The Lucky Dip Exercise Part Two: A Logistics BOLC Tradition
This is the second part of the Lucky Dip training exercise in the Logistics Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) at Ft. Lee, Virginia.
Owing to the lightness of the pack (the packing list the instructors gave us was quite light), I was of the impression that Lucky Dip would be a bit easier than expected. We reported in the morning, received some instructions, a warmup, and prepped ourselves to move out. We were the second group to step out from the SP (starting point), and we left about an hour after reporting. Each group had one RTO (radio telephone operator) that volunteered or was chosen before we left, and that person carried an extra 20 or 30 pounds of radio equipment. With each activity in the mission, we added more equipment to what we were already carrying. Our standard load also started with two 5 gallon water cans to which we added two more during the mission (these cans weigh 43 pounds each when filled).
On the second objective, we reached a HMMWV (also known as a Humvee), and our instructor told us that this vehicle was deadlined (knocked out and unusable). The bad part of this section was that we picked up a Michelin 395/85R20XML All-Terrain tire (this is the tire that fits onto the LMTV/FMTV M1083 A1 "Five Ton" cargo truck). The exact weight of the tire is not a fact that I was able to find, but it is at least four feet in diameter and nearly two feet wide, and probably weighs 400 to 600 pounds. When picking it up to a rolling position, it takes three soldiers to get it off of the ground. To load it into the truck, we had eight soldiers there to lift it. We had gone about a mile and a half when we were instructed to pick up the tire, and the course was a total of about 6 or 7 miles (3+ out and 3+ back). When on the road, we could get the tire rolling at a good rate, but as soon as we took it onto the rut-filled gravel roads, we had trouble keeping it upright.
The next objective was a grenade assault course. For this objective, we had to reach it by crawling on the ground through thick mud with packs on our backs (try it: it's murder). While some of us assaulted an objective of enemy indirect fire, the rest of us took up security positions around the site. This location was the turn around point, but before we left, we were given a present of an ammunition box (three or four feet long and a foot wide) filled to the brim with rocks. This we had to carry in addition to the tire; thus, we made our way back, switching off between carrying the water cans, the ammo box, and the tire with increasing frequency. When we were about 1.5 miles from the original starting point (which doubled as the finish line), we reached an LMTV (the same type of vehicle to which the tire we were rolling belonged). The soldiers there told us that we would get a ride back to the ALU start point in the truck, so we loaded all of our equipment including the tire, ammo box, ruck sacks, weapons, and water cans up into the truck. The LMTV is monstrous, and fit all 19 of us with ease.
By this point, it was 10:30, and we had been pushing hard for four and a half hours. Our instructors took this opportunity to remind us that the instructions we will give soldiers under our command will exhaust them, too, but they will still do as asked.
After about 20 more minutes of pushing, many of us began to get very hot and tired. When you continue to push yourself that hard for that period of time, your body starts to heat up, and your heart rate can become rapid and weak if you are unused to the effort. One soldier succumbed to heat exhaustion, but recovered later and was fine. After putting him in the medical vehicle, we stepped off again and made it to the end. The entire exercise lasted about 6 and 1/2 hours. During this point, most of us did not have the stomach for food (I ate two crackers the entire time), and we were all quite worn out by the finish. Lucky Dip is a strenuous exercise, and it packed quite a lot of exertion into one training period. It was implemented quite well, and it made for a positive training experience and team building opportunity.
If you are about to participate in Lucky Dip or a similar smoker, here are some pieces of advice: Sleep well, don't drink alcohol the night before, and hydrate well. Take the stretching exercises seriously as a part of your warmup, because hauling a lot of weight increases the risk for muscle pulls. If you have more than a month of advance notice, I highly recommend you get in better shape in preparation for an event like this (especially in the areas of aerobic and muscular endurance). Above all, stay motivated through the exercise, be responsive to the training guidance of your instructors, and participate with the attitude of being willing to give it all to the team. Have fun!