29 March 2009
Start with the BASICS!!!
Being in the Army National Guard for a long time has had it's good times and it's bad. Regardless of what was happening to us, around us, and against us, I was with good troops who always did their best. As I've said in past postings, many of my worst adventures were due to really bad leaders.
Let me present a question to the general public, past and current military readers: If you were going to a war with a bunch of soldiers, what is one really important supply item you'd make sure everyone had?
How about ammo?
We were the redheaded step child. When our Guard unit arrived in Kuwait, to stage and train prior to going into Iraq, we were thinking that we were going to war with our home unit. After a short time in Kuwait, some of us were informed that we were being transferred to a Regular Army battalion. At first, we were a little upset. But I had been in the Regular Army many years before and my experience was that the Regular Army was pretty good. I'd soon find out that this was not true with all units. The unit we were given to was a bunch of REMFs. (My MOS is not combat arms anymore, but we are a type of team that does go out to do our work.) These Regular Army folks had no weapons skills, couldn't get a training convoy to the gas station and worst of all, they didn't order ammo for the National Guard troops that were attached to them.
A day before we were going to fly into Iraq, we still had no ammo. I mentioned this to my "chain of command" who didn't believe it. I pulled out my empty magazines for my M-16A2 and M-9 Pistol and showed they held no shiny brass and copper devices (friggen bullets).
Now, as my readers know, I've been a cop for 30 years. I've always made sure my weapons and tools were in 100% perfect condition. I'd never go out on a police patrol without ammo, and I work in a pretty safe area. But, the concept of going into Baghdad with no ammo, was starting to worry the heck out of me. The dumbass Regular Army Captain in charge of such things thought some of us "shooters" were overacting. I asked her if we could have her ammo, since she would likely not need it. She didn't like that and threatened me with UCMJ action, I asked what she thought a Inspector General Investigation would show. She left me alone (and she got a Bronze Star for her great work on the deployment.)
They did come up with about 30 rounds of 5.56 MM for our rifles and 5 rounds of 9MM for our pistols. That's what I took with me when we went on convoy into Fallujah. In Fallujah, we were attached to the Marines (1st MARDIV) where the Gunny, who was a cop in his civilian life, asked if my team needed anything. I asked: "do you have any spare ammo? If we're going out, I'd like to be able to shoot back." He opened up his storage area and said: "Help yourself."
I am an ammo pig. I loaded up a lot more than the basic load.
Even after all this time, I still have a hard time forgetting this. I am still so pissed off, I got ahold of Trophy Express and asked if they could make a coffee mug for me. One side has the 1st Marine Div patch, the other says: "I went to Iraq with the Army, but had to get ammo from the MARINES."
For leaders, don't forget the basics. Food, water, fuel and AMMO!