16 October 2004 (Post 3)
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.