29 November 2010

Don’t volunteer for nothin’

From the Soldier side: I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about the 6 Americans killed in Afghanistan by an Afghan either dressed up like a cop, or he was a cop. And last night I watched one of the news type reports (TV Show- “60 Minutes") ran a story about the not so high speed cops in Afghanistan. Illiterate, dope smoken’ corrupt and all.

I haven’t been to that lovely place, but I’ve been to other places. First of all, you have to forget the notion that cops in places like that will be anything close to what we have in “First World” countries…like the US, Australia and most of Europe.

Take for example when I was in Bosnia. We traveled around in civilian cars and in civilian clothes. (No, we weren’t spies, we did mess kit repair). I lost track of how many times a member of my team or myself were stopped by the local cops--- and the first thing they asked for was “lunch money.”

Their line was usually: “My partner and I have been out here all day and we haven’t had lunch yet. 10 or 15 KM would sure be helpful.”

The Bosnia cops with white hats did traffic enforcement

(In Bosnia the cops don’t drive around much, but stand on the side of the road—holding up a sign with “STOP” on it…expecting you to pull over. This saves them using a lot of gas, but easy to know where they’re posted and avoid that area. We were with SFOR, so they couldn’t arrest or cite us.)

The first time I heard them ask for money, I was shocked. I know we’ve had corrupt cops in the US, but I was brought up doing police work where we’d haul somebody’s ass to jail for shit like that. After I got to know some of the cops in Bosnia, I realized that they were barley able to pay the rent and buy food for their family. So, that was the reason for the car stops. I noticed that they only stopped nice cars…so I started to just use our shitty looking Volks Wagon Passat after that.

A year later when I was in Iraq, within my first week of being on missions, I talked to a local cop in the wonderful city of Mosque—Fallujah. I found that many of the cops there couldn’t read….or write. I asked how they wrote tickets and reports…and they just looked at me funny. I guess writing wasn’t important.

When I was in Fallujah, my team was attached to the USMC. The officer in charge and the NCO in charge were both civilian cops (USMC Reserves). So we got along great. One day at Camp Fallujah, a bus full of brand new Iraqi cops came in. The cops were all brand new rookies. They had been sent to Fallujah from other cities in Iraq to help restore law and order after the “Battle of Fallujah. These Iraqi cops were all ordered to go to Fallujah for 2 weeks, and then they’d be returned home.

The bus full of the bastards all wanted to quit. They didn’t want to be away from home for 2 weeks. I got pissed. Really, really pissed. Here I was going to end up being away from my home for a total of 2 years because of 9-11. 9 months for Bosnia and 15 months for Iraq. Two Friggen’ Years of my life helping other countries get their shit together…and these little maggots couldn’t stay away from mommy for 2 friggen weeks! Totally useless little maggots.

After we’d been in Iraq for several months, “they” (never knew who the hell “they” was) sent out a request for all the American Military reserves and National Guard serving in Iraq…..”they” wanted to know who were police officer back home and if any of us had were trainers.

I read between the lines…I figured that “they” were looking for those with civilian cop experience to help train the Iraqi Police.

I didn’t volunteer for that job. By that point I had already seen how fu—ed up the Iraqi Police were. I knew I didn’t want to get anywhere near those dumbasses if they were holding weapons. Even if they weren’t trying to kill us, they had so many negligent discharges that they seemed to suffer more that way than from the insurgents.

I didn’t fill out the form…and when asked about it later by one of my bosses, I just said I was more useful doing what I was doing at that time. I didn’t want to admit that I was really afraid of getting shot in the back by a retard with an AK.

(If any current or former I.P.s are reading this and you’re offended….tough shit…. But that shouldn’t be a problem since most I.P.’s can’t read.)

Youtube Iraq Police training





Coming soon: "Don't stand too close to a naked crazy man." 

23 November 2010

More fixin' stupid.....

From the Soldier side: These days our Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is getting a lot of bashing. Usually, I try not feel negative about any government organization, but the TSA folks protecting our air traffic are pretty much ----. I don’t make conclusions like this based on media coverage etc, but from my own experiences. Since 9-11 I have had to travel by air many times in service or my country and sometimes for private reasons.

In the old days, soldiers, sailors, and Marines traveled by ship to get to other countries across the oceans.

Now in modern times, we travel by air, except for the sailors who actually have to get the ships to some far off land or drive around in the ocean. So, in all my years of military service, I have been to over 10 countries. I only got a passport recently, and I will likely never use it. You see, all those times I went to far off lands, I was under orders from the US Army. “I didn’t need no stinkin’ passport.”

Traveling on military aircraft is pretty simple. Get a rid to the airport, go where the Air Force, Army or Marine folks tell you and get on one of their wonderful air craft. They may put you on a C 17, or in the cargo hold of a tanker, a Blackhawk, CH 46/47, but they’ll get you there without hassle (maybe a few stray rounds from an AK 47). They really don’t even care what you bring with you as long as it’s secured and doesn’t start a fire. I’ve flown with M16,s, .45’s,9mm’s, packs of TNT, (the blasting caps were with another soldier)

But whenever I’ve had to fly private passenger jets since 9/11, I’ve been usually shocked and annoyed at the TSA re----. Where do they get such workers who have no friggen’ idea what they are doing?

In 2003 when my national guard group had to fly to Minnesota (pronounced Men-Ah-So Tah) to train with the Minnesota guard before Bosnia. The RED BULLS. All of us from California met up in Northern California and we all had to go to the San Francisco air port. (one of the least military friendly airports in the world, and least gun friendly). We were all traveling in civilian clothes, but we all had the big green Army duffle bags. We all checked in with our Army ID cards, and showed our orders. Our leader explained that we had all been activated and had to travel for training.

Then the stupidity started. The TSA dummies decided that we all might be terrorist and started to dump out our duffle bags. For those who’ve served, you know your duffle bag (Sea Bag for Sailors and Marines) is never big enough, we all learn how to cramp and pack 100 pounds of shit into a 50 pound bag. It takes a lot of shaking, stomping, and muscle---usually requiring two or three to help one load their gear. But we get it in.

So, these TSA guys at the San Francisco Air Port want to dump all our gear out. It’s all green. Mine does show traces of explosives from past training missions. I told the guy that it would show traces…but he had to look. And dump. No explosives. I think it was the very first time they got a positive reading for explosives and they freaked out. I was a friggen’ combat engineer for 12 years, we carried explosives all the time. Sorry, I didn’t wash my gear very well.

So the “big dump” happened. When they got to the Protective Mask (gas mask) they were really freaked out…then they got to all the little army toys that they could not identify….no weapons, just stuff….like camo paint for your face.

Even when we told them multiple times that we were all in the fucking army and traveling on orders to go train to fight fucking terrorist…we were not the terrorist…they continued to fuck with us.

Flying back from Minnesota weeks later was no problem. “Oh, you’re on orders? Have a nice flight.”

Then when we were flying to Bosnia in 2003...we flew on a chartered private jet. Since it was under FAA rules, we had to follow all FAA laws. Now get this.... we were in uniform. We had the entire aircraft. We were traveling with military weapons. M-16s, M-249's, I had an M-9 pistol. But, before we could get on the plane, we had to make sure we had no pocket knives or cigarette lighters.

Wow. I told the person telling this: “what about guns?”

No answer.

Well, being that we were all good soldiers and followed orders. We dumped all our knives, nail clippers, matches, cigarette lighters etc into a big box.

Flying home from Iraq in 2005, we had to land in San Francisco. They made us wait on the plane and de=plane on the flight line. I guess they didn’t want us walking through the airport in our nasty Desert Battle Dress Uniforms.

A few years ago I flew to Texas with a few pistols. As per FAA regulations and the air carrier I flew on, I “declared I have two firearms” to put in the hold. Again this was at the wonderful San Francisco airport. The airline clerk looked like she was going to faint. I tried to help her feel better by telling her I was a police officer and showing my badge. She escorted me over to a special TSA office and told the TSA dude I had firearms to check in so he could “inspect them.”

I had a Glock and a Beretta. Two very common pistols. He opened my case and pulled out the Glock…staring at it like he’d never seen a gun before. He proceeded to point it at his own face, at me, then at the clerk….all before he pulled back the slide to make sure there was no round in the chamber. That was scary. Then he did the same thing with the Beretta. When I said: “Hey, I know they’re not loaded, but that not cool to point them at people.”

Oh, you should have seen the look he gave me. Like I was calling him a fucking retard or something.

My guns and I made our flight. When I flew out of Texas, I told the airline clerk that I had two unloaded pistols to check in. The clerk said: “That’s nice” and threw them on the conveyor belt to go on the plane…. No TSA retarded inspection.

My next adventure by air took me to another gun friendly state. I knew since I was leaving San Francisco, I should get there early. This time TSA didn’t even look at my guns, but there the entire bag into an X-ray machine. I asked the TSA guy: “well, do they look like guns?” He couldn’t tell anything else about their condition…I’m not really sure what the heck he thought the X-ray machine was going to do.

When I flew back, I told the clerk where I was leaving that I had firearms to declare. She asked if they were unloaded and threw them on the conveyor belt. No hassles.

You know, maybe it’s not TSA. Maybe it’s San Francisco? Perhaps I should leave this state when I retire.

19 November 2010

You really can't fix stupid! Trust me...

From the Soldier side: As some of you may remember, many years ago I was an Army Combat Engineer, MOS 12Bravo. (now 21 Bravo). That’s the sort of job where you learned how to build things…not really “fine” things, like a custom wooden cabinet or something like that, but basic combat field construction. We could build bunkers, make bridges, roads, dig fighting positions (think fancy fox hole) with our equipment much faster than a grunt could with his entrenching tool.

And the best part, we got to blow shit up! Some of us became very good at estimating charges, clearing a path through a mine field, taking down a bridge and that sort of thing. The one really nasty thing some of us were really, really good at was setting up mine fields and booby traps. I could set up stuff that even I could not take apart without blowing myself up. (Learning with training devices saved a lot of us from death and maiming ourselves.)

One really handy device was the M18 Claymore Anti Personal Mine. The actual point of today’s post is not really to talk about the fun I used to have, but the conversation I had today trying to explain to somebody that you can’t fix stupid. There are many things in military and police work that have been developed to be “idiot proof.” But as I learned a long time ago, when you make something idiot proof, they make a better idiot. Some people have no common sense, or mechanical skills.

I’ve seen training NCOs and police officers tell a group during training that: “this new thing (weapon, device, tool, etc) is idiot proof.” While the soldier or cop is looking at the new thing and trying to see how they can actually screw it up.

Police range master may have noticed this “fact” with the Glock pistol. It is about the most idiot proof handgun ever made. However, if you run a range long enough, you will find a cop that finds a way to make that weapon fail. I’ve seen them put 9mm rounds in a .40 cal, getting the 9mm stuck in the barrel, then feeding a .40 cal and pulling the trigger. Ouch! I’ve seen them fail to fire, because the dumbass thought he (it’s always the male cops) could take it apart…then put it back together wrong because he’s usually the type too fucking stupid to even know how to change a flat tire.

"Hey Private, do you see those words: "Front Toward Enemy?" 

And take the US Army and US Marines. They demand that everything be idiot proof.

But I can still remember in Jan 2003 when I was first called up for active duty for Iraq. I was placed in a unit of “mess kit repair” soldiers. They were all very, very smart…but almost none of them had any combat training. For our training task, I was asked to train and test them on the Claymore mine. After the training, I suggested that they unit not even order any such mines as they would likely suffer major casualties from their own troops.

A Claymore:
The M18A1 Claymore mine consists of a horizontally convex green plastic case (inert training versions are blue). The shape was developed through experimentation to deliver the optimum distribution of fragments at 50 m (55 yd) range. The case has the words "Front Toward Enemy" embossed on the front surface of the mine. A simple open sight on the top surface allows for aiming the mine. Two pairs of scissor legs attached to the bottom support the mine and allow it to be aimed vertically. On both sides of the sight are fuse wells set at 45 degrees.
Internally the mine contains a layer C4 explosive behind a matrix of about seven hundred 1⁄8-inch-diameter (3.2 mm) steel balls.

When the M18A1 is detonated, the explosion drives the spheres out of the mine at a velocity of 1,200 m/s (3,937 ft/s) [1], at the same time breaking the matrix into individual fragments. The steel balls are projected in a 60° fan-shaped pattern that is 6.5 feet high and 50 m (55 yd) wide at a range of 50 meters. These fragments are moderately effective up to a range of 100 m, with a hit probability of around 10% on a prone man-sized 1.3-square-foot (0.12 m2) target. The fragments can travel up to 250 m. The optimum effective range is 50 m.

The weapon and all its accessories are carried in a bandolier. An instruction sheet for the weapon is sewn inside the cover of the bandolier.

Yep, War and stuff is a nasty buisness...but I bet a lot of you sleep better at night knowing that there are those willing to do nasty things in your defense. 

16 November 2010

Task Force Nothin’ part IV

From the Soldier side: OK, back to my border mission story. Our first day on the boarder was getting equipment, vehicles and our selves organized. That took most of the day, then we spent a few hours actually checking out our “AO” (Area of Operation). It smelled. We were warned to not step, fall, or try to swim in the canal running through the area…they told us it would cause our boots to fall apart, not to mention what it would do to our flesh. It seemed that our neighbors across the border dumped so much toxic crap into the water, that it was a Haz Mat.
I saw that it was going to be a fairly easy job. A job that didn’t require too much brain work, and mostly just moving our vehicles and equipment around. Our first mission was to clear out a place called “Smuggler’s Gulch.”

Smuggler’s Gulch looked just like you could imagine it looked like. It was a low spot in the terrain that was over grown with bramble, tumble weeds, rocks, dead automobiles and crap. If you just took a look at it from the road, it looked impassible, but when you got out of the truck and started walking, you could see where the smugglers had cut little trails through the brush--- like wild animals in the woods. Only in this case, instead of leading to water, the trails led to the USA. A route to move drugs and stuff into our land of freedom. This was going to be fun. Wild, but fun.

The first day, 1700 hours. Shift change for the US Border Patrol (USBP). By 1630 hours, we’d pulled our trucks and equipment back into the little motor pool we’d built that day. I didn’t know why the USBP made it sound so urgent that we were not driving around the border in the next half hour, but we were going to see why.

As the USBP started their shift change, we suddenly saw what could have looked like mice looking down from the sky. But what started running from the south to north, were humans. They were running down the road, through the brush, climbing over everything in their way…fences, parked cars, rocks, people slower than them….in mass. We started to count. After 15 minutes, we counted 150 people running by just where we were parked. I could see that if we’d been driving on the roads, we might have hit half a dozen border crossers without even seeing them. They were so desperate.

The next day, we got to our base camp early---the morning USPB shift change…and the same thing happened. I was in shock until about the third day, then I got used to it. I figured if Mexico looked as bad as I could see from our side of the border, I’d run away to. If it smelled like it smelled where we were at, I’d run away to. I couldn’t blame them.for coming to the US. Wouldn’t you?

The third day, we had a bulldozer operator stopped for a break. He was sitting on his dozer eating his lunch, when some drunken’ dude from across the border run up to the dozer. The drunk climbed up the track and pulled a knife on the operator. We were all un armed. The dozer operator was able to convince the asshole to not stab him, and the drunk got off and ran away.

Each day, we’d drive by and see the same guys sitting on the edge of the border drinking beer and waving at us. We were entertainment in a world that had none. My main duty was to train the truck operators. That was easy…I only fired one who was too stupid to even figure out how to spit.

We got one day a week off to start out…then as we got settled in, 2 days a week of. It wasn’t’ a war, but it was weird.

Now I know some of you are going to comment about why we were not armed…but I guess that has something to do when General Pershing went into Mexico about 100 years ago trying to catch that terrorist Pancho Villa. Never caught him, but sure did piss off the Mexicans….so to this day, they are worried about the US invading Mexico. In my opinion, they can have that place…not much better than Iraq, and not as nice as Bosnia was.

11 November 2010

On Veteran’s Day

From the Soldier side/ Cop side: 11/11/2010- Today is “Veteran’s Day” in the US. Most of our “allies” celebrate this day and call it other things, but we go with “Veteran’s Day”.
M1 Tank, Camp Ripley, MN (SFOR Training)

I’m not very good at it when somebody says: “Thank you for your service.” I think most of the Vets I know really never know what to say when we hear those words. It’s not that we don’t appreciate it, but, when we “joined up” we didn’t do it for medals, and thank you’s, we joined up for other reasons.

Hell, when I first joined the “Regular Army” after high school, I joined because the only jobs I was able to find didn’t pay enough to actually support myself….and I wanted a little adventure.

I got out of the “Regular Army” I stayed out for many years, then I joined the State National Guard….getting the chance to go to floods, fires, earthquakes, drug mission, riots and two deployments.

If I had it all to do all over again…I’d do it all over again. I do appreciate people’s thanks, but I actually enjoyed it, and got to help spend a lot of the tax payer’s money on ammo and stuff, so maybe I should thank the tax payers?
Flag from Camp in Bosnia, taken home, to Iraq and back home

Have a beer, I’m working today, but that’s OK, at least on my cop job they pay me overtime….never got that in the Army. Peace. Happy Veteran’s Day- Danny

08 November 2010

Task Force Nothin’ Part III

From the Soldier side: When you read a story written by somebody who writes really well, you can often gain a sense of what they are telling in their story. I have often read a book by one of my favorite writers who writes about military or police work, and I have said: “Yeah, I know exactly what this person is writing about.” They can describe people, places and events with such clarity that you think you are there. I am not that good. In this story about our mission on the US/ Mexican borders, there are some things that I don’t know if I’ll do them justice…or injustice.

The first Monday we arrived on the border, we were still trying to get organized. I guess in the interest of saving time, we staged our base camp very close to the border of Mexico. If it were a war zone, we would have been within easy small arms range of the enemy. Not a good location I thought. But, being close to where we were working did save some time.

Day 1. We were transported to the area we were going to build a base camp in Ford passenger vans. When we got to the base site, we found an odd assortment of Army Engineering equipment and vehicles. Some of it dated back to the 1950’s. For the most part, everything did run, but some items were going to take a lot of work from mechanics who knew what they were doing.

As soon as I got out of the nice, plush, air conditioned van, I was almost overcome by the stench. It smelled like a mix of human waste, toxic chemical waste and I’m not sure what else. I find it almost impossible to describe with my limited English vocabulary what the smell was like. I would never experience any smell like that again---until I went to Iraq. Shit was the one word I would use to describe it all. Bad Shit. Really, really bad, bad, bad Shit. The kind of smell that almost makes you want to gag and puke.

For those troops who’ve been to places like Iraq, you are now having bad memories. Sorry.

To be Cont.

05 November 2010

Task Force "Nothing" cont....

From the Soldier side: Cont:

Task Force ???? For those of you who don’t know it yet, the US Army loves to give names to missions. If it’s a small mission, or a small group that’s part of a big mission, they may call that small group a Task Force. For the mission this story is about, when we first started, we had no task force name. So we called ourselves “Task Force Nothing.”
So continue from my last post…. As we were riding on the bus to our new mission, the LT who was the Officer In Charge (OIC) of our little adventure had sorted out who he wanted to be the NCOs in charge of the platoons and squads. This was going to be a Combat Engineer mission, so the “job announcement” stated that all of those who volunteered needed to be qualified to operate the big dump trucks and other heavy equipment and tools we were going to use.

With about 80+ troops, we divided into two platoons. One platoon was all the Heavy Equipment Operators (HEOs)…bulldozers, backhoes, loaders, scrapers, etc. The other platoon was all dump truck and other truck operators. (you don’ t just “drive” a dump truck, you have to actually know the correct way to dump stuff.) …and we had a small team of support folks--- clerks, mechanics etc.  This was one of the few times in any of the missions I worked where we would actually have more workers than support staff and bosses. 

We took the bus all the way to XXXX and unloaded. This was a US military base located in southern California. We were about to deploy to one of the most smelly, dirty, nasty, deadly (at that time) horrible, toxic locations in the world. The US /Mexican border. Our mission- Drug Interdiction.  To work with other Federal Agencies to reduce the flow of Illegal Drugs coming into the US. 

We arrived and were assigned rooms to live in. The accommodations were so nice that we actually had a sort of maid service. Somebody came into our rooms each day and cleaned them up and made our beds. I was an old soldier, so when I got up, out of habit, I still made my bed each morning. I’ve never been able to leave and not make up my bed…and polish my boots when I could. We ate in a XXXX mess hall and the food was so good, I suspect we had several troops gain 10 pounds a week.

Then we lined up in platoons the first Monday. I was given first squad of the truck platoon. If the platoon sergeant was not there, I was to fill in. My squad had 10 soldiers. Then the platoon sergeant asked the big question: “How many of you have a military license to operate the dump trucks?”

Only about 6 hands went up, including mine. Guess what we’d be doing the first week or so…training the rest of the platoon to operate the old 5 ton Army dump truck. Oh joy. While we were on the mission.

To be cont.

02 November 2010

Task Force......???

From the Soldier side: I just read where the US Army has just figured out that many citizens join the Army for adventure. The article made it sound like this was a bad thing. Well all I could say was: “No kidding. Why do you think I joined?”

This is a story from a mission I did many years ago. I’m not going to tell where it was until later in the story. This was when I was in a Combat Engineer unit of the California Army National Guard.

One day back in the early 90’s, I stopped by my National Guard armory to say hi to some of the full timers who worked there during the week. Operation Desert Shield had just started in the "Gulf."  One of the guys, I’ll call him “Ed” told me that the state was looking for volunteers for a special mission. Ed said that the job required volunteering for at least 30 days. I told him to put me down for the job, but I wasn’t sure about 30 days because I had a good “normal” job. He said: “well, they won’t take you if you can’t go for a full 30 days, but we’ll see what happens.”

A few weeks later I got a call. Ed said that they would take me and I was getting orders to go...be ready in about 2 weeks. Cool. I loved going on little short missions for the Guard. By this point in my career with the Guard, I’d only gone to one earth quake (1989), so I was itchin’ for some more excitement. I packed my uniforms and gear and reported to our Head Quarters early one Saturday morning.

When I got to HQ, I was with a few other soldiers I knew, and a bunch I didn’t. I was only a lowly Buck Sergeant E-5 at that time, so I figured I’d just fall into some squad and have somebody else in charge of stuff. I’d just kind of follow and go along and see what was going on. I’d lead if I was put in charge, but I saw a lot of people who looked like they’d been in longer than I had….so I’d just be quiet and see how things were going to go. After all, I had a real, full time job that I could always go back to.

As we were gathering, I started to notice that some of the soldiers were pretty squared away, and others looked like crap. I was from the “Old Army” where when we were not out in the field, we’d polish our boots and starched and press our uniforms. We always had proper haircuts and saluted officers and stuff like that. Some of these soldiers I was seeing looked like they had slept in their uniforms and hadn’t seen a razor or boot polish in months.  (the new Army tan boots can't be polished....both a good and bad thing)
Then another thing started to happen, we started to take charge. We formed into squads and platoons based on rank. (that’s a thing the Army does). Then we filled out some papers and stuff and got on the buses. We were in for a very long ride so I settled in with a good book and tried to relax….still not fully knowing what I was getting into.

As far as the make up of the unit we formed went, we had 2 platoons of about 40 soldiers each. Normally a platoon would have one officer, a LT (O-1 or O2) and one Platoon Sergeant, usually an E-6 or E-7. In our case we had only two E-6’s and one LT…but plenty of E-5s and below. Good, few officers met more workers and less crap. Oh, and we had something I'd never seen before...a "Cadet".  This was a guy who was in college ROTC, but had gotten put on orders to come play with us.  He was not an officer, and not an NCO.  The college ROTC cadets were a little round disc looking thing for rank, so we call them "DOTS." 
During the bus ride, which lasted about 12 hours, the LT stared walking down the isle on the bus and sitting next to all the NCOs and talking to us. He asked who we were, what kind of jobs we did when not in the National Guard, how long we’d been a Combat Engineer and stuff like that. What I didn’t realize he was doing, was, he was trying to figure out who the leaders were going to be.

Normally in the Army, if you have lots of people of the same rank, you pick who’s been that rank the longest and they are the leader. That didn’t happen in this case. I was a pretty new Sergeant, and there were some who’d been around for many years…but the LT made me a squad leader. I’d have a full 10 man squad…and when the platoon sergeant wasn’t around, I’d be the acting platoon sergeant. Wow I hoped this didn’t piss anybody off. But I was going to find out that this “promotion” was going to mean a lot of work.

To be cont….