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.


November 17, 2008

Name: Vampire 06
Posting date: 11/17/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Folsom, CA
Milblog: Afghanistan Shrugged

Our first patrol here in Bermel was quite exciting, a short jaunt down to the Paki border to check on the outposts there. These outposts routinely exchange fire with Pakistani Military (Pak Mil), so who knows what could go on. A little insight as to why the two countries shoot at each other might be valuable here: One of the Pak Mil outposts is actually 500m inside of Afghanistan, thus the Afghans aren't happy. Now it's pretty clear from the map that they, the Afghans, are correct. So this is the setting we're rolling into.

As we prep to depart the FOB an interesting piece of info passes our way. Someone outside the FOB can see us, and knows we're prepping to move with the ANA. Additionally, he's reporting to his martyr-hopeful buddy where to emplace an IED in order to to hit us. This doesn't make us happy, in point of fact it's a tad bit of a bummer. We quickly huddle and decide that we should change the route. Seems like a prudent decision!

We start to move. We're still getting reports that they're trying to get ahead of us and emplace an IED on the route. We're trying to get recon in front of us and get some close air support (CAS) to screen us. The tension level is building now. Imagine you drank 10 espressos one morning prior to leaving for work and then drove in rush hour traffic. This might approximate the feelings we're having right now. 

CAS finally appears on station and we start trying to talk them onto our position, which, due to the fact that we're convoying, is changing constantly. Plus everything in Afghanistan looks the same -- i.e. "I'm by the brown mud building" just doesn't work. It's like saying, "I'm next to the Starbucks" in Seattle.

The CAS is a flight of two F-15Es. Oh, and meanwhile back at the ranch we're now about 800m from the reported position of the IED. Tension is much higher now, at about the 20 espresso level.

The pilot, a female (this is significant in that Afghan culture doesn't value women the least little bit, so if they knew a woman was about to bring the smackdown on them it might offend their sensitive cultural morays), calls tally on our position. This means she can see us. We're now about 300m from the IED. I'm trying to get her and her wingman down to conduct a show of force mission. Show of force is the jets flying very low, very fast and very loud to announce to the Taliban that we will pound them into oblivion if they do something. We're now 200m from the IED.

At about 150m the driver turns to me and says, "Dude, where's the F-15?"  Which now makes me laugh at a totally inappropriate time. Because this is funny!  Ashton Kutcher couldn't have done any better. We could be blown up soon, but this is really funny. I reply, "Dude, it's inbound 30 seconds out with good tally,"  Meaning they are 30 seconds away and can see us. Now it's even funnier. 

BOOM!  It's not the IED: The F-15 screams overhead. If this is designed to confuse us, it does, and we all check to see if anyone is now BBQd. The pilot calls overhead, a little late, and we drive on to the order. Anticlimactic, yes, disappointing, NO! 

A day in the life of an ETT; scared to death, laughing like crazy and relieved, all in the same moment.


You described the sensation of rolling down the road expecting to get hit at any time by an IED very well. Hard to explain that level of tension. I just remember the headaches. Not sure if it was a result of the jammers, the heat or just the constant tension of wondering if you are going to die or lose a limb at any moment.

Thanks for the picture, and glad the boom was from our side.

Awesome! Thanks for posting this. Helps us civies understand better want you all are going through. And God bless our women fighter pilots.

I absolutely fail to see the utility of an F-15 in this situation. Also, fail to see what good a "show of force" would be to an already-planted IED. Seems like what is needed is a helicopter escort (probably 2 each), already acting on the info of the IED being planted, to get the bad guys.

What's the issue? Not enough Army Air?

LarryB, the already planted IED has to be triggered by a hiding insurgent, unless it is of the type that is motion-detection or pressure plate triggered. Additionally, some planes are fitted with electronic systems that can prematurely detonate wireless IED's before they blow up on friendly forces.

in nam, we modified one of the psalms to:
yea tho i walk thru the valley of death. i will fear no evil. i'm the meanest mother-fucker in the valley.
we didn't get support till we hit the "s".be careful out there. i've got 2 that have done 2 deployments each. an army doc and navy engineer. both been deep in the shit.

"As we prep to depart the FOB an interesting piece of info passes our way. Someone outside the FOB can see us, and knows we're prepping to move with the ANA. Additionally, he's reporting to his martyr-hopeful buddy where to emplace an IED in order to to hit us."

Hey Vampire 06, you are clueless and you could get someone killed. Internet blogs like yours provide the enemy with a wealth of info that they use to exploit our weaknesses.

I know exactly what you do, where you sleep and where you crap because I lived on FOB Bermel for almost all of 2007.
While I was there I was the asst team leader/team leader for the team that gave you that information and by publishing it in the way that you did you are compromising their mission.

At the very least your above quote is classified as secret.

Live up to your commission LT/CPT, whatever you are. More than just your feelings are being exposed here.

Good post. We need more info as to exactly what those goddam Pakis are doing. These border-shooting incidents are not being reported all that much in the mainstream press.

We need more actual video to show the American people exactly what the Pakis are up to.

Seems to me Paki concerns about US border crossings are so much nonsense. And if they are shooting at us, we should shoot back.

I'd like to repond to Klye's post which demonstrates a Coalition Force mentality. All good things flow from the coalition! The info we recieved didn't come by the means to which you allude, I won't say where we got it but not from any Coalition Asset. The belief that we only get intel/info from CF assets is what has hamstrung ETTs and causes the ANA to become dependent upon those sources instead of developing their own intel networks in preperation for the day that the US isn't here. High Tech methods of intelligence gathering don't help the ANA nor an ETT in the furthering of our mission: To create a force that can operate on it's own and sustain itself. The ANA are advancing rapidly and with that comes their own means of intel gathering and analysis. The ANA and terps have been here a lot longer than all of us and they know the players better and who to talk to; that is what is being fostered here an outside the box mentality to get the job done. Kyle, I appreciate your service, but all things are not as they appear at first glance.

Great Picture. I wish we would get more facts and less fiction on the news. Thanks for all you do.

Are you running for office? You completely sidestepped my point.

“Kyle, I appreciate your service, but all things are not as they appear at first glance.” Golly gee shucks, thanks for the edumacation.

You need a lesson in issue spotting. I only gave you my credentials to qualify my point and show that I’m not just some random ex-joe commenting on your blog.
I don’t care who gave you the information. Fine, if you got it from an ANA intel asset, then I’ll go as far as to downgrade it to FOUO. Why is it on the web? If you put actionable intel out for the world to see then there is a chance, albeit a small one, that the enemy will see it and will be able to trace it. How about when they raid enemy safe houses and find computers logged on to soldier’s blogs?

The point is that your careless attitude degrades SOMEONE’s mission. Someone who is trying to help the US or at least our allies, the ANA. Will a soldier die because of your carelessness? Probably not. But then again, someone might, and you will probably never know. You have given the enemy an opening. You pointed them in the right direction. You said, “hey if you or anyone you know was in this area at this approximate time and had this information, that information made it to the US/ANA.”

And what is the tradeoff? What did you get in return? Just leave the intel off, that’s all I’m asking. You can still blog about how scared you were or how bullets were whizzing over your head and it was just like Normandy and you thought you’d never see your wife and kids again. All these old turds will log on and thank you for your service and you can feel that swelling in your chest that motivates every soldier that isn’t just doing it for the college money.

Vampire 6,
you should have changed some of the details on your blog. They're too revealing. Kyle is right the enemy is always watching, and of course reading. They run most of the internet cafes there and they have access to this website.

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