 6 months, but if, instead of artillery you would choose i.e the military police, that would last 9 months etc. And after the basic training, those men who are willing and have shown leader qualities will be drafted into NCO school to become non commissioned officers (Corporals) who will, after they're own training, train a unit of men through the basic training.

And after the special training, there's a small phase called "group action training" which basically means fulfilling the special role that you were trained in a huge scale wartime training. 

The first two weeks.

Two weeks ago, on a cold Monday morning i, and a friend of mine set on a drive towards the brigade, we had no idea what was to come and were pretty much terrified. 

Basically, the level of your physical health and capability determined the section of which you belong into: There are four companies, and each of them contains four sections, and every section contains about 40 men, all in a group of 10. 

The first day was pretty easy, we retrieved out basic military equipment, met our trainers and corporals, got briefed on how to act in the army, met the other 8 people sharing the room with us and all that. Pretty much after that the basic training commenced. Each day has about two hours of "actual" training, and two hours of theoretical training, some days are more focused on actual field training and some lean heavily on theory.

After like 3 days we retrieved our assault rifles, learned how to safely carry them, where to lock them, how to handle them and spend about three hours disassembling and assembling the gun, which is a process that has to become "automatic" and happen though flesh memory, which is the case in many of the things in the army. We learned to dissembler the gun in different situations since an actual battlefield situation is not a calm classroom, we did it while laying down, eyes shut, sitting, behind a cover etc. 

The default rifle that each soldier will be thought to use.

The gun that Finnish defense force employs is called "RK 62" And it's the standard issue infantry rifle of the Finnish army. 

Of course the army is not all training an stuff, we get a nice amount of free time for our self's as well. 

Slacking it.

This, after a nice 7 hours at the shooting range = awesome.

The two weeks went past really damn fast. We were thought all kinds of stuff like: Basic gun control, cleaning the gun, moving in the battlefield, moving in a group, aiming steadily, reloading, marching and all kind of stuff.

The week was topped of by this one day on which we had "TST" which translates to "Battle and march training" which, besides forest days is one of the toughest forms of basic training.

During Battle and march training, you will be suited in a full combat armor  carrying a helmet, wearing a combat vest that you can see up there, which will contain three mag's, a shovel, weapon maintenance pack, water bottle, compass, ear protectors and other stuff which will cause the vest to weigh about 7 kilos. 

And of course the rifle.

Battle and marching training is pretty self explanatory, you will move as a squad, led by the corporal and commanded by the lieutenant and upon command, you and you're squad will employ a lot of different shooting positions, crawl a lot, find cover, run for great distances in that gear, scout, assault, defend. And damn let me tell you, if you think that it's easy, try doing that for four hours in a full combat gear, it gets really exhausting really fast. 


All and all. Army is not as bad as i tough, surely some things piss me off but still, it's pretty okay.  i'v actually had a lot of fun, i get to do things most people will never do, i get to push my mental and physical health to the limit, i get a chance to become a corporal and test my leadership skills with 9 initiatives, and i'v met a lot of great people :) 

And i get paid for this :P

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