THE BASIC RECONNAISSANCE COURSE generally consists of four phases: Land Nav., Amphib., Recon Skills, and Patrolling.  Depending on the class, these can appear in just about any order.  My class, 1-05, had Patrolling as the final phase. While all four phases can be plenty brutal in their own right, Patrol takes it to a level most students haven’t experienced before.

For eight days, students move around Camp Pendleton equipped with the equivalent of an R&S ruck— weighing-in around 75-90 lbs—performing just about every basic reconnaissance mission while every student cycles through each patrol billet.  There are plenty of hills climbed, hills fallen off of, brush broken, and cacti shin-checked.  (Oh, and if you’re lucky you might get 2 hours of sleep per day.)

By the time we inserted late Monday night, we’d already been up all day doing mission prep.  It wasn’t until the second night that the fun really started.  Now, I’m going to be honest: the timeline gets a little blurry from here on out.

We were just getting up from a security halt on the way to the objective, and the guy in front of me wasn’t moving.  I moved up to make sure he hadn’t passed out, and saw him staring quizzically at a rock about twenty feet away.  I got his attention, and he whispered, “I just saw Snoopy over there, then he turned into a chocolate ice-cream cone.”

Finally, he got himself together and moved on. Not long after, on the objective, I was on one knee holding security up on the bank of the creek we were performing a FORDREP on, when out of the trees and brush came two women in skirts and a guy in a suit, complete with shiny shoes.  They walked right up to me.  I blinked, and then they weren’t there anymore.

The next night, while in a 360 waiting for the leader’s recon to get back, I saw the entire patrol get up and move out, and I didn’t even have my ruck back on yet.  I started to panic, reached for my ruck, and saw that no one had actually moved. For some reason, the hallucinations seemed to stop soon thereafter, but on the second-to-last night, I was on security in a hide site, with one other guy.  After he tried to walk through a bush, twice, he turned to me and whispered, “Dude, there’s an elf beside me.”  He insisted it was right there, staring at him, a Harry Potter elf.

And these’re just some stories from BRC.  There was the friend of mine in Iraq who brought his Humvee to a screeching halt to keep from hitting the guy in the spacesuit crossing the road…