We attacked a village and a sheik's residence today, or rather a very realistic mock-up of each, staffed by role players. It was a Charlie Foxtrot from the first minute. We also had the pleasure of a torrential downpour which began last night, and has continued without pause, even as I write this.
We have had the dubious honor of training at times with a Support Brigade, which is very top-heavy with field-grade officers (Majors and above), and for the most part non-combat arms soldiers. In a word, they are prime examples of REMFs, an acronym developed during the
Vietnam War, which stands for Rear Echelon...er, Management Facilitators. So I wasn't paying close enough attention as we were all clustered around waiting for assignments, and got snagged to be a Humvee turret gunner for the initial mission. That by itself wasn't so bad, but the clincher came when I discovered that my Humvee's crew consisted of a senior NCO driver, and three of the aforementioned field grade REMFs. Now the first mission was for the ground troops to search a friendly village for an insurgent leader, with the outer perimeter security provided by the Humvees. We were given our sectors of fire; half the Humvees were to cover the village with their machine guns, and the other half (including my vehicle) were to train our guns on the treeline surrounding the village, in case the bad guys ambushed us. (This apparently happens on a regular basis, according to our combat vets.) Okay, so while the rest of our crew is comfortably seated in the nice dry and heated passenger compartment, yours truly is standing in the deluge, and rapidly becoming soaked despite my gore-tex jacket. We moved out toward the village, and took up our assigned position. I rotated my turret to cover the treeline, and kept a sharp eye out for insurgents. Down below, the REMFs kept calling out "helpful" hints, such as, "Sergeant, don't you think you should be rotating the turret more frequently?" When the ground units entered the village, my helpers directed me to watch the village for bad guys, and cover them with my gun. Mind you, none of them have bothered to exit our Humvee to do the required 5 and 25 meter security check. I patiently explained to these guys that my job was to cover my assigned sector without being distracted...and that they might recall this bit of trivia from our training yesterday. My comment seemed to make no impression on them, so I reverted to the time-honored tactic of sergeants since Alexander the Great: I just ignored them, did my job, and un-assed the Humvee as quickly as possible when we returned to base. Guess it worked, because during the next mission, the REMFs shut up. They didn't get out of the vehicle, but at least they left me alone.
We trudged around in the mud and calf-deep puddles doing other stuff until 1130, then piled on the buses and went back to the barracks. I was so wet, I was able to pour out six ounces of water from each of my gore-tex combat boots. Two more training days, and hopefully there'll be a minimum of REMFitude to contend with.