Chapter 32 – Training

Training at Fort A.P. Hill, VA

I needed to sharpen up on my weapon skills and worked on the director to book some range time on a military range which had a top weapons instructor and specialist small arms technicians. The agency used them instead of sharing other agency facilities where there were just too many eyes and ears operating on the behalf of far too many interested or could well be interested parties. The director sure as hell trusted nobody in DC and would get back to me asp.

The director knew very senior people from many walks of life, and most or all of them appeared to owe him something from the past but he would never divulge those somethings or even hint them. He had been around for a long time in this game and gave the impression of hating it all, but we knew that it was his life.

What he didn’t know was that I and maybe one or two others knew some of the past and how he was driven by revenge after his family was killed in a very suspicious explosion that had destroyed his retreat in the hills of Wyoming. He should have been at the cabin that day, but he had been delayed and his brother had died in his place. It had been obvious to just about everybody that his brother had been mistaken for him and that someone or some party(s) unknown had wanted him permanently out of the picture.

He had been moved out of the country for a few years and reassigned to anti-terrorism roles in some of the worst hellholes on earth. Over those years a few very senior government and political staff had died under circumstances that if they were all identified under so called joined-up-thinking a pattern would have emerged but it wasn’t as so much data had been lost, altered or destroyed along the way.

The director who was never addressed by his name in the agency had returned to the USA and operated very covertly through several agencies of which it was very uncertain who was officially in control or from where all the finance and support came from. He looked after all his staff to the letter and god help anybody who had the balls to interfere.

I was still thinking about him when only thirty minutes later the call came through that range time was booked. I was instructed to make the most of it and to get some extra self-defence training while I was there because I had also been booked into nearby accommodation with a team of specialists who would brief me on the operation that would be concentrated on the bait in Los Angeles.

I only had a little time to get my weapons and special equipment together and get to the range, I was pumped up and getting excited. I was heading to Fort A.P. Hill located in the heart of Caroline county, Virginia approximately 86 miles from Washington, DC. The fort covers over 76,000 acres and is named after the Virginia native and Confederate Lieutenant General A. P. Hill.

I headed down the I-95S to Richmond and thought about my weapons and the last time I had to use them. I thought about Stan and Ollie who had taught me almost everything they knew about small arms and how to use my chosen handguns.

Everyone at the base and beyond referred to Stan and Ollie as Laurel and Hardy but they sure as hell were no comedians. But we did have a few laughs the last time I had my weapons assessment and I hoped very much the director had managed to book them for me. I had even named my two weapons after them for good luck sake.

The Glock 19 – Alias “Laurel”

Glocks are reliable, accurate guns with a well-deserved solid reputation to back them up. The Glock 19 is the compact version of the Glock 17 the original double-stack 9mm from the Austrian manufacturer.

The Glock 17 is known as a wildly popular and oft-assigned duty gun for law enforcement while the Glock 19 is known for concealed carry use. The 17 is Glock’s full-size 9mm and the 19 is their compact model. They are both double-stacks and are especially good for small hands.

I remember Laurel and Hardy going through the drills and asking me the same old question about the safety catch system on a Glock. Although they are known for their simplicity, 99 percent of Glock handguns operate under three safety mechanisms: trigger safety, firing pin safety and drop safety. … If that sounds a little like there isn’t a safety at all, then you are not alone.

Laurel and Hardy had said many times that if you would like a compact gun the polymer Glock 19 is a great choice. It has a 15-round capacity, weighs 21.16 ounces empty, and has an overall length of 7.36 inches. It was a great weapon for men with smaller hands and they recommended it especially for women because women can conceal the 17, because there was no need to carry a compact or sub-compact pistol, it’s a matter of making the necessary concessions with their wardrobe and finding the right holster and no-one would ever know!

The Walther PPQ – Alias “Hardy”

Laurel and Hardy had kept emphasising that people can be very picky when it comes to the subject of guns and the PPQ is a plain ugly but also a lumpy little pistol but try it and see for yourself. I was surprised when I picked it up and discovered how comfortable it was and a fantastic fit for my hands. It is perfect for my profession, a thoroughly accurate and reliable pistol.

The Walther PPQ has a four-inch barrel, an overall length of 7.1-inches, and an overall height of 5.3-inches. It’s 1.3-inches wide, making it slimmer than some and slightly thicker than others, and weighs 21.5 ounces empty. Of course, it’s chambered in 9mm and has a 15-round capacity.

One very special thing about this weapon and my chosen profession is that it has an ambidextrous slide stop and reversible magazine release. It isn’t the only gun out there with those options, but it is one of the better 9mm carry guns that can be tailored to right or left-handed shooters.

Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia

The US Army Asymmetric Warfare Group officially opened its $90.1 million Asymmetric Warfare Training Center on January 24, 2014. The 300-acre (120 ha) training complex includes a headquarters, barracks, administrative, training and maintenance facilities, an urban training area, a 12-mile (19 km) mobility range, an 800-metre (2,600 ft) known distance range, a light demolitions range and an indoor shooting range. This center focuses on providing joint and combined arms training. All branches of the US Armed Forces train at Fort A.P. Hill, and the installation has also hosted training of foreign allies ranging from providing support for mobilizations to helping units train for deployment.

It is used year-round for military training of both active and reserve troops of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force, as well as ROTC cadets and other government agencies including the Departments of State and Interior, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and federal, state, and local security and law enforcement agencies.

I was met at the guard house gate by my old friends and a couple of big hugs. It was great to see them and first things first they said that the range facilities that I needed had been reassigned at short notice due to political priorities and I would be spending an extra night which had been given the nod from the director who knew how much Laurel and Hardy meant to me. The boys showed me to my quarters and gave me twenty minutes to get ready as they needed to change into civvies and a military taxi with operational escorts would pick me up. Military taxi meant an MP Jeep and the operational escorts meant assigned close protection bodyguards with full visiting rights. Holy shit the director knew me better than I thought he did, and I owed him big time and that debt would be repaid over the coming weeks and maybe months.

Laurel and Hardy appeared on time at my allocated quarters and not at all overdressed, they knew it was on my tab and they were prepared. All the beds in the quarters had been prepared by the stewards in readiness as they would not be going home to their loved ones tonight and their partners knew the score and trusted them and the system and had given them the night off, which had been at real short notice, but they had an old friend in town and they needed to talk about old times and what was coming next!

The escorts had been given instructions and we headed to Fredericksburg about 22miles to the north. The vehicle stopped outside the bar which was opposite an all-night diner where the escorts would pass a few hours to ensure they stayed warm, well looked after and ready for any possible type of shit that happens to both ex and serving military. We had no need to crawl around the town, the bar was a must go favorite and the staff looked after the regular guests and those who could only frequent it occasionally for old time sake.

The boys knew I was a contractor but always treated me like military and rank was never discussed out of mutual respect. The fact was though, I probably outranked most of the military who ever drank in there but that was not my concern, my salary grade and status was something they would not be able to comprehend. But was I in for one almighty shock!

The night was cold and miserable and perfect for serious socializing amongst old friends. We entered the bar and grabbed a table to the left by the window, a young waitress appeared instantly and took the order and then the evening got a whole lot better as Jim and Stella walked in. They are my self defence (martial arts instructors) who were due to give me a good hiding and luckily that had been delayed by 24hrs. Tonight was about old times and having fun.

We stayed longer and drank a lot more than any professionals should, but it was a rare occasion and we had a whole lot of laughs and great banter. The hours flew past and we stopped before it got too late and returned to the base. I needed some advice and trade some thoughts about Savannah with Stella, so she came back to my quarters and put some fresh coffee on for her and some strong tea for me, we did not need any more alcohol. We talked for hours and eventually it was too late to leave, so I persuaded her to stay and get some sleep.

The next two days was very intensive as I did extra training with Jim and Stella and refreshed some old and new techniques. Laurel and Hardy pushed me hard and tweaked my style, my aim was not as true as it should have been, the injuries I had sustained from the beatings had affected my posture. I worked hard on the drills and the results improved. I would have to concentrate and ensure they became part of my weekly training routine.

I really enjoyed the short training period and felt good in myself. I said my goodbyes with promises of reunions that we all knew may never happen and headed back to Washington, DC.