Monday, March 30, 2009

Let’s talk about food...

I don’t know when MRE’s (meals ready to eat, the military’s way of speaking like Yoda), came around, but back in the day, we had C-rations. Meals packed into cans and used from the Vietnam era till whenever the MRE’s came around. If you got lucky and had some Tabasco, C-rats weren’t that bad. Of, course having a jeep every now and then didn’t hurt either. See, you would take an empty can and lower it into your gas tank, take it out, pour dirt or sand in and put it on the ground. Cut another can to make the sides vented and that would be your stove. It would burn long enough to heat a meal of spaghetti and meatballs, eggs or pork and beans. Good during the day, but if there was any light discipline at night, then it was a cold meal.

MRE’s are ok, a lot more variety with a heating unit that’s activated with water, so you can heat up your meal or coffee, whatever. But the picture is of the newer packages called First Strike Ration. It’s about the size of a football but has about enough for three meals. Here’s what’s included; Honey BBQ Beef Sandwich, Pound cake, cheese spread, two beverages, (just add water), two energy bars, two beef jerky, applesauce, Tuna, Mayo, tortillas, crackers, Choc Banana desert bar, nut mix, accessory pack, (Tabasco, coffee, sugar, salt, pepper, hand cleaner, ect.). That’s just one of the menu’s, there’s a pretty big variety.

Nothing really new to report, still doing the room clearing stuff, trying to teach them the difference between Cover and Concealment. Dale, you knew it had to come out sooner or later. For the curious, you see, we were training one day, (WPD SWAT) and well, oh never mind, some other time. Did I mention that our weight room is also our weapons room.
That’s all for now, see ya….

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Things that go BOOM in the night

I was in my cave, (my enclosed bunk bed), very comfortable, with a cup of hot chocolate, my headphones on , watching War, Inc. A twisted little movie with John and Joan Cusack in Yemen. A lot of shootouts and explosions. In one scene, there are quite a few explosions, during which, my building shook.

I have a little experience with things that go boom and you can feel it as much as hear it. That wasn’t in the movie.
I take off the headphones and look across the room at my roommate George and at the same time I can hear guys yelling in the hallway and George is saying “get your boots on”.

I wonder how many times that’s been said during conflicts throughout history, (or sandals as it were).

I got up, threw some pants and boots on and grabbed my M4, when the second one went off. Voices ramped up and now everybody’s in the hallway, eyes wide, half dressed, looking for direction. One Sergeant was saying lock the back door, you see our building is a long warehouse looking thing, with doors at each end. No need for bad guys to be able to just walk right in.

Just as someone was going to do that, one of our guys came in and said that it was our guys from the other compound doing target practice with mortars, just outside the wire. Oh well, back to my movie, good practice, right? There were about ten more shots. Walls shook every time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Community Policing and Kicking Doors

We’ve been working with the local check point and mentoring them on vehicle and personal searches. Slow going, but they’re getting it. In an effort to expand their roll as cops, we came up with a plan to move them into the local villages to interact more with the people.
We obtained a bunch of H.A. (humanitarian aid) and had the guy in charge, we call him the Commandant, but he doesn’t really have any rank, he’s just the most competent, contact the village elders and hand out the items. It’s the first big step in relationship building. See, they have to act more like the PO-PO and less like soldiers. It went well and they got into it. We were there, but just as observers. We still get looks like we’re from another planet, which I guess technically we are.

Reminds me of a story…………………fade to wavy mirage lines and we’re traveling back in time, yes it’s that time again 1980-1981, Journey, Loverboy, Scorpions, you remember, no? Damn kids, anyway. We were convoying from Ft. Bragg to Ft AP Hill, VA and I was in the lead vehicle. In the middle of this backwoods town in Northern N. Carolina and they have me get out by myself for traffic control. Basically, to make sure the rest of the convoy took the right turn, because there were no cars to control as far as traffic. But here I am, in the old woodland camouflage fatigues, carrying an M60 and standing on a corner. The townsfolk, (hillbillies) were looking at me like, well like I was from another planet. Strange.

Yesterday, we started going over building searches and room clearing with the ANP. The first run through was a little comical. They just kind of sauntered up and a couple just walked through the walls that we had marked on the ground. Sometimes one, sometimes two guys made the entry. Well, I jumped in and started showing them the things I used to know and you know,( WPD SWAT), it was right on track with the military way. By the end of the day, they were stacking up, tapping and entering CQB style. They were diggin it too and wanted more. It was the best mentoring day I’ve had so far.

More to come…

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Compare and Contrast

The photos are of me and my new hat and my personal movie theater.

It’s funny, many years ago, when I was in the peace time Army, that’s during the end of the Cold War, when our enemy was the Bear and before these current conflicts in the Middle East. Coincidentally (and I wasn’t aware of it then) the Russians were attempting to conquer this Country. Silly Commies. Anyway, I digress…. For the young people in the group, that’s the late 70’s early 80’s (no Kids, not the "black and white" days... Past that). Well, I was in the Mojave Desert on a training mission. It was actually the biggest peace time jump in history, (at the time),and it didn’t go well, high winds and parachutes don’t go together very well. But that’s a story for another time.

We were playing war games, as boys do, and one night I was on top of a dune on guard. I had one of the big Starlight scopes on my weapon,(night vision device, using ambient light, stars or whatever). Just walking... and looking... and anyone who’s ever pulled guard duty knows how long and boring it can be. That’s when the imagination kicks in. Imagination is supposed to be a training tool. Mentally running drills to how you might react to certain things. I imagined what it might be like to be in a combat - desert type - environment . It was spooky and exhilarating...then.

I happened to be out a couple nights ago. We heard in the distance and over the radio that there was a TIC going on between some locals. No US involved. One minute we’re all standing around the vehicles watching the flares and tracers from afar and I’m thinking, wow, it’s @#$%^&* dark. So I put on my NGV 7’s. Newer than the Starlight scope, but not as new as what the military uses. I notice that I should be sitting in my armored up HMMV, so that’s where I went. It ended and we went home and that was that.

Another interesting comparison ; back in that PTA, we were MP’s. The "we" would be Dave and I and at times we had to work Garrison duty. Basically, Police work on Ft Bragg and occasionally liaison in Fayetteville with the F.P.D. We had roll call and Dave and I usually rode together. It was the standing order of the day that we could have a magazine in our sidearm, (.45’s, 1911, that’s right, steel pots and jeeps and we jumped out of Huey’s not Blackhawks... things have changed), sorry, anyway, magazine with real bullets but we were not supposed to chamber a round. I guess they thought it was safer that way. Didn’t make much sense, which is why we always put one in the chamber after roll call. There are a bunch of quotes I could use, suffice it to say, "an empty gun is a paperweight". Right now, while I’m writing this, my pistol is next to me, loaded, my rifle is hanging next to my bed, loaded. They always are.

If I think of more, I’ll let you know…

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March10, 2009 - An Eventful Day...

The photos are of...

the landscape...

"Jackie Chan", Me and "the Kid"...

and a grave that’s made out of a bus that was blown up, full of people.
They left it and made a Memorial.

The day started out like the others, except our whole crew was driving HMMV’s.
The two Cougars we usually take were down for repairs. There was a big route clearing operation going on north of the check point we’ve been working.
The RCT (Route Clearing Team) is made up of heavy vehicles, bomb robots and a bomb dog. Basically they clear the route of any IED’s. We knew this would be going on and that it could be a late day. The MP’s that have been rolling with us brought two MRAPS(newer Cougars) and two ASV’s.(tanks with wheels). So we went to the CP and set up.
The RCT was already working and we were there maybe 10 minutes and they called to say they were going to counter charge an IED about 300m on the road heading away from the CP. I filmed the boom know, I like booms.
The question is this, how did the bad guys get so close overnight to plant it. The CP is manned 24/7. I should mention that today is the last day of the three day holiday of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, and there is only a skeleton crew working today. So last night they probably only had a couple on and they might have been checking the inside of their eyelids instead of checking the road, so…
After that the RCT moved on and a little while later they wanted a few ANP,( Afghan National Police) to move up the next village and conduct TCP’s there. I went with the MP’s (Military Police) in one of the Cougars. All together we brought two of our HMMV’s and two Cougars.
These are different MP’s from when I was with the 82nd. All combat experience, no Garrison, appropriate with a war on and all. All young, like I was once, I guess and all looking to get in a fight, on the surface anyway. Might change when they actually get in one.
The dude in charge is a butter bar,(second Lt) who is the size of Logan and the age of Nick, (maybe a tad bigger and a little older, but you get the idea). Their coming in and will eventually replace the Combat team I live with now. So we’re in transition.
After a while of working the CP, the security team that was backing up the RCT got into a TIC, (troops in combat or conflict). We could hear it in the distance. Word is that the bad guys fired a few small arms and our guys return fire, with hell. Sounded pretty awesome. You could make out the distinct sounds of the .50cal, 240, 249 and Mark 19. Read as machine guns of various size and mounted grenade launcher.
After a while the Apache’s and Warthogs started buzzing the area and not surprisingly, the fight was over. Can’t put the rest of what happened but we didn’t get home till well after dark.
Interesting day, more interesting evening……
for another time.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Seriously guys, you tickle me, keep it up

I followed this guys Blog once, he rowed across the Atlantic, solo from Africa to Florida. He tried to do entries every day, unless he was having mechanical, physical or weather problems. But even when nothing happened, he wrote something. I feel like that sometimes, like, nothing to write, so why bore you with my ruminations. But what the hell, it’s my blog and I’ll blog if I want to.

Actually, I do have something to write about.

Yesterday was one of the reasons I wanted to come this part of the world. I got to see a beautiful part of the country and a friendly area. The Chief was very hospitable and lunch went something like this; It was a medium sized room with a carpet in the middle. Around the carpet were big pillows and everyone sat cross-legged. They take off their shoes when they come in but they accept that the Military can't, in case we have to move fast.
Lunch was brought in and the Lt of my Unit, (a nice guy, whose actually a high school history teacher and is teaching me about the country), told the Chief that all his soldiers eat when the Officers eat, at the same time, so the Chief went outside and made sure everybody was fed. First they brought in Nan about the size of two footballs, flattened out and fresh baked. With that they brought a dish of cucumber dip, peaches in sauce, and a yogurt type substance, which I didn't eat . Then a big plate of rice and vegetables and a bowl of stew with some kind of meat in it. Found out it was lamb and not the missing dog.
After that it was oranges for desert and Chai.

Actually it’s Chai all the time. It’s all they drink. DelB told me about the Chai.(same in Iraq, I guess), I will either never drink it again or I'll be hooked when I get home. That’s a picture of the dude I call the Chai Guy.
Also at lunch and at most meetings is the Village Elder, old, wise with a turban and his entourage of two to five guys. We asked them about fighting the Russians in the 70's and 80's, because they have all been there and done that. Very interesting, great stories.If you want to get a basic understanding of this Country see that movie Charlie Wilsons War.

After ,we went up into the mountains to a check point. These are some of the views. Over my shoulder and over those mountains is Pakistan. Wow, that’s close. Really amazing though.

More dribble to follow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I think its very comical that guys that work in the same place and live in the same State have to verbally assault each other using my blog from roughly 7000 miles away. Keep it up Gentlemen, you make me laugh.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Things to Ponder...

Well, I’ve been here "in country" for just over five weeks now and I’ve seen several different parts of the country.

Kabul, where I came in, is the biggest city here. Very crowded, smelly and dirty. If I didn’t mention it, they burn everything there. I mean EVERYTHING...and that’s what the city smells like. Sometimes its worse than others, but it always smells. We have a lot of troops there so that’s what you see. Big military vehicles and little cars.

Then I left Kabul and came out to Logar in the country, actually the mountains. The air is clean and the scenery is truly amazing. I’ve been to the Alps and some of these ranges rival those. Forget where you are and it’s breathtaking.

The people here are different too. Well, some of them. I work in two different areas. Two VERY different areas. One, where I do most of my work, is very much influenced by the Taliban. When we drive through the village, most of the people just stare. Our guys will wave and they seldom get waves back. It’s like when the new Sheriff rode into Rock Ridge in Blazing Saddles…

The Police in that District don’t leave their compound because they’re afraid. They’re supposed to do mounted (in vehicles),and dismounted ( on foot) patrols. They don’t.

At the other village, in Koshi Valley, everyone waves, EVERYONE. Adults and kids.The area is beautiful, you can see in the earlier photo and description from a previous post. Like I said, I look forward to seeing it in spring.

The Police are in charge and doing they’re job. I don’t know about the level of Taliban influence there, but if it’s there, it’s not visible.

That's an M203 Grenade Launcher on the range.

It’s been a quick adjustment to life here. Maybe because of my military background or what the Inspector drilled into my head the last twenty some odd years, improvise, adapt and know.

When we go outside the wire, the briefings are in depth. All the possible dangers are laid out so everyone’s geared for it, if it happens. When we don’t go out, it’s easy to get complacent. You try not to... keep your weapons and armor near your bed. You have to keep in mind where you are.

One of the last things my Mom said to me before I left was "don’t trust any of these people". If you know my Mom, that’s a powerful statement. But it’s a good rule to live by here.

This country is a mess, a lot of problems. Fourth world country, not third world.

The picture above is of kids by the HumV. It is from the day we went to the range. Let me put it this way, there is no policing of the brass. They wait till we’re done then swarm the ground cleaning up. They sell them in town for whatever they can get.

Well, that’s it for now, more to come.