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.


April 02, 2008

Name: Mike T.
Posting date: 4/2/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: c/o

What will be left of our original team is being moved to a remote location to start all over again. In a time of doubt, anxiety, and frustration the remainder of my team has united to literally stay alive in the harshest of conditions. I know we are neither the first nor the last team to have to deal with such issues, but this is my team and our problems.

A few days ago we were told of the situation and after the initial shock wore off we got together and started breaking off into our respective areas of expertise. We realized the magnitude of our situation and the total lack of support by our higher command. What basically has transpired in the past 72 hours is a situation of contempt, and distrust that those who are in command are making realistic decisions. We face a growing number of problems because of our location and an even greater lack of real operational support.

My team has pledged to see it through all the way, each step watching out for each other physically and mentally. We all come from very different backgrounds for one common cause; survival. No one of us is any less important than another, and true leadership and courage is transpiring at a rate I have never really witnessed before. This is the finest of the Army right here and right now. With our combined experiences both on the Army side and the civilian sector we may just be able to pull this thing off.

We are being moved to a remote location which is in the middle of some pretty bad areas. We are going to be fending for ourselves until people from our main base get into gear and realize what we are seeing at ground level. This is all being quarterbacked by people who have never seen the terrain, or simply drove through it with their heads tucked in their helmets. There are not many of us to pull this off, and in all honesty I am wondering why this plan was put into motion with so many questions unanswered.

I look at these guys with respect and pride; they are truly what America represents. We are stuck in a situation where once again the amateurs are calling the shots, and not really listening to what we, the guys on the ground, are saying about so many issues that have already shown their colors to us. We have tried to plug the holes in the wall, but some things are so far above us that we cannot do it all.

It got to a point today where we were all so frustrated that we started calling our new home "The Last Stand”. We decided which actors would play us if a movie was to be made about us, and I was very lucky. I got Jude Law, so hell, it couldn’t be that bad of a movie! We all know what we have gotten into, and respect that all of us are nervous and even scared about the situation. We all have many things to go home to and we only hope to do it together and in one piece.

In my last post I wrote about leadership and the lack of it in this area. Well, here it is in the flesh. I accept risk with this job, but I have a difficult time accepting stupidity. We are being kicked out the door with a note in our hands simply stating, “Hang on. We will get to you eventually." I guess the management has a very different outlook. What it is I am not at all sure. I asked when someone of significant rank would be joining us, to stay until this thing is completed; needless to say, there will not be anyone joining us. I think that should say something about the meat grinder we are being placed into.

As I said though, our team has formed a united front to combat the issues at hand, and I think that in time we will prevail. Courage comes in many forms; this is truly the purest of forms -- to go out the door into the unknown with little or no support, at someone else’s convenience and to serve their agenda. Right now we are killing time and mentally preparing ourselves for what is to be.

If you are coming to Afghanistan, prepare for this. It seems every day here we shift the focus to new problems without solving the ones we already have right in front of us. For those who have to pick up every day and venture out to fix these problems it seems impossible. For anyone who thinks that since the Marines are coming all will be better, you’re wrong. I have had the pleasure of working with the Marines, and where we are going I am glad they will be with us. But those poor bastards are simply joining the pool party.


I would like to assure Mike T, as if he didn't know,that the sort of incredible "leadership" stupidity he is dealing with (When a team unites) seems to be the standard for those whose butt is not the one likely to be shot off as a result of their half-assed decisions/orders. At least it was for us back in Viet Nam some 40 years ago. It is one of the reasons I rant about this whole fubar mess; I know how it goes. The remf's and too many of the higher-ranked members of the deployed force are, after a short time of stalemate occupation, concerned only with advancing their own career, the credit they may receive for the assignment(hence the embarrassing hustle for little-deserved decorations;etc.) and they have to make the most of the "war we've got." It turned out severely damaging the integrity of the service back then, it is likely doing it again, now. Mike T has the only solution left to him in such an environment of self-seeking and lack of proper support of the grunts doing the work; focus on the integrity and mutual support and effectiveness of your unit. Don't try to sacrifice yourself for the benefit of your unit, thinking maybe you can get atttention and support in favor of your guys by going down. It doesn't work that way, I've tried it. You take it up the rear; nothing changes except the other troops who had you, lose you because you get replaced. Just stick together, try to work with in the inadequate system, and help all your guys get home.
Back then, all the folks back home hated us "baby killers", the only difference now is all the folks who are not getting shot at just "love and support the troops". Except for your comrades and your family, the rest of the feather-merchants really don't give a rat's as long as it's you taking the hits and they can get their latte's. After a while,you come to realize that the idiots are in charge; the guys around you in the ditch are your only real hope. They always were.

Now is when you appreciate your companions, and their integrity. Let us hope you are not alone for long. As for our exalted leaders, they are probably lucky not to be near you at the moment. As you know from the real world, everybody is in it for themselves. Good luck!

Gawd, fukkin, Dammit! It never changes. OK, OK, so REMF's are quarterbacking a last stand with about the same personal risk as a 12-yo with a video game? Am I getting this straight?

The good news is, if you can get resupplied, you will probaly make it. You will now understand the concept of 'fragging'. The pure visceral hatred of the stupid, cowardly, mutha' who put you in this spot. The hatred of a coward, a human bereft of honor, dignity, or feeling, setting a life and death agenda for your very own ass. And the rage that follows. It'll come to ya. It'll make sense soon.

Hope ya make it, guys. Wish I could get back there to help out. But I'm old, fat and outa shape. I can still kick some ass, or intimidate some folks, but that probalby isn't all you need right now.

Prayers for ya all. The 'Stan is important. If you see some asshole dragging a kidney machine, kill him. It's probably bin Lauden.

Deja Vue all over again.

I'm just sayin'

It is heart-breaking and infuriating that Afghanistan, the first & MOST IMPORTANT "front" of the WOT, is still getting shorted every possible way. The stupidity and ignorance of some of those who sit in a five-sided building is stunning.

Mike: Keep your head down. And don't take any unnecessary risks. I'll be praying for you here in CT/USA. Say a prayer for me and you'll know you have a partner in prayer looking out for you! Keep the faith. In these times, KNOW that we do appreciate your service to this country--even in these difficult situations. Love and best wishes.

I wish that your "leaders", pushing buttons and drinking cool stuff in air conditioned comforts (yes, I have seen their terrible conditions in many theaters of war) would read your post. They won't or immediately discount you as not a 'team player', I would be on the ground with you in a minute if you needed old retreads, but the Marines will have to do... everywhere I ever went to get shot at in anger there were always Marines, in first or coming along to help clean up - I was always thankful for help. God bless your best, exploit success and remember most of America is better than those button pushers above... the fray.

I am frustrated as well. I love this country and all that it stands for but i worry about the ones making the decisions as well. God Bless.

Hi Mike T., Please come home safely.

Thank you for your service. You guys all deserve so much more than you are getting. Y'all are in my thoughts.

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