During the evening in the boondocks of Iraq in a place called Convoy Support Camp (CSC) Scania the unit Company C of the 258 Field Artillery in their assignment as Military Police was setting up preparing to go on their missions. The majority will be conducting convoy operations escorting civilian convoys to destinations either Baghdad International Airport (BIOP) a major occupation base; Camp Taji a spalling military base on the out skirts of Baghdad or to Camp Anaconda which is a combined military and air force base. The other missions that unit members were assigned too was the quick reactionary force (QRF); this force is a light assault force that is dispatched to any location in the area of operations (AO) to assist any unit or civilian who are under attack until a larger more capable force arrives. The advantage of the QRF is the speed at which they can arrive which can be a factor to minimize casualties. The other mission that members were assigned too was the main support route (MSR) patrol. Those on this mission patrol a stretch of the MSR and police it. Maybe you can say that they are the Police Officers making sure the MSR is safe to travel for all and doing what is necessary to keep it that way. One platoon would be assigned as sentries to bolster the Camp’s security force.
On this particular day the True_George’s dream team was not assigned to any mission they were put on standby just in case there are needed to take someone’s place. The team leader True_George thought it would be a free night since the stand by teams is rarely used. But lady luck had other ideas; for some reason the unit needed an additional team to be assigned to the MSR patrol. Much to the dismay of the True_George the operations Sargent, Master Sargent C decided to assign the team to the MSR patrol for the night.
30 minutes before the unit’s first north bound convoy went out on MSR Tampa the MSR Patrol left Scania to patrol the stretch of MSR assigned to them to ensure that there was no obstructions that will prevent any convoys from going on their destinations. Everything was looking good, until the MSR arrived at a point where a bridge was supposed to be; however 2 days prior the bridge was blown up by the Muhardeen and an Engineer unit put up a temporary bridge. It was one of those metal mobile bridges that they towed in place and extended from one bank to the next. There was some type of commotion at that bridge between some Iraqi civilian motorists. The first convoy was ten minutes from arrival at the point in time the MSR Patrol cleared that crossing point; the Patrol stayed in place until the unit’s last convoy crossed the bridge on their way to their destination. After that the MSR Patrol finished patrolling the rest of their AO and headed back to Scania for a brake.
The MSR Patrol went on the second patrol of the night; this time before heading out the Unit’s Tactical Operations Center (TOC) gave orders to make sure that the Polish Army and the Honduras Army had people in place at their assigned check posts.
Honduras contributed troops to make up the Central American contingent under the command of the Spanish military. The Americans, British, Polish and Spanish had the largest forces in Iraq and contingents of multi nations who contributed troops to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) were placed under their commands. However, in March 2004 Islamic extremists who opposed Spain’s participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom blew up a Madrid Railway commuter train in protest. Instead of the Spanish government standing firm they decided to pull their military out of Iraq instead. While that decision was announced to the world it seemed like the Muhardeen lost all respect for the Spanish because right up to the day they pulled out all their positions were under daily attack; it was so much that their own QRF stopped responding to assist their units and the contingents from the nations under their command or they were too overtaxed leaving it to the Americans to come to the aide of their forces every time. This is something that was not published or announced in the news but believe it from True_George who had first hand intel from members of other units and from the theater of operations daily incident report.
After the Spanish military left, the Polish military assumed command of the multi nation contingents that was under the Spanish military’s command. There were various opinions of the Polish military from the American point of view. Some troops thought they were reckless, didn’t give a shit, crazy, not to be messed with, but they took care of business and were respected. The American high command did not trust that either the Honduras or the Polish would be in their assigned locations so they had the MSR Patrols stop at their assigned check points and report whether they were present or not. Politics was in play over this issue.
So going north the MSR Patrol stopped at the check point that Honduras military was supposed to be. They were nowhere in sight. The findings were reported to the command, and then we moved on further up the MSR until arriving at the site where the Polish was supposed to be. We did not see them either. Then before moving on we sighted the top of a tent pitched up away from the road side, two of us got out of the vehicles to investigate and before reaching the tent three Polish Soldiers came out of their concealed position and intercepted us. We realized that the Polish concealed their presence rather than make it known that they were set up at the side of the road. The tent is where the other members of the squad were relaxing until it was their turn to be on sentry. We continued on and patrolled the rest of our AO; it was quite everything was running smoothly. On our way back going south we stopped at the check point where the Honduras military was supposed to be and looked around they were still nowhere in sight. We called it in again and headed back to Scania for another intermission.
So now it was time to go out again for the next patrol. It was a little before midnight and we decided to make it quick to make it back to get some of that midnight chow before the dining facility closes up at 0130. After all it was a quite night. The platforms were speeding along the MSR when all of a sudden the lead vehicle came to a screeching halt; and suddenly the driver put the vehicles in reverse and was reversing. The squad leader communicated to us on the radio to do the Fort Dix because he sighted that debris was blocking the road. A classic military tactic that the Muhardeen was imploying was to block the road and when a convoy stops the Insurgents would attack; or an improvised explosive device (IED) was planted and when a convoy comes to the point where the road was blocked the IED would be triggered and followed up by small arms fire. The move we called the Fort Dix was a counter measure that the unit was trained on during the pre-deployment training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Whenever we come across a suspected IED or a road block we have to assume an IED is planted; the vehicles have to reverse at 60-100 meters from the point that way if the IED goes off we would not be in the kill zone. Then we would radio the command for instructions.
So now the game was on since the MSR Patrol has come across an ambush set up. Since we were out of the range from the unit we called it in to the eye in the sky, the Warning and Control Unit (AWACS) to relay the message to the unit’s TOC. The AWACS call name was “Handcuff.” Upon our suspicion of a possible ambush set up Handcuff ordered every convoy on MSR Tampa to halt while they investigate a possible ambush set up. Now when Handcuff used the word “investigate,” True_George wondered who they are going to send? Well the answer would come soon enough. In the mean time we took up tactical positions. One vehicle went on the overpass and the squad leader’s vehicle stayed on the north road while my vehicle went on the south road.
It took what seemed to be an hour before we were told that that we were the investigators. You see, the whole area was pitched black; you couldn’t see anything it was so dark, plus the surrounding villages blacked out their lights on orders of the Muhardeen. Handcuff wanted to know more details of the suspected ambush set up. Since True_George was starting to feel some type of anxiety because sitting and waiting wasn’t my thing; I asked the other team members if they want to do this and know rather than to sit and wait. The dream team was on the same music sheet, so I told the squad leader that my team volunteered to check out the suspected ambush site.
Thinking about the way we checked whether an IED was among the obstacles that were blocking the road was kind of reckless. The way we did it was to drive the vehicle through the kill zone; I guess we would have known if an attack was imminent if an IED explosion was triggered or small arms fire was drawn. Then we stopped right at the barrier and I got out the vehicle to do a visual inspection. I told the vehicle that was positioned on the over pass to fire an illumination round from their M203 Grenade Launcher; and when the area is illuminated to fire on any insurgents while I check out the obstacle that is blocking the road. It looked like a whole bunch of debris that it was spread across the width of the MSR covering both the north and south roadway. I had a good mind to clear the debris but there might an IED be implanted within the debris which was a common Muhadeen tactic. I called in what was discovered and we were given the order to stand by.
After a tense 15-20 minutes which felt like an eternity the ordinates disposal unit accompanied by their Polish Special Forces escort arrived on the South Road. At the same moment the unit’s QRF pulled up from the North road. I could feel a big relief when the QRF pulled up given us additional support. Then the Polish Special forces walked up. It was an Officer with 4 troops and they were all tall at least 6 feet 2inches. The Officer in his Polish accent said don’t worry my boys will look on the left and right and take care of anything out there if it is moving. While the Officer said what he was saying he gestured to his troops to go off into the brush and sweep it making sure that the muhardeen wasn’t around. The Ordinates Disposal person inspected the debris and looked around for any bobby traps. Then he declared that the ambush set up was a fake. He explained that the Muhardeen developed that tactic of creating a fake ambush set up to test & observe how the we respond; then they will use that intelligence and stage calculated attacks throughout Iraq. Then he cleared the blocked roadways and Handcuff declared the MSR “green” and the convoy activities carried on.
The MSR Patrol and the QRF headed back down the southern road on the way back to CSC Scania. By the time we arrived dining facility was long closed, but it would open back up shortly for breakfast.
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