Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Troops in Contact

I finally got some sleep.

If you can call four uninterrupted hours a good night’s sleep. My Red platoon was scheduled for an early morning series of raids with my IA counterpart company. (I have a company of Iraqi Army soldiers that we work with to get them to the point where they conduct operations to find terrorists and other bad guys on their own. They are my counterpart company and their soldiers are trained by my soldiers. They are brave, loyal, and (mostly) trusted. They look up to my soldiers and eagerly seek our approval. I take great pride in My IA Company, they are the most effective IA Company in all of Iraq (personal opinion) and they are true believers in the new, democratic Iraq. They don’t care what tribe you are from or who you know, if you are a terrorist, they will hunt you down and kill you. They don’t run, and they risk their lives daily by coming to work. Many have been attacked in their homes just for being in the IA. Their job puts their entire family at risk. And they come to work every day. You have to respect that.)

I decided to let red handle this one on their own (I like to run around sector with my platoons when we have smaller missions, it gets me off the FOB, and I get to evaluate the IA company’s tactical progress.) Red is completely capable of doing this mission on their own, and they were really just there to support the IA. The IA were going after a cell that was in the IED making business. Red was there to “show the flag” as the IA is a little more aggressive when we’re around. A simple early morning daylight raid; what could be easier? They’d be home in time for breakfast.

Nothing is ever easy here. We always have “complications.” Only about 1 in 20 Iraqi civilians (even the terrorists) will fight back when captured. Even then only when cornered. Once you are in the house, they pretty much realize that the jig is up, and they are caught. That’s why we were taken by surprise when one of the shitheads came out from upstairs and shot an IA soldier in the head (he’s currently alive, just missing some grey stuff from his head. (Army medicine is SO much better than they show on M*A*S*H*.) And it was a top-of-forehead to back of neck shot with an AK. Weird.

Well, that sets the wheels in motion. Red calls up troops in contact, My CP wakes me up (ever get that late night phone call that takes you half a minute to figure out what’s going on? I was dressed and out the door in about 2 minutes. Top was already getting our two crews spun up, and my Quick Reaction Force platoon was at the gate. (The platoons trade off QRF weekly, they are on a 15-minute “strip alert.” 15 Minutes from notification, they are rolling out the gate, ready to go do violence.) I launched the QRF, (and guess what, if QRF rolls out to support one of my platoons, you know who is coming with them) and got a further SITREP from Red. Red told me that the guy who shot from upstairs ran downstairs and fired into the house, where 2 of my soldiers were with the IA. One IA wounded, one US wounded, one civilian killed. I called the battalion surgeon and asked if he wanted to roll with me. (The platoons always roll with their own medic, and the QRF always brings along a FLA (a HMMWV platform based ambulance). I didn’t know the extent of the injuries, but with one of my boys down, I wasn’t going to get there and wish I had brought a doctor.

Now, we NEVER roll with less than 4 trucks. Ever. Except when I say so. Even though that decision is above my pay grade. Blue was out, Red was out, I was fresh out of platoons, and 1SG and I were a two-truck patrol, heading out into the great big outdoors at breakneck speeds. You gotta take some risks as a leader. You gotta take more risks than your men, especially when your men are at risk. WWJWD ? Precisely.

The wounds to the soldiers (IA and US) were minor; except for massive head wound Harry. Red already had him enroute to the local hospital. The civilian KIA was a little boy, about 10 years old. He ran out the front door while his Uncle was busy spraying AK in the door. The little boy died in one of my sergeants’ lap while he was returning fire. His uncle had shot him right in the heart in his attempt to kill IA soldiers.

I hate this place.

Uncle Shithead was wounded in the leg and ran off into the palm groves. We gave chase with the IA for over a mile, but he had a good head start on us because Red was securing the house and sorting out casualties before we arrived to carry on the fight.

We followed the blood trail for over a mile, but we lost him in a swamp. I hope he dies out there, far away from his family, and he goes to wherever Allah sends people who murder their family.

Of the 20 people we detained in the raid, 10 tested positive for explosive residue. (Ever watch CSI? We have a test spray kit that will determine if you’ve had contact with explosive residue) We also found IED making materials in the house. Looks like we may have rounded up the better part of an IED Cell and probably save a lot of lives in the process.

But that won’t matter to a little boy any more.

I really miss my son.



Anonymous said...

God keep you sane throughout this. Thank you from a regular American citizen who values what you and all the soldiers there must deal with in your job. I never let a day go by where I don't thank God that you are out there with your ass on the line so that I can sit here and worry about which bill that I'm paying next.

I'd like to think I'm tough, but I'd rate myself just slightly higher than Frankie Munoz hardcoreness against you guys.

The American soldier is one tough mofo. Thanks for keeping us up to date.

phil said...

Hi Charles,

You know, these terrorists are really weird. Not just evil or stupid, but also just plain weird. I mean, why the fuck shoot up your own nephew to make a point ?

It's one thing to blow up a bunch of innocent people in the street or the market place or wherever, but your own nephew in your own home ?

I'm telling you, these guys are seriously fucked up.

I think one of the best things anyone can do in this sort of situation is to start taking children into care. You go into a house, find a stockpile and immediately arrest all the adults in the house. After that you grab all the kids and take them into care.

Those assholes don't deserve to keep their children if they're not gonna give enough of a shit whether they live or die.

Phil, London.