Saturday, July 5, 2014

How to Cross a Barbed Wire Fence

A long time ago, as part of my basic training, I had to learn how to do just that. I had roamed a lot of fields edged with barbed wire, so I thought I knew how. You bend down a strand and poke your head through. I found out I could not be more wrong. To stand up would put you in the sight and shooting range of an enemy.

The only enemies we had at Fort Knox had stripes on their sleeves and yelled at us a lot. But before we hit the Infiltration Range, one of us had to go to the PX and buy a supply of feminine napkins to protect our elbows as we crawled through the gravel.

Machine guns were fired so close overhead that if you stood up you would be killed, as a soldier in another outfit did. There were dugouts surrounded by sandbags where nitro starch explosives were set off to simulate artillery rounds.

So how did the Army teach us to cross a barbed wire fence? We were to hit the ground and crawl until we came to one of the fences. Then we rolled onto our backs and held our rifles above us. The weapon was what was used to lift the wire. On our bellies, a snag would have been hard to undo. So instead of facing the "enemy" we kept our eyes on the wire.

The wire was the enemy. Crawling on your back, carrying equipment, while wearing a steel helmet can be tiring, but it was good training.

So much could be made from this event if I were the kind of guy who sees "lessons" in everything. But since I am not, I won't talk about looking at the immediate problem--your "wire"--instead of looking too far ahead. Or being ready to learn a new strategy for a combat situation, where the old civilian way once worked. What was a good tactic for your boss, may not be so good for resisting Satan.

But I won't mention these things.

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