Friday, January 11, 2008

Steaming Bowl of Suck, part 1

I've heard from several people that they want to hear from me more often, but I can't really write more, so I am going to steal an idea from CI Roller Dude and break this post up into two parts, maybe three if I get lazy.

I get a lot of civilians who ask me what it is like to be a Soldier, what it takes, how I handle it, and stuff like that. I think most people imagine it is like in the movies, and we are in basic training all the time or we are in a combat zone like in Blackhawk Down. It is nothing like that really. Yeah in garrison, sometimes you really know where you are, but often it is like being in any other business. Same daily routines, boring office work, coffee breaks, lunch and usually off before 5.

But that's not it, being a Soldier, or a Marine I imagine, basically it comes down to one thing - the mental strength to endure any amount of Suck, no matter how bad it is. And that is what we learn when being in the Army is like the movies - Basic, Airborne, the various bad-ass "schools", field work, combat. It is being able to ignore the pleas from your body to stop what you are doing. When it is that bad it is called The Suck. And recently, one of our missions went bad and we got a Big Steaming Bowl of Suck. (Don't worry, before I get into this, everyone made it back safe.)

We had an important mission that had been planned for a while and we were just waiting for the word to go. From the minute we left the base, there were signs we should stay home. First our Iraqi partner force was late. Then it started to rain, and our air coverage couldn't find us. Then when we were half way to the objective, the birds called in that the weather was too bad, and they were sorry, but they were pulling out. "Good luck guys" - yeah thanks for nothing! Oh, and it was fucking cold, so cold it snowed in Baghdad that night, but where we were heading it was cold, cold rain coming down.

As we got closer we sped up, and as we got into town we really had to move fast - you see here in Iraq, many of the local police act as early warning for the bad guys, and once we passed the checkpoint at the outskirts of this town, we knew there was little time before the target would flee. We hit our targets, but he had gotten away. He couldn't be too far, so we started questioning the people in the neighborhood. Soon we got a tip that he was hiding at the Police Station. What happened next is the subject of an investigation, but I thought it was amusing. I can't say more, but what is relevant to this post is it was raining much harder now, and we had been out for a while and were cold and tired, and we were all starting to come down off of the adrenaline high.

But there was still another target in town we had to hit. So wet, cold, and tired we started making our way. Now we have some of the best technology in the world at our disposal, but it ain't like on CSI or 24 - sometimes the shit just don't work. And that is usually right when you need it most. Navigation software is awesome when maps and imagery are accurate, but when they are out of date, you still end up feeling around in the dark, hoping the road ahead isn't blocked, or no longer there. This is what we were doing as we made our way, proceed down the road, keep a good interval. Stop, back up, turn. Drive forward, nope. Shit. Turn the whole convoy around, turn again. It should just be up here. Can't see anything. OK, lead vehicle, let's pull up and see if we can get a better view............

5 comments:

Hope said...

I'm glad all it did was suck. just post when you can, grump sleep and rest are more important than posting...Give my best to all your Spartans...I'm real proud of all of you.

Cap. said...

Hm, just found you through Valley Girl, looking forward to reading more...

Jen said...

I came by way of Valley Girl. I hope you and your fellow soldiers are well and safe.

I'll be back for more reading, definitely. I'm off to read your archives now. . . .

"D" said...

Grumpy,
You'll be surprised at what becomes "normal". I heard gun fire so often, I could tell what type of gun it was and how far away. If I was in bed, I'd just roll over and go back to sleep...unless I heard our .50 cal at work...then I'd get up.
Take a lot of digital imagages so you can look back on the big suck and laugh someday...like I am now.
CI-Roller

Anonymous said...

About the wet,cold - it brought back memories from Nam. During the monsoons, even though the temp was about 60 or so, your body was used to 90's. You were always wet - no place to dry your clothes. You'd wring them out in your hooch and let them air dry but they were never really dry. That went on for weeks - all you'd want was to be dry. We're with you all the way. Take care.
Anonymous' husband