Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And Speaking of Twitchy Short-Timers...

One of my teammates and I were driving to one of the camps to look for prostitutes (wait, that didn't come out the way I meant...), when Ka-WHOOM!!!!!!!, there was a huge explosion 150 meters off to my left, followed by a rising column of black smoke. We looked at each other, said simultaneously, "Oh Crap, ROCKET ATTACK!", and I started to pull over next to a drainage ditch. Another explosion rocked our SUV, but then I noticed there were a handful of people casually standing fairly close to the site of the bursts. After the third concussion knocked the remaining mud from the bumper, the "Big Voice" loudspeaker announced, "Attention! This is the Command Post! There will be a series of controlled detonations in...uh...two minutes ago...Command Post, Out!"
Sheesh...just when I think there will be nothing to write about today, once again the U.S. Armed Forces comes through in the clutch!
(Special thanks to SGT Homer "Command Post Announcer Guy" Simpson...I could have sworn I heard a muffled, "Doh!" after the announcement...)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The G.A.S. gauge is on "E"...

The team is looking toward the finish line, closing cases, and getting ready to hand off responsibility for investigating "Bad Things in Baghdad" to a fresh crew. With our replacements due to arrive in a couple of weeks, everyone, and I do mean everyone, has their G.A.S. gauge pegged on "Empty". We do have a couple of moderately interesting cases going on, but for the most part our focus is elsewhere. There are post-deployment leaves to plan, new duty assignments on the near horizon, and for us reservists, a return to the comfortable and familiar routines we left behind a year ago.
Close as we are to doing the "Beat it outta Baghdad Boogie", loud explosions have some folks looking a bit twitchy...even if it's something as routine as the daily pre-announced controlled detonations or test firing of our 20mm Gatling Gun Guardians, otherwise known as the Phalanx System. Conversely, goofy decisions from various levels of bureaucracy are now met with a resigned shrug and sad shake of the head. When it is time to get on the aircraft and head for home, even the most outspoken among us will likely be as docile as a sheep...albeit an armed and armored sheep. There is life after deployment, and right now, that is what really matters.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quick Update from Bloghdad

Sorry, y'all, for not posting anything for the past two weeks. It has been crazy busy between getting ready to GTFOB, and the flood of new investigations, which don't seem to be letting up one darn bit. While I'd love to share some of the weirder details of a couple of these cases, which are "Quentin Tarantino- Wes Craven Bizarre", I'd end up with my wrinkled old butt in a sling if I did so. Sorry!
I AM taking notes so that I can modify the details sufficiently enough to use this stuff in my eventual novel(s). Some of this stuff is just too strange, and yet perfectly illustrative of my little piece of the war, so it's gotta be there in some form.

One of the major distractors we are dealing with has nothing to do with case work. While preparing to re-deploy and in the case of us reservists, demobilize from Active status, it is clearly evident that despite the "One Team, One Fight" slogan, we are to be treated like second-class citizen-soldiers upon our return stateside. Normally, when our active component counterparts return from a combat deployment, they have 3 half-days of post-deployment processing, and can live at home, drive their own cars, and even consume alcoholic beverages...all while returning every evening to the bosom of their families. Sounds pretty routine, doesn't it? Well, for us reservists, our return is more akin to being released to a half-way house after finishing a prison term. We will be essentially "confined" to the limits of Fort Lewis, prohibited from operating, or even riding as a passenger in a POV (Privately-Owned Vehicle), or commercial taxi/limo/bus. Even though a lot of us reside mere minutes away from base, we will be spending six or seven nights living in a WWII-era open bay wooden barracks, and worst of all, kept apart from our families and friends. Meanwhile, the active duty soldiers we served alongside who are stationed at the base will be spending THEIR nights in their civilian beds, next to THEIR significant others, drinking whatever adult beverage they wish, driving up to Seattle for sushi, or Bremerton for BBQ... (By the way, our active duty brothers and sisters who were pulled from units all over the U.S. to staff all the offices in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan are also going to be jammed into those barracks and confined to base with the same restrictions, albeit for only 3 days...but you can imagine what these Regular Army officers and NCOs think about that!)

The message seems pretty clear: Army Reservists are acceptable enough soldiers to serve a year in a war zone, but back home, where most of us will be returning to very responsible civilian careers, we are regarded in the same league as Basic Trainees, despite a lot of us having 20 or more years of military service under our belts. In my humble opinion, it's a pretty stupid message, which speaks louder than all the "Army Strong, Hooah!" crap posted everywhere we look. I think we've earned better...