Sunday, December 12, 2010

Route Clearance in Iraq: Operation New Dawn - How to pass the time...

Anyone who has been on a long road trip with a friend knows that you end up filling a lot of that time with all sorts of activities.  One of my personal favorites is reading billboards out load, as loud as I can. "FREE COLD WATER! AUTHENTIC INDIAN TOMAHAWKS! 237 MILES!" I sure do love Wall Drug and their billboards that start half a state away. Route Clearance in Iraq 2010-2011 is kinda similar.  Iraq may have less billboards, but they sure do have more bombs along the road.

In case you are not familiar with Route Clearance; the sole purpose is to make sure that routes that convoys and other friendly forces use are safe from bombs.  You see, the enemy likes to place explosives next to the roads to disrupt the delivery of our precious Xbox 360 games. (My only explanation for this is that they've never played COD and/or they hate our freedom.) In an effort to find these bombs before they do any damage; Combat Engineers drive up and down these roads in search of them.  Unfortunately, more often than not we find them when they blow up on us.  This is a calculated risk we take and it is not because of a lack of trying to locate them. Combat Engineers are trained to take the blast.  It's not a fun fact, but a bomb found and cleared is just as successful as a bomb that detonates on us.  It's not the preferred method but the end result is the same: the route is clear. <--cold hard truth. 

I don't want it to sound like we are driving around plugging our ears with our fingers the whole time.  The truth is that 99% of the time we spend driving up and down roads looking for bombs is boring.  In order to stay alert and aware of anything "suspicious" we inevitably began to play little games that help pass the time and miles; just like on a road trip in the States.  (Except you're also looking for bombs.)

Pirate Hunting:
One of my personal favorites. There are at least four people in my platoon that are "thinking" about starting a pirate hunting business.  They have it all planned out.  Their business plan is simple: Find pirates, Kill pirates.  I think it should be their slogan.

What color Monster is better?:
Blue or green? I'm throwing my vote with green.  I like the taste better but the blue is lower carbs, so I guess if I was worried about carbs more than bombs I would drink blue.

Who would you kill, who would you fuck?:
This game has its origins with our Lieutenant.  The rules are you can name one person you want to kill, (except anyone in the platoon) and one person you'd like to fuck. When a name is mentioned you either get a lot of agreement or someone asking, "What the hell is the matter with you?"

Starting a business:
I have toyed with this one myself.  One of our medics owns a couple businesses and is our resident expert.  The hardest part is convincing my wife that I can write off all the guns I buy because they are business expenses.

When politics are brought up it's either going to be a long fruitful discussion or a short one that leaves a bad taste in your mouth,and a prompt reminder that you need to be looking for bombs.

Best pie:
For my money it's pumpkin.  I know apple is suppose to be synonymous with America, but I tend to find that people will choose blueberry or rhubarb over apple pie.  Without exception someone will always make a crude comment about cream pies which brings us to our next topic...

Oh yes, every guy has stories about girls.  You'd think most would be worthy of Penthouse and most are, but late in a deployment many of them turn into serious accounts that make everyone homesick... but mostly horny.

"Don't listen to Ipod's on mission because you won't be able to hear what's going on!" You'll hear the explosion if you don't feel it first. Music is the quintessential time killer on a road trip.  I've traveled many miles in Iraq just listening to music and looking out my window.  Some Soldiers won't play certain songs because a bomb went off while it was playing once.  I was playing Metallica's The Unforgiven when a bomb went off.  I promptly removed all of the Metallica off of my Ipod.  (I really didn't like Metallica anyways)

There are so many more, but I have to go...
Stay safe! With any luck I'm gonna go find myself a bomb!

- Double Aught

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