Don’t Be A Menace In South Central Zhari While Drinking Your Chai In The Hood

COP Graveyard, Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan:

Greetings, readers of character.

The platoon has just returned from a most successful excursion into enemy territory. It was a 48 hour air assault mission that met the enemy head on and sent them on their way bloodied and bruised. I would compare it to a group of Longhorn fans walking into a bar in Norman, Oklahoma, whipping a passel of Bummer Sooners, then hanging out till last call. The last time we did one of these I mentioned that the air assault is not generally on tap for an armored reconnaissance squadron. No real surprise though. We left our Bradleys back at Fort Riley and have been on foot for most of the deployment. So much for ‘death before dismount’. Anyway, as missions go, this one went pretty smoothly from the perspective of my platoon with a few bumps along the way.

A key element of the mission was that the enemy had little idea exactly what was going on. It seemed as though the body language of our troops that flew in made the Talibs think we were going one way and we went another. What’s funny is that facet of our mission was totally unintentional. In all frankness, our direction and plan seemed pretty obvious. That said, I suppose knowing the plan from lift-off makes for a biased observer. Perhaps had I watched it all from a removed perspective it would have been as confusing as it was to the bad guys. The effect of the mayhem was a delay in counter-attack. By imposing chaos on the Talibs, we allowed ourselves to set in to good fighting positions, and control the fight from there, even if we didn’t mean to.

Once we landed, the clearance began. One of the places we went into had a family still inside, and we had a very positive interaction. This guy didn’t give a damn about the Taliban threat. He said he knew they worked around there but didn’t let the thugs (the terp’s word) bother him. He had a big family and we stayed with them for a little bit. The man was unobtrusive and didn’t beg us for anything. Before we left, we accidently damaged some of his property and he didn’t even ask to get paid. He just kind of shrugged his shoulders and said “bad things sometimes happen.” So pleased and surprised was I at his attitude that cutting him a generous claim actually felt good. This time I knew he wasn’t trying to cheat or extort me.

I spoke to a few other civs while clearing my part of the town. One guy, we will call him Frank, said there were no Taliban in the area. Right. Frank also said that his brother was the Mullah of the mosque across the street. Interesting. The next two guys, Amos and Andy, said there were Talibs here usually, but they left when we started coming in. This made more sense. Amos told me that they usually hang out at the mosque across the street. And how. As we left Amos’ place, we took fire from off to the southeast. Once we were finished getting shot at, I paid Frank another visit. “Frank, you little shit,” I said, “those were your friends huh? Shooting at my friends?” Frank replied, “Oh no, there are no Taliban here.” Seriously? “Ok, Frank. Since there are no Taliban here you won’t mind showing the ANA this mosque where your brother is in charge.” He agreed. I should have known already, but the Talibs had cleared the place out. They escaped this time with their gear. Perhaps next time they would not be so fortunate.

The ANA had a breakthrough on this mission. We used their best soldiers for this operation and trained them on how to use some of our equipment. Without complaint or refusal these top soldiers led the way. They cleared compounds, searched rooms, and interacted with the locals. This is the kind of behavior we need to see more continuously from them. In an ideal world, we could promote these guys and give them awards. Recognize them in public and show their crappier soldiers how a man should act. During one engagement, the ANA actually started the fight. The soldier, known as Little John to us gringos, was on guard with his M249 squad automatic weapon. He kept a keen lookout and identified two Talibs with AK-47s sneaking up on us. Little John cut down one of the Talibs in place, but missed the other. This was a red-letter firefight because normally our engagements start with them shooting at us from cover, and we kill them in response. Little John smoked this guy in place after sitting in the hot sun for hours. He wasn’t high (at the time), thankfully.

The mission butted up with Ramadan on 1 August. Initially there was friction from the ANA command because we were to get back to FOB Pasab only a half hour before Ramadan began. Despite the great inconvenience, they still came and fought well. On that day, I was proud to have these guys with us. Because of their solid performance, I will extend the publish date for last post’s Madlibs until they tick me off again. Some intelligence suggests that during the days we fought on this air assault that Mullah Omar’s brother was wounded in the fighting. I really hope this is the case, though it is a shame we didn’t kill him. It is a fitting start to the Muslim holy month. We, my squadron and the ANA, gave the Taliban a bloody nose to think about while they fast and pray. Props to all involved.

The Talibs are still active, despite the Ramadan fast of food and water and tobacco during the day. They have taken up sport firing RPGs at COP Graveyard with some frequency. Without inviting too much hubris, their percentage from the free throw line is pretty abysmal. At the time this was written, they were 1/18 or 5.5% from the free throw line. Not so hot.

Christmas came early to COP Graveyard. Our stalwart Dakota Troop brought us a RAID camera that would make the paparazzi jealous. I’ll put on my nerd cap for a moment to describe this awesome piece of equipment. This thing is basically the all-seeing eye of Sauron (Reference, Lord of the Rings, 1 each). It sits on top of a massive tower and scans our domain. When a skippy Talib comes out to shoot an RPG, it hones in quickly and delivers distance, direction, and location. The altitude allows us to track the shooter everywhere and talk the Apaches on. It allows us to maintain eyes on the enemy when they try and escape. Once we talk the birds on to the bad guy, the 30mm cannon slung underneath the Apache will make short work of the shooter.

This is a good time to talk about reintegration. Attention Taliban bloggers: you can give yourselves up now and get paid to do so. This is part of the ISAF reintegration program to assimilate poor fighters into society. Those who choose this path and complete certain requirements can get paid, educated, and given a job. It is a wise thing to do for both ISAF and ANSF because in most cases it is cheaper to pay these guys not to fight than it is to kill them, and also reduces risk to our soldiers. It is a wise thing to do for the fighter level Taliban because we eventually will kill them. The turnover rate for the low level fighters is high. We kill a whole lot more of them than we do the leaders, and they constantly have to replace their numbers with green fighters. The green fighters don’t know how to stay alive very well and tend to get tossed into the meat grinder. It’s fine with me, but were I a poor 17 year old recruited by the Taliban only to meet the business end of grenades, bullets, and helicopters, I might give this program some serious consideration.

Staying nine and a half hours ahead, HE heavy, and until next time faithful readers,

1LT Wm Treadway

2/A/4-4 Cavalry

Contractors working outside the COP

A bong, recently used, indicates someone left in a hurry. And left baked.

Chilling inside a compound.

SSG Blacker looking a bit pink.

1LT Flores with a local national child.

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17 Responses to Don’t Be A Menace In South Central Zhari While Drinking Your Chai In The Hood

  1. Ethan says:

    Found your Blog via Michael Yon! I know you hear it all the time, or maybe you don’t, but THANK you and your men for the service of Security you provide to our Nation. It’s sad how many American’s go about their daily lives without giving the slightest thought to what is happening over there. God bless and Stay safe!

  2. Ron Peery, MAJ (Ret) says:

    Anoher referral from M. Yon. Glad he found you.

    I am a Manhattanite. I’m an Afghan veteran (ETT 4.5, 2006-2007 in Farah) Retired now, but wish I weren’t. I’m always hungry for accurate reports from the front. Now that I know you guys are out there, you need anything, let me know. I’ll do the best I can to get it to you. When you get home, the beer’s on me….one round, anyway. You won’t be able to tolerate more.

  3. Will Small says:

    I’m not sure how it was a year or two ago when the Chinook pilots you have now were selecting airframes, but these days they give out very very few Chinook slots and so the only people who get them are those that are higher ranking in the class. It might be a case of risk aversion within that particular community. Many flight school students I know want Chinooks because “Chinook pilots are so chill, that whole community is so relaxed.” That might be your problem. Kiowa pilots are generally regarded by other pilots as “kinda crazy” and don’t seem to care that they’re soda can with a weed whacker engine on top is susceptible to bullets. Blackhawk pilots generally have a good mix of daring and cautious folks in their ranks as it has the biggest community. There are plenty of Hawk pilots that picked Hawks because the lift mission is “a little less intense,” and then there are those of us who wanted to be gun guys but got screwed out of our airframe by bad slot management higher up, and “gun guys” generally have a more gung-ho attitude whether they got their gun/scout ship or not. I’m not bitter that I didnt get my Kiowa (and by not bitter I mean very, very and unremittingly bitter), but I’ll make sure I keep my fellow Hawk pilots in-line and remind them that the only reason we fly is to support you crunchy walking types and that we should be doing everything we can to get you where you want to go. Loved the read by the way, hopefully we cross paths over there sometime when you dont feel like walking.

  4. Will Cushman says:

    I also got wise to you via Michael Yon. There are some good pictures of you on his Online Magazine here http://www.michaelyon-online.com/the-texan-who-would-be-king.htm
    Your writing is top-notch. Please keep posting your interesting and informative experiences. It may be trite but watch out for yourself and your people as much as possible as you do your professional duty. You have people you have never met who care about you.

  5. Old Man Rich says:

    Hey, Lt. Longhorn, from a true Bummer Sooner, you, sir, are so far above the pettiness of sport rivalry, that I won’t even mention it. Instead, please accept my sincere thanks for being one of my heroes, and more of a man than I could ever hope to be. May God be with you, your unit and all the rest of our troops and bring all of you home safely and soon.

  6. Holmwood says:

    Yet another sent to you by Michael Yon. As a Canadian, thank you for your service. A lot of my countrymen have died in Afstan. I thank you, and them, for protecting us, and helping the Afghanis.

    You write viscerally; very well. Your spelling sucks (I’m referring to earlier posts I looked at; this one seems fine). Get an editor and write a book about this if you can stand to. For you can write.

    And, I think, you should write.

    -H

  7. mark in texas says:

    Another Michael Yon referred reader here. I’m a 50 year old sales guy who has never served in the military but I have tons of respect and gratitude for you guys. I often think of and pray for you as I go through my cush days stateside. Be safe and keep kickin their asses over there!

  8. D.J. says:

    Yon got an Instalanche, so that’s how I found you.

    Thank you for what you’re doing: the parts you can write about, the parts you can’t, and the writing you do

  9. Vicki says:

    People find it a little weird that I, single mom of 3, never served in the military, know some of what’s going on in Afghanistan. I relay to them what I read, thanks to you & Michael Yon who I faithfully follow. Its important for us at home to know what you do because we can know what we’re thanking you for. 🙂 God bless you and everyone else there bravely fighting.

  10. soonerjoe says:

    King Texan,
    I just found your blog via Michael Yon. I am very happy to have another source of “boots on the ground” info (even if you are a little hard on my beloved Sooners). As fate would have it, I am currently sitting in a cabin not 60 feet from the South Fork of the Guadalupe just west of Hunt (sometimes you’re the winsheild and sometimes you’re the bug). It’s about 103 here, but the river is cool and so are the beers. Collectively, we will have a round in your honor. I just wish all of you guys could be here to join us. Thank you for all your sacrifice. I will be catching up on past blog entries and keeping an eye out for the latest. Our best to you and your team.

  11. Maxine says:

    my son is with the 4-4 cav. I found you thru his brother who does alot of research. Your writing is great. Thank you for all you are doing. I pray for my son, he is in Troop B, 2nd platoon, and all the soldiers there. I am sure all the stories he has that he will tell when he gets home, will be quit interesting. As I tell him every day stay focused to stay alive. just wish I could see pics of him!

  12. -Ed. says:

    God bless. I’m a former Navy linguist, and have all the respect in the world for you guys over there. Glad I discovered your site recently, you write real good! Prayers and good thoughts are coming your way every day from my corner of Texas.

  13. J.W. in Maryland says:

    King Texan~
    Another Yon reader here. Epic kudos both to the job you do writing AND your service to our country. This post had me laughing myself silly. SUPERB stuff. And, poster Will Small, perhaps you should be blogging too! Gentlemen, stay safe, keep your head down and your powder dry. Godspeed!

  14. Todd in Texas says:

    King Texan,
    Another Yon reader and fellow Longhorn. Thank you for your service and your writing. Excellent work SIR! God bless you and your men!

  15. Single Mom from LA says:

    King Texan,
    When you retire from leading your troops, come home and lead our country…
    I thank God daily I was born an American, but thank servicemen past and present for my small piece of Americana. Your service and sacrifice are referred to frequently in the presence of my seven year old son. With your blog he can follow one our real heroes. Thanks for taking the fight to them…. Constantly in our thoughts, always in our prayers… Blessings to you all!

  16. Kirk Mooneyham, Fort Worth, Texas says:

    Lt., I too found your blog through Michael Yon. I’m a retired USAF E-7 aircraft mechanic and I read all the pages in your blog tonight. Its been a little warm here in Texas, but of course, nothing like that desert heat…though I may not be able to stand with you on St. Crispin’s Day, I promise you that most of the years I spent spinning wrenches on aircraft, I I often though of guys like you out on the “tip of the spear” as they say, and did my best job making sure we put ’em up, whether it was special ops birds, reconnaissance, or tankers…my brother-in-law is Army and he had his share of sand in Iraq and I’m glad he’s just about out of the game, too…I know that nothing any of us say can really make that big a difference when you are where the shit hits the fan, but I appreciate all that you and your troopers are doing for the rest of us. If you ever get up to Fort Worth, I promise to buy you a cold Shiner Bock or two. Keep each other safe and God speed you and your men.

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