News from Baghdad

A small spot to describe to a certain extent what it is like for the soldiers here in Iraq. I must remain anonymous as there may be some who would view this as an "official" posting, however, it is not. Just some personal views on the politics and public views in this war that has been to oftentimes tainted by the sensationalism of the media.

Name:
Location: Home, United States

I enjoy my job to the fullest, regardless of the political climate at any particular time. My family and my soldiers are the central focal point of my existence as well as my religious viewpoints.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

16 October 2004 (Post 3)

A quick touch on the headlines for today. As I sit and write this, explosions rock the area and we are unsure if it is outgoing or incoming. We have gotten used to it and we usually don't think twice about it.

I had a reader inform me of something I already knew about. Ramadan. I know that this month is supposed to be a month of charity, fasting and cleanliness, however, I see no charity in all of this. Five churches bombed this morning, one of them near us. Where is the charity in this? Car bomb kills troops in Iraq. Nope, not there either. Explosions rock central Baghdad. Still searching. Bombing, killing and violence seem to be the order of the day.

Also I wished to touch on the item regarding the soldiers who refused their mission because of their equipment. This is an extremely isolated incident, however black the mark on the military it may leave. The United States military is some of the best equipped and supplied forces in the world and there is absolutely no excuse for cowardace or using this excuse because of fear. Our platoon consists of at least 18 well equipped soldiers, 2 heavily armored HMMWVs, (I hate mine because I cannot see or hear) and 2 lighter armored HMMWVs. I prefer to ride in the lighter ones for they are faster, more mobile and I can see and hear anything that may be coming. The excuse given by at least one of the soldiers that refused the mission, is that some of their vehicles were deadlined (not mission capable). Well, genius, whose fault is that?? The operator, that is who. No, we do not take a deadlined vehicle out, unless it is a deadline that will not risk the lives of our soldiers, unless absolutely necessary and then it has to be signed off by the commander. If one of my vehicles is deadlined, we do not rest until it is fully mission capable, and there are always parts on hand to fix any problem. If that vehicle was deadlined, well, then the operators were at fault for not informing their commanders. Also, a deadline, by regulation, has to be identified in the technical manual, not the operator. In other words, if the operator doesn't "feel" his vehicle is safe, but the technical manual does not state in black and white that the vehicle is deadlined...then it is NOT deadlined. I see where there is no culpable argument by this unit to refuse a mission. No discipline, cowardice and mutiny were to blame here. Yesterday the article stated that this unit had no "armed escort". Well excuse me SOLDIER! Do YOU have a rifle? Do YOU have a machine gun mounted on your trucks? Well that is all any one else has so therefore YOU are your OWN armed escort.

I am severely disenchanted with this incident as I said before it is an isolated incident, however, it will tarnish the names of those soldiers who go out every day and walk a highway in helmet and body armor to visually identify IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), so that these "supply convoys" can come through unharmed. The soldiers that risk IEDs, RPGs, gunfire, and car bombs EVERY SINGLE DAY, do not complain because the "mission is too dangerous". Some of my soldiers have complained to me that they hate the Kevlar body armor because they cannot move properly and could not throw a grenade if they had to. We have proven this fact with attempting to throw rocks. However difficult, it is possible, so I told them to be quiet about it. I have complained about my truck and not being able to see above me (roofs being the most dangerous contact points) however, I have no choice in the type of vehicle I ride in, so if I want to see or hear something I GET OUT AND WALK. My soldiers have put more miles on their boots than we have on the trucks and we have proven, statistically, that we are safer, dismounted than mounted as a dismounted element can act more swiftly than a mounted one and the insurgents know this and don't even attempt to mess with them. IEDs on the highway have dropped extensively, almost to none at all, during our tenure here because we walk. Is it dangerous? Of course it is. However, all of us have accepted the fact that we are SOLDIERS and in the performance of our duties, being a soldier is the most dangerous occupation in the world. We accept that fact because we signed the papers. We know what we do and we know what could happen.

Forgive me for my tirade, but cowardice in the face of the enemy, mutiny and discord kind of touch a nerve with me. God forbid that all soldiers decide that "this mission is too dangerous so therefore I refuse to go out". Humph. Prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Leavenworth needs more rock breakers.

33 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay,

I agree with you! There's no question that if the heros in Iwo Jima refused to obey orders in the heat of battle what would have happened. The battle would have been pushed closer to our parents and grandparents and more patriots would have to be sacrificed to win. The beheadings and bombings of churchs and hospitals has shown us the character of those we are fighting. They are desparate and know that they have few options left so they choose these.

Thanks for all that you do and the *vast* majority of the military are doing. I can say that my family appreciates it and we pray that this black mark is seen for the abberation and extreme minority that it is.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Trinity Tim said...

Jay,

Well said. I can't tell you how many hours my crew and I spent in the pouring rain, in the middle of the jungle trying to repair our M-48 tank just so we could complete our mission. It wasn't much fun but it came with the job and we did it.

It sounds like you have a pretty good take on things. Your a credit to your unit and your country.

Keep safe my friend.

Tim

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow,you sure can write! The three posts are awesome.While I agree with your concept of following orders, I am concerned that what this platoon did comes at a time when our media and politicians tells us that our troops in Iraq do not have sufficient and/or proper equipment to follow out orders in a way that does not place them is harms way do to equipment failure.
In terms of the significance of this so called holy month of ramidan....I can't find holiness or purpose to bloodshed in the name of any god.
I wish you and your soldiers protection during this most difficult time.May God's hand be on each soldiers shoulder so as to guide them from harm.
Will

11:08 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Media and politicians telling the American public that soldiers are not properly equipped? Well, let me put it this way, the only problems that we have are with chow. I hate eating in the mess hall. Sometimes would rather have MREs. The Army equips us from head to toe, to include 55 dollar plus pairs of eye protection. Vehicles have been uparmored to include heavy trucks and HMMWVs. Take it from a soldier here. We are equipped just fine. Compared to just a few years ago when men were fighting in nothing but their uniforms and a helmet...the military has come a long way. Grandpa had a shirt. He didn't complain.

11:26 PM  
Blogger OSAPian said...

Jay,

Another awesome post. You are right about the combat refusal or whatever a mutiny is being called these days. I think that when all is said and done (if we ever get the real story) the incident can be attributed to very poor leadership by the officers and senior NCOs in the unit. Having written that, let's not forget that some unknown NCO rallied other, more sturdy soldiers in the unit to complete the mission. I suspect that NCO will remain forgotten while the media attempts to make heros out of the mutineers.

4:31 AM  
Blogger andy said...

Thanks for your input on the mutiny matter. I have been wondering about is as I read a while ago about Hummers not having to be "up-armoured" and even soldiers using thier own money to buy extra body armor etc. Is there any truth to this? I agree that these "mutineers" should be presecutes as if this type off action was ever to spread to other units the harn to the US Army's morale would be incalculable on par with the the low morale and derision that rightly ( but more probably wrongly) followed soldiers home from Vietnam.
I salute you sr on your reportage and eloquence in this blog.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Dennis Collins said...

You hang in there! You are absolutetly correct in what you are saying. My son is with the Marines near Ramadi and he and all the others will do their duty, just like you will. You are all soldiers and that means a lot. What it doesn't mean is questioning orders. Pleas stay safe and keep up your blog. I just discovered it a couple days ago. May God lay his protective hand over you. Stay safe. Dennis Collins, Austin, TX

9:33 PM  
Blogger D said...

Hooray for you Jay! You hit the nail on the head. Those guys should fill the spare cells at Leavenworth.
Two of my sons are Marines. One just finished his first tour over there with 2nd MP Bn providing convoy security. He's ticked over those soldiers refusing to follow through on mission. My other son is still there with an infantry unit. Our guys need their supplies.
It's good to know this was an isolated incident.
God bless you! Be safe.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN!

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you "touched" on this. I am a proud wife of a National Guardsman....he would never refuse a mission. Remember "if you refuse to go your peers do it, if you are on time you are probably late". I have heard stories about several people will not leave "inside the wire", although the same people are on patrol daily. This is going to sound rough, but this is what I have to say. Do not ask my husband to pick up something for you while he is out on a mission, because you don't want to leave the wire.....if something happens to my husband while he is picking up a movie or some crazy ass shit...I will find you.

6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi - My name is Mary and I am glad you are still blogging. I really enjoy reading what you write and it helps me remember to keep you in my prayers. It is really something to read your opinions as I don't think we get to see how the soldiers really think and feel in the main stream media reports.

Stay safe and please keep writing!

7:29 AM  
Blogger Peter V said...

Jay

I enjoy reading your posts. Your comments / opinions provide additional input to the agenda driven news of the MSM (main stream media).

When I read about your humanitarian acts of kindness to Iraqi families I am overcome with emotion, humility, and pride. Those acts of kindness and humanity are another weapon in the war on terror. I also believe every solider in the coalition posses this weapon. The selflessness of each and every solider fighting to bring peace, freedom and liberty to the citizens of Iraq carries this weapon as part of their basic humanity.

You and every soldier and sailor in Iraq and are heroes by virtue of your service to your country your bring democracy to a country that has known only dictatorship.

Stay safe; we pray for your safety and the safety of all soldiers serving their countries.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay,
Again, thank you so much for writing your letters and letting us know what is really happening over there. I feel like Soviet citizens must have felt during the reign of communism - their media told only lies, based on their political agendas.

In your letter you apologized for the "tirade" - that was no "tirade" - it was the truth, and if the truth hurts, so be it. We know those scared soldiers do not represent the majority of our fighting men overseas. Hang tough, have a good leave, and thank you again for what you do. May God bless you and your family, and keep all of you safe from harm.
Karen

11:20 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I agree with Karen, this must be what the soviets felt like when all they received was disinformation.

Jay, thank you so much first and foremost for your service (and that goes for all our fighting men and women, of course.) And thank you for your blog, I LOVE hearing the truth directly from those who are actually in Iraq without the talking heads' spin.

I'm sure you already know this, but it bears repeating: We here at home are forever endebted to you guys and we keep you in our prayers. You are doing amazing work for our country and our beliefs in freedom. We at home are able to wake up and go about our daily lives ONLY because of the commitment you guys have made. The men and women in our military are heroes in every sense of the word. May God continue to bless you, and stay safe!

Chris Spradlin
Houston, TX

11:34 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Break out your stones and take aim, because i am about to completely disagree. My husband served in Iraq as well and although he follows orders to the "T" there are lots of great men and women over there who believe thier vehicles are not nearly protected enough. Remember the good ole days when putting armor on your humvee was "distruction of gov't property"?? this isnt vietnam era either this was afganistan AND iraq 2002-3. My husband is in the reserves and already spent 6 months in Balad, Iraq and because of stop loss he is going again this time for a year. The first time he left we were given a 3 PAGE LIST of items to purchase for his deployment INCLUDING A BULLET PROOF VEST, KEVLAR PLATES and tons of other stuff. The only thing provided to him was his desert cammies, cover, boots and a gun.
I believe NO SOLDIER wants to disobey ANY order handed down. If they felt so strongly that they banded together and said "No" there must have been a damn good reason. I do agree that this is an isolated incident, my husb. has served a total of 10 yrs active marines and currently reservist air force and neither he nor i have ever heard of anyone doing anything like those soldiers did especially given the consiquences of such actions. i also have a blog http://soldierslifeafteriraq.blogspot.com
which i started because thousands of reservists are coming home from this war only to fight another as soon as they return. Corportate america has found a way to get around title 38 and therefore strip returing soldiers of thier supposidly protected jobs when they get home. All visitors and comments welcome. ok you can pitch the stones now.

3:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad to see your not going the poor me route.
MORE soliders should be like you.
stay safe, come home safe!

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jay


My name is Miles my mom is writing this for my, I am six and do not know how to spell very well. I want to be a G.I joe when I grow up. That is what I am going to be for halloween.You are great. Thank you for keeping me safe. I love you. Love Miles

7:05 AM  
Blogger betsy said...

I agree and a heartfelt "ditto" to what everyone has said here. My son is in Iraq as well and I thank you all for your service. The one thing that bothered me most about the soldiers not following this order was .. the fact that they called home to mommy .. what is that? The media here are making us out to be the bad guys in this war, Jay, so your input is extreeemely important. God bless and be safe.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there,my name is Amanda..and I just wanted to say you're a great soldier. Thank you so much for letting all of us over here in the US and everywhere else know whats going on.
I know someone over there..someone who was very close to me..And I never got such a clear picture of what is going on over there as to what you paint when you write. Thank You.
Im praying for you and everyone over there with you as well. Stay safe and know how proud we all are of you guys over there!
~Amanda
http://www.geocities.com/amandaa_ok/SupportTheTroops.html

8:30 AM  
Blogger Kevin F said...

Man thanks for your service in Iraq and stay safe!

When I was in the Marines there were shirts going around that summed up life in the military - "Think sneakers - Just Do It".

My first take on these soldiers refusing to follow orders were that they should be shot for cowardice in the face of the enemy.

I would agree with the statement that someone else made is that this situation is indicative of a problem in that units commande structure.

Semper Fi.

11:30 PM  
Blogger State of Confusion (Steve #2) said...

First of all, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. I know you hear it alot but your service is truly appreciated. The story hasnt picked up traction lately. It apears that the other soldiers didnt want to deliver "contaminated" fuel for helicopters and risk other soldiers lives. Do you know if this is true or just another story? I havent been able to confirm this.

I was talking to a scientist from TACOM Warren the other day and he had the same comment you did about the armor on the HMMWVs and they are addressing the issue. Keep your head down.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am unable to give my name as it won't accept it. My name is Jeremiah and I only wish i could be there with you, by being 65 they think I am too old. I believe you are under staffed and I admire your support for the cause we are fighting for.

1:47 AM  
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