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Author Topic: March 20th, 2009: "Eighteen Years Ago and LRRPs"  (Read 3566 times)
Citi
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« on: March 20, 2009, 01:00:15 PM »

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Just a little over eighteen years ago my unit; the 197th Infantry Brigade, Separate, Mechanized (attached to the 24th Infantry Division, 18th Airborne Corp), was perched on the Iraqi border. We had endured months of dysentery, possible terrorist attacks, soaring temperatures, ornery wildlife, bad food, planes flying overhead (fighters and bombers oh my), explosives going off in the distance, chemical alarms (set off by the explosions in the distance and a little breeze in the right direction), some seriously questionable decisions on the part of our leaders, lots of guard duty and tons and tons of volleyball.

The ground war was about to begin.

We were posted on the border for several days before actually crossing over to engage the enemy and I'll have some interesting stories about my time there in future blogs. But tonight I want to talk about LRRP's. LRRP's stands for Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols. During the war, I was so envious of these guys. Every night after dark, just when we were getting ready to hit the sack or go on guard duty or whatever; they were receiving their Op-Orders. Grid coordinates, target packages, environmental, enemy and civilian profiles, possible intelligence, areas of operation, call signs, terrain features, heck even satellite photos for all I know.

Then, once the briefing was over they were inspected, their equipment was checked, they received a green light from command and off they went into the night.

They had these cool ATV's they would ride on. Hopping and skipping through the desert night with night vision goggles on. Everything they did looked so cool, I wanted to be one of them. It seemed like such an adventure.

One of the main reasons I plan on renting an ATV down here in San Felipe and tearing up the desert for awhile is because ever since I saw the LRRP's in action I've always wanted to do that; to be that guy.

Then, come sunrise they would come buzzing back into our perimeter; no doubt full of information about troop movements, terrain features, ambush points and all other kinds of useful intelligence. These men were the eyes on the ground for an Army. They snuck in, made sure the enemy didn't see them, recorded all the info they could to help us guide our way in the coming invasion and then came back with that info.

I have no doubt that by risking their lives, they saved many many others.

I don't think the Wikipedia page I linked above is very accurate and I'm ok with that. I think the less info the world has on specialized soldiers like our LRRP's is probably the better. From the experience that I had with them, the article would need a good deal of editing.

We have left the present and have joined a much younger Artur Siedleski in the past. Of course, as much as I disagreed with many of the officers I served under none of them were so unprofessional as to send troops into enemy territory for a barbecue. I've been ordered and seen orders that were just as dangerous and just as stupid given by officers but the difference between a "training accident" and "killed by enemy fire due to negligence" is a contrast most officers understand just fine because the former looks bad on their record but the latter will see them in prison.  So call that artistic license.

In the last two comics we introduced you to Najeh. Now begins the story of how Artur and Najeh met. Of course this storyline is fictionalized but much of it will be drawn from my own personal experience in the Gulf during the war (for example we did often try and find towns near our perimeters that would sell us chicken and rice or barring that raw chickens so we could have our own barbecue). So it's true-ish. While much of the story will be fictionalized and exaggerated my goal here is give you a sense of not only how I felt as a soldier on the ground during the war but also, in later storylines, how my feelings have changed and matured over the years as my understanding of what it was we were doing there grew; and in light of history and the current conflict.

I've got a lot of regrets, some things I'm ashamed of, some things I'm proud of and some thing that, even after all these years I'm still not sure how to feel about.

I hope you have a great weekend. I'll see you back here on Monday for more Remedy.
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