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.

GETTING CHILLY |

December 28, 2012

Name:  1SG James L. Gibson
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Forest Grove, Oregon
Milblog: Afghanistan Deployment 2012-2013
Email: James.l.gibson@afghan.swa.army.mil

 

Somewhere a True Believer is training to kill you. He is training with minimal food or water, in austere conditions, training day and night. The only thing clean on him is his weapon. He doesn’t worry about what workout to do -– his ruck weighs what it weighs, his runs end when the enemy stops chasing him. This True Believer is not concerned about ‘how hard it is;’ he knows either he wins or dies. He doesn’t go home at 17:00, he is home. He knows only The Cause.

Still want to quit?
                                                             -- Unknown United States Special Forces Soldier

 

Framed James Gibson GETTING CHILLYOutside the wire has been very quiet, and it has to do with the weather. The Taliban don’t like to fight much in the cold. And I can’t blame them, neither do I -- and I have cold weather gear. It’s hitting low 40’s during the day but turning into a blistering 20-something at night. The heaters in our living areas are put to the test and are just enough to keep them livable. The afternoons are beautiful blue skies, and if it wasn’t for the stark wind, the days would be perfect for working on outside projects.

It’s no secret that we are pulling out of this country within a couple years. My last couple deployments we were in the thick of things, and when you needed any supplies all you did was ask. We got pretty much anything we asked for, and in large quantities. If you received too much of one item, it went into the storage containers. Oftentimes we got supplies we didn’t ask for, and again, those items went into storage containers. Now that we are pulling out of this country, one of our secondary tasks is to organize, account for, and prepare all this excess equipment for eventual return to the US. Holy crap…

Today we shot down to the Ammunition Holding Area to fix all the containers full of Ammo. I can’t blame the outgoing unit for the mess they left us. Hell, I did the same thing when I left Ramadi. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go! Most of today was spent stacking rounds, getting accurate counts, and filling out paperwork. Not my idea of a fun day, but it did get me out of my office and out in the elements.

I had to conduct my first “Cross Troop” ass-ripping last night. My old scouts would relate it to my good friend 1SG Almario back in Ramadi. That guy would constantly come over from his building and nuke my guys. Sometimes it was warranted, but most of the time he would do it for kicks. Last night I got a little heated. Our whole squadron lives in one area and everyone works on different schedules. I get that Soldiers need to let off steam and like to mess with each other, but it was almost midnight and one tent full of Soldiers from another troop was out of control. Someone from another tent yelled at them to shut up, but it didn’t work. In fact, I could hear one of them say “Fuck them, they don’t leave the wire."

I lost it. I threw on my boots and went to the tent and opened the door. Semi-PSTD flashback, spit flying as I yelled, walking down the hall...

Me to everyone: Yup, it sucks, your tent is right next to mine. What makes you think you are more important than anyone else here in the Squadron?

Me to a Sergeant that happened to pop his head out of his room: You go outside the wire?

Sergeant: …

ME: I ASKED, DO YOU GO OUTSIDE THE WIRE?

Sergeant: ... Yes, First Sergeant.

ME: Does that make you special or more important than the guys that don’t?

Sergeant: … Well 1SG, we go on missions, they don’t.

ME: So that makes you elite?

Sergeant: …

ME: How many times have you been blown up since we have been here?

Sergeant: …

ME: How many firefights you been in, stud?

Sergeant: … None.

ME: How many enemy have you killed?

Sergeant: … None.

ME: So what the F@#! DO YOU DO when you go on these missions?

Sergeant: ... Escort people.

ME: What’s the longest mission you have pulled? 24, 36, 72 hours?

Sergeant: … Six hours.

ME: SIX HOURS? Every Day?

Sergeant: … No.

ME: Want to trade places with the TOC guys? You know, since you have had it so rough out in sector, you may need a change, don’t want you to get too stresed out. You know what? Each one of them would give their left nut to be where you are right now. So how about you show some consideration to others and keep it down? And how about you try and stop this attitude problem you and your guys have thinking you are better than everyone else?

Sergeant: …

ME: I asked a question, Sergeant. Requires an answer.

Sergeant: Yes, First Sergeant.

ME: That’s what I thought. Now keep it down.

And as I walked out of their tent, I now knew what had gone through 1SG Gear’s head back in Ramadi. My platoon there was the same way. Didn’t go out in sector? F you! The difference was that more often than not, we were going to be in some sort of contact when we left the gate. I was able to keep most of it squashed because I knew the feeling of not going into sector all the time. During my first deployment to Iraq I was a TOC guy and only left the FOB a few times. I would get hammered by one of the company commanders and reminded quite often that I didn’t know what it was like outside the wire. If he only knew how much I wanted to be with them. I would have given my left nut to be a Tank Commander during that deployment, but the cards had been dealt, I was the Battalion Master Gunner and worked in staff. So during the deployment to Ramadi I did all I could to keep the bravado at a minimum.

They were quiet the rest of the night. Happens again, I may have to take them out back and PT the hell out of them to knock out some of that energy. They will have their opportunity to fight. The winter doesn’t last forever and the Taliban are again going to want to play.


Comments

Might help if your guys would actually take the fight to the Taliban instead of sitting there next to your space-heaters.

Looks like the end result of 10 years of US involvement in Afghanistan is that the Taliban will decimate Afghanistan within months after our troops pull out, cutting the heads off all US collaborators. Egypt must be making them rethink their entire sociopolitical strategy.

Good rant, Top.

Sounds like a little settling down was called for and provided. Good job.Can't be pulling them out and measuring them every day :) Crude but true.

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