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10 Things You Wish You Didn't Know About Being Deployed
Editor’s Note: This article has been modified from its original version, which was published on Medium by Angry Staff Officer.
This is a response to the great list that ran in Task & Purpose concerning the things that you understand because you deployed.
This is a similar list, but instead, concerns all the things you wish you didn't understand. It started when I read the original list to my all-veteran carpool. Of course, the ideas and memories poured out thick and fast. These are some of the best.
1. That moment when you’re in the shower and the incoming alarm goes off.
Yeah, that one. When you have to choose between saving life and limb from incoming rockets or mortars by getting down on the floor, or running the risk of contracting an unknown biological disease by getting within a foot of that nasty shower floor. Tough choices. We all choose the possible mangling of limbs over the certain contraction of some as-yet unheard of mega virus. A similar variant of this is if you are on the john when the alarm goes off.
2. You can’t sleep because the Air Force does engine maintenance at night.
Mainly only familiar to those on forward operating bases with air bases, but every damn time. You finally got some time to sleep, maybe even a full night. Your head hits the pillow, you begin to count sheep, and all of a sudden a tornado apparently touches down somewhere on base because everything is shaking and all you hear is “WHRRRRRRRRRRRRRR” from the F-16's afterburners. I’m convinced that it’s the way airmen give payback for all the jokes directed against them.
3. Having to choose between a shower and hydration because you’re so low on bottled water.
Sometimes you can only endure the stench of body odor and whatever the hell those fumes are for so long before you have to make the tough decision. This conundrum is unfamiliar to most POGs like myself. We have our own unfortunate memories, such as, that one time there was no hot water in the shower for a day.
4. You’re in a gun truck, on a long convoy, your gunner has to go to the bathroom, and you’re in the seat next to him.
For those who are unfamiliar, the gunner is standing up, in a harness in the turret, so his or her business is at eye-level. When nature calls, nature calls. Your gunner has been on the road for 18 hours, just like you, and is tripping off Rip Its, candy, and dip. All those Rip Its sure go through the system quickly. If you’re lucky, this experience only results in seeing your buddy do his thing into an empty water bottle. If you’re unlucky, you might be holding the ammo can as he relieves the pressure of some of KBR’s finest.
5. You find a hair in your dinner from the chow hall.
Is that a hair? In my Noodles Jefferson? This is where you want to shut down the brain, otherwise, it will leap to conclusions that will cause you to dump your tray in the trash and be ill. Is the hair mine? Did it land there when I was walking to your table? Or is it from that 124-year-old ex-mujahideen who served my food? And where on him did it come from? As I said, shut the brain down.
6. You know toilet paper on deployment has been replaced with sandpaper.
Doesn't matter where you go, the Department of Defense has supplied only the finest grade sandpaper for its troops. Mix this with the way that KBR’s food goes through you and it’s surprising why you don’t see more people limping around the base.
7. After 1300, there are no toilets that work.
Somehow, even though toilets were cleaned daily even on the nicest areas of Bagram around Disney Drive, they were all clogged by 1300. Completely clogged. So much so that there were piles of toilet paper escaping the bowl. You stared at it, trying to comprehend how such a thing could happen, until you were interrupted by a local national who approached said mound of toilet paper, ascended it, and continued to act as though the whole machinery was still operational. Democracy.
8. Had he lived today, Vincent Van Gogh would’ve been in the Army and doodled on latrine walls.
I've said it before: Someone could make an awesome coffee table book with pictures of latrine art. An X-rated book, yes, but it is truly art for art’s sake. You learn all about the anatomy, and what goes into where, and sometimes wonder if perhaps that shouldn't go into there, especially because that diagram looks painful. Or the long-running conversations between customers of that particular stall or porta John, which plumb the depths of philosophical discourse and ask the probing questions about an individual’s sexuality that are rarely seen on daytime television.
9. Trying to shave in between a local national gargling on his toothbrush and a third-country national taking a footbath in the sink.
Truly a moment where you wonder how in the world it got to this point. As you try to shave to reach that zenith of discipline as laid out in 670–1, you are greeted with the dulcet tones of deep hacking from one side, and a stench that makes you think, “My god, what is that fungus…is it leprosy?” from the other.
10. Taking a leisurely number two in a porta John and hearing the unmistakable sounds of “self love” from either side of you.
Last, but not least, the moment where you finally found a clean porta John, where you brought your own toilet paper, and are hopefully going to take a number two that is actually solid for the first time in months, and then you hear it. From both sides. The product of General Order Number One. This is the moment you have in your head when you put your fist through a television when an Army commercial comes on once you’ve gotten back home.
Because no one understands the horror, man, the horror.
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."
Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."