The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

OPERATION: BOREDOM |

February 08, 2007

OPERATION: BOREDOM
Name: Teflon Don
Posting date: 2/8/07
Stationed in: Ramadi, Iraq
Milblog url: acutepolitics.blogspot.com

I'd like to try to describe a bit of what I feel every night, what it's like to roll out of the relative safety of the Forward Operating Base to hunt for bombs and bad guys. Last night was typical for me and my platoon. We were slated to conduct route clearance operations near the center of Ramadi to "prep the route" for the Marines following us to raid several houses. Prepare to be bored. I was.Framed_teflon_patrol_brief_1

Mission Start Time -2 hours:
The night has just fallen. I make my way through the darkness back to the billets from the chow hall. On the way, I nearly trip and fall into a new trench dug across the path to lay new cable towards some unknown destination. Perhaps it's time to dig my hadji-shop combination cigarette lighter/flashlight out. I get back, put on my tan nomex jumpsuit, grab my body armor and M240B machine gun, and head to the truck. I'm the gunner on the lead RG-31 Mine Protected Vehicle in our clearance patrols. We owe the South Africans a great deal for developing that vehicle. It takes IEDs far better than an uparmored 1114 Humvee.

T -0:
We head out of the wire, and roll onto the main road through the city. An hour later the main road is clean, and we continue on with our mission: clearing the next area for the Marines.

Half an hour later, with the route marked, we call in the assault force and slip into a security perimeter to help cover their operation. I hop up into the turret and start scanning for Anti-Iraqi Forces (AIF, or insurgents), who don't like Marines. The very beginning of a security halt such as this one is exciting. Your body expects something to happen, and all your senses twinge at the slightest hint of the enemy. As the night progresses without incident you slowly lose the initial anticipation, until the only thing keeping you in the moment is the mission, and the knowledge that other Soldiers and Marines are out there depending on you.

The moon is just above the horizon, and the omnipresent Iraqi dust colors it blood red. For a moment, I consider that even the heavens seem to disapprove of the conflict here. Overhead, I can hear attack helicopters circling -- the guardian angels that protect us from larger, organized attacks. Framed_teflon_convoy_night_1

My position in the turret is awkward: if I stand full on the platform designed for the gunner, I'm high enough to be vulnerable to snipers. The floor leaves me too low to see. I'm currently standing with one leg on an ammo can, and the other half-cocked on the platform -- I'm just high enough to see without being too exposed.

T +3:
The raid seems to be dragging on. I've seen nothing, heard nothing, and nothing has come over the radio in quite some time. I'm noticing the cramp in my leg from my cumbersome stance in the turret. I want a cigarette, but I can't have it. The glow is just too dangerous. Just as I'm finally beginning to succumb to the monotony, the sky to the southeast explodes. Tracers are bouncing up into the sky, and everything is colored with the amber glow of illumination flares. A distant blast briefly lights up the night sky with a bluish flash. I snatch glances of the spectacle until the last tracers fade into blackness.

T +4:
The raid is still going on. A voice comes on the radio and informs us that the Marines have grabbed a couple bad guys, and are on the trail of a couple more. I grab a Coke, for the instant burst of caffeine and sugar, and allow myself a view of the stars. The moon has set now, leaving behind a panorama of the heavens in detail I rarely see at home. The greenish haze of my night vision reveals an incredible depth to the void. Stars formerly too small to see twinkle green pinpoints of fire, and as I look, a meteor falls through my vision. I tear myself away and back into the present, feeling as if the seconds I spent were too long.

T +4.5:
The raid is over, and we're headed home. The Marines have some bad guys in tow, and one very bad guy -- someone who managed to attract enough attention to land him on the high-value target list. My head aches from the monocular night vision, my back aches from the body armor, and I'm tired. Even though this was a short mission for us, at five hours or so, I'm worn out. We cruise back in through the gate, and I grab my gear and hit the sack, because tomorrow I'm going to do it again.

Comments

what a day...

Please keep your guard up, and nourish you body so you will take the stress. Please stay sharp and do good. All of us want you to. We need you to. XXOO

What a remarkable description of the sky through night-vision goggles! It was a nice touch not mentioning them until you got to the little green stars. That changed the whole tenor of the piece. Good writing.

Wish we had that day back - and the bordom it held.

Thanks for sharing this information. Well Done!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c5f3053ef00d834e2ea4753ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference OPERATION: BOREDOM :

« Previous Article | Main | Next Article »




Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog

LINKS


About

My Photo

FEATURED BOOK