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.

IN MY ARMY |

January 31, 2008

IN MY ARMY
Name: LT G
Posting date: 1/31/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Reno, NV
Milblog url: kaboomwarjournal.blogspot.com

The gripe: A military tradition as time-honored as dehumanizing the enemy, as expected as giving your rifle a feminine name and persona, and as innate in the soldier’s soul as feeling abandoned by the kinsmen they fight for. After all, you don’t worry about the soldiers who bitch, you worry about the ones who aren’t bitching. Such comprehension doesn’t change the fact that bullshit always rolls downhill -- or that at the platoon level, said bullshit rolls in like a crashing avalanche, steadily progressing in size and strength, arriving with a reeking stench of mundane regulations and asinine humorlessness.

With that analogy in mind, I bring to light a sampling of the current gripes of the Gravediggers. Stoicism certainly has its time and its place, and that is usually out of the wire. In the wire, though, venting catapults itself into even the hardiest of hearts in this man’s Army. Let’s just say that if LT G were Lord Protectorate G of the Desert Cavalry of Pure Raw Awesomeness, things would be a little different. Gathered over the course of assorted grievance councils, usually held in the post-mission unwinding that occurs on the combat outpost’s front stoop over some cigarettes and profanity-laced jokes, this is how things should be –- and would be -- in my Army...

-- I’d be able to be a scout platoon leader for the next 20 years.

-- The electronic leash commonly referred to as a radio would only work once every hour, for only one minute, and CPT Whiteback and Headquarters would be cool with such.

-- SSG Bulldog’s poker games with some of the other NCOs would end just before I burst through their door with the latest Frago, instead of having just begun.

-- Not everything that ever occurred in the entire country of Iraq would be an immediate emergency. Mesopotamia has been at war with itself for at least two millennia. Seriously, what’s the big deal if I need another 20 minutes to finish dispatching my vehicles? What’s the freakin’ rush?

-- The meat-eaters would outnumber the leaf-eaters 16:1, instead of the way it is, which has leaf-eaters outnumbering the meat-eaters 16:1. (Think dinosaurs and evolution if you’re failing to grasp the awe-inspiring depth of this analogy. Then relate to the military branches, and you’ll be golden.)

-- Garrison regulations would’ve stayed back in Hawaii; combat regulations would only exist here. As a result, I wouldn’t have to live in a world of cafeteria combat, where a manatee pushing a lottery ball with its nose randomly chooses when and where soldiers should’ve employed kinetic force, and when and where they shouldn’t have (i.e. abusing all that is hindsight and retrospective from behind a desk, where the only thing to fear is carpal tunnel syndrome and great joy occurs in crushing the occasional cheeky junior officer who thinks he knows everything).

-- (Some) staff officers would have a little comprehension of history, and realize that “winning over hearts and minds” is more than just a poor choice of words when discussing the local population’s temperament towards American military forces in their country. I sarcastically suggested they watch Platoon during one of their meetings instead of arguing about the color scheme and numbers on a PowerPoint slide. No word yet as to whether my proposal gained any support.

-- CPT Whiteback’s computer conference calls with Squadron wouldn’t be the most unintentionally hilarious thing this side of SPC Doc’s propensity for rummaging through trash. I like to laugh, but listening to one of those things caused me to laugh for all the wrong reasons.

-- The punkass pogue warrant officer who barked at my soldiers at the chow hall on the FOB for not having haircuts, needing showers, and wearing their Army-issued fleeces over their uniforms after we rolled back after fifteen straight days of patrolling would still be eating mud, three days later after it happened. If I hadn’t stayed back with SFC Big Country to check on the maintenance of our vehicles, such would’ve occurred. Seriously, when I find out who you are, Fuckstick, I will systematically destroy everything you hold dear, and do so rockin’ my fleece and eating a bowl of mint ice cream while my Joes giggle hysterically as they watch in the distance.

-- (Some) Field grade officers would have more serious things to worry about during a war than the size of PV2 Van Wilder’s moustache, or LT G’s wear of the Army-issued fleece cap during the day while off-duty. (Hey, I’m a skinny guy. I get cold easily.) Like, oh I don’t know, ensuring that the Iraqi Police have an equal balance of Sunnis and Shi’as on their force to avoid allegations of corruption. That might a good place to start.

-- Other units would stick to their own showers, and not take our hot water when we finally do get back to the FOB. However, if this changed, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure to witness SFC Big Country turn off the hot water heater while four Grunts showered in our stalls, so perhaps this was worth it. Check that. The high-pitched shrills that resulted definitely were worth the sacrifice.

-- I wouldn’t see the same brain-dead “source” walk into the combat outpost every day, feeding us the same crap over and over again, just so he can get some snack food and a warm place to stay for a few hours. Actually, I can sympathize with the source, living in a third world country clearly sucks. My ire lies with our intel geeks who continually fall for his ploys, and end up convincing higher to send us out pursuing wild, unsubstantiated rumors, instead of building up rapport with the locals in our AO like we’re supposed to.

-- I could sleep for more than two hours in a row without waking up in a panicked frenzy, checking to ensure that the batteries to my radio haven’t died.

-- The dog and pony shows that inevitably occur whenever anyone with any rank whatsoever swings by (always during the day, and never too early in the morning, by the way) wouldn’t be painful, nor uncomfortable, nor throw a monkey wrench the size of an orangutan into current operations. (And yes, the simile zoo of animal analogies in this gripe is intentional, and being abused to illustrate the cattle-car nature of the military bureaucracy.)

-- Twelve hours of a bureaucratic trail of tears and papercuts would not be what sends a detainee to jail; finding a freakin’ Soviet-era sniper rifle in his backyard in a water pipe would be enough.

-- Instead of a Stryker, I’d be able to drive around Anu al-Verona in an up-armored version of Rufus, my 1974 baby blue Volkswagen Bus, defiantly blaring the hippie proclamations of Bob Marley and giving the Hawaiian shaka’ to the local populace. Talk about legit.

-- I would never go to bed weary and sore and drained, absolutely convinced that the details of me and my men’s lives were nothing more than a PowerPoint slide being passed up the chain-of-command on memory drives. Not even our own presentation. Just one little slide. This happens at least once a week.

Whew. I feel better. See? Venting can be therapeutic. We all have our outlets. Rock stars have heroin, soccer moms have Oprah, even my golden retriever back home barks at ducks to relieve stress. All I need is a warm cup of coffee, a computer to vomit my raving brain into, and fifteen minutes of freedom. I’m good now, thanks for making it this far. I appreciate it, and certainly hope you aren’t one of the individuals I railed against above. That would be...awkward.

Just so you know, I’m still going to castrate that warrant officer when we return to the FOB.

Comments

You have hot water in your showers? My experience is that only support outfits get hot water. Seriously, loved your post, agreed with almost all of it and wish you would stay in the service, but am betting you won't make that big a sacrifice after the war is over, the power point pencil pushers will continue to look for fancy fungus with their rooting snouts. What did the Mantees ever do to you?

Good post. Appreciate what you're trying to do. Some things, I guess, WILL never change. And, yeah, sometimes there's nothing better than a reeally good bitching whine.

Keep on, we need ya.

. . . funny how important decent showers are.

LT, i heard some of these gripes before, and it really pisses me off that nothing ever gets done about it. if its cold the fucking field officers need to realize that you need to wear your cold gear, and that its just as cold off duty as it is on duty, and maybe they should change some regulations for the the situation. i hate to see that you guys have to put up with all this little bullshit when you already have enough to deal with. thanks for all of the things you do for us over there.
p.s. i'm sure you could find a nice up-armor and turret kit for your VW. you never know when it could come in handy state side.

Man, I wish we would have had an LT like you. Not like the other power tripping ego maniacs the Army creates from OCS, ROTC, and West Point. Best advice I can offer is to try and be a Bull-Sh!% buffer between Battalion and your men. That's what makes a good manager. The buffer zone.

Man, I wish we would have had an LT like you. Not like the other power tripping ego maniacs the Army creates from OCS, ROTC, and West Point. Best advice I can offer is to try and be a Bull-Sh!% buffer between Battalion and your men. That's what makes a good manager. The buffer zone.

Woo-hoo!! An officer that actually "gets" what's important, wish we had more like you LT G. I can recall a very cold formation in Fallujah where our company was chastised for having our gators on our heads to keep warm. We were informed that was a clear violation of uniform policy as the tag on the gator states it is a "gator, neck" not a "gator, head". That has to be one of the dumbest things I've ever seen an Article 15 handed out for.

I feel sorry for the warrant when you find him. I often wondered how much of a bump running over a fobbit with an M915 would make. Nice to know that their are still officers around who will stand up for their men to those who remain inside the wire. I can't believe all the reports of garrison BS occurring in theatre that I hear of. Do those people even realize where they are?

Good luck with your mission, and thanx for venting, I always appreciate hearing what those who are deployed are going through!

AWWW yes -- takes me back to the Quarter Cav in 1968 -- seven REMFS every shooter

Your letter reminds me of the books by Bill Mauldin about WWII. Things haven't changed as much as you might think.

Keep up the Fire LT, That shit ain't changed since Roman times.

!S

10 Thumbs up!

lmao

thanks for letting us know how it is. i doubt there's a chance that some of those piss-ants might actually read what you have to say and start to take it into consideration.

Stay true and keep on writing. It's amazing what powers of observation can do for you (and your men!)

First of all, as an Infantry animal forced to work as an Operations SGT for a Brigade, I so feel your pain. If you think you hated Field Grade Pogues (FGP), try getting those worthless POS's (some of them) to pony up the information required to get your orders out to you (I worked future operations) I'm the only elisted guy in our former AO who had an order written by the area commander that I could NOT leave the FOB (I kept taking daily patrol for NCOIC's to give us both a break).
The one thing I want to remind you is that if you stay in and marginally keep your head down, you too will be a MAJ. Remember how much you hated the BS and remember that now it's you who has the power to FU some poor bastard's life on the meat-eating side of the table (ROTFLMAO on that one LT - you need to stay in if only for the amusement and appreciation of us NCO's)
Stay sane, stay healthy, and I would suggest a sack over the head and socks filled with oranges for that guttless POS WO. Remember, He pobably knows some whiny FG Leaf eaters. Think of it as a PSYOP exercise. :)

Lt G,

Whether you stay in or get out, the memories you fall back on will probably revolve around taking care of your troops. Sounds like that's your personality and I doubt it'll change.

Work on diplomacy but be blunt when needed. Give people the respect they've earned but make them think you're giving them the respect they THINK they've earned.

In other words, screw 'em guerrilla style. The REMF/Fobbits will always be the enemy.

Oh, and be careful about the 'awkwardness' of people reading your writings. An irate O-6 shut my blog down for the duration of my mob. I did squeak out of a court martial, though.

You write better than I do so I'm not worried 'bout that.

Take care. Keep your head UP so you can see where you're going!

hey- good writing... rock the VW for sure...

i loved this line you wrote the best- its a great image/metaphor or whatever you call it-

"my men’s lives were nothing more than a PowerPoint slide being passed up the chain-of-command on memory drives"

When you find that WO, how 'bout taking a pic or two for us as you 'converse'?

Thanks for what you do. Don't let the camel spiders getcha.

Keep 5 yards....

I so agrew with you on all of the bitches there. As a Senior Chief in the Navy, I view the rear echelon much the same way. We have the same problem as the Army in that regards. Power Point slides and such are never ending and demanded from higher. I too would have gone off on the WO. No reason for his BS. I too know all too well, the double standard over there when it comes to outside the wire and inside. Unreal. Keep charging, stay safe, and most importantly.....watch over your soldiers!

LT G - you sound like my son, who is now a CPT G. I'm pointing him in the direction of the Sandbox. You two have a lot in common. Short list: experience, perspective, razor sharp wit, and the ability and willingness to get your point across. Thanks for fighting the good fight for yourself, your men, and all that is right & worthy.

Great! That's a unique post! I really like it because I haven't landed yet on a blog that discusses what's good about our health.

While I agree with you on some of it (micromanagement, garrison regs in theater,etc.) most of it shows your immaturity and lack of professionalism by posting it where civilians can read your gripes, some of which have merit. about what I would expect from a LT though. All Class All the Time

/r/
CW3Red

Don't know what is wrong what is rite but i know that every one has there own point of view and same goes to this one

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