29 April 2009

Slang and acronyms from OIF...cont

From the Soldier side: I had to go back and re-read some of my old e-mails from Iraq and from others to remember some of the "lingo" that was used there. I've had a few comments from "moms" and other family members and friends asking what an acronym stood for. Sorry, but in many cases, each little "camp" or "FOB" will make up their own. The total scope of this acronym and slang thing are only limited by ones skills. I also suspect that in many cases, an EM, NCO or "Zeros" couldn't spell a big work, so they used a made up acronym. (Heck, I do it all the time.)
Oh crap, I just used a bunch of acronyms/slang you may not understand.

FOB: Forward Operating Base--which makes no sense because there is nothing forward...it's all around. EM-Enlisted, NCO-Non Commissioned Officer. Zero- Officer.

On my teams first mission to Fallujah at the end of 04', our command in Baghdad thought we would only work on Camp Fallujah. (Mess Kit Repair -MKR) However, the Marines we were helping needed my team to go into the city a few times. The Gunny said: "If we have your team and a gun, we'll have 2 Victors, then we can go to the CMOC." I had no idea what he was talking about, but I knew it was a job "outside the wire." Our command had told us that they didn't want us to go "outside the wire" without clearance from them. I was not about to tell a Marine Gunny that my team and I couldn't go with them. I'd look like a coward. So, they lent us a SAW and we rolled out with them. (SAW- Squad Automatic Weapon...M-249)

So, in my daily SITREP (Situation Report, for the status of my team) I sent this message to my commander:
Weapons & Ammo: Green

Sensitive items: Green

Troops: 3 + terp: Green

Veh: 1 M1114: Green

Today's mission: Green

Tomorrow: Work out of CMOC from USMC attachment duty.

(Green stood for that item listed as being good to go. Amber-OK, but needs work. Red-not usable, broken, lost, etc.)

I was assuming that my commander wouldn't know what or where the CMOC was...it was in the middle of Fallujah. I didn't even know what it was. It worked. Nobody ever asked me what or where the CMOC was. Civil Military Operation Center.

Here's a beginning list of more useful info:
Ate up: A soldier who is not able to do anything right. Also: ATFU-Ate the fuck up.
Battle rattle : Full battle rattle is close to 50 pounds worth of gear, including IBA (Improve Body Armor, Kevlar helmet, gas mask, ammunition, weapons, and other basic military equipment. One component is the soft vest that covers the torso the shoulders and the back. It's made of soft material, a mixture of Kevlar and Twaron. These are sown together in sort of a sandwich fashion inside a nylon camouflage-pattern shell. The nylon vest has attaching points for load-bearing equipment. The second component of the system is ceramic plates that fit in pockets in the front and back of the vest. These plates protect the heart and lungs. Any TV news report from Iraq or Afghanistan shows American service members wearing "full battle rattle."

BIAP : Baghdad International Airport (where we flew in and out of Iraq)

Bombaconda : nickname for LSA Anaconda, , a major base near Balad, reflecting the frequent mortar attacks.

I often found it very useful to make up acronyms to get something done, to confuse others, and just for fun. I felt many times we had to make up our own fun...or, as I said: "We put the fun in dysfunctional."
I'll post more useful info later.

23 April 2009

Army Speak...When in doubt, use an Acronym

From the Soldier side: One of the things I learned early in the Army was we are able to speak in a language that most “normal” folks can’t understand. We don’t learn this language from brilliant training at the Language Institute at Monterey, California…we learn it on the job. This is the language of Acronym with a little Slang thrown in. Even if you have a very high score in this language, the Army is not going to pay you extra money. The funny thing I found is, each little part of the Army tends to make up their own language around Acronyms. In some cases, they assign an “ANCO” – Acronym NCO ---oh yeah, NCO is an friggen Acronym for Non Commissioned Officer, which is a fancy way of saying Sergeant. If you could say something in two words, you don't...you have to use 4 or 5 to sound better. This is how we "re-double" our efforts.
When I was stationed in the Old Berlin Brigade as a young solders many, many years ago…some of my buddies and I were sitting around drinking a few beers and talking into a tape cassette recorder. I never played the tape back when I was sober, I just mailed it home. My family told me years later that they had no idea what we were talking about because of the acronyms and the slang we used. I’m pretty sure if I found that tape today, I wouldn’t be able to figure out what we had talked about. (for info on the Berlin Brigade, click on http://www.usarmygermany.com/Units/Berlin%20Brigade/USAREUR_Berlin%20Brigade.htm )
Several years ago, before 9-11, I was in a Combat Engineer company in the National Guard. We spent our “summer camp” at wonderful Fort Irwin in the Mojave desert. We were supposed to be training with a Regular Army unit there, but it seems that they wanted nothing to do with us and our old worn out APCs (Acronym for Armored Personal Carrier…we just called them “Tracks.”) So, for the first part of the two weeks, we wondered around in the desert doing our own training.

My day might start out telling my driver: "PMCS the track, I'll do the fifty cal, then we'll chow on MREs, then send up a SITREP on the Prick 77." (Huh, WTF?)

Then this RA (Regular Army) unit wanted to use us in the “Big battle” to provide convoy cover for their HQ (Head Quarters) unit. The other TC’s (Track Commanders) and myself had to go to a briefing given by the RA CO (Commanding Officer) of the HQ element.
The Major talked fast and with purpose. He could have been giving a football team the play of the game. The problem was, he was using a bunch of Acronyms and terms I had never heard before. My LT was standing next to me during the briefing. When it was over I looked at the LT and asked: “LT, do you have any idea what the hell he just said?” (oh yeah, LT is an Acronym for Lieutenant, for a list of all Officer ranks, go to http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/insignias/officers.html#O1

So, anyway, since the LT had NB (No Balls) when the Major got done with his briefing, he asked if there were any questions. I said: “Sorry sir, but we’re just National Guard, could you explain that in English?” Do you want our tracks to flank your trucks the provide an over-watch?”

The Major had talked for 20 minutes. I explained what he wanted in 30 seconds. He looked at me and said:”Yes Sergeant, that’s exactly what I need you engineers to do.”
See, if he had used PE (plain English) I’m sure everyone else would have understood him because all the RA soldiers were standing around after I asked the question…then they looked at me and said: “thanks, we never know what he’s talking about.”

Then the Acronym stories from Iraq are even better….
To be Cont.

17 April 2009

Getting Home...Part IV

From the Soldier side: So after we got to Fort Screwus, WA...the brilliant leaders had to start some kind of official investigation into the drinking that took place on the civilian charter flight across the ocean. Heck, there was nobody on the plane but us and the flight crew....We had to take a day out of our out processing and go over to a area they had set up to interview us.

I walked over to the intereview room along with everyone else. I sat in the waiting area and listened to my MP3 player. What else could these idiots do? This was THE National Guard Unit I had been in for years...the unit that I went to Kuwait with in 2004, then got handed off to a regular Army unit like the red headed step child. The guys and gals who brought booze on the plane were none of my people...they all new better. They listened to the rules and followed them. ( a few asked me at Shannon if they could buy booze and bring it on the plane and I reminded them that the Sergeant Major said only "one drink.") The people who didn't listen were the ones who stayed with this unit all through the deployment...the unit that had more Article 15's than any other during that time. A unit lead by retards.

I was called in to be "interviewed" by a female major. I had worked with her in Bosnia. She sat me down and started asking me questions about the drinking and told me to fill out a Form 2823 a "Voluntary Sworn Statement". I, with all due respect reminded her of the following:

!.) "Mam, you failed to advise me of my rights--if I'm under investigation, or could be a witness to a legal action."

2.) "Mam, you can't require me to fill out a form 2823, because it says right on the form that a person make the statement of their freewill, without threat of punishment or inducement...or some such wording. I have nothing I wish to make a statement about."

The major looked at me, gave a wink and dismissed me. This investigation was going nowhere fast. I don't think anybody really wanted to do much with a few soldiers who got drunk on the plane.

Meanwhile back at the out processing crap. We'd get up early, go over to the gym and get in lines for 8 to 10 hours a day. There were never enough people to out process us and it really screwed things up when our great leaders would get us to the wrong place on the wrong day.

One day we had to all sit in a giant room and listen to psych type doctors talk to us about stress and PMSTSD. We were told we'd be there at least 2 weeks...to out process that should take about 3 days. We heard that the "Regular Army" wanted to make sure us National Guard soldiers were "adjusted" before we went home. What we couldn't understand is...the regular army folks we were with went home the night they got back into country. Were they not in the same place we were? Didn't we all work side by side...I had some Regular Army people in charge of me and I had some Regular Army soldiers that I was in charge of...we were told that we were "One Fight, One Army." But, in real life, we got the shitty barracks, the shitty food, and slow out processing when we got home.

My bitching was nothing. We had several of our guys wounded in Iraq. Some were sent to "med hold" at Fort Screwus. We got to see some of them. Since there was no room for them in the fort hospital, they put them in old WWI barracks. There was no mess hall nearby...if they were lucky, they could catch the bus that went around the fort every hour, if they missed it, they had to walk miles to eat. Some were on crutches from leg wounds.

When I saw this, I was really pissed off. I'm sure alot of you saw the conditions the troops had top put up with at Walter Reid Hospital...this was just as bad. They were left to fend for themselves each day--- no guidance, just show up for medical appointments. It sucked.

We finally were told that we were going to fly home. Good...but...they had to just keep screwing things up. We were told we had to be at the Air Force flight line 4 hours before our flight left....(sounds like a story you've heard before?) By the time everyone stuck their 2 cents into the "how to fly out" plan, we were heading to the airport 7 hours before the flight...just in case the Air Force guys had a golf game or something I guess.

We finally flew to the State of San Francisco...landing at 3 am. Bussed to the National Guard armory where we arrived at 4am...and told to be back at 8am for a ceremony. I asked if anyone would mind if I skipped it...and got some sleep. Nope..."you are ordered to come back for the mandatory fun....we'll have food....the folks who didn't deploy because they're broken went through a lot of trouble to set this up...."

I can't wait to retire. Shortly after our return, they started to re-organize our Guard unit...eventually the entire battalion moved to the other side of the state...they couldn't understand why I don't want to drive 1o hours to go to drills. I like my new unit.

16 April 2009

Getting Home...Part III

From the Soldier side: Coming home from Iraq took a heck of a lot longer than getting there did. So, to continue.... we left Shannon, Ireland. I had a pint of "G" and got back on the plane when it was re-fueled. I had a good seat where I was near an emergency exit (I always think of things like that, I can't help it) and also near a rest room. I got belted into my seat, plugged in my MP 3 player (Pre-Ipod) and began "rocking out" as I fell asleep for the 16 hour flight.
Every now and then I'd wake up and look around...a few of the soldiers were drinking out of bottles. There was one young lad who seemed to be in the rest room every time I woke up. There was always a sergeant there helping him....you could hear him "ralphing, blowing chunks, puking, spewing, barfing and throwing up." He did it all. It was kind of funny, but over 16 hours, it seemed like every time I woke up, he was in the can doing one of the above to clear his system.

What could you expect after a year of not drinking, going out almost every day on convoys in Iraq? Let the kid get drunk. He survived, he deserved it. I started my MP 3 player over again and went back to sleep.

We landed at some airport in Maine--- same one we landed at when we came home from Bosnia in 04'. Same nice folks from the local VFW there to great us as we got off the plane to hang out and wait for the next flight. As we walked off the plane, all these nice folks shook our hands and thanked us. I just thought: "we won't see anything like that at the San Francisco air port."

Now, I felt pretty good that these folks were there. They didn't have to be. They got up early in the morning to greet us. I liked them. Many may not agree with the Iraq war, I didn't, but we did our duty. We were called, we went, did our thing, and came home. I'll always be proud of what I did to help my fellow soldiers (and Marines many times) to stay alive. There were no weapons of mass destruction, we were lied to. But we did our duty. Some may not ever understand that-- soldiers join, but we don't get to pick and choose where we go.

So, on with the longass trip home. We got on the next flight to Fort Screwus, WA. We were put up in the same dilapidated WWII barracks we were in for the training a year before. The same crappy mess hall. After we settled in, we were told we would be there for a few weeks of out processing and to watch us to make sure we were "OK."

After about a day there... we were told that there was an "investigation" about the drinking on the plane home. Turns out it's against some kind of FAA rule to bring booze on a commercial flight and drink on the plane.

to be cont....

13 April 2009

How we left Iraq, Part II- The "Freedom Bird"

From the Soldier side: OK, now to continue my little story on leaving Iraq. Our year was up and we flew out of Baghdad International Airport. I didn't really see very many international flights leaving, but as long as we had a flight out of there, I was OK.
The very fast and comfortable C-17 landed in Kuwait and we un-assed and were taken to another out processing facility (oh yeah, forgot to mention how many times our bags and equipment were inspected by Customs MPs--what the hell were we going to take home---camel dung?)
Kuwait was just as hot, dry, sandy and crappy as I remembered it from before...but it was away from people trying to randomly kills us.
The customs inspection in Kuwait were done by some Navy folks. I'm pretty sure they didn't really know what they were looking at when they inspected our gear because I had several AK magazines mixed in with my M-16 mags...they just looked at them and made sure they had no live rounds and passed them through. Nice little souvenir from the streets of Fallujah (Dec 04)
I don't even remember how long we were in Kuwait...it could have been 2 or 3 days...wasn't important. From there we loaded onto a civilian charter flight---"Low Bid Airlines".
Again, we were all happy. The flight went from Kuwait City (another place not to go on vacation) to, of all places, Shannon Ireland. I love the Irish!
Just before we landed in Ireland, our Battalion Sergeant Major made an announcement. I think it was a big mistake....but who was I to stop the fun. He told us when we got off the plane for the quick flight crew & refuel stop...we could all have on drink (of an alcoholic beverage.) Now, don't forget we had been pretty much "dry" for a year.
One of my friends bought me a "pint" and it was good. Just one. That's all I needed to help fall asleep for the 16 hour flight across the ocean.
However. There are some soldiers who should never be allowed near alcoholic beverages. Some of the lads bought bottles of liquor and brought them on the plane and drank across the ocean.
One funny thought some of us kept having....Why was it if the "Mission was accomplished", were we still there???
To be cont.

06 April 2009

How we got home....from Iraq

From the Soldier side: I just looked at one of my new/favorite blogs - http://www.castrapraetoria1.blogspot.com/ which is written by a Marine 1st Sergeant. For those of you who know what a First Sergeant is, good...for the rest of you, I'm not going to explain right now....but go look up "God" in the dictionary and that should explain them.
Top's (we call 1st Sergeant's "Top" with the utmost respect because they are the top sergeant. After First Sergeant comes Sergeant Major---Sergeant Majors serve no useful purpose that I know of in the US Army.)
But, back on track...his post reminded me of our travels to both Bosnia and Iraq. The problem with going with the National Guard is....most regular forces just assume we are retarded or something...and we usually have some leaders who do everything they can to prove them correct. But, I want to tell you about our trip home from Iraq. It should have been one of the best moments in our life, but there were those who's job was to make it torture.

If you've read my past post, you'll remember that when my Guard unit got to Kuwait, a bunch of us Bosnia Vets were given to a Regular Army Battalion. This had good and bad points. The good points were we didn't have to stay with some really dumb ass leaders, but got to go work for some semi dumb ass leaders.
At the end of the deployment, when it was time to fly away, we re-joined our home unit in Baghdad. There were some soldiers we had missed, but I made sure the command knew that we cared little for them. We were almost left out of everything just trying to leave Iraq!
We did all the hurry up and wait stuff, but the Air Force flyjockies really wanted to leave Iraq, so they didn't waste much time getting out of there. ...on one of them new fangaled C-17 jobs...nice and fast and better than the C-130 I had been on so many times before. It landed us in Kuwait and there they started "Operation We Don't Trust You."

To be Cont.

01 April 2009

Random Death....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It was just random death.....

From the Soldier side: I still have a saying at work (my cop job), that saying is: "a bad day in California is still better than the best day in Iraq." (except when certain people there try to annoy me)

For those of you who've been to war, you understand. I can come to work and have crap happen all around me, and it doesn't bother me. Some people think I'm on drugs, or, just don't care. But all I can think of is: "they are not going to kill me and I have some control over what is happening around me."
Then I still get the "stupid question of the day" like: "how many people did you kill in Iraq or Bosnia?" "Were you ever shot at in Iraq?" "Did anyone you know get killed?" "How long were you there?"
My answer: "Zero, Yes, Yes, a year too long."
About getting shot at. I had a theory about getting killed in Iraq. I figured the insurgentassholes were not being personal about it, they were just random. They just wanted to kill somebody, and if they couldn't kill one of us, they'd kill themselves.
Most of the little crappy camps and FOBs I was on got at least one or more mortar attacks. Sometimes we were not sure if it was a mortar or a rocket, and it really didn't matter. They never seemed to aim them at anything important, I think they were just pointing them our way to piss us off.
One day at FOB K, I had taken my first day off in a long time. Mess Kit Repair can have long days, so I needed a day off. I was in my tent (that I shared with 20 other Joe's) reading a novel. I was relaxing and dozing off as it was a nice warm Spring day. There were no birds in the air, and I never saw any flowers like a California Spring, but it was Spring. I hated this FOB because we had to wear our body armor all the time...I'd soon find out why.
About an hour after lunch, I heard two loud "booms." I left my tent just as rocks and crap started to rain down. I could see a sort of mushroom cloud from the explosions about 110-150 meters away. I knew it was mortars landing, and they would only send 2, then the assholeinsurgents would drive off.
The siren sounded, which meant we had to go into the nearest bunker. I grabbed my book and a flashlight so I could keep reading my novel. I fell asleep in the bunker and was there for about 2 hours before one of my team mates came around to check on me. Nobody got hit that day, but it just pissed us off. They sent 2 mortar rounds onto that FOB everyday sometime after lunch...

I'll tell you about how we put an end to that later....