Mired in a Mine
8 Feb 96, Thu — Ðurðevik
Forecast was for 8-16 inches of snow. Had an inch or two when I woke up, it was still snowing and the roads were ‘red’. Of course we went out on a mission. Two inches of snow is no big deal to someone from a cold weather state, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand why they have a road status if they ignore it, or exactly what the criteria are for a status change.
We drove up over a mountain from Zivinice to Tuzla for the meeting. Beautiful drive through an area that looked like West Virginia. I’d love to bike it sometime. Tuzla is in a long, narrow river valley. We didn’t go deep into the city, but it reminded me of towns in Germany.
We didn’t get to meet Mr. Really Big, but we did meet Mr. Kurtic’, the financial officer of Uglja Mines, the umbrella company for all the mines in this area. Mr. Sefket was also there, as was additional brass from division rear. Kurtic’ finally fessed up that the mines are government owned. That means that under the peace treaty the U.S. can use the land for free. Kurtic’ — either lying, confused or bluffing — said that isn’t true. So the talks broke off. I think the whole Uglja chain-of-command is trying to extort us.
11 Feb 96, Sun — Ðurðevik
Didn’t do squat on Friday and didn’t do squat yesterday either. What little mission we might have had was finished when DivRear decided to tell Mr. Sefket tough shit, the BSA is staying where it is. But no commander is ever willing to give up an asset, even if he doesn’t need it or understand how to use it. Even if we could get away from 47th FSB, sure as shit 2BCT would cling to us like a 3-year old to a half-melted candy bar. Hell, the only reason we were assigned to a support battalion is because the infantry battalion we were destined for never actually deployed. The brigade pack-ratted us right into REMF hell. While the other 432nd CA teams are out running cool missions with psyops and intel guys, we are filling in as convoy fodder on mail convoys. Not that we are getting any of the mail.
Today’s New Petty REMF Rule: Checking IFOR IDs at the BSA gate. They didn’t actually match faces with pictures; no, they merely made sure that the number of people in the vehicle matched the number of cards presented. I’m sure ID checks strike fear into the hearts of terrorists everywhere.
And the four-vehicle convoy rule, what a winner. The only reason that is effective is because no one has decided to test it. The way the roads are here, you whack the lead vehicle and the rest of the convoy is fucked — there’s just no room to U-turn and no room to pass. Since the lead vehicle is also the mandatory crew-served weapon, you would also take out 80% of the convoy’s effective defense. So, RPG the lead vehicle and trail vehicle simultaneously, dump some small arms and LMG fire into the other vehicles, then head for home. Since under the ROE there can be no return fire unless the perp can be identified and collateral damage prevented, air cover is irrelevant. Four guys, 30 seconds, major damage and a clean getaway.
So, what all these petty bureaucratic rules amount to is window dressing that are a major pain in the ass to us but give the folks back home a warm & fuzzy about us being here.
More on convoys: the 47th FSB couldn’t organize a goat grope, let alone a proper convoy, if its life depended on it. No march order; no driver’s brief; vehicles not topped off or PMCS’ed; frequencies not loaded and radio checks not conducted; and they never, ever hit their SP.
12 Feb 96, Mon — Ðurðevik
Oh, btw, other than another cluster fuck of a convoy to Vlasenica, we didn’t do jack yesterday either. What are we doing today? More of the same.
Because only the MPs have the Mk19 automatic grenade launchers and .50 cal machineguns that fulfill the convoy heavy weapons diktat, we lost our slot as the fourth vehicle on tomorrow’s finance run to Olovo, Kladanj, Sekovici and Vlasenica. Normally being the fourth vehicle would suck, but that would have been a prime opportunity to get out into areas where we have not been — especially along Highway 18 from Kladanj to Olovo since it runs straight down the middle of the ZOS. So we tried to get completely out of the 47th FSB and possibly ended up digging ourselves a political hole with LTC Self and MAJ Clark instead.
Got my first letter today! Mom wrote me just seven days ago and the letter is already here. However, she addressed it to me at the 47th FSB, not through the 1st AD G-5 which I had been using as a return address in case the team got moved. I don’t now how she got my address here, but it thus appears that our guys at G-5 are a great black hole of mail. They have to be because I know there are at least 20 people writing to me on a regular basis. I was happy to get the letter, but at the same time I really feel for the other guys on my team, who are still waiting for their first letters.
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