Friday, November 12, 2004

War Story

We had a request from The CultureGhost to share our war stories. Mine are boring and Fixer's are probably classified for seventy-five years or until he dies, whichever comes last, so I went and found a modern-day one. I think it's a barn-burner, but decide for yourself. From Gen. Bing West, USMC Ret., in Fallujah, via Slate. You can learn more at WestWrite.
The Watchdogs of Fallujah

Subject: How the Pioneer Robot Plane Helped Win an Artillery Duel

Spotting insurgents was not a problem for "The Watchdogs"—Marine Air Wing unit VMU-1 that operated the Pioneer. Based in a tent next to a runway a few miles outside Fallujah, the Watchdogs had flown several hundred surveillance missions over the city during the past five months. The insurgents had no place to hide. When they came out of doors, they were seen, tracked, and attacked—day after day. Several times the Watchdogs had seen pickups suddenly swerve into empty lots, the occupants jumping out, setting up long tubes, firing a few rockets and scurrying off before a response attack could be launched.

Today's mortar attack from the mosque, though, broke the usual shoot-and-scoot pattern. This time the mortar crew was staying and fighting back. The half-completed mosque looked like a small soccer stadium, with an oval-shaped courtyard wall several stories high and an empty interior court. In the center of the court was a single mortar tube pointed north toward Camp Fallujah, the logistics hub of the coalition operation. Every 10 minutes or so, three insurgents sprinted from a large house a few hundred meters north of the mosque and disappeared under the eaves of the wall. A few minutes later, they dashed out, each dropping one round down the tube and madly sprinting back to the house.

"What do you think, guys?" asked Neumann, whose leadership style was inclusive. "The tube or the house?"

"House!" came back the chorus.

"Stay in there, muj. You're almost in paradise. Don't leave now. Don't leave."

The courtyard door opened, and a man walked to the truck and slowly drove away.

"Boot muj sent out to get the Coke. Luckiest bastard on the planet."

The muj get to go to Heaven and the Marines live to fight another day, or hopefully, come home. Read the article for all the in-betweens.

I also recommend Gen. West's book, The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the 1st Marine Division. I read it and liked it.

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