OK, I am officially NEVER going to write NSTR or "same ole' shit" again! The day after I posted Update:NSTR, all hell broke loose here. A very important someone was assassinated by an EFP here, and within a few hours everyone in the city with a gun was firing it into the air. The base defense guys were freaked out and more than a few bullets fell on the ground near people inside the base.
Timing being what it is for me, we were nearby when it happened and were one of the first American units to respond. The MPs showed up to collect evidence and talk to witnesses, but our main job was to keep our Partner Force from killing the nearby Iraqi Police. For those who haven't followed the drama here, the IPs, as they are known, are suspected of being heavily infiltrated by militia members, and so since the EFP was emplaced within sight of an IP checkpoint our Jundees almost went to war with their own Police Force. Luckily we settled that down, but soon information was flowing in like crazy, and we were rolling out on targets we had never heard of before. Either way, four nights in a row we hit target after target. Every night the same mix of excitement and fear - all your aches and pains are gone until you wind down at the end of the mission. Every night we rolled with our Partner Forces. Like the cavalry we came. We came fast and furious on them, unprepared for our speed and violence, they we were ours. How the Iraqis knew so much about who to hit so fast is a mystery to me, but every night the detainees from last night gave up a new set of targets.
Imagine you are in a dark and cramped Humvee, planted in your seat by the weight of your gear. You have the accelerator pinned to the floor, almost standing on it really, using the steering wheel to pull yourself forward to be sure you get every last horse out of that engine. With lights out, you scream into a village, soon dust envelopes you and all you can see are the two red tail lights of the Iraqi truck in front. You can taste the dust, feel it, it works into your pores. "Where the fuck is he going?", "Is this the house", "Fuck, fuck, drive, drive", "Shit, get out of here." "Move, move, get those fucking Iraqis moving!!" Then an explosion. You feel the concussion wave more than you hear it. And the smell and taste of it makes you gasp for fresh air. Pandemonium. Well, to the untrained eye maybe. Everyone is steel faced and everyone is focused. Doing their job. Trusting that the other guy will do his. Soon it is over, and how ever critical we may be of ourselves, we have bested the enemy and no one is even hurt. You RTB (Return to Base) and the sun is coming up. You are tired, but really that is not the word for it. Dead tired? No, not sure how to put it, but it takes a while to "Amp-down" and sleep. But sleep you do, sleep like the dead. Then up and at it again another day.
And so it was. Now we are "back to normal" as it were. But, now at least, we are past the "early in the deployment work as hard as you can" mode and into the "main deployment, make sure you get rest so you are ready for anything at any time" mode.
As for our media visit, you'll have to buy the book to find out about that, but much to my shagrin a lot of footage was shot for a special to air in the Spring. Not to be defeated, I remembered the advice of an old Platoon Sergeant of mine (no, not pee every chance you get, you never know) - when it comes to the media, be cordial, but drop the F-bomb as much as possible and they will edit you out!