After Action Review by Josh Motlong.
Preface: I’m glad I did the event. Everything in life is a chance to learn and grow. But without the SOAL guys, GRT comrades from previous events, and one helluva cool Cadre, Ingress Stealth Ops would have sucked royally.
And I don’t mean the good suck either.
For brevity sake this AAR will come in 3 sections.
- The event overview
- A note for GRTs
- A nod to Cadre Doug
1. Ingress Stealth Ops
The premise was obvious: a bunch of gamers and GRTs melding for good times and faction-on-faction competition: Enlightenment vs Resistance. And what GRT doesn’t like a little team competition?
We assembled at the start point, cleared roll-call, broke into factions (we were The Resistance) and headed to a park for gear inspection and the welcome party.
Spirits were high, laughs were abundant and Cadre Doug was already proving himself to be as cool as they come.
The welcome party was an introduction to exercises comprising the faction-on-faction competitions: every animal crawl/walk known to GRTs plus a few runs and basic PT. It was easy. Longer than I expected, but still easy.
What wasn’t easy was the indigestion Brandon, Brent and I had from the Chipotle we just nailed or the pints of beer Brandon and I went for a bit before the start. Certainly had a few laughs and regrets from these quality decisions.
Go time. The night was set up for 5 movements and 5 competitions. Each movement was a time-hack, and each destination and competition had a prize. The “prizes” were intel of some sort for the coming anomaly — an Ingress edge over the competition in some form.
I could go over the details of each movement and competition, but I’m going to cursorily move through them because, well, honestly, most of it was rather boring for me.
1 hour time-hack to nearby park / baseball field. Team competition was a bear-crawl 50m down, crab-walk 50m back. Resistance won. Complaints of cheating were made so another competition was held in the form of up-downs, enthusiastic shouting and more up-downs. Again, Resistance won.
2 hour time-hack to the Alamo with team-coordinated Ingress player advancement goals. At the destination the competition turned to Ingress. Whichever team could make the largest GORUCK Arrowhead by linking portals and filling in the “field” would win. The Ingress experts broke into a smaller team and did what they do best. GRTs with little knowledge of Ingress (most of us) could do very little. Resistance won. Complaints of cheating were made so Cadre Doug assigned 4 casualties for the Resistance to carry in the next movement. GRTs were grateful for some good-living. Finally. The SOAL boys carried through this next movement.
1 mile movement to Tower of the Americas; Resistance with 4 casualties. This felt great for us GRTs, finally getting some action. Hero note here – Ken Calloway carried Brittney Piche the entire time, incessantly laughing and cutting up. Destination competition consisted of an up-down, a chant and a fast lap around the tower. Enlightened took it home. Cadre Doug gave the Resistance a good talk about teamwork and how balancing the load as a team could have given us a better chance at winning the challenge.
Movement of unknown distance to Roosevelt Park (2-3 miles?). Desperately hoping for some good physical challenge here, we were instead met with instructions for the next movement.
5-waypoint movement to Vietnam War Memorial, each waypoint was identified by photo only and required a team photo by the specified landmarks as proof of completion. The destination competition was a best of 5 rounds, 5-on-5 physical challenge between factions: overhead holds to failure, later turned lateral holds to failure.
Brandon Blake took the lead vs the Enlightenment faction leader in a single-arm, 20# overhead ruck hold. Brandon took him out within 2-3 minutes. Brandon took round 2 vs another enlightenment team member, after both competitors added another 20# ruck with the other arm. This hold seemed to last more than 5 minutes.
Round 3: both rucks in 1 hand, overhead hold. Brandon’s arm finally gave in after a short battle against a physical specimen from the Enlightenment. Kudos to the machine that is Brandon Blake.
Resistance: 2. Enlightenment: 1. My turn.
Round 4: 20# ruck in each hand, lateral holds to failure. This was round 2 for the beast from the Enlightenment so I feel like I had an advantage, but nonetheless victory came for the Resistance within a minute (I will say that the pictures make it look like he gave me the win, but we’ll never know). Victory, sweet victory.
Because the SOAL boys had to immediately head out to our 5K in Kerrville, and were just barely going to make it, we patched up, spread some love and bolted. Would have liked to hang out afterward but we ran out of time.
2. GORUCK Tough? GORUCK Light? GORUCK Light-Light? GORUCK WTF?
GORUCK has played a big role in my life and in many of my brothers. 2 years ago I signed up for my first event, 50# overweight with 3 months in advance, as a commitment to change my lifestyle.
And it did. Both for me and for the brothers who did it with me. Fast forward 2 years and we’re a GORUCK Training Partner and community of men living with honor, courage, selflessness and commitment. I mean, heck, one of our mantras is “Test your limits and push the #### through them.”
That’s what made this event so difficult. I didn’t feel like I had limits to push through, walls to break down, or brothers to uphold. The driving force was victory in a virtual-reality game. It was intangible. I thought perhaps I’d grow to like the game more, getting to play around some experts. I had played a little previously, but the more I played and the more I learned, the less I cared about it.
Please understand that I hold nothing against the Ingress community or gamers. Even though I don’t understand it, I believe there is value there. But for people like me, and the GRTs I ran with at the event, it was discouraging.
As you already saw, there was perpetual whining and complaining. There were bad attitudes without the intention to overcome them. And it wasn’t just from 1 side. Yea, some from the Enlightenment made public complaints, but we had plenty of Resistance whining about the Enlightenment contesting the victories, attacking their character and name-calling like little kids. I found myself having “who cares if they complain / who cares about unfair” conversations rather frequently.
This was a first for me in a GORUCK event. It was petty and weak. It was not the GORUCK community I know and respect. And that was hard. Brandon, who I’ve done 4 events with, asked me if I was okay about halfway through, “I’ve never seen you like this, you doing alright?”
It was mentally difficult for me. I was tired of sitting around (which we did for around 2.5 hours of the 11.5 hour event) and of the complaining. I was itching for a real challenge. Every GRT I had done a previous event with was too.
Ultimately we got tastes here and there and a little bit at the end but Brandon, Brent and I were in such a hurry to not miss the Family 5K we put together and promoted that it was hard to savor the victory.
On to the good…
Salvation came in the form of fellow GRTs (and Cadre Doug). Without brothers and sisters there to battle alongside, crack jokes at, laugh hysterically with and share looks of bewilderment, it might have been soul-crushing. But really it wasn’t. We kept each other up. We told stories, made lists of “things you won’t see in GORUCK” that we were seeing that night, and laughed at everything we didn’t understand or didn’t see the value in. Not belittling it, just knowing that laughter was the better path than getting owned by frustration. The only regret from the night was that we didn’t get to hang with some obviously solid GRTs on the Enlightened side.
Son of a Lion. Simply, I was proud. Many of the competitions were all-hands (everyone from both teams competing), but some were volunteer basis. The SOAL boys always volunteered and always performed. I reckon that’s just how we like to roll.
So I’ll leave it at this. If you’re a GRT who also regularly plays and likes Ingress, you will likely enjoy Ingress Stealth Ops. If you’re a GRT who likes to push your limits and thinks something new like Ingress could be very cool, you may find yourself where we did: grasping for any valuable lesson we could extract and grateful to God we weren’t doing it alone.
3. Respect for Cadre Doug | CAF
I want to be super clear that Cadre Doug was rad. I mean that 100%. Without him, the event could have reached unforeseen depths. He honored the Ingress players and the GRTs, never belittling either or making anyone look weak or inadequate. He was honorable, fun, energetic and great to talk with and be around.
He delivered on what the event was supposed to be and what he had been given direction from HQ for. He understood our predicament as GRTs longing for something more, and the position of the Ingress players needing to get an edge on the anomaly coming the next day.
Yes, he went easy on us as the event required. But nobody doubted that in different circumstances he could have worn us to the bone, honed our courage and imparted lessons earned through sacrifice and excellence. I won’t be doing another GORUCK Ingress event, but I assure you it’s not because of Cadre Doug.