28 February 2008

Working Knives

From the Soldier and Cop side: I had "P" ask me what kind of knife I carry or carried in Iraq. Well, I own about 100 knives, but the one I seem to be the happiest with and I carry all the time is my EMERSON CQ7B folder. I bought it when they first came out in the 90's and prefer it over all others. I have carried on patrol as a cop, I always had it in my jean pocket in Bosnia on missions and took it everywhere I went in Iraq. I still carry it today. I know if I have to use it for some nasty business, it won't break or fail me.
On police patrol I also carry a newer knife made by Gerber. It's a rescue type that has a screw driver kit with it and comes in really handy for normal everyday cop crap. Again, it's not a toy and will hold up to anything I need it to do and has a cool little seat belt cutter thing on it.
Knife rules: Keep them sharp and clean, don't play with them, treat them like your life depends on them to work and be there when you need them.
Did I carry a big sheath knife in Iraq? Nope, I had my Emerson folder and I knew it would be right where I put it and didn't have to worry about loosing it or cutting myself with a bigass knife.

21 February 2008

Sometimes you just gotto' take the chance!

Iraq deployment: 15 months
Rubber chicken: $5.99 on line
M16 A2 Rifle: $300. military price
Getting a photo of first sergeant with rubber chicken in his face while sleeping: fucking priceless!
From the Combat Comic side: I still get questions like: "what did you do to survive your tour in Iraq?"
I was the unit Combat Comic...I had to do things to keep up moral...
How many Soldiers or Marines do you know with the balls to find a sleeping First Sergeant, walk up to him and stick a rubber chicken in his face and take a picture of it?
It was worth the effort...nobody thought I would do it... but, I had to. I 'm glad I did it, and I'd do it again if I was deployed. So, my tip for the day...find at least one thing a day to make you and everyone around you laugh your ass off...it's worth the effort.

OK, let's look busy or something....

From the Soldier side: So, you want me to get on with my last story...ok.

Mission Al Asad, Part 3. You may recall we were waiting up late for a raid. We weren't going out on the job, but waiting for any customers they brought back in that needed a "chat". This was supposed to be one of the biggest raids since the battle of Fallujah. They had a lot of assets involved in this...we were supposed to get very busy in a day or so.... hundreds of customers.

By midnight we realized that nothing was happening, so we went to bed. No reason to waste sleep time when you had nothing to do but wait....any grunt knows the law: "Never stand when you can sit, and if you're sitting, you might was well lay down and take a nap." So off to bed we went...
The next morning came and I got up and walked over to the operations office...no word yet on how many "customers" they were bringing in...so, I asked my guys if they wanted to eat the cold chow out of the cans, or take a 2 mile walk to the nice KBR mess hall. My#3 asked if I could bring back a plate for him. I told him: "If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the damn messhall."
We took the 2 mile walk. It was good PT...2 miles there and 2 miles back. It was good walkin' weather...not yet hot, not raining, not a sand storm...just good walkin' weather.

I enjoyed that breakfast...but, I cannot recall what the heck I ate...but the coffee was good. We walked back to the Ops Center and still no word on how many customers. So, my #3 and I decided to look around the little camp and see what was there. I found this old MIG engine that I was sure I could get mounted on a Humvee...it looked like it would lite up and all...just needed some straps and a fuel system. We kept looking for parts.
By noon we had the "customers" showing up... more than 5, less than 10. That was it? I could handle that by myself. But, the Marines we were there to help said they could do it...they'd call if they had anyone "difficult" or anything. They did have one knuckelhead...I had a "chat" with him and he changed his ways. (I was always legal in everything I did, I just had a way.)

......So, sorry if you thought there was going to be a big exciting ending...but that's what we had to work with...
Next story--- I get to change "jobs".

19 February 2008

BIG BAD ASS RAID... we got......

From the Soldier Side: Ok, I guess I need to get on with MISSION AL ASAD, PART 2.

There were were, surrounded by desert...in every direction.... desert. This place was hot...and I don't mean hot in a nice way...it was just friggen hot. The secured compound we were working on was near a flight line...and some sort of aircraft took off every hour or so...24 hours a day...sometimes it was a C-130 lumbering down the strip, or some kind of fast mover jet...that broke the sound barrier and my ear drums.

Since the compound we were working in was extra secure, they brought in chow in cans....to feed everyone. The food was never hot and after a few days it started to really suck. We asked where the closest KBR mess hall was---a 2 mile walk across the desert...I took off with my team for some decent food. The walk there and back was very interesting....there were crashed Migs and other debris. We couldn't figure out which war some of this stuff was from...the Gulf War or the current one. There was also an Internet Cafe near by...so I could fix my fix.

After almost a week had passed by, with us not really having anything to do... the leader of the little group we were there to help ( a nice Marine 2 Lt) told us that there was a "BIG RAID" coming up. That was way we were sent there...before we were needed...so when the "customers" arrived, we'd already be set up to provided the "customer service" and get them on their way quicker.

This was going to be a big big raid...they had XXXXX number of Marines, Army and Air Force pukes flying cover... the night of the raid, we were all sitting around waiting for word to come back of all the new "customers" that were coming in from the big raid.

(No, I really didn't shoot down that Mig with my M-9. And nobody really calls me CI-Roller Dude.)

to be cont....

15 February 2008

Why did they send us here, Boss?

From the Soldier side: After my teams job was over at FOB Kalsu, HQ sent a message saying that we were needed at a place called Al Asad. The USMC had requested us again. Good, I liked working for the Marines...they were very professional.
So, we were sent orders and told to go to the Kalsu air ops office and they would get us on a flight to Al Asad. Since we were working for the Marines, they sent their helicopters to pick us up.
What landed looked like something that had been pulled out of a junk yard-- a CH 46.
The CH 46 has two egg beaters, one in the front and one in the back...it's smaller than the Army's CH47, and the metal plate on the one we got on said it was built in 1968, I think. (look at one of the stories below about Kalsu, the CH46 is flying just above the Blackhawks.)
Anyway, we loaded our gear on board and I looked around. There was a .50 cal machine gun on each side...as it took off, it had a shake and rattle that reminded me of a WWII movie with the bomber crews flying over Germany. This thing sounded like a broken washing machine as it fought gravity to stay in the air.
The flight took us north and then way out west... Al Asad was the Marines main air base where most of their folks flew in and out of for the Iraq war. It was the biggest base I had seen so far..with 24 hout a day air operations. It was a former Iraqi Air Force base and the "customer service" area we were going to work in was set up in old MIG hangers. There were all kinds of blown up aircraft and vehicles all over the place....a great photo op.
We were picked up at the air field by the Marines and they took us to our new home. I got to set up my sleeping area in the corner of the hanger...and I never felt so safe...there was nothing the Hajjis could fire at us that would go through this steel reinforced cement hanger. I'm sure the Iraqis didn't build it because there was lots of former Eastern Bloc equipment around that had been used in the construction.
Anything the Iraqis built would have fallen apart in a few weeks...these hangers would last a million years.
When we arrived, I went into the "customer service" bosses office and introduced my team and myself...
to be cont.

12 February 2008

OK, go get them!

From the Soldier side: OK, where was my last mission story? Oh, whatever (CRS), this will be the end of that mission, so I won't even go back and see what number we're at.
MISSION MOSUL, last chapter: After the burger flipper "chatted" with the knuckelhead, we decided that we had a pretty good idea where the "insurgents" lived. We had a description: "Arabic Male Adult, with dark hair, dark beard, wearing a man dress and about average height and weight." That should narrow it down to a few million people. I still wanted to confirm and few little points, but we had to return our "customer" to his hotel room for the night.....see, after Abu Grabe, there were really strict rules about everything we did with our "customers." They had to get a full night's rest.
However, the buger flipper thought she'd be a hero and went right to the manuver commander (the guy in charge of the grunts) and tell him about the suspect who was lobbing mortars at the camp. The buger flipper figured she'd be a hero by not following my suggestion that we wait and get more info out of this guy before we lauch a raid....but, the manuver commander wanted to get somebody, so they launched a raid that night.
It was a good raid I guess. They covered the neighborhood...and saw a few guys running out behind the suspected house. The ground troops couldn't reach the guys who were running, so they asked the Apache flying air cover if they could spot the runners. "Yep, we got them...what do you want us to do, over."
The ground commander said: "Can you fire a warning shot and get them to stop running, over."
The Apache pilot said: "Affirm, we can fire warning shots...but all we have is anti tank cannons, over."
So the Apache fired a warning shot....s. And, like any smart person, the suspected insurgents ran even faster. The Apache pilot advised the ground commander of same, and the ground commander requested that the Apache stop the runners.
They sent me digital pictures the next day....kind of looked like the by-products on the floor of the butcher shop...and they actually asked: "Were these the guys you were looking for?"
I'll never know...but the camp didn't get mortared the rest of the time we were there....so, I guess the Burger Flipper was a hero after all.
Next mission: Al Asad

11 February 2008

Why We Fight?

From the Soldier side: Over the years a few people who've never been in the military have asked me: "why did you join..for love of country, to defend freedom, to save the world?"

Nope. I joined to go out and do some really cool shit. There's not too many jobs like I have in the Army National Guard where someone could go do all the cool shit I get to do. Last weekend we flew on a C-23B Sherpa to do some training. Now, I flew on a Sherpa in Iraq and I thought it was going to fall apart...which kind of adds to the excitement. But, the one we just flew on had been fully re-furbished and it looked good. There only about 42 of them in the entire Army National Guard, (that's right "ARMY" because when the Air Force looked at them they said the Army could have them." )

They look like a flying file cabinet, but they are really handy and sturdy as hell. I'd enjoyed the flight to trianing and back... what kind of training...."Army Training Sir!"

I'll get back to the Mission at Kalsu...it will have a "Happy Ending".

07 February 2008

"I know who's .......

From the Soldier side:
Mission Kalsu: Part 3 the burger flipper. As most of my readers have figured out by now, I have a problem with some parts of the military, I don’t like poor leaders. I call them Dumb Ass Leaders (DAL). On the other hand, I want everyone to know that almost every single enlisted person and most NCOs I worked with in Iraq were very good. I am talking about Regular, Reserve, National Guard- Army, Marines and Navy! They were all very good. I was often amazed at the high IQs many of these people had and the ability to get any job done with little or no supervision... and the absolute bravest people I ever saw!
But there were exceptions to the high quality of enlisted people and one case that I will not forget. I usually don’t pick on lower ranking people, but when I’ve tried to help them do better, and they were too ignorant to take the help, then I’ve lost hope for them.
We had one such soldier we had to work with. She was National Guard from a state I’ll not mention. She had been “talking to customers” for a total of one week when we arrived at FOB Kalsu to help. Her civilian job was flipping burgers at a restaurant or something, so she had no other experience to fall back on and she wouldn’t listen.
A lot of the “customers” we had to talk to were brought in for little or no reason. It was like that everywhere we went, but some places were worse than others. Part of my job at Kalsu was to help some of the newer “customer relations” folks when they were talking to “customers.” After our first mission to Fallujah with the 1st Marine Div, my team seemed to have a reputation of being a little above average…so, we were requested everywhere. How or why we were sent to Kalsu still puzzles me, because the folks there didn’t seem to know what they were doing and didn’t like our suggestions.
Anyway, Burger Flipper was “chatting” with some dude one day and I was sitting in as an observer and to offer tips to improve her methods—which sucked. She went down a list of questions like her job was to just fill in a form. On about her fourth question, the dude blurts out: “I know who’s bombing your camp everyday.”
I thought that was important, but Burger Flipper just went right to her next question and seemed to not even here what this knucklehead had said. I interjected and said: “hey, that might be something important, you know Force Protection stuff…”
Burger Flipper looked at me with a very puzzled look on her face and said: “what are you talking about?” (She never added my rank when she talked to me, which normally never bothered me, but she did it with great disrespect.) I had to take over the “chat” and I looked at this dude and said: “tell me about who’s bombing the camp, and tell me the truth.” This guy went of for hours telling us all kinds of stuff. After about 20 minutes, Burger Flipper caught on as to what a great “catch” this dude was and got her head into the game. As she seemed to do better, I backed off and let her do her job. This was going to be a good one....

To be cont.

04 February 2008

Where's the Money?

To hear "our song" click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfayhFjH_7A
From the Soldier side: Well, I hope everyone had a good weekend and enjoyed the Super Bowl. Like I said before, a bad day in California is still better than the best day in Iraq.
Should I get on with my last Iraq mission story? OK, I will.
Mission Kalsu, Iraq Part 2. One of the things that seemed to happen with all the mission I went on...they all seemed to develope a routine after a short time. Kalsu was no different. We got up in the morning, hung up our sleeping bags to dry out if it had rained, then walked in the mud to the mess hall. We ate the same thing for breakfast everyday... then we walked to the "office" to begin our work day and "chat" with our "customers."
F.O.B. Kalsu had very limited facalities, but as SSG Grumpy told me, it was like going on R&R compared to where he is now.
The F.O.B. Kalsu PX was nothing to get excited about. It consisted of a few odds and ends inside a tent. There was some "Joe" there to collect money, but you had to have cash-- no ATM or checks. So, when you ran out of cash what did you do--- go to Finance and get more cash. The Army has a system where you can go to Finance and show your ID card and get a cash advance our your next pay check...(they don't really even give you a check anymore-it's all direct deposit)
So, after we were at Kalsu for about a week, I ran out of cash. My assistant and I walked over to Finance one day after our yummy lunch. I hadn't drawn cash like this before, so I walked up to the counter and asked the female sergeant how I could get some cash. She asked for my ID card and I asked for a hundred bucks. She started counting out: "20, 40," but she was inturrputed by two loud explosions landing some where within a few hundred meters.
I looked around and the female sergeant was gone...along with everyone one else in the Finance office.
It took us a few minutes to realize that they had all run to the bunker. I didn't see any reason to run, since Hajji had already fired his rations of 2 rounds...that would be all for that day. We got to the bunker and saw that it was full...so I stood just outside and asked the clerk sergeant if she'd be able to give me the rest of my cash when things settled down a bit.... she looked like she was a little worried. I didn't care because we still had several more hours of work for the day.