Reporter's Notebook: Camp Ripley – Final Thoughts/Observations

Here are a few final thoughts and observations about our time at Camp Ripley, Minnesota that I didn't have time to share earlier...

When you're inside Camp Ripley, Minnesota, you feel insulated and shielded from the rest of the world. Many soldiers did not follow current events during their stay either because they didn't have time or didn't have access to the internet. Everyone is there for only one purpose: training. Everything else really didn't matter.

During our stay, the military never allowed us to travel independently. We always had to be escorted by someone. Likewise, soldiers could not leave Camp Ripley during the training. Everything anyone did required procedures, protocol and permission.

Street signs did not exist at the site. This made traveling quite confusing for everyone. If you got lost, I have no idea how anyone would find you. That's because the areas all look very similar. Military leadership gets a map of the facility, but again, there are no street names. Apparently, this is not an accident or an oversight. The military wants to get soldiers accustomed to finding their way through unfamiliar territory that may or may not be clearly marked. It makes sense to me.

We also noticed that soldiers all start to speak in a similar manner. Instead of saying, "Yes," they will say, "Roger" or "Check." Instead of saying, "No," they say, "Negative." These are just a few examples, but, like any organization or job, the military certainly has developed a lingo. Of course, there are also acronyms for just about everything and a complex ranking system to establish order among the troops.

Members of the media, like me, felt like we really stood out among the soldiers during our stay simply because we were not wearing the same uniform as everyone else. Every man and woman suited up in full camouflage gear nearly at all times. When they weren't in full uniform, everyone had the same "workout" clothes, too. They wore grey t-shirts with black shorts. Basically, everyone always looked alike. This also appears to be part of the military's plan to unify troops and maintain order.
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