Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rules of Engagement

Hour 18 of a 24-hour mission. Well, two missions really. We had spent the day pulling outer security for General Petraeus himself, while he strolled down Anu al-Verona with no helmet and basic body armor, surrounded by a camo entourage and media parade Patton’s ghost would respect, to buy some falafels. I didn’t get to meet the Big Man, but I did get a photo of the aforementioned circus from about 100 meters away, with all three rings in action. Trust me, I didn’t want to be any closer. No matter how many gorgeous aides there were in his posse who would have been dutifully unimpressed with a too-cocky, too-skinny scout platoon leader who can’t get rid of the black bags entrenched underneath his eyes, had drank 10 bottles of water in the past eight hours to fight off sunstroke, and hadn’t showered in two weeks.

After the General left, the Gravediggers charlie miked straight into an escort mission for an engineer unit tasked to fill potholes. A straight forward enough concept – surround the engineers in a Stryker diamond, and destroy any and all terrorists hordes that pour over the Anu al-Fulda Gap in the mean time. Translation: Rotate gunners and institute a much-needed and well-deserved rest plan for the platoon. Also, it gave us a chance to bring the three new Gravediggers – SPC Tunnel Rat, PVT Stove-Top, and PVT Hot Wheels – up to speed on the mechanics of our Strykers. Sounded like a great plan, at the time.

Then the war got in the way. Again.

45 minutes after we established our outer cordon security positions – right at the aforementioned hour 18 - SSG Boondock’s words boomeranged across the net, hiding the thrill in his voice as much as a teenage boy does while issuing instructions before a panty raid.

“Gravedigger 1, this is Gravedigger 3 … we got some real shady mother fuckers low crawling onto the road, down from the canal. It looks like two of ‘em.”

I bolted straight up in the back of my Stryker, and started studying my map. The 3 vehicle was on the complete other side of the diamond from my vehicle, oriented due south, overwatching a well-traveled north-south thoroughfare.

“Keep watching him,” I said, stating the obvious while conflicting thoughts of violent chaos and escalation of force procedures pumped through my mind like a million competing race car pistons.

Are they sure they’re seeing two guys low crawling? It’s night. They still haven’t done anything wrong yet. Technically. Not yet. Are they sure? Why are they low-crawling? Did I leave my rules of engagement card in the laundry? Are they sure? I need to stay calm, that’s what Lieutenants do in the movies in situations like this, they stay calm and make good decisions or they freak the fuck out and fuck everything up. Why are they low-crawling? Why can’t we just shoot, again? It’s not just night, it’s midnight. He said they were shady. Are they sure? Can they be sure with night-vision? Can they ever be sure with night-vision? Just don’t be the guy who yells CHARGE and you’ll be alright. I need to ask if there’s another heat signature other than the bodies. That’s what I need to ask. Are they fucking sure?

“Heat signatures?” I finally sputtered out, hoping my question would be accepted as proper radio brevity, and not typical LT G brain vomit.

Five seconds that felt like a standard Pentagon deployment passed before SSG Boondock replied. “Roger! Roger! It looks like there’s a box and my gunner reports they have set it down 250 meters from our position.”

Cue brain retching.

Light ‘em up. A quick burst or two of 50-caliber rounds should suffice. I’ve never tasted bloodlust before, not the lethal brew anyhow, but it seeped into my soul this night. As I’ve written before, I didn’t come here to kill, and never felt to impulse or desire to truly end a man’s life. But here it was, arriving as quickly as the crawling terrorists had. Kill or be killed. Never has this war been so clear, so pure, so obvious, so clean. And yet …

The platoon leader in me knew we couldn’t shoot yet, and tugged at my brain like a giant anchor holding in place a battleship on full throttle. Escalation of force. Fuck. Rules of engagement. Double fuck. They haven’t technically dug anything yet, thus, haven’t begin emplacing anything. SGT Axel was ready, certainly, zeroing in on the two human silhouettes with a long-barreled machine gun of raw destruction, but the Iraq War has become so PC, so cluttered, so trigger-shy five years into the war, that any round fired – no matter how justified or understandable at the time of the incident – yields paperwork inquiries and scrutiny more fitting of a Senate Judiciary Committee report. Staff monkeys have found new purpose in this combat zone as Monday morning quarterbacks, conducting investigations with omnipotent spotlights to cut through the fog of war days after the storm passed. I’m not claiming that such retrospective studies are not healthy for a military unit, nor am I arguing that precision and restraint should not be fundamentals ingrained in every soldier fighting an insurgency. Part of what makes an American soldier an American soldier is that he fights with rules that sometimes hinder him, in an attempt to keep sight of the ideals and principles which led him to fight in the first place. That’s all gravy. I am stating, however, that the fact that these thoughts clouded my mind in a decisive moment of combat – and not just my mind, as it would turn out – proves that we are officially no longer on the offensive here. To repeat a new mantra of some of my NCOs, “Uncle Sam has gone soft.”

I didn’t want to spend the next decade at Fort Leavenworth cutting stone, and certainly didn’t want any of my men to do that, either. Maybe that’s what would have happened if I had ordered them to shoot then. Maybe not. Anything now is just surmising, reflecting back with the benefit of hindsight on decisions made in mere seconds during a black tempest of confusion. We employed proper rules of engagement, just like we’re taught to by the Army lawyers hired to teach us how to avoid jail-time and war crimes and sensationalized scandals reported by a clueless, leaching mass media to an equally clueless public addicted to shock and awe. For every Abu-Ghraib there are hundreds of stories like this; unreported acts of trepidation brought on by the castigation of our combat operations in the name of nation building.

I kicked out my Bravo section’s dismounts, one team led by SFC Big Country (whose 4 vehicle was closest to the 3), the other by SSG Boondock, with the hope of being able to detain our targets. They were standing by behind the cover of our vehicles for the time being. I told SGT Axel, the 3 vehicle’s gunner, to beam the targets with a bright naked eye laser, to let them know we were watching. Then I told him, “If they begin to run, open fire and engage the targets.” There. I had satiated the gods of what if, and found an avenue for my soldiers to still do their job.

“Roger, will comply!” SGT Axel responded.

I had given the order to kill. Haughty enough to condemn two individuals to The End because they had been stupid enough to be fucking seen in a war of shadows. Somewhere in the time-space continuum, the boy who cried after my first fistfight - not because I was hurt, but because I thought I had done something to upset the instigator and still didn't understand the concept of bullying - hung himself with a calendar rope. At least he succeeded. That’s something at least.

“X-Ray, this is Gravedigger 1.” It had been a few minutes since I had sent up a situation report to Troop; an instrumental part of any Lieutenant’s job is to serve as a connection between the front line and whatever is behind us. Remembering such at this precise moment would turn out to be my only lasting regret from this whole ordeal.

“We have a possible IED-emplacement happening time now, at our location. Grid to follow. (Grid follows.) We’re employing ROE, and will engage with fire if they run and detainment is no longer a viable option.”

“Negative Gravedigger 1, you will not engage!” It was CPT Whiteback now on the other end of the radio call. What the hell was he still doing up? “Attempt to detain the individuals. Do not open fire unless the individuals attempt to directly engage you.”

I could hear the frustration oozing out of CPT Whiteback’s voice like puss coming out of a popped zit; I’m sure he wanted us to kill these two as much as we did. He has no love lost for insurgents. And as he reminds us at least twice a day, he had been in Sadr City in 2004, and knew what it was like to be pulling triggers all day, every day. So this newfound act of hesitation wasn’t a result of inexperience or nerves. That didn’t stop me from seeking clarification, though.

“This is Gravedigger 1 … I copy the only way we can open fire, even after positive identification, is if these guys open fire at us with rifles they don’t have or try to actually detonate the IED on us?” There may have been a few F-bombs in there, as well. I can’t recall.

“Roger,” came my answer.

I sighed, disbelievingly, and switched back to the platoon net. “You monitor the CO’s traffic, 3-Golf?”

SGT Axel’s voice could have cut through steel. It was that sharp. “This is 3-Golf. Roger.”

The next few hours morphed into a blur. I unleashed a primal howl and ripped the hand mic out of our radio, throwing it into the back of the Stryker, waking up a confused Biggie. SGT Axel lasered the two shapes, who quickly darted back into the canal. The two dismount teams moved after them in hot pursuit, but with it 1) being night and 2) not being our native terrain, we were automatically at a huge disadvantage in this impromptu hunt. No one was surprised when the only thing that was found was sets of muddy footprints behind some broken reeds. No one was really surprised either, when SPC Tunnel Rat and newly-promoted PFC Das Boot stumbled upon a compact brick-like object covered in tumbleweeds; after PFC Das Boot gave it the scratch-and-sniff treatment and informed SSG Boondock (“You did what, you big German fuck? You scratched it and smelled your finger? Are you high?”), we cordoned off the area and called the Explosive Ordinance Disposal. Turns out the brick was a state of the art pressure plate IED designed specifically for attacks on armored vehicles. EOD then blew it up without incident. Too tired to care anymore, the Gravediggers returned to the combat outpost with nothing to say to anyone who hadn’t been there with us. We felt like neutered wolves.

48 hours later, an individual detained by another unit outside of our AO admitted to attempting to emplace an IED exactly where we found the pressure plate exactly when we had observed him attempt to do so. Just like all emplacers, he was just a punk teenager who knew next to nothing, got paid $20 to feed his family for a week for his act, and literally shit himself when he got detained. According to the intel geek rumor mill, he was also very curious as to why we hadn’t shot him up instead of tipping him off to our whereabouts with a green laser. No word yet as to the fate of his shadow buddy from the night in question.

SSG Boondock came up to me the morning after the initial event, as I brooded on the Crow’s Nest. I don’t let go of things easily, and while my platoon seemed to have shed the events of the previous night rather quickly with some sleep and Guitar Hero, I had not. He took a seat next to me and lit up a cigarette.

“Fucked up shit last night, Sir,” he said.

“Yeah.” SSG Boondock had killed before in this war, and would be ready to do so again. I could only imagine his thoughts on the matter, and quite frankly, was not sure I was ready to hear them.

He leaned back and chuckled. “For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t have given the fire command to open fire like you did. That took balls.”

I felt my eyes open wide with surprise. This was the last thing I expected this NCO to say. He had never hesitated to tell me how he felt about anything, even when it might hurt my feelings. I’ve always valued his candid voice, and simply could not believe he would have done anything but open fire if placed in my position.

“You’ve done it before,” I said. "A few times."

“Yeah … it was different then, though. Shit now … it’s just hard to explain how much things have changed here.” He patted me on the knee. “You did fine, LT. No one expects you to be Dick Winters. Fuck, no one wants you to be Dick Winters.”

I looked at him skeptically. “Did SFC Big Country put you up to this to cheer me up?”

Another cackle. “Naw, nothing like that. Three years ago, fuck yeah, those guys would be rotting corpses on the side of the road, and nobody would blink an eye. Things are just fucking different now. Everyone’s so scared to make a mistake, convinced they’ll end up on the cover of Time.” He paused, took a final drag, and continued. “Just get us home, LT. I’ll take care of the rest.” He cackled again, and walked back inside. I stayed on the Crow’s Nest to finish brooding.

Is one detained terrorist with some information better for the war effort than two dead terrorists? To hell if I know; it’s kind of one of those “is the glass half-full or half-empty” questions. I do know though, that the lesson I’ve retained from this sequence of events is simple and straightforward, and something that could be garnered from any Clint Eastwood film ever made: shoot first, ask questions later. The way out is through. Even if the only ones who understand that are the ones on the ground, living in the Suck every day and every night, placing themselves in harm’s way every time they roll out of the wire in a manner that their countrymen cannot, will not, and should not ever comprehend. That IED wouldn’t have hit the vehicle of the guy who tweaks the rules of engagement, or the guy who would’ve been appointed the investigating officer if we had shot, that’s for damn sure. They are tucked away safely and comfortably in some glass house on the Beltway and the FOB, respectively, casting stones. The IED would have cut through me, or my men, or some of my comrades in the other platoons, in an instantaneous fireball of death. Fuck it. I will not hesitate again, even for just a few seconds, nor will I call up an update until after the fact. There’s too much at stake now for me to not employ those lessons learned. The next time, we might not be able to find the damn thing until after it explodes and we’re separating scrap metal from human remains.

We’d be out looking for the other insurgent right now, but we can’t leave the combat outpost. Some jackass somewhere else had a negligent discharge and destroyed a clearing barrel, causing the entire Brigade to go on a safety stand-down. Beyond being Grade A Garrison Bullshit, I’m just hoping that the terrorists got the memo that the war’s on timeout for the next 40 hours. I’m certain that they did. The actual war part of this war may be carefully regulated now, but the paperwork machine still has free reign to terrorize.

It is what it is.

52 comments:

Ky Woman said...

Exactly. Not what it should be, not what it could be, but what is...

Look on the bright side, you've got 40hrs of down time. A rest well deserved even if unwanted. When its over, stay safe, ya hear?

Mike said...

Wow LT G...I think that's one of the finest pieces on ROE I've ever read. And double kudos to CPT Whiteback for letting you publish it. It's a credit to him that several times when I'm reading your blog I have to remind myself that everything you put up is approved by your superior. I can think of a lot of people who would've stifled your voice. He gets it.

As for the negligent discharge...sounds like we have some special soldiers running around. I'm sure the terrorists got the memo as long as you used Form 82L and filed it in triplicate.

Anonymous said...

I have spent many hours discussing this very issue with my peers in preparation for deployment and was offered these words by one of the other Det Cmdrs:

"better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6"

Not taking any chances.
R.C.

Anonymous said...

And people stateside wonder why progress is slow moving, its no wonder with your hands tied like that.

And what of the other little punk that got away? he'll probably get paid another $20 next week to do the same thing to another platoon that may not be so lucky.

Sounds like you did exactly what you were supposed to do, and were thinking of your soldiers while you did it. It makes me feel good knowing that my husband has someone like you watching his back. Keep it up.

BTW, next time, if shooting first and asking questions later means the difference between getting my husband home with a pulse instead of in a box - I'll be glad to be a character witness for you at the trial. That guy that posted the last comment had it right: better to be tried by 12 then carried by 6.
MRS. Flashback

admiyo said...

Look at it another way. If you had wasted the IED emplacer, there would be a dead teenage boy, a family with a grudge against America, and not trail back to who paid the kid to place it. Now there is an intel lead and family that knows America could have and would have been justified in killing their son, but showed mercy. I know that you know you did the right thing, and are just venting.

Well done LT, very well done.

Amy Causey said...

Your right... about the paperwork, and all the bullshit that has scared many men into not acting and ending up in a coffin. When my husband was over there last year we lost a good friend. Roadside bomb on their way back into the FOB. It's been a year since that has happened but we all relive every time it's happens to someone else. Thank you for what you do, for protecting those men and yourself to the best of your ability.

Anonymous said...

Well said Lt.

Anonymous said...

Soundslike the whole deal for you guys has gotten into the transition of war for you. As it morphs and one head is cut off, another grows and the tactic transitions. But, alas the view from the field changes when it is a unscrupulous public having an opin on whether or not you come home a hero or shredded by the inarticulate masses with an axe to grind. Respects, Gregory Copeland

mike said...

I have to say, as much as this situation seems like a 'rock and a hard place' I think you all did the right thing.

You, and we, know that most of the day-to-day laborers of the insurgency or paid youth with no real ties to the effort.

You gained intel for US forces... protected life (arguably, all around)...

Steve said...

I just wish you men could come home and we leave that country to rot on their own. But I realize we cannot and will not.

While the right thing was done, we will not win this war fighting it this way.

Good luck to you and your men. Don't get tried by 12 or carried by 6 and we'll consider that a win for now.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/24/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

Grandpa said...

Lt G., This last piece you wrote is your best so far. The level of maturity, guts, and discipline shown by you, your men, and yes your Capt., bring credit and honor not only to you and your men, but all service men and women of armed forces. I look at those pictures you posted the other day, those young faces, looking back at me, and then read this piece, and wonder what did we do here at home to deserve such an armed force comprised solely of volunteers. You truly live up to your Gaelic name. God bring you all home safe and with the honor you all so very much earned.

Average American said...

Lt G:

Does the expression "damned if you do--damned if you don't" ring a bell? Great going sir!

This was one fantastic read. It's not often we back home get such a bird's eye view of the shit that really goes on over there. As a Vietnam vet, I want to THANK YOU for all you do over there for us. Please extend this THANK YOU to the men with you.

I agree with the commentors here that think this episode was done right. That young bomber and his family will be much more likely to come to their senses after this. Who knows, he may very well get $300.00 per month from us in the near future, and end up saving American lives! The one that seems to have got away is probably with his 72 virgins by now.

Stay safe!

Joe

maxxdog said...

Do what you have to do to bring you and your men home safe. Thanks for the good read. Take care, be safe.

FbL said...

Thanks for an amazing read, and for your clear-headed honesty. And I'm awed by the discipline, maturity and awareness (self and other) of you and those who serve with you. There really aren't words for me to express my esteem.

Hang in there.

Macy said...

"Part of what makes an American soldier an American soldier is that he fights with rules that sometimes hinder him, in an attempt to keep sight of the ideals and principles which led him to fight in the first place."

My fave line so far. It's something that makes me love this nation.

Anonymous said...

Pleasant banalities, Lt G.

Thank God you are on our side.

Pearly said...

You're great LT G!

All the way :) .
Pls be safe.

Pearly

pjh said...

After reading your post, and reading the thoughtful, albeit divergent, comments, I wasn't sure what to think about this: Sensible ROEs for an insurgency or Uncle Sam going soft?

Then I went to the inbox I use for DOD death notices and was reminded how many of those still involve an IED --- Light'em up, but don't get sent to Leavenworth. On the other hand, don't worry about future promotion cause you ain't never making it past LTC ;-)

I agree with CPT Whiteback, you are special. Bless you and your men.

Scott said...

You did the best you could in a situation imposed on you by a bad PC laden lawsuit crazed media sensationalized society whose ideas don't necessarily translate to the battlefield. Just as SSG Boondock told you, you (and CPT. Whiteback for that matter) have got bigger balls than most of us. I would've opened up on them. Both of you did what is required of you and followed orders and ROE instead of what you wanted to. A sign of a professional solider in full control.

Good job, LT.

Bag Blog said...

Your writing gives us such insight into this crazy war - just awesome.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lt. G: Thank you.

The Girls in Adm. Services

ST333 said...

Thanks for your service LT....my blood pressure is through the roof reading that. Soon you'll be forced go outside the wire blindfolded with one arm tied behind your back. Idiot lawyers. Pencil pushing zeros

Phileosophos said...

That sounds like it was one intense night. I think it's pathetic that the main thing on your mind wasn't keeping your men safe, but rather whether a host of carcass-picking lawyers would approve of your decision. It seems to me that if we're going to call it a war, then we damned well ought to treat it like one.

Should we be glad that a teenager's life was spared? Maybe. Maybe he'll take his brush with death to heart. But then again he might just place another IED some night for another $20 that *doesn't* get caught. In my view what matters is that you and your men come home safely. If that means some folks who are willing to work with the enemy get hosed, then so be it.

OldGrouchy said...

The life you lead is stressful in the extreme and it's well portrayed in this posting on ROE! Well, since you and the Gravediggers can't do it, I'll have to get another 6-pack of Guinness Draught and down one or two in your names. When you guys get back here, you deserve at least two Guinness also, problem is figuring out how to get them to you all; that too can be resolved one way or another.

sickboy said...

Just in from BLACKFIVE. Keep up the good work. Us oldtimers are pulling for you. Stay safe.

Chuck said...

LT G,

I've been in your shoes--and often. As a company commander near baqubah a scant 3 years ago, they definitely would've been dead.

But I'm not going to second guess you and more than I would tolerate being second guessed myself. You did exactly what we pay leaders to d, and exactly what I demand of the cadets I train. YOU made a decision first, then told your boss what you were doing. If shots were fired between your decision ad the boss being informed (i.e. Boom! Contact, tanks front.) The you did what you are paid and trained to do.
At the end of the mission, everyone made it home, so you were very successful, by any measure. If you'd pulled the trigger, they wouldn't be emplacing any more IEDs, some other kids would be. Ideally, the baddies run out of kids before we run out of bullets.

Keep on keepin on, and come home alive.

And never, ever fear pulling the trigger. Fear what will happen if you don't.

--Chuck
TCOverride.blogspot.com

Ken said...

The half of the country that cares what Time magazine thinks hates you anyway. Don't worry about them. We in the he other half have your back.

Anonymous said...

I must be getting old because I was starting to think that not killing the those guys was the best choice...
After thinking it over... rotting corpses would have been better. For $20, American soilders lives didn't mean shit to these guys! Pathetic that some people here think that is the best course for our soldiers take. I have to wonder if this softness of some is creating this problem the LT is having.
I actually now feel bad that I even started thinking that this was the right thing to do. Wake up America... the pussifacation of this country is the reason that "it is what it is"!
Keep obeying orders LT... and hope for the best... God Speed

J said...

I continually marvel at the quality and professionalism of our Armed Services. Hamstrung by lawyers and liberals, they nevertheless continue to do an exceptional job. God bless you and your troops and your chain of command,stay safe, and don't hesitate to do what is necessary to protect yourself and the personnel entrusted to you.

Galrahn said...

Thanks for the excellent read LT.

Anonymous said...

Great read sir and I've been there.

That's the not so funny thing about the ROE...when I was downrange (Diyala), I would read near-miss AARs where it was clear we were hesitant to employ the *existing* ROE. Many of them were possible VBIEDs running a chkpt and getting within 50 meters and the gunner fired his sidearm instead of putting of putting a .50round through the engine block. I don't know if I could employ your restraint on another tour--best, SFC USA

Consul-At-Arms said...

Great piece of writing.

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2008/03/re-rules-of-engagement.html

Damien said...

[B5 reader checking in] First like the others have said, excellent article.

The reasoning behind your actions demonstrates not only your professionalism but the very essence of this struggle (plain and simple good over evil). The other side has lost their ability to reason.

Anyway, I hope technology will aid you soon in immobilizing suspected insurgents (bad guys, et al)so that we can act quicker.

Well stay safe, healthy and victorious. (and get some sleep!). Thanks for keeping my family safe too - we shall not take our freedom for granted!

Gabby said...

Incredible restraint soldier. I commend you for following orders even if the orders make no sense whatsoever.

Keep in mind that offending the editors of Time prolly means you are doing the right thing.

May God keep you and yours in the hollow of His hand. You are over there doing the right things.

Brian Childs said...

Hey Lt. G,

I just wanted to let you know we wrote about you in our article on Soldier bloggers at Asylum.com. I think what you're doing is terrific.

Good luck,

Brian

Nick said...

Brother - this is awesome stuff. I cannot find any way to drop you a personal note - time permitting drop me a line at nick@rangerup.com. I'd like to hook the boys up...

AFSister said...

Sounds like the RoE have reverted back to the Abu Graihb "sacrifice life for image" days. I hope it doesn't cost American lives.

Rest up- you've got a 2-day pass!

Bro Joe said...

F... em Lt G--I have a motto...Nuke em till they glow - shoot em in the dark...Please don't die doing the "right thing".........Bro Joe

Mezzo SF said...

Glad ya'll all made it safely outta that situation...

thank you for sharing, LT G.

Fallen' Angel said...

Oustanding! This is by far the best description I have read of the nightmare and necessity known as the ROE.I ran this past my 1SG significant other, and in addition to his amazement that you obtained permission to post this, he was truly impressed with every call you made. I'm his girlfriend and I don't recieve compliments like that without merit, so I know he doesn't hand them out to LT's all too often either. He too comes from the time when war was treated like...well, war and not a game of weighing the risk of upsetting someone vs. the life of one or more of our soldiers.
He also suggested you go back and re-read this comment by Chuck Z one more time:
"And never, ever fear pulling the trigger. Fear what will happen if you don't.

Thank you for all you do, Sir and for articulating it a way that the average American never hears.

Be Safe
Angel

LT G said...

I appreciate everyones kind words, and understanding as to the complexity of the current environment we fight in. Trust me, I wish it was as simple as giving my guys the order to shoot. Maybe it should be, maybe it shouldn't be...that decision is beyond my paygrade, though. I was simply trying to show the effects of such ROE on the ground level.

Ease up on the lawyers and liberals though ... this has nothing to do with either group, in my opinion. We're all entities of our own experience. Honeslty, I think all of this (feel free to define "this" however you please) is just another result of the disconnect between a military at war and a nation at peace, but more on that later.

Anonymous said...

Strap the IED on the fucker, march him through his neighborhood and into his house, close the door and toss in a flash-bang with the whole community watching. Open the door, let them walk out and tell them either they give up the bomb maker or the next time the door closes they IED goes off.

William Oliver said...

I came to your blog on recommendation from BLACKFIVE, and have one quick note. Many people, such as I, who have somewhat decreased vision, have a difficult time with red letters on a dark background or any letters on a bright red background. If you were to change your background to make it a bit more readable, it would be more accessible to many. As it is, I cannot read more than a few words without having to give up.

Just a suggestion. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

with regards to comment 43:

nice G.I. Joe wet dream, tough guy. Bring yourself back to reality.

Thanks LT, for showing the humanity in something as inhumane as war.

crzypilot said...

Yo LT - great read Bro, excellent use of the "Combat" prose. You da man. Remember we measure our strength by the testament of our weakness...Kept this little ditty in my pocket during my stay in "the Suck":

The Final Inspection

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass,
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek? To My Church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders and said, "No, Lord, I guess I ain't, because those of us who carry guns, Can't always be a saint. I've had to work most Sundays, And at times my talk was tough, And sometimes I've been violent, because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord, it needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
but if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne, where the saints had often trod, as the soldier waited quietly, for the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
you've borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets, you've done your time in Hell."

DG said...

LT G -
It angers me that you and the rest of our soldiers have been put in this type of situation. Let's analyze, shall we? Two people are slinking towards you in the dark of night, their bellies scraping the ground as they inch along.

Hmmmm. Either they're two loser junkies, convinced a load of heroin is on the ground somewhere, but they're too poor to own a flashlight, jonesing so bad that they have to drag their bodies across the ground to find that stash, dammit, OR they're two idiot terrorists, intent on killing some Americans. Gee. I wonder which it is? Either way, they're up to no good.

I have friends who are Vets that have told me the current state of the war is completely insane - that many of our troops are policing first, and using restraint, because they don't want to end up in front of a jury. That's BULLSHIT.

Bully for you, LT G. I don't blame you at all. If I had an ounce of guts I'd be over there deriving the same damn conclusions as you. I think this PC crap is ridiculous. No, I don't think it is grand when people die - I think it is quite awful. But, Jaysus, how are we supposed to win this thing (whatever THAT means) and get you guys home, if we can't even respond to a threat before we get the PC Police Desk Jockeys to approve it??

That? SUCKS. I have faith in you. Stay strong.

Anonymous said...

LT G, You did good. admiyo expressed it well.

doc Russia said...

For future reference, and I am not sure that this has already been said, you did have another option which is easy to see with the retrospectoscope:

Shoot the F%&king box.

If it blows, and kills those two, then the headline is "two terrorists killed while emplacing IED when their device went off"
If it doesn't blow, then no civvie casualties.

BrianFH said...

adimyo and AA are right out to lunch. Leaving active threats to soldiers alive for these reasons is total bull. There was a 50:50 chance that they'd be captured later vs. successfully implanting the next IED. In fact, you have no way of really knowing whether they did before the one got captured, e.g. That is, there may already be dead/injured civilians/IA/Americans because they were not shot.

Erik McDonald said...

Lt G. hey brother, if you ever get a chance or know other officers not busy i was wondering how ocs is,im 23 and i was going to just go basic infantry in a couple weeks as an e3 with 78 college credits, and asvabed a 88 with a 120 something gt, and a 143 mm, i over qualed. for ocs requirments but dont know if i want to put the effort towards the ocs and waste time if i dont make it. if ya ever got time drop a line erik-mcdonald@student.kirkwood.edu, good job on your post brother

reguards
soon to be sfc. E

Tunkamoose ty said...

Lt,
you write well and it sounds like you are a fine leader in very difficult situations.....much harder than I can probably understand.
admiyo makes a good point about your " group decision" being, perhaps, the best one if we all want less IEDs and less hatred.
Just know there are many Americans who thought we should have stayed after Bin Laden instead of going into Iraq, who are 100% behind you and your guys.
Stay safe, God and Nature bless you all.
Ty