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(Tactical Assembly Area)
(H-12 Hours)

As he arrived, Bolten saw Kelly already had everyone gathered by the sand table being readied for the rehearsal later on. Quickly, Bolten went over the new information, including the new route information and the actual locations of the obstacles being put in.

Turning to his FSO, Bolten reminded O'Neil to check the obstacles against the targets that were already planned. Turning to his Platoon Leaders, Bolten told them to check the grids of the other team battle positions and obstacles against the ones he had just given them and let him know if there were any discrepancies.

Bolten went over some other items from the TACSOP. He knew from experience that platoon leaders tended to overlook or short cut some items in training because they thought of them as "NCO Business." Things like boresighting, range cards, and sector sketches.

Bolten remembered something his first Platoon Sergeant had taught him. " NCO Business" is a misused term. People use it to hide their laziness. Everybody has the right and responsibility to check the things their subordinates are responsible for. "If you don't check, it won't be done." The same NCO had also made a point of teaching Bolten the difference between checking and doing.

Bolten brought everyone up-to-speed on some of the things that LTC Bryant had the staff working on. He checked with everyone for questions and to make sure everything was correctly understood. Satisfied everything was progressing at a reasonable pace, Bolten dismissed everyone to get back to the business at hand.

As the group adjourned, 1SG Johnson walked up to Bolten. Bolten asked, "Top, how are things going?" Johnson answered that for the most part things were moving along as expected. Also, he had talked to the S-1 and the Chaplain was going to be able to stop by around supper time with the mail.

Staring Bolten in the eye, Johnson said, "Sir, you need to eat and get some rest yourself. If you don't, you know none of your lieutenants will either, and if they don't, nobody else will. Remember, they watch everything you and I do. Besides, until the rehearsal, the NCOs need some time to take care of the things they have to do."

"Thanks, Top," replied Bolten.

"By the way, Sir, your driver got some hot chow and coffee for you. I also told him to get a place for you to rest in the medic track for a couple of hours. I hate to burst your bubble, but you are not Superman, even if you did go to that fancy southern military college. That big gold ring of yours does not make you immune to being hungry or tired."

Bolten smiled and shook his head. "Thanks again, Top."

A few minutes before the rehearsal was to begin, Bolten got up and made his way back to the CP. He had not slept well, and the T-ration lasagna was sitting in a lump in the pit of his stomach. It didn't matter much though; everybody in the team knew the First Sergeant had threatened to dismember anybody who disturbed Bolten with anything less important than the imminent end of the world. The world had not ended. Everyone was trying to figure out how the "Old Man" could be calm enough to sleep just a few hours away from their first battle. They thought he was amazing, so cool under stress.

The rehearsal started on time. It was obvious Bolten had been right about LT Thorne in Second Platoon. As the XO and FSO grilled him on how and what he was to do, he seemed to get flustered quickly. When Thorne did get flustered, his platoon sergeant would look at him confidently and let him know he was doing all right. Bolten hoped Thorne would not be as nervous in the morning.

Every time one of the platoon leaders made a move, Bolten would counter with something unexpected to see if they had really looked at the battlefield. He wanted them to be able to think quickly and decisively. None could afford to hesitate.

The rehearsal was brutal. It had achieved its purpose. Several problems with the plan had been identified as well several key weaknesses with platoon direct and indirect fire plans, routes into and out of positions, coordination between the platoons, and reactions to the enemy. The rehearsal took a little longer than originally planned, but it was time well spent. For every problem or weakness identified, a solution was sought and found.

Bolten decided they would make the time for the rehearsal at dusk. It was important to make sure the changes worked. By then, Bolten hoped Bryant would have things straightened out with Daniels and the staff. Bryant would not let him down. They would have the updated overlay and fire support execution matrix with the refined target list. The extra rehearsal would be a good time to check everything out one last time.

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