From the Soldier side: A MINE as in Land Mine, is a terrible thing to waste. When I was deployed to Bosnia in 2003, we were given maps with red dots all over them. The red dots were for known or suspected land mines..... over 500,000 of them still scattered around the country.
A lot of people asked me: "Why hasn't SFOR or the Americans cleared all the mines?" Because, it's almost impossible. So many were moved after one army or the other emplaced them....moved by crazy people, or, home/ property owners trying to protect their property.
I was a Combat Engineer for 12 years, and I'll tell you one thing about clearing land mines: No matter what method of machine or device you use, you still have to go into the area with a HUMANE and clear the area by hand. There is no perfect way to be totally sure they are clear unless an engineer goes in-- Period. So, it takes time and time is money. One estimate I heard in 2003-04 was that it cost $30,000 on average to clear one land mine. Do the math and let me know what you come up for $30,000 X 500,000. And every spring, some farmer goes out to plow his land and hits an old land mine---booom!
So, back to my Dumb Ass Story of one of our first missions in Bosnia. We were to go out and meet this asshole in the middle of the night. He had provided info in the past...but it seemed very suspicious when I read the reports. The asshole, claimed to stumble across little weapons caches. Nothing too big, but he always wanted money for the "finds."
The last cache was out in the middle of nofuckingwhere. I consisted of an old Yugoslavian helmet, a SKS rifle, a few hand grenades, and some land mines. All of these items were told to have been found outside and left over from the war.
One thing I noticed in the photos...there was not one spec of rust on anything! How in the fu-- could a bunch of metal items be left outside where it snows and rains for several years and not get rusty? It was bulltwinkies! Somebody had set up the cache to make it look like it was left over from the war just to make money.
So, this night of this mission, this asshole claimed to have found another cache...
Our "plan" (which was just thrown together at the last minute and sucked) was to go pick up this guy and have him guide us to the cache. Simple as pouring piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the bottom of the boot...right?
We drive out into the middle of the Bosnian country side where there were absolutely no street lights or anybody driving around. It was dark...very dark...a kind of dark I can't even describe because I don't have that big of a vocabulary...but it was fu--ing dark.
The asshole tells us to pull over in Darkville. He says that he can show us where the cave is with the weapons. The old outgoing team leader suggest that I stay with the van and keep our female "terp" there while they walk over to the cave with the asshole and my team leader. I was the kind of soldier to follow orders.... But later I realized that I was the only one out of us soldiers who had any knowledge of the weapons and explosives they might find.
I stayed at the van with the M-16A2 and my 9mm pistol (which I had no ammo for, because they hadn't issued it yet.)
Did I mention it was dark? It was fu--ing dark. The female "terp" stayed inside the van and kept telling me how dark it was and that she was frightened. I didn't want to tell her that I was scared sh--less myself.
The team walked over to the cave, took pictures of the "weapons cache" and came back. The old team leader showed me the picture on the digital camera when they came back. The cave was damp and wet and none of the weapons had any rust on them. Bullshit! It was fake. This guy just wanted money.
After a few minutes of the old team talking to the guy, I asked if I could talk to him. I told him he was full of shit and he had faked the weapons cache for money. He was lying so bad I wish we had "rules of engagement" that allowed us to shoot people like him on sight.
After the asshole told me several more lies, I threatened to shoot him or kick his ass if he didn't stop lying. (what was he going to do, file a citizens complaint against me?)
The asshole was so full of crap, that he never stopped telling lies...we pulled over and told him to get out of the van...he still insisted that we pay him for the crappy info. I really just wanted to shoot him.
So, this was all just good training for Iraq. Local Iraqis told US troops bullshit stories like this all the time...even dumbass stuff like they knew were chemical weapons were or other WMDs...that were never there. (Do you think if Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld had had this great training we got in Bosnia they would have invaded Iraq?) People lie! People lie to cops all the time and we learn how to tell. The problem is, when you put soldiers in the roll of being cops, but don't train them or give them the experience, they are going to believe every asshole that comes up to them with some bullshit story.