I’m starting to get my CULPers from this last Summer to get me their trip reports. As usual we had GKBers traveling the globe doing great work and experiencing new cultures. Here’s Cadet O’Kosky’s report from the Republic of Georgia and the Sachkhere Mountain School.
I was chosen to attend CULP in order to participate in a military to military mission in the Republic of Georgia. I had the opportunity to work side by side with Georgian soldiers and attend the Sachkhere Mountain School. There I was enrolled in the 19 day Basic Mountain Warfare course, along with 22 other cadets from different battalions from all over the country. Our mission was to interact with the soldiers, immerse ourselves the Georgian Army culture, and successfully complete the course.
The course itself was very demanding both physically and mentally. Our days were filled with long hikes, rock climbing, and rucking through the Georgian countryside. Throughout the course we attended classes, briefings and demonstrations to help us learn as much as we could about the Georgian mountain operations and area we were operating in. During the course we were given small research projects about the Republic of Georgia’s history, the different cities we would visit each Saturday and current relations with its surrounding countries. Each Sunday, a group from each team would brief our class on their research and we would discuss how their relations effect their countries development and culture. Every Friday a group would brief on the city we would travel to the next day. They would cover the itinerary, and a brief history on how the city was developed. Monday through Friday we worked all day out in the sun applying the things we learned during instruction. We climbed natural rock faces, artificial walls, and rappelled at several different heights and faces. In order to graduate from the course, I had to complete 5 tests during the last week of training. We were tested on knot tying, rock climbing, rappelling, a fixed rope climb, and an obstacle path. We also had complete a 32 mile hike into the Racha Mountains. This long excursion took us a day to reach our base camp 2000m above sea level, which was about 16 miles from our drop off point. The next morning we set out to accend another 250m altitude to the summit of the mountain range, before we packed up camp to head back down the mountain. The Major, who was the head instructor, told us that the hike was used to test soldiers on adapting to the different terrain and altitudes to determine who is qualified to move on to the intermediate course. All 23 cadets successfully graduated from the basic mountain warfare course, and earned their Georgian mountain badge. I graduated second in my class and was the only female in the top 10.
During this mission I learned a lot about how important it is to know how to work with different types of people, and how no matter how much you know there is always room to learn more. Yes, I have rappelled and climbed before, but I have never had an instructor who didn’t really speak English. Not everyone has had the same experience I had, so I was the motivator and tried to be as helpful as I could be to my buddies when they got frustrated. I learned so much about climbing techniques and different mountain movements while we were at the school. My overall experience was incredible. The people I met on the trip are some of the best individuals I have ever worked with so far. I learned that the best way to deal with a language barrier besides using an interpreter, is to point to objects. A lot of the time when we were climbing and the instructors were trying to help us, they would find these big sticks and point to a new hand hold or point to the best lane of travel. I learned that it is so important to listen to others ideas and advice even if you are in a leadership position. The Cadre that were with us, participated in the course as well, and even though they have done some of the stuff we were doing throughout their careers they looked to us for little tips about things like climbing because we could see things from different points of view. I think that goes hand in hand with any type of leadership situation, we all see things from a different point of view, and even though I may be the one in charge doesn’t mean my way is the best way. I learned that sometimes in order to find the best way to do something, you have to look to others for guidance or to bounce ideas off of.
Good report from Cadet O’Kosky. I’m a little jealous. Having the opportunity to attend a school like that as a Cadet is a once in a lifetime experience and I’m glad she had the opportunity and was able to share it with us..