Sunday, September 9, 2007

Situational Awareness, Take 2

At the beginning of OPERATION: STOMP A MUDHOLE, my squad drew whatever length of straw your perspective is, and was tasked with ASR security patrols, a distance away from the expected enemy action. Harumph. Loose plan was we would go around, try to stay out of too much trouble, and ambush anybody chased out of the city that was in need of ambushing. As the sun set, and shortly after passing along side of one village, I decided to cut west in an arc, and set up an observation post to see if we couldn't observe anything interesting.

This area just north of the village was essentially many, many good sized hills. Cruising through, I was; 1) attempting to gauge what a good distance from the road and the village would be to kill the engines and send out an observation team 2) call up to higher and report our position and 3) tell my driver that I didn't care to hear about the whore of an ex that was now posting her personal pornos on the net. I was, but I had a little on my plate at the moment.

Perhaps it was the excitement of the story told for the 6th time or so, but my driver was storming around a little bit too fast for my liking, only to find that...

Coming over a smaller hill in a decidedly Dukes of Hazzards fashion (yeehaw), I had just enough time to see the top 8 or 9 inches of a mortar round, lying all comfy like, just as it disappeared under the front right corner of the hummer's hood. I must have been quite fast (and loud) with my choice of words, because my driver slammed on the brakes, stopping the vehicle .....with the right front tire about two inches away from the round. A peek of the round revealed that there were no wires attached, so that was a big plus, however our current position was not ideal for my peace of mind or by then off-the-charts pucker factor.

I suggested to my driver that perhaps we should find some other place to be right then. SOP for this situation was to sweep the area for more unexpended munitions/IEDS after establishing security, and wait for the Explosive Ordinance Disposal team.

This is where it got interesting.

Because of the hills, it was impossible to maintain visual contact with all of my vehicles at the same time, so I instructed the vehicle commanders to set up in a position that allowed them to support their dismounted Marines, kept in visual with at lease one other vehicle, and roughly pointed in the direction of likely avenues of attack. Myself and a few others began a more thorough search of the area. Just as I was about to call an end to the sweep, on of my guys came on the squad radio and informed me of the discovery of a 'fighting position' with lots of ammo. That turned out to be a shallow pit surrounded on all sides by medium sized hills with an impressive amount of used casings, empty crates, and a dead dog.

Probably not a sniper nest

Meanwhile, we got the call from higher. My radio man took a message from the XO that we were to mark the mortar round, note the location, and resume our patrol. He relayed this info to me over the squad radios and suffered my wrath for being the messenger.

Just as I was giving the order to mount up and trying to figure out where in the #&$! my vehicle was, all hell broke loose at what sounded like the next hill over.

AKs and RPKs and RPGs, oh my.

Did you catch the part about me trying to figure out where my vehicle the middle of Iraq...with poor visibility (hills)...and a comprehensive demonstration of the Kalashnikov weapons family that sounded like it was next friggin' door? This is what is generally known as 'that which is Not A Good Thing'.

So anyways, as I am charging up hill after hill, sounding off with the little known but nevertheless popular alternative Marine Corps war-cry of "OHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT!!!!" my vehicle crew piles in to the hummer and starts to takes off, only to discover that something seems to be missing, namely moi. The driver decides to help out and drive to a hill that he saw me head towards I was charging yet another hill. I shit you not, I swear I could hear the Barnum 'n Bailey Ring ling freaken Bros Circus song in my head over the shots.

ME (on squad radio): OHSHITOHSHI - I can see you now, turn south!! Turn SOUTH!!! No, GODDAMNIT, THE OTHER SOUTH!!!

DRIVER: Sorry. Hey, you hear those shots?

ME: *sigh*

After that brilliant display of How Not to Conduct Counter Ambush Operations/Rapid Movement from a Danger Area/or pretty much anything else, Volume 1, Chapter 1, Section 1, we actually managed to unfuckerate ourselves and conduct some pretty decent movement. Two of my vehicles moved as a base, ready to provide suppressing fire, and the other two swept in a flanking movement. When that went to Hell, we made a bee-line for the road and hauled ass...right to the improvised Iraqi National Guard Checkpoint.

Seems like some of the Iraqi soldiers had gotten word of the Marines laying waste to bad guys for them and they decided to celebrate the occasion. One of them brought a bottle of hootch to the checkpoint and they proceeded to get toasty in the chill of the 80 degree night. Never fear, if the hootch didn't warm them up, the trash barrel that they filled with random junk and set afire would get them nice and toasty. After a while, one of the more sober ING guys noticed what sounded like a few vehicles sneaking around in the darkness, and they decided that recon by fire was a good option.

Good thing they were really drunk and regular soldiers with regular (read non-existent) aiming ability.

As we were pulling up, they were running around like their man panties were on fire. I suppose that enough of them realized that they were blazing away in our general vicinity and figgured that a careful inspection of a post very far away would be a good idea, just in cased we were kind of miffed at not being invited to their party. With my broken Arabic, their rough English, and quite a few creative hand gestures, they were able to suggest that possibly they had repelled an enemy attack... or something. My Corporal pointing out the bottle of whiskey and the. ugliest. drunkest. Iraqi. soldier. ever. pretty much ruled that one out, though. We convinced them that we were not going to lay waste to everybody, and it was all good.

I figure it as somewhat of a good night. They got drunk, we got some lessons learned, and everyone went home that night. Could have been worse, I suppose.

1 comment:

Snigglefrits said...

Murphy- How you can take such a serious situation and make it sound like absolute hilarious comedy is beyond me.

I love your stuff. Thank you for sharing (and for keeping me giggling at work)!