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Old 02-26-2005, 19:26   #6
Basenshukai
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
Posts: 906
"FID" Series (Part 5)

AUSTERE


We were immediately recognized upon entering the firebase as there were several PN soldiers, standing smartly by a long rectangular building. SFC Montana was the first to approach them. “Hey, captain, how are you?” Montana greeted enthusiastically. They exchanged a salute and then handshakes. Motioning towards us Montana added, “These are the guys I told you about.” I stepped forward and introduced myself and each of my men. The rest of the PN soldiers, NCOs apparently, stepped back and allowed their officer to handle the meeting. I was told where we were going to stay and were asked specific questions about the scope of our mission here. I kept answers to a necessary minimum but fulfilled the immediate need for information, which, no doubt, needed to climb up this PN officer’s chain of command. The PN captain was obviously fit and had the appearance of a habitual long distance runner. His posture was ramrod-straight and his manner was thoughtful and professional. My instinct perceived him as a politician, I’m not quite sure why. Nevertheless, I understood that the fact that I met him first meant that he was to be our primary point of contact in all matters. We were informed that his superior, the PN Lieutenant Colonel that Ruben had dealt with during the PDSS, was in the capital on official leave and would not return for two weeks. Also, we were given a quick tour of the site and shown our area – a dilapidated wooden building and a similarly kept open-air classroom. All in all it was not bad. SF can make due with nearly anything and construct a palace with it. After all was said and done, we set out to make ourselves a team house in anticipation of the arrival of the rest of the detachment.

Our first days in the Partner Nation (PN) Special Forces school base were filled with the work of building a non-existent team house. We were originally given lodging in an old, unused open-air structure made of haphazard construction. The wooden floor was mostly rotten and we accidentally put our boots through it several times. Just outside the wooden hut was a large goat named “Carlos”. A donkey, which was used to cart away the trash picked-up daily, wandered free throughout the school grounds grazing on any grass it could find. His handler also fed him at regular intervals. Several cats also resided inside the hut structure. Originally, the PN soldiers had a rodent problem, which they logically solved by bringing in several cats. The cats multiplied too fast for the school cadre, so they gave the nod for the neighboring naval infantry company – they shared the river’s side of the compound – to allow dogs as pets in order to counter the cat problem. In short order, they too multiplied and the firebase was replete with dogs. I wondered what predatory animal they would introduce next to counter the dogs. Perhaps resurgence in the rodent population would scare the dogs. Who knows? We secured our most tactically sensitive items in the firebase armory / supply depot. I was a bit uneasy with the arrangement, as I preferred to control these items. However, the armory / supply depot was the most secured facility in the firebase and was also relatively close to our own location. As we were storing our gear, we thought better of it and grabbed all our communications gear and kept it with us. If the firebase were attacked I wanted to defend these items, or have the ability to destroy them quickly. We hung mosquito nets on our cots and slept as best we could throughout the hot and humid night. At around 0500, I awoke with that strange feeling I always get when in a new, or strange, place. As soon as I remembered where I was, I reached down by my right leg and felt for my M4. I felt the selector switch with my fingers and then confirmed that the magazine was locked. I felt my way up to my M68 Aimpoint and checked that the light intensifier switch was to the lowest setting for “off”. As I was doing this, I had the eerie feeling that I was being watched. I slowly scanned from my left towards my feet and then my right. My heart nearly stopped when I saw what appeared to be two huge black eyes looking straight at me. My most primitive programming sent my nerves in full alert. My brain identified the eyes as those belonging to the freaking donkey! Since the hut we were in had no doors, the donkey came in to avoid the early morning rain. I sat up in disbelief, careful not to hit my head against the metal bar supports of the cot above mine. I reached up and cleared the mosquito net from my face as I placed my M4 over my pillow. I looked around and saw about seven kittens sleeping in the cot in front of where I was. The goat, tied to a small stick just outside the hut entrance, had stretched the rope as far as it could and managed to place most of its body inside the hut, save his head. I looked for my men and they were already awake and moving on the cots to the left. It was like living inside Noah’s Ark, or inside a manger. Whichever side of the Bible one looked, this place had a resemblance. I located my jungle boots and placed my bare feet inside them after turning them upside down and shaking them to remove anything dangerous. I got up and walked carefully while avoiding the gaping holes that revealed the bare dirt floor. Before stepping out into the rain, and heading for the latrines, I took another look at the current “team house” and shook my head. “Austere places …” I muttered as I headed into the dark morning.

We were up and about by 0700. Patrick, our 18C, diligently conducted a maintenance check of our pick-up truck. “Capi,” he said, “the roads ‘round here are going to kill this vehicle. It’s a four-wheeled drive vehicle, but it is not designed for this type of off-road punishment.” He warned. I gave Pat a concerned look. “Is anything broken?” I asked. “Not yet.” He answered. “Are we going downtown today?” Pat inquired. “Yeah, we will. After we take a look around the firebase and feel comfortable about the place. But, let’s make sure we secure our sensitive items before we leave. We might want to take some items with us.” I said. Patrick shifted attention back to the underside of the vehicle. “Well, where’s Kirk?” I inquired while looking around. “Oh, the sleeping ‘Delta’?” Patrick mocked, “I think he might still be in the hooch putting on his make up.” I smiled at the comment. Kirk, our 18 Delta (18D), the detachment’s Special Forces Medical Sergeant, was the newest member of the detachment along with the sole 18 Echo (18E), our Special Forces Communications Sergeant. The 18E would arrive with the rest of the detachment in a few weeks. Kirk came to us about four months prior to our deployment in the midst of our rotation through the six-week long Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course (SFAUCC). Kirk impressed us with his physical fitness and ability to learn quickly. This drew the biggest praise our Team Sergeant bestowed on any of us, “He’ll do”, he said, and we decided to keep him.

As the new guy, Kirk shared a quasi-Omega Wolf position with Raul, our 18E. As a result, the guys were always having a good time poking fun at two “new guys”. Not surprisingly, however, Patrick and Kirk were developing a close friendship and were rarely seen apart. The guys always had a certain penchant for humor, especially at the expense of each other. This quirk was particularly strong in this detachment. It is one of the things that kept us bonded together. The ability to accept criticism, even in its veiled form is essential in allowing us to better know each other. A Special Forces detachment is unlike any other small organization in the conventional inventory. A detachment is a tight knit, tribal, organization that, beyond the rigors of SFAS and the Q-Course, conducts its own subtle selection process. The men endeavor towards maintaining their individuality while maintaining the tight cohesion necessary for combat survival. The men know each other’s likes, dislikes, strengths and flaws. Each man knows how his fellow warrior will move inside a house during close quarter combat, or how his voice sounds on the radio when he’s distressed. But, this knowledge does not come easily. First names, or nicknames, not rank, are the norm. The men mentally probe one another’s knowledge and professionalism through a natural process of socialization unseen in any conventional combat unit. Off color jokes are the norm. Honest mistakes are exaggerated for the potential humor. No one is immune and save two things – a detachment member’s wife and kids – no topic is sacred. The result is a unit were the men truly care for one another like family and an organization so cohesive that it can withstand the most shocking forms of combat-related stress.


(TBC)
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Special Forces Association Lifetime Member

Last edited by Basenshukai; 03-06-2005 at 01:34.
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