I think I mentioned at some point that I once served as an “OC/T”, or “Observer-Controller/Trainer”. These are the guys that acts as the “referees” during combat drills. The OC/T’s are there to set up a task or “lane” as it is sometimes called, and watch as a unit runs through the task and make sure everything is done according to proper procedure.
In this case, preparing a Landing Zone for helicopters involves doing a proper check for potential F.O.D, or “Foreign Object Damage”. “F.O.D'” is commonly called a”Fod check” and people have to go out and clear a site for the helicopter to land– which includes clearing out brush and twigs and other things that might get swept up by the wind created by the rotors, and then sucked into the engine. Helicopters are powerful and versatile tools, but they also have some significant weak spots, and getting even small foreign objects sucked into the turbines can kill an engine as surely as anti-aircraft fire. It has to be thorough.
Part of an OC/T’s job, however, is not to interrupt if anything goes wrong (unless it is an imminent danger to “life, limb or eyesight”). If a unit does a task wrong, they let it unfold and then they hold an “after-action review” or “A.A.R” (pronounced “Ay-Ay-Arr”, not “arrr” as a pirate might). During an after-action review, the OC/T’s job is to ask questions that allow the unit to figure out for themselves what they did wrong or should have done better– there’s supposed to be a bit of psychology involved. The idea is, if the unit figures out their own mistakes, and comes up with their own answers to those mistakes, then they learn the necessary lessons better, internalizing them as their own solutions (rather than having the solutions dictated to them, which typically makes them defensive and unreceptive).
Troops in the field can be pretty clever when it comes to overcoming problems, and some times their solutions can be real out-of-the-box thinking. But sometimes these solutions can also be over-the-top ridiculous, too, and an OC/T has a front row seat to see some really original comedy unfold at times.