Summer Wars

Summer Wars

It is not uncommon to wake up in the summer to a Chinook hovering over the house, landing practically in the backyard.
When the helicopters are that close they create a small local earthquake. The dogs don’t understand what they bark at.
Automatic gunfire* rattles through the forest. Canons explode. Horses lift their heads in the paddocks on the farm before returning to graze as camouflage humvees whip by.
Dozens of cadets lay on the forest floor next to the house with their weapons ready.
At any point during the night I can walk into the woods and expect to hear the decisive yet quiet commands of a team of cadets planning their next move. When their targets are close.
In the summer the forest has hundreds of voices.
At night the gunfire** echoes louder, sometimes closer.
Smoke rises from the mountains in the morning.

*The West Point cadets train for war in the forest around my home using Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System or MILES gear. Although no real bullets are used, the sounds and smells of guns, smoke, and marching sweat still stick to the wind. MILES gear is essentially a glorified laser tag. The MILES is mounted onto the weapons, vehicles, helicopters, etc. When a soldier is “hit” a loud sound will ring out through the forest, typically signaling a “fatality.”

** I’m not sure if MILES gear is still being used or not – as this summer I don’t hear many fatalities ringing through the woods. However, the gunfire doesn’t sound (or reverberate through my walls) any less real.


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