30 October 2009

What do we need to do in AF?

From the Soldier side: OK, I promise I am working on my stories of stupid things I did as an adult in the US Army. But I thought I should post some useful info.
There's a lot of discussion about what we need to do in Afghanistan. I thought instead of talking shit, I should ask somebody I know who's there right now.
This person I'm talking about I'll just call "The Calm NCO" is one of the best bosses I ever had. When I was in Iraq, he was my boss for the first 4 months. He is one of the BEST! So if he has an opinion about something, I think it's going to be good.
I asked the simple question: "What do we need to do in Afghanistan to fix it?" I have added some comments to help good citizens understand better.

His answer:
1.) Shift unused/under used assets to Afghanistan (why am I living in a tent after eight years of us being here.- They don't have the correct troops where they're needed.
2.) Send more troops-They don't have enough troops to do the missions.
3.) Don't operate under NATO rules, no interrogation allowed- If you can't question the assholes you capture, you can't get good intel.
4.) Cancel half the MWR events, i.e sala night, karaoke night, techno night and country night. Too many troops are playing and having a good time, while others go out and are getting killed.
5.) Cancel college classes on BAF because soldiers forget the mission is more important- WTF? Taking college classes while in a fucking war?
6.) Kick 1/3 to 1/2 of the people off BAF (the Victory Base of Afghanistan) and send them out to the warfighter. Too many of the troops there are not doing shit. Too many REMFs, and too many "leaders" just getting their tickets punched.

Oh yeah, this sounds just like my Bosnia deployment. My teams and I went out 5-6 days a week doing missions and the REMFs at the main base went to dances and stuff. When we got to Iraq....Baghdad had the same waste of resources going on, while the small camps and FOBs had nothing and were over worked.

27 October 2009

What is the issue?

From the Soldier side: The CI Roller Dude tries really hard to not get involved in politics. However, He does have a few friggen' opinions about our wars we're in now. He feels he can speak a little bit about Iraq since he spent a year of his life there. He hasen't been to Afghanistan (yet) but he's have been keeping up.
When you consider why a country should legally or otherwise go to war, you really only have a few justified reasons. The FIRST reason to go to war is when some other asshole attacks your country. For those who've been smokin' too much weed and forgot, the assholes who attacked us on 11 Sep 2001 were based in Afghanistan. So we struck back. Good war!
Then for some reason, "they" decided we should invade Iraq. For those of you who think Iraq had anything to do with the attack on 11 Sep 2001, go study the issue again, then get back to me. Iraq, or Saddam Asshole really just pissed off some people, who thought we could easily wipe out the Iraqi Army. We could have wiped out the Iraqi Army with a couple of troops of American Girl Scouts!
But, we shifted focus from Afghanistan to Iraq...while the asshole terrorist in Afghanistan were able to re-supply and re-group. Now we got a mess there all over again.
In either country, we're not going to fix a bunch of corrupt, mis-guided, backwards, asshole, rag-heads. That mission is impossible.
What we need to do however, it go into Afghanistan, totally wipe out the terrorist...going across any borders required...and turn them into corpse. Kill them all and let Allah sort it out.
Then leave both fucked up places. Let the assholes who live there wallow in their own shit until they can pull their heads out of their camel's asses and grow up.
Nuking them all is not a bad idea. It's really like 1500 AD with cell phones. It's not "just like V Nam" these mutha'fuka's from Afghanistan attacked the US. Yes, sometimes history repeats it's self, but what we need in Afghanistan is for the President to listen to what the Generals are saying...after all, our President, like that last few we've had, has no experience with war.
I know from my deployment to Bosnia, Clinton dragged his feet and waited too long before we sent troops there.... we need to unfuck Afghanistan right away...and stop wasting time and troops in Iraq. Fuck the Iraqis if they don't want our help.

26 October 2009

The Day the World Shook...final chapter...

From the Citizen Soldier side:
Did I mention during the 89' earthquake it was raining alot? Well, it was. When we were clearing the roads, our biggest threat was mud slides...triggered by the aftershocks.
By about a week after the big quake had hit, we'd been working a lot. The funny thing we noticed was, the only soldiers from our battalion at the quake site were from our company. (An Engineer Battalion is usually made up of 3 "line" companies and a HQ company.) Then all of a sudden, we had a few folks from the HQ show up. Wow, we thought they were sending help down (we could have used twice the troops we had) but the folks who showed up were from HQ company. R.E.M.F.s
None of the folks from HQ who showed up were "workers" they were officers and a sergeant major. Kind of useless trash when we needed truck drivers and heavy equipment operators....
These REMFs showed up in nice starched uniforms, with no field gear...a Major tried walking over to where some of our dump trucks were being loaded with dirt and debris from the road. I yelled at the Major to get away from the work site without a helmet on.
Then it happened. Our hometown newspaper and the state national guard magazine photographers showed up. They took lots of pictures of the HQ REMFs standing around in their nice clean uniforms pointing at the trucks and loaders like there were there actually doing something useful.
The photographers left, so did the HQ pukes. The next day our hometown paper had pictures of how the 579th Engineers was saving the world---with pictures of our HQ Poges on the front page. The next issue of the State national guard magazine had another HQ REMF on the front page....saving the world.
Not one of those assholes did a damn thing to help.
After we had moved as much dirt and rocks as we could, we were asked to do something to help make shelter for some who'd lost homes.
We went over to the county fair grounds and were told we needed to build wooden floors for some large tents. When we got out of our trucks, we saw dozens of families living in small camping type tents. Kids came up to us and asked if we had any food. We broke out cases of MREs and started to hand them out.
The rep' from the county told us they needed 10 floors built for 10 Army tents (GP Med) that would house about 20 people per tent. They had ordered plywood and lumber. The guy from the county figured it would take us about a week to build the 10 floors. We were there at 0800 hours, the lumber showed up about 1000 hours.
By 1700 hours, we had 7 floors built. We'd get the last 3 done the next day.
After the first week, the state started to send more troops down to help out. After about 2 weeks, we were able to rotate out and go home...some stayed, I went home. The last night I was there, we went into town for dinner....everybody wanted to buy us drinks. It was one of the best feelings I had ever had up to that point. We got to do a mission that the Army National Guard is all about...helping the citizens of our state. And it rained.

22 October 2009

The Day the World shook...part 4...

From the Citizen Soldier side: On with the 89' Earthquake story. (Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Loma_Prieta_earthquake for more info.)

As we rolled our convoy of 5 ton dump trucks, jeeps (yes, we still had jeeps then) and heavy equipment towards the Santa Cruz area, I was learning how to operate the truck. By the time we arrived at some kind of church retreat facility, we were all tired, but still ready to do anything to help. All we really knew about the damage was what we'd heard on radios since we hadn't seen a TV in days.

We knew dozens of people had been killed and many had lost homes. This was what the Army National Guard was for---to help citizens in a disaster, and this was a big one.

We got to the church retreat and were given rooms to sleep in...ours had big cracks in the wall (I heard a few months later most of the buildings we'd been staying in were condemned and torn down.) The electricity worked and the rooms had heat, that's all we cared about because it was cold and raining as it often does in the Santa Cruz mountains in the Fall and Winter.

We went to a local restaurant for chow and went to sleep in our rooms. The next day we got up at 0500 hours, went to that same restaurant and then headed to what was at the time Highway 17. Our first mission was to help clear the road of mud, rock and other debris. Most of us had very little to no experience operating the trucks and equipment in anything other than a training environment....so this was a challenge that we all actually enjoyed.
Some guys from the county and State came to where we were. They had heard that we were a "Combat Engineer" company, but they said that they had no idea what we could do. When they saw all our equipment, they were very happy. An artillery unit had shown up a few days before, but all they could do was blow shit up.

The only other government folks in the area of Highway 17 happened to be a bunch of Marines and Navy folks who'd come ashore to help. They were directing traffic on the now one lane highway...they'd been doing it for days and were very happy we'd shown up to fix the road. Up to that point, nobody had started to do anything to clear the road or fix anything.

The first day clearing the road, I was driving a truck. I made several hauls of rock and mud and was happy to be helping. The problem we were having was, the sergeant they had put in charge of organizing the trucks and heavy equipment to clear the road was really needed to operate some of the heavy equipment, so they pulled me out of my truck and had me in charge of the trucks and loaders on the road. (I was only a Spec 4)

There were so many aftershocks hitting the area that we thought the hillside was going to come down on us several times. Let me explain the aftershocks. If you look up the weekly earthquakes in CA on the USGS web site, you'll see that we have dozens in CA every week. Most are under a "2" on the scale and we don't even notice them. When a shake is over "3" we do notice and most of the aftershocks were over "3". After the first few days we got so used to the shaking, that we laughed at it.

Still, when a shake hit while we were clearing highway 17, we'd look for big rocks and stuff coming down off the hill. Several times I had to jump out of the way of big rocks.

After we had been clearing that highway for a few days, some expert from the State came out. He told us that it was totally unsafe for us to be working on that road because the hillside was so unstable. Great. So we went over and started to clear debris from another area whilst the State "experts" figured out what we should be doing. It was now about a week after the big quake and the State and counties still had no friggen' idea what we should be doing.

To be cont.

20 October 2009

The Day the World Shook...part 3

From the Citizen Soldier side: Don't you just love it when I drag out a story? Some folks think I do it to make my readers come back...well the truth is, I keep forgetting stuff, so I have to drink a few cups of coffee so the caffeine can stimulate my brain.

On with the earthquake story. I realize that a lot of people have never actually had the experience of a good earthquake. The "89" quake was a good one. I joke about it, but the sad fact is about 60 + people were killed. We learned a lot from that one....I don't mean that we learned how to make buildings better, but the "public safety" type folks in California did not have their shit together in 1989. Let me explain:

By the next morning, 18 Oct 89, we had our entire Combat Engineer company loaded up with every damn thing we could pack into our trucks. We had bull dozers, loaders, back hoes, 15 5 ton dump trucks and all kinds of chain saws, shovels, picks and so much crap. We also had "looter shooter" tools if needed (but no ammo.)
We had no directions from the state on where to go, so we drove 20 miles south of our armory to be closer to the areas damaged by the quake. We set up our pup tents in a field and then asked the most important question that any soldier will ever ask: "What's for chow?"
We were very happy that none of our cooks had shown up at that point, so they were not going to be able to feed us their toxic food.
We didn't even have an emergency stash of MREs anywhere in the area. Most of us were willing to go pay for our own food, just let us go somewhere and eat....come on we hadn't eaten in 16 hours by the time we'd set up our pup tents.

Finally, they got a deal set up with the local Denny's restaurant....not the best place, but at that point we didn't care, we just wanted to be fed.
We sat in that field for 2 days, eating at Denny's 3 times a day...then the HQ told us to go back to our armory. The State had activated us, but they still had no friggen idea what to do with us. We wanted to tell the Governor that we could fix any problem....but we had to wait for a bunch of idiots at the State to figure this out.
After we returned to our armory, we stood in formation and were then told by the First Sergeant: "We need 30 people, let me rephrase that, we need 30 good people, drivers and heavy equipment operators. We're taking a task force to the Santa Cruz area to help with earthquake damage. Any volunteers?"

About 60 hands went up, including mine. I had driven lots of other Army trucks in my regular Army days, but I'd never driven the 5 ton dump. The motor sergeant looked at my old military license and said: "I bet you can figure out how to drive one of these, here's you new license."

I loaded my gear and another Spec 4 and I climbed into our 5 ton and got into a convoy heading down to Santa Cruz. I learned how to drive it as we went. It had 5 gears, a 2 speed box behind the transmission to give you 10 speeds...all old style flat gears, double clutchin' all the way. Then there was the dump bed and other levers and gears....I figured out as we went. Great OJT.

to be cont.

19 October 2009

The day the World shook..part 2....

From the Citizen Soldier side: By 2300 hours on 17 Oct 89, I was unloading my pick-up truck at our national guard armory. I was only 5 minutes away, so I was one of the first to arrive. The First Sergeant saw me and said:"Oh great, we have at least one cop here now."
I thought:"why would they need cops for an earthquake?"
In a few minutes I was loading riot batons and other "crowd control and looter prevention devices" on the back of a 5 ton truck. I was guessing that if we had to "take care of looters" we'd be more than ready. I was thinking: "Sir, do you really need that TV set you're looting, or do I need to put a 5.56 mm round in your ass?"
We also loaded our combat engineer tools and equipment. Let me tell you something, if you have any kind of disaster, natural or man-made, the type of Army unit you really want to respond is a combat engineer unit.
An Engineer unit will have all kinds of construction equipment, skills for fixing all kinds of shit and the ability to blow things up and shoot people if needed.
Our platoon was the first to be all loaded and ready to go. Our platoon sergeant (another cop friend of mine) told us to get some sleep so we'd be ready to roll out at first light.
The other platoons were so disorganized, that they were moving stuff around all night and never got everything they needed.
We didn't get any sleep.

To be cont....

17 October 2009

The Day the world shook...

From the Citizen Soldier side:Oct 17, 1989... 20 years ago we had a Big Ass Earthquake (here after referred to as BAE) in the San Francisco, CA area. (Actually the epicenter was around Santa Cruz, CA). I had just joined the California Army National Guard earlier that year, and being "prior service" they let me come in at my old rank...a "Spec 4" (E-4). I had just gone through the Combat Engineer school that summer, so by Oct 17, 1989, I had very little experience as a Combat Engineer. That was going to change fast for that BAE.
Just minutes before the BAE hit, I was fixin' to sit down and watch the Base Ball World Series...the Oakland A's and the SF Giants. This was going to be a great game. I had the TV on, and I had just stepped into the kitchen to see about a cold beer. Seconds later, the TV went off the air.
I started to complain about loosing the TV just before the game, when the ground started to shake so hard, I almost got knocked on my ass. (the shock wave was rolling away from the epicenter, so it hit Oakland just before where I live) What a hell of a shake! I told my family to get under the dinning room table...but my 6 year old son was upstairs and he was yelling for me. I ran up, grabbed him, and carried him down stairs.
6.9 on the BAE scale. That's pretty friggen' big, and I hope I never have to go through one that big again.
When things settled down, I did the checks on the gas lines, and all that stuff...then I tried to call the police department and see if they needed me to come in. But of course the phones were not working. A few hours later the phones were working and the police department said everything there was OK and I didn't need to come in.
So I called my national guard unit. They said that there had been no activation yet, but they'd call if I was needed.
I went to bed about 10 pm. 20 minutes after 10, the national guard called and said to "come on in, we need you."

To be cont.

10 October 2009

The Quality has gotten much better...sometimes...

From the Cop side: When I started in police work in the late 70's, there were some pretty good old timers in the business. In the 30 years I've been a cop, I hate to say there have been some cops I worked with who were really in the wrong business.
I don't mean that they were corrupt, dishonest or anything bad...they were just not what I'd call the "cream of the crop."
Take the case of Negligent Discharge Norm. Norm had somehow survived being an Army MP for 4 years, when he decided that he wanted to be a civilian cop in his home town in Northern California.
Negligent Norm and I got hired about the same time. He did some things that to this day still amaze me. In those days we were issued a Smith & Wesson Model 66 Stainless Steel .357 magnum revolver. Being that our department was what we thought was "cutting edge" they issued a Hoyte break front holster to go with the revolver.
Norm's first incident was while he was driving the patrol car one night. He had his holster unsnapped so he could be a little quicker on the draw. Norm and I were dispatched to an alarm call at a business late one night. It was just Norm and me. I got to the alarm call first...Norm rolled up a few minutes later.
As we checked the business, we found a back door that had been pried open. We notified dispatch and proceeded inside to look for badguys. I drew my pistol and looked at Norm. Norm's holster was empty. He had to run back to the car and recover his pistol off the front seat---where it had popped out of his break front holster.
A month or so later, Norm was still on the night shift. In those days, as we still do now, cops would get out of their patrol cars and check things at night. Norm got out to check an office complex, where he found a door to a common hall way open. He went inside just as I was rolling up to cover him. He found the restroom door also unlocked. So, Norm stood back and kicked the door like they do on TV...as he had planned to run into the restroom.
The restroom door was spring loaded and when Norm kicked it, it kicked back. This startled Norm so much that he cranked off 2 rounds into the restroom door. Damn that was loud!
A month later, the watch commander did a roll call inspection and checked our gear. Guess what. Norm still had the 2 fired cases in his Model 66. That meant he only had 4 live rounds to use if he got into a gun fight.
I have only run into a few cops like Negligent Discharge Norm over the years....some who really want to do a good job, but have a hard time walking and chewing gum at the same time. They never got themselves hurt, but they sure caused a shitstorm around them.
These days I work on training cops how to talk to folks. Be careful what you ask...and if you're a rabbit, be careful how you answer.

07 October 2009

No Knives, lighters, matches...but....

From the Soldier side: I just read "America's First Sergeant" blog for today. Many times when he rights about something, it jars my memory of some stupidass thing that I experienced on one of my deployments. Today's post was about some Marines flying home from Iraq on a civilian charter flight.

I have developed a coping skill for the times I have to deal with stupid. There's stupid and there's ARMY STUPID. I think the Marines have a slogan to match, but the Army spends more money on new slogans. The way I usually deal with Army Stupid is, I tune out. I shut off part of my brain. If I can, I'll read a book or take a nap. Often you can't take a nap because we'd have some dipshit who's job it was to make sure nobody fell asleep and missed whatever dumbass thing we were doing....like waiting for a flight.

I have wasted more time standing, sitting or sleeping in a line for some Army thing than some people will waste in a lifetime. But, some of the things we have done were so friggen' stupid, that most civilians would think I made this shit up.

In 2003 when we were done with our months of useless training to go to Bosnia, we were at some reserve Air Force base waiting for a civilian charter plane to come in and take us away. We had loaded all our gear that we'd need for the next 7 months onto pallets that were loaded into the belly of the plane.

Then, whilst we were waiting, a senior sergeant made an announcement: "Since this is a civilian charter flight, you are not allowed to carry the following items on board- 1.) Knives, 2.) Matches or lighters, 3.) Box cutters. If you have any of these items, you will have to discard them now."

I thought this was very funny. Here we were in full army uniform, going to Bosnia and we were the only people getting onto this flight. We were all carrying some kind of military firearm. Some had M249 SAWs, some had M16s, most of my group had M9 pistols. They said nothing about discarding our military weapons.

I had a lighter and my $170 Emerson folding knife. I was not going to throw away my Emerson knife...they could kiss my ass. I slid the knife deep into my pocket, and pulled out my lighter so I could show I was giving up something.

When I asked about the firearms we were taking on board, the senior sergeant just gave me a dumb look....and had no answer.

I have several "Army Stupid" stories.

When we returned from Bosnia, we were coming off of Active Duty. So we had to get new ID cards to reflect that we were going back into the National Guard. They had hundreds of soldiers going through a site that had one person making ID cards. I waited in line for 10 hours to get a new ID card. The Army finally got smart with all the deployments we're doing...now we're all issued an ID card that just says "ARMY" and we don't have to change when we go on and off active duty. Every once in a while, the Army does something right...but they have to screw up many other things to balance it out.

05 October 2009

A good sign says it all...

From the Soldier side: If you've ever been to a military installation, you've seen some kind of warning sign. I used this sign in Bosnia and Iraq...and now use it for my home office.
I do not allow stupid people in my office....sometimes they make through the front door though.
When the stupid get to my office, they see this sign...turn around and usually leave. We can pick our friends, but we can't pick our family.

02 October 2009

Like Ground Hog Day....Like Ground Hog Day...Like Ground Hog day

From the Soldier side: I like to collect some odd things. I now have over a dozen watches. Most of them work. The ones I prefer are the ones that have the day and the date. Somebody asked me why I prefer a watch with the day and the date. It's because when I was in Bosnia and Iraq, we had a syndrome we called "Ground Hog Day" (like the Movie Ground Hog Day).

So, you needed to look at the calendar each day to figure out not just the date, but the day of the week. For many of my assignments in Iraq, it was really easy to loose track of the day of the week...and after a while, the month.

For example in Fallujah, Iraq, Dec 2004:

0500 hrs: Wake up

0515 hrs: Go to the gym

0545 hrs: Shower, shave and shit, wear the same uniform (a clean one as needed)

0600 hrs: Go to mess hall, eat the same thing

0700 hrs: Show up at the "office" for work, (fixing mess kits)

1300 hrs: Lunch of MREs and a short nap

1400 hrs: More work, fixing mess kits

1800 hrs: Dinner

1845 hrs: Review reports with USMC folks and plan the next day.

2200 hrs: Go to bed

Get up the next and repeat, get up the next day and repeat, get up the next day and repeat, get up the next day and repeat. For 3 weeks.

Fly or convoy to other places and repeat for 4 months. Then change duties.