Michael's Dispatches

War Stories & Rumors


tankimg_9890_1000-webRussian Tank near Tarin Kot

02 March 2011

There are always the stories.  Some true, some not, most are hybrids.  There was the story in Iraq of the farmer who found a crashed UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).  The farmer thought it might try to fly away so he tied it to a tree.   There was the rumor among some Iraqis that the UAVs were piloted by mice.

When I went through the excellent British tracking school on Borneo island, British instructors warned about Afghans who can track you across the rocky desert.  The instructors said a sniper team had moved into place in Afghanistan, was tracked down and killed.  Such tracking would be easy to do in most places here.  If you move during daylight--making it easier to hide your tracks--you might be spotted from miles away.  But if you move at night for any appreciable distance, you’ll almost certainly leave behind an easy to follow trail.  You might was well drop a red marble every ten steps.

I heard a story that, given the source and circumstance, had the ring of truth.  It went like this: Taliban had been attacking some cooperative villagers with IEDs along a road.  In response, one of our Special Forces sniper teams secretly moved into place to shoot the Taliban.  The sniper team, out there on its lonesome, spent the night waiting.  Patience is ninety percent of their game and with sunrise they had gotten nothing.  But the team had been compromised, and an Afghan was coming straight toward them and when he finally got close, he found them pointing weapons straight at him.  “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!  I am from the village!”  The man was not the enemy, but was sent to bring a “grocery list” from the village to the Americans hidden on the hill.  Nobody was hurt.

There is no telling how much of this story is true, though it’s good for a laugh, and is in character of the place, the Afghans, and, for sake of storytelling at least, it’s true enough.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Margot · 8 years ago
    8) great story! the more i learn about the various tribes and peoples of A-Stan the more intrigued I am by them. So far removed from anything I will ever know; yet, knowing the familiarity of humanity.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Anne Rutherford · 8 years ago
    Thanks for the info Michael. Even if you're not imbedded, you sure give us great information.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matt · 8 years ago
    You know, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a ton of old war relics like this tank, just sitting out in the sun and rusting away.

    I always thought what a waste, and it would be cool to set up some kind of recycle plant in these countries to process that old metal. It would provide jobs, it would add more steel and needed metals to the market, and would clean up the countryside of that junk. Not to mention all the old bombs that are burned out or the fragmentation. The Chinese are really into the metals recycle thing, and their demand as well as other country's demand for these metals, will only increase over time.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ed · 8 years ago
    That's rather frightening in that the primary security of a sniper team is concealment. There's a good case for having a Reaper (or something equally high flying with multi-spectrum sensors) in over watch of such teams.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mara Smidt · 8 years ago
    :sad: :sad: :sad: :sad:
    This is so heartbreaking...........
  • This commment is unpublished.
    kwgm · 8 years ago
    "There was the rumor among some Iraqis that the UAVs were piloted by mice."

    No doubt influenced by the Bugs Bunny cartoons of my childhood, which, we can only hope, are now corrupting the minds of many Iraqi youth.

    What a better world it would be if the Gremlin delivering the IED would run out of gas just before detonation.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    DeAnna · 8 years ago
    Love the story but the picture I love even more! :lol:
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    mike wilson · 8 years ago
    the 101 is lucky to get you-- they are a tough unit for so many years--- from a former Marine
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim Harris · 8 years ago
    Words cannot express how proud I am of our troops. I also pray that our current leader supports our troops the same way Reagan would have.
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    Ray Everitt · 8 years ago
    Thanks for your stories Michael . My brother in law is being deployed again and your stories give me a glimpse of his life in the field ." Though a glass darkly " All his stories are about the good times and his buddies and are meant to keep his family from worrying .Well we pretend not to worry for his sake , we do though .Your stories about the great guys and gals he serves with does make me feel better .
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    Paul Harrison · 8 years ago
    Wondering if a minute before that tank got stuck the driver said one of two things " Watch this!" or " Ahhhh, it doesn't look too deep"
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Smith · 8 years ago
    Oh the memories. My first tour (I'm on #5) was in Deh Rawood. We would drive to TK at least three times a month. I remember this tank well. Thanks for taking me back to the "good" ole days.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim Galloway · 8 years ago
    Those trees look like they've been pollarded, it is an orchard of some kind?
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    Richard · 8 years ago
    Stay safe, and let's hope you have more good stories to tell than bad. Good luck on the next shift.
    With the increased uncertainty at the moment, with the Libya starting (we need an end), best wishes to all those involved in active duty. The Polimil Team
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul Hausser · 8 years ago
    6000 of these tanks were destroyed in two engagements outside of Minsk and Smolensk in the first week of July 1941

    World record

    Just saying
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CR Thornton · 8 years ago
    [quote name="Jim Harris"]I also pray that our current leader supports our troops the same way Reagan would have.[/quote]

    You mean the same Reagan who swore revenge on those who killed 241 Americans in the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut then did ... nothing? That Reagan?

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