Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Lost and Left

Just taking a brief left turn from current topics on my mind to expose a more human side of my recent experiences. I have gone through a lot of angst this year in how I view my participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Depending on the scope, I have differing attitudes towards Iraq, its people, the 'enemy', and our mission.

Today, we did another CLP mission. Expected it to be business as usual but the initial briefing took a different tone. SSG Cunningham briefed that the locals had become increasingly aggressive due to two factors; the massacre of innocents last week by those goddamn idiots in the 3ID, and the ego-driven aggression of the 101st's Band of Brothers wannabes. First, those dumbasses in the 3ID deserve to get their heads handed to them for being so stupid and scared behind the trigger. No excuse for that, none. They pulled hat little stunt in the same area we do our CLPs so now the locals who were calm and passive really have something to hate us for. Second, the Rambos that came down here posing as a well trained high-speed unit have stirred up more hostility from the locals. I posted before that a few had gotten killed within the first 2 weeks of their arrival here at Caldwell. Understandably so, unfortunately, when you start off with guns-a-blazing. Let me explain. No one cares that they are the 101st. Haji doesn't watch Band of Brothers. So when the 278th left, who were relatively respected amongst the locals, the 101st came in with a sneer and an attitude that they'd show those Nation Guards wimps how to do it. Sure did. Here's a story relayed to me from a soldier that knows the SF commander:

"We have been doing sweeps and patrols for some time before the 101st came here and thought they would take over fully. Instead they asked us (Special Forces) to assist them on some sweeps. We agreed and began a night patrol of a local town. Both teams formed the perimeter around the group of houses where we were to search. The 101st guys had us go in instead of them. So the SF team did a sweep of a few houses and found nothing but cooperative people. On the way back to the trucks, someone on the .50 cal started lighting up the home on the end and screaming at the top of his lungs. The SF ran over to stop him and then got out of there. No one saw a threat, the gunner just got spooked."

How professional. Some may have thought that I am overboard wanting to face the fight, but remember that everyone is better off with someone that respects the combat. Fear has no place down here. Besides, how can you lose your balls behind an M2? Disgusting.

Why does this happen? Two main reason; fear and facelessness. Fear is obvious, some kid gets behind a .50 cal and loses all perspective that an unarmored minivan full of people is NOT a VBIED and no match for an up-armored HMMWV. Similarly, firing on a mud home in the middle of the night because you may have seen a goat move is simple cowardice. At best, these residence have AK-47s. If there would have been insurgents found with RPGs then the SF would have been dragging them out.

Facelessness is what vexes me. Over the course of the year, we've engaged in discussions about who the enemy really is and how to size him up. I recently stated the enemy is a ghost. That is not to say the enemy does not exist or is just an illusion, although I do think that the threat has been sadly overstated. The enemy, and dealing with it, is akin to the boogeyman. As a child, you hear stories of this dangerous creature called the boogeyman that somehow pops up in your room when you least expect it to do you indescribable harm. No one has ever seen him and lived, no one can accurately describe him or prevent him. But he is rumored to be there at any time, any place. Same with insurgents. For most of us, we never get to see the enemy face-to-face. Doing so would allow us to measure him up, identify him, make him real....mortal. Some get to engage the enemy directly and root him out. I admire those soldiers that can root out the real enemy instead of making an enemy like the 101st has seemingly done.

So this all effects my CLP team and I because the usually docile locals now are acting more aggressive and 'stupid' when they see us coming. Vehicles blocked our way in traffic, stares from pedestrians were notably hostile. The lead truck TC emptied a magazine and then some in warning shots just on the trip home. "They can't tell us apart from the 3ID or the 101st, and I can't really blame them." said SSG Cunningham in the briefing. I agree. If those pesky Canadians opened fire on my townspeople, I'd be one of the first out there leading the resistance. Enough said.

Today, I was faced with a fleeting quandary. As we were leaving Cobra Gladiator 9 came across the radio with a warning, "Watch out for the child in the road!" I spotted a small boy no more than 4 years old running across in front of our speeding HMMWVs. He stopped on the opposite side of the road and stood there as we went by. I initially thought that he was just another convoy fan, like so many other Iraqi children. But as my truck, the last truck, passed, I noticed that the little boy was crying at the top of his lungs. That's when I noticed that there were no Iraqi adults around....anywhere. Outside Cobra is nothing but flat field for as far as the eye can see; a few mud huts a significant distance up the road. I wanted to stop, in my mind the risk was minimal, but I couldn't stop the convoy. Where would I have taken the boy anyway? I can only say "stop" and "hello" in Arabic anyway. So we drove on past.

Coming next, the conclusion to Children of the Grave.


Blogger rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

this post reeks of what is lacking there and world wide, humanity and common sense.

Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Itchy trigger fingers. Maybe they should try scratching their asses instead. It would make us all feel better.

Blogger Jack Burton said...

I'd like to stop this before it gets started.

I haven't seen combat, nor has about 99.9% of the people who will read this. Having said that, I think everyone should take a huge step back and ask yourself one question - have I ever seen combat in a war zone? If not, leave the criticizing to those that have, like Dorman. While Dorman is right and incidents like these are making enemies, spare everyone the snide remarks. If you're new to Iraq or war in general, I would imagine that a little on edge would be the understatement of all time. How long does it take a soldier to learn to spot IED signs? How long does it take a soldier to remove his finger from the trigger in spite of heart racing fear? I don't know and neither do most of you - only those who've been there do.

Everyone has probably felt fear or anxiety so bad you feel like your head and heart are going to explode, but nearly none have been in a situation where people could die depending on your reaction. I scare you, you jump and we all have a good laugh. Okay, now scare someone with a loaded weapon in their hand. Okay, now scare someone who's been shot at, will be shot at, and has or will see their buddies die - with a loaded weapon in their hand.

You train, train and train some more, but I've got to believe that it all counts for little until you really get in Iraq and things start happening. I can't imagine that every Duece Four soldier got off the plane fully ready to go, and as a matter of fact I know so. If you read Michael Yon's blog, which is excellent, read his post where the LTC is shot multiple times. While he's laying on the ground, two off the plane Duece Four guys stand there and do nothing until more help arrives.

I think posts like this are best for educational value. Let soldiers in a war zone bitch about other soldiers in the same place and just thank Dorman for what he's doing. Otherwise you would be giving a highly uneducated opinion.

Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

Dorman, you had asked about the kind of news we hear about on our end of the globe, and what you describe pretty much sums it up. That's the impression of the 'work' being don in Iraq.

Blogger Dorman said...

Jack makes some excellent points but I would like to clarify somewhat. I never consider myself a spokesperson for anything or anyone but myself. I know what I see and what I think. My writings are intended not to conclusively judge or condemn or praise but to show some fodder for discussion and the process in which I (and many other soldiers) are put through during a year long deployment here.

I hoped to show in this entry that I would rather go face-to-face with a known enemy than to be plagued with the nebulous intangible anxiety that the idea of an "insurgent" enemy brings. I live my life that way - face a fear so it has no power over me. I personally would rather die with honor than live in fear. Not Rambo, just real. For those long time readers of my blog, you should have noticed the evolution in my understanding of this situation and my perspective therein. The units I point out in this entry are just examples and by no means the be-all / end-all. The 101st is fresh and obviously twitchy, but ego is the wrong answer. The 3ID has no excuse, they've been here about as long as our battalion, that was simple idiocy that disgraces me as a soldier. The Deuce Four was just an obvious example of a unit that has the privelege of facing an enemy. Once the enemy is faced, innocents become more obvious.

With all the training we receive, a newbie can justify that little lost boy as an IED trap. We all should have the privelege of engaging the enemy.

Blogger brainhell said...

From the article you linked: "What the artists produce draws attention to them, which seems to enhance their sexual allure."

I once hung out with plenty of creative types. They seemed to know this principle. Most of their 'art' was an attempt to gain status ... and git some. It was just a bunch of typical guys trying to be Alpha males -- but with berets and books instead of beers and footballs.

Thanks for explaining the mess created by the Rambos. These sound like guys with bullets and helmets instead of berets and books.

Blogger Jack Burton said...

Sorry Dorman, I just felt like your post was going to be taken as an open door to throw shit through.

You read that 24 article? Six Silver Stars?

Blogger rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

"Sorry Dorman, I just felt like your post was going to be taken as an open door to throw shit through."

I like this guy. he shoots off his mouth and tells you what he feels. I could use dozens more from both sides of the aisle like him, with a tiny bit of willingness to re-examine stuff that has been filed away as done deal.

Blogger Dorman said...

I truly believe I have the best blog readers/commenters in the blogsphere, intelligent, outspoken, informed.

Blogger brainhell said...

Thangew, Dorman, I am honored! ;-)

Blogger rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

well i am real strong about my goofballs but i gotta tip the hat on that one.

Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

Cut it out - you all sound like you are going to start holding hands and singing kumbaya. Dorman posts a story about innocent lives being taken by the most highly trained army in the world and then the bulk of the talk afterwards is self congratulatory bum slapping. Give me a break. Jack most of the world is rightly focused on the deaths by American bullets in the posts made by Dorman, not that you think American soldiers get to evaluate American soldiers.

Blogger Jack Burton said...

Newsflash APOV,

I really don't give a shit what you think. But thanks for assuming.

As for the rest of the world, well, there's pretty much nothing that we can do to change their opinion either, short of throw down our arms and give away 50% of our GNP for humanitarian causes. Since that's not going to happen, go about your business and don't expend so much energy expressing your hatred, I'll just take it as a given.

Perhaps I can even insert a comment or two from you along with way calling our troops baby killers, our leader a cowboy, people like me ignorant, etc. If the post seems like it might be nuetral or even favorable to the US, I'll shoot you an email and you can review the material before posting.

Blogger rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

you should get some good results from an anger management class.

"I really don't give a shit what you think. But thanks for assuming."

well i give a shit that you don't give a shit that i give a shit about what you don't give a shit about. so there.

Blogger SnotSucker said...

Cut it out - you all sound like you are going to start holding hands and singing kumbaya.

That's just in the movies. We actually have a big square dance and shoot our guns in the air.

Blogger rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

seriously, my mother fires bigger loads than your mother does, and packs more heat overall. she also puts more rounds in the center.

(i figured it was going to denegrate to this, so i thought i'd go there first.)

Blogger Robert Chase said...

That's just in the movies. We actually have a big square dance and shoot our guns in the air.

No, no, no.....that's just in Texas.

Blogger Dorman said...

Why do you all always have to prove me wrong?

Blogger SnotSucker said...

You did say we were outspoken, so we did not prove you wrong...we're just speaking out in response to a ridiculous stereotypical comment.

We are still the best blog readers/commenters in the blogsphere, intelligent, outspoken, informed!!!!!!!

Blogger Dorman said...

what a riot.

counting days now, btw. Looks like I will be in the States before 30 Dec.

Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

SS, it's easy to pat yourselves on the back, that's fine. It all makes us feel better and what not, but really that wasn't what Dorman's post was about.

The "kumbaya bit" was less about my failed attempt at anger management then an example of my sense of humour. You guys can dish out pretty fine, but seem a might sensitive on the receiving end.

Jack you have taken one of the most defensive postures I have read to date. The longer you assume that posture the more it will be clear to you that the world is out to get you and your country. Your position will be your fate if you do not rise up and allow some measure of criticism. It is in interesting mark of all dictors to be entirely incapable of excepting opposition.

It is tough to be a humanitarian, no one doubts that, but it is precisely those sacrifices that have embued such respect for Americans - something now squandered in every innocent person killed. Whether Saddam kills an innocent victom or a subgrade American soldier, how much difference does that make to the family left behind?

To the charges of hatred - Growing up, I had always felt that Americans were people to look up to. Their energy and can do approach to life was always something to try to incorporate in life in the three square inches I live in. What is the value of respect and admiration between nations? Ask yourself how you value Dorman's efforts? How has his posts effeted you? How does Dorman himself benefit from trying to engage the world around himself?

So the screw the world atitude is fine, it is one's possible perogative, no doubt. But it doesn't come without a loss, a loss in opportunity to stand up and be better than that.

It is easy to pull trigers. It is harder to win over youself in others without weapon in hand. Or is it?

Again to the mention of hatred and anger management - I have no hate for you or the American people. To this day I continue to look back upon great Americans and their words in deeds, deeds whose kind find themselves on the field of Gettysburg; covered in dark hours a president finding the moral will to consecrate the dead with his pledge to count among the oppressed equals. There in such courage both oppressors and the oppressed are lifted beyond whatever truth of their state past or current. Instead there someone with courage sought something better for the future rejecting the degradations cast upon one group over another. These are the contexts for which people from outside grow in admiration of the United States. For whatever such things are worth, they are not achieved in entering a war in "error", or the loss of innocents in "error". There is rightly no admiration for "errors". Naturally this is so lest "errors" become the norm and all things valued are brought down with the exceptness of "wrongs".

Perhaps be less quick to congratulate oneself in the apperance of self redemption or cry hatred in the face of opposition. At times there is value in acknowledging the dead be it with an American bullet or an Iraqi bullet. ... "It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it" -Gen.Lee

To be sure there is much that is good and great in America and it's ways - it is well that we ackwnowledge what is wrong less we forget what is right.

Blogger SnotSucker said...

APOV it's nice to see you're more focused than in previous posts and adding a sense of humor. Sorry for the misinterpretation.

I just posted this on your blog today...and is more relevant to Dorman's original post;
I continue to hear banter regarding American forces killing Iraqi civilians. Not once have I heard about the thousands of Saddam's innocent citizens, commrades and religious opposition that he has killed over the last 30+ years. Yes IMO we unjustifiably went to war. Civilian deaths are an unfortunate result of any war. I think we also need to keep in perspective had Saddam not been removed, the killing and torturing of his people would have continued. I do not condone the war, but I feel this situation is a two edged sword so to speak. Innocent people being killed by an occupying force or killed by a ruthless dictator?

Blogger Dorman said...

AFAIK, the torture and mass murders stopped after the Gulf War. And even if they didn't, I disagree with the use of an Army for humanitarian purposes. Refer to my previous post.

We should be here to stop a situation then be removed after the killing and breaking things is done. Humanitarian missions should then be maintained by Green Peace or whomever else cries about our heavy handed approach. We are like using a hammer to paint a vase.

Think China's army trains for humanitarian missions? Iran's? Syria's? North Korea's?

I don't like accidental killing and I don't like wars in error either. Misuse of resources is a peeve on my list also.

Blogger InterstellarLass said...

No, no, no.....that's just in Texas.

Hey...I resemble that remark! Better watch yer back there Mr. Chase, before I come out shootin'. Dag nab Yankees...

Blogger mattandriver said...

Ok, let’s see who brought their sense of humor with them today…………..

Reading down this comment area reminds me of a soap opera. Cool, let’s create one. He’s the details…. Think General Hospital…………..

Rev. Billy Bob; you’re going to play this rev. that tours the hospital daily, helping people. But you have a secrete, you’re in love with a female doctor on the show, but no ones knows who………

‘Less; you’re going to play this doctor’s wife. And you just found out your pregnant…..

Jack Burton; you’re going to play this beautiful nurse. You love you’re job, and you love to party!!!!

Dorman; you’re going to play the Chief Executive Offer of the hospital. You’re totally professional, stiff as a board, and all about work.

Snotsucker; you’re a young doctor, trying to set the world on fire with this revolutionary medical procedure that you have invented.

APOV; you’re going to play Snotsucker’s long lost brother. You were separated at birth, and have only known your brother in life for about a year. Oh, and you’re a mute. You cannot speak.

I’ll just be the director. OK, ready the set, and ACTION!

Blogger Dorman said...

you forgot Bob who plays the part of the democratic activist that everyone avoids at the water cooler and lunch room. He has a 1979 Chevy van filled with pamphlets and a bumper sticker that reads: I believe in a burning Bush.

Blogger Robert Chase said...

Oh, i forgot. Sorry, Lass! :)

Blogger Robert Chase said...

you forgot Bob who plays the part of the democratic activist that everyone avoids at the water cooler and lunch room. He has a 1979 Chevy van filled with pamphlets and a bumper sticker that reads: I believe in a burning Bush.

Shhhh. You'll blow my cover.

Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Hey wait! How come I have to be pregnant! Why can't I just have affairs with all the hospital staff and be fabulously independantly wealthy? You men and your stereotypes! Tryin' to keep us women down by keeping us barefoot and pregnant! Well I won't stand for it. :P

Blogger Dorman said...

not standing is usually the first step to pregnancy.

Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Hey, I'm all about procreation as long as it doesn't lead to pregnancy. :P

Blogger rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

make the female doctor tansgendered and leave the audience questioning whether i know. now you got something.

Blogger mattandriver said...

At least APOV is playing a good part!

Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

Not being able to speak I am sure wouldn't stop me. As for good it would be better to have me done away with, than be party to such "heights" of the soap opera genre. I of course do not own a TV. Have fun though.

Blogger mattandriver said...

Ahh, man! You spoke. That doesn't fit the part. I'm sorry, but you leave me no choice. Your Fired. Please get off the set. Have your locker cleaned out by 5 please. I'M sure you understand...


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