Postcards from Tradocia

special forces signal corps

For the last two and a half months, our training has consisted exclusively of infantry combat and tactics – hardly the material that any of us thought we’d be doing when we signed up for Signal. As our joke goes, we’re so hardcore and well-equipped now that we’re the Special Forces Signal Corps. One instructor, asking what kind of night vision devices we had, was quoted as saying “oh shit” when we told him we had the brand-new AN/PVS-14s.

The mission at the FOB was no different. Our first day was combat patrol training – in other words, walking through the woods looking for trouble. It was good training, but it was our first day doing strenuous work with our full battle rattle, and the result was predictable – twelve people became heat casualties and had to get stuck with IVs; one had to get airlifted to the hospital (though he recovered fully).

After that was checkpoint operations, convoy operations, and convoy route clearing. Throughout all of this, civilians dressed up as Arabs harassed us, begged us for food, and blew us up with simulated bombs. We even had a simulated baby born at our simulated checkpoint!

Contrary to many news reports you might have read, there’s plenty of ammo to go around – we ripped through blanks and live rounds like there was no tomorrow, at times just firing off blanks into the air, Iraqi-style, just so that we didn’t have to turn them back in.

All of this training makes me think of those who went to war during the Civil War, World War I, and even Vietnam – then, it was just “here’s a rifle and godspeed.” Now, it’s countless classes, exercises, attempts to understand the local culture, tactics and techniques to keep us alive and complete our mission. And the equipment! – we’re getting more stuff this week, believe it or not – it’s like Christmas!


  1. Mom and Dad

    If Al Qaeda launches another big attack in the U.S. before the election, I predict that it will result in more votes for Bush.

  2. sec

    Don’t forget that when Clinton attacked Osama bin Laden in August of 1998, all the ranking Republicans criticized him quite vocally, accusing him of trying to “wag the dog”.

    And don’t forget the incessant criticism of the war effort in Serbia and Kosovo while our military and allies were fighting there.

    What is being said now pales in comparison to attempts to undermine military actions during the previous administration.

    General Anthony Zinni, former chief of the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East said recently: “Iraq is in serious danger of coming apart because of lack of planning, underestimating the task and buying into a flawed strategy,” he says. “The longer we stubbornly resist admitting the mistakes and not altering our approach, the harder it will be to pull this chestnut out of the fire.”

  3. delobius

    The Kosovo and Bosnia operations can hardly be compared to Iraq in scale, mission objectives, or importance. The Balkans operations were tiny by comparison, and in neither case were our vital national interests at stake – the EU and the UN could have (should have) taken care of the problem themselves.

    Furthermore, the criticism seems to have been justified – even now, the Minnesota Army National Guard is serving there, almost a decade later. Didn’t Clinton say we wouldn’t be staying too long?

  4. sec

    Clinton’s attack on Al Qeada WAS in our nation’s vital interest.

  5. delobius

    Which attack on Al Qaeda? The missile strike on the canvas tents in Afghanistan? The missile strike on the factory in Khartoum?

    Neither Bosnia nor Kosovo had anything to do with Al Qaeda.

  6. sec

    Nor does Iraq.

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