Posted by an Army Lieutenant in Iraq
For those of you who are planning to rotate through Iraq on one of the many OIF tour packages, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. The Big Red Button: If you find yourself in a car with a toggle switch taped to the steering wheel, donââ‚¬™t push it. (An Iraqi informant, trying to prove his worth to the Americans, stole a prepared car bomb. While driving the CB to the American post, the driver apparently flipped the toggle switch taped to the steering wheel and detonated the bombââ‚¬Â¦)
2. Check This Out: If you find what appears to be a time bomb, do not play with the timer. If you do insist on playing with the timer, do not hold the blasting cap in your free hand. (An American intelligence NCO, while cataloging and photographing items taken in a raid, came across a detonator wired to a washing machine timer. While holding the blasting cap firmly in his left hand he cranked the timer dial to see how the device was supposed to operateââ‚¬Â¦)
3. What's That?: If youââ‚¬™re ever at a checkpoint or OP (Observation Point) at night and you hear what sounds like a tracked vehicle approaching your position and you see an unidentified vehicle operating blackout lights approaching your position, before you fire warning shots with your M16 at the vehicle bear in mind that only the Americans and the British have tracked vehicles in country (actually the IA has them as well but they donââ‚¬™t go on patrols with them.) Furthermore, understand that these tracked vehicles sport metal armor measured in inches and feet, and that your M16 is unlikely to deter or disable the unknown vehicle. Finally, evaluate the cover you have when you finally decide to fire your individual weapon at the unidentified tracked vehicle; unless youââ‚¬™re hiding out on the USS Wisconsin, the weapons carried by most armored fighting vehicles are more than equal to the task of obliterating you and your checkpoint. (Apparently no one told the folks out at gate three that the armor QRF (quick reaction force) was going to make a speed run. When the tanks approached the gate they came under fire from the Americans at the gate. Fortunately for the guys at the gate, cooler heads prevailed and the tanks didnââ‚¬™t get a case of the *** and turn them into air pollution.)
In other completely unrelated insanity, the uniform idiocy continues. Our Division has mandated that you must wear kneepads, elbow pads, and ballistic glasses when you leave the wire. Soldiers have been pulled off of missions because they lacked this ââ‚¬Ĺ“criticalââ‚¬Âť safety equipment. While most no one has an issue with the kneepads (especially when youââ‚¬™re doing a vehicle patrol where you dismount a lot) the elbow pads are universally despised because they 1) cut off the circulation to your arms, 2) they get hung up on everything in the vehicle, thus making the pads themselves a safety hazard, and 3) they get in the way and reduce your mobility. The glasses are disliked as well because they fog up and leave you blind. Given that these mandated safety measures actually increase our vulnerability rather than reduce it lead us to believe that these measures were enacted by officers more interested in covering their asses in the event someone gets hurt than they are about letting us get on with our jobs. No one is debating the utility and value of these items (there are situations where elbow pads are desirable.) What we do object to is the ham fisted way in which these safety mandates are pushed down to with little apparent thought to the tactical effect they have, and without allowing for individual soldier and leader assessment (itââ‚¬™s a great irony that one of the cornerstones to the Armyââ‚¬™s operational concept is pushing tactical decision making down to the lowest level while at the same time weââ‚¬™ve got a 2 star general deciding what we need to wear to do our jobs.) Just so that you donââ‚¬™t think Iââ‚¬™m making this up, two soldiers in our battalion recently received Article 15s for not wearing elbow pads on a raid. The soldiers were not injured in the raid, but they were caught in an evidence photograph not wearing the proscribed uniform (the local SF team was taking pictures of a pile of rockets they found in a house during the raid and the two soldiers happened to be in the room when the picture was taken. The Battalion Commander saw the photograph, immediately saw the uniform violation, and had the two tracked down and punished.) The moral of the story here is; ââ‚¬Ĺ“we donââ‚¬™t mind if your safety equipment gets you killed, just so long as it gets you killed safely.ââ‚¬Âť
It has also been put out that civilian clothing is not authorized at any time. This means that you need to be properly wearing some form of an Army uniform whenever you are outside your quarters. Consequentially, if you want to go to the bathroom, before you walk the 45 feet to the porta poddy you need to get your DCUs on, your boots on (and laced), your armor, helmet, ammunition and weapon on and then walk to the porta poddy. Once there you can strip everything off and pile it up outside the PP. Having completed your business, you gear up, walk back to your quarters and strip down. You can opt to wear the PT uniform, but this will require you to wear the reflective runner vest and carry a flashlight with you. Going to the bathroom has now become 30-minute evolution. The insane thing is our leaders think that doing this makes us motivated and happy; ââ‚¬Ĺ“people like to see disciplined soldiers in the proper uniformââ‚¬Âť they say, ââ‚¬Ĺ“the insurgents will think twice about attacking a disciplined and uniformly dressed patrol.ââ‚¬Âť How can these moronsââ‚¬™s believe this drivel? Do they honestly believe that the insurgents give a ratââ‚¬™s *** what we wear? Weââ‚¬™re the only fools on the base running around like overdressed Kevlar Michelin men. I guess the casualties would have been less at Omaha beach had the 29th division worn their ties when they landed. But then this is the same army that gave us the beret to make us all feel excellent.
In another example of micromanagement, one of the perimeter Ops observed 2 individuals trying to climb over the triple strand concertina fence. They asked for permission to engage. They were denied and told to continue to observe and that someone was coming out to evaluate the situation. By the time the QRF arrived (45 minutes later) the individuals had already climbed over the fence and run into the compound. The following day we were told to be on the lookout for 2 unknown individuals. Gee, all of the civilians here are regionals and I sure as hell donââ‚¬™t know them all; what do you want me to do? Arrest them all?
The bottom line here is, our command doesnââ‚¬™t care if we get a bloody thing accomplished, just so long as weââ‚¬™re all safe and no one gets hurt. Once again we all thank our lucky stars that the Viet Cong havenââ‚¬™t come over as insurgent consultants; theyââ‚¬™d roll this place up in a matter of hours.
AS TAKEN FROM HERE.