From the Soldier side: One of the "details" I tried putting into the heads of the soldiers I was responsible for in Bosnia and Iraq was to make sure they were "professionals." By being a professional, I wanted them to do their jobs the best they could and not get emotional or too connected to the people and problems we dealt with.
One of the other things I tried to get into their heads in Iraq was: They had to be ready to fight when they rolled out of the camp 5-7 days a week. The drivers had to check their "victors" the gunners had to clean their guns, the "TC" (Truck Commander) and "TL" (Team Leader) had to check their radios, and all of their people. Every item of equipment was critical...although you wouldn't need everything everyday...you could be sure the day you forgot something...was the day your life depended on it.
By the time I had been in Iraq about 4 months, I had heard stories from some troops I knew who had been to Iraq and gone....about soldiers going all the way out the gate, getting into the city, then gettting out and walking around...and not realizing that they had forgotten their M16.
I thought how retarded can they be...or their TL be for letting them get out and not checking the troops over. I thought that would be impossible.
When were into about our 7th month in Iraq. I had been hurt a little, so I was put in charge of our little teams as the NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer In Charge) which met that even though there was a OIC (Officer In Charge) that I was the leader who got up at 0500 hours everyday and was there when the teams went out (and I snuck onto as many missions as I could anyway).
So, my job was to make sure the TLs had checked over their people along with many other things. They usually rolled out of the camp at XXXX hours. It was just starting to get hot by then, so I would stand outside with them as they loaded, did their commo checks, made sure the victors would start, etc. PCI's.
On this one morning where it was a really nice day...no sand storms, the sky was clear, no problems in the past few days. The teams (we had a few going out that day) were getting into their rides, waving good bye...and driving off towards the big gate to roll into Baghdad.
I was sipping my last drops of coffee ( a mix of Starbucks) when I looked over at the wall near our front door to our office. There leaning against the sandbags, was a SAW M-249 machine gun.
Now I was pretty darn sure we didn't have any extra SAWs floating around...and each SAW was assigned to a soldier on the SECFOR (Security Force) that went with my teams.
So I walked over and picked the saw up and checked the number. It was supposed to be on Truck 1 in the second team going out. I wondered in my head how long the gunner would let them drive before he noticed that there was about 27 pounds of equipment that was supposed to be in front of him as he stood up in the gun turret. I mean this was a major item that a gunner really needed or he/ she was just a body standing up in a SUV sunroof.
Now I knew if I called the OPs center and told them what was missing, that this kids platoon sergeant would make the rest of his tour in Iraq hell. I knew he was a good kid, and he was usually very good and doing his job. This was not normal for him.
I called the Ops center and had them turn the team around...I told them I had forgotten to give them something. No big deal since they hadn't gotten out the gate yet. Since it was me who had called them back saying that "I" had forgotten something....nobody would ever ask any questions later.
The trucks rolled back and the TL got out and gave me a confused look. I showed him the SAW and said: "Do you remember what NCOs are supposed to do before your team rolls out?"
"P.C.I. Pre Combat Inspections. Do them everytime. " I looked at the gunner, handed him his SAW and asked him: "Who's your best friend?"