30 October 2009
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.
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
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
22 October 2009
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
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
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
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.