24 March 2010

Starbuck's Safety Tip of the Day...

Recently, Blackfive reported that concerned local citizens in Afghanistan--the Local Defense Initiative--were forming armed neighborhood watch groups, similar to the Sons of Iraq (SoI) program. Much like the SoI, these are young men, many of whom are unemployed, and some of whom had previously fought for the Taliban. After all, with no source of income, no daily occupation, few opportunities for social advancement, and a culture which glamorizes tribal warfare, it’s obvious why many Afghans turned to insurgency.

However, with a little money, legitimacy, and cooperation from tribal leaders, ISAF is betting that these young men can protect their villages from Taliban intrusion. Armed with AK-47s, the men of the Local Defense Initiative are virtually indistinguishable from the Taliban, save for one unmistakable feature…

…a reflector belt.

When I first shared this story via Google Buzz, Tim Haggerty believed this was a joke. No one would have combatants run around with reflector belts, would they?

Apparently, we would.

This reminded me of a curious incident I encountered while flying over Iraq. Whenever we passed through a unit’s area of responsibility, we would contact them over the radio, paying special attention to any enemy activity or aerial danger zones, such as artillery fire or unmanned aerial vehicles. One day, while flying over the desert somewhere near Baqubah, we overheard a curious conversation between two American infantry units. The chatter broke up the boredom of an otherwise uneventful flight.

One American voice came over the radio, reporting to what we assumed was his operations center. (Ed. Note: Radio chatter is drawn from memory as best I can recall. I’ve taken the liberty of “translating” the chatter to plain English for the purposes of story-telling)

“Roger", radioed one unit to his headquarters, "we just had a firefight between two CLCs, [Concerned Local Citizens] with one KIA."

“What happened?”, the Op-center asked.

“Apparently, one of the CLCs was carrying an AK-47 and approached an SoI checkpoint. There was some arguing, and one of the CLCs shot the other CLC.”

“Why did he do that?”

“Well, the SoI claimed that the other CLC wasn’t wearing his reflector belt"

Aghast, I muttered to myself, “Damn, they’re not kidding.”

I looked back at the rest of the crew, “You guys better wear your fucking reflector belts.

Clearly, I'm not the only person who's run into a situation like this:


limabeanium said...

Well while I served during the "Cold War" we would wonder what would happen if we were to go to war. There was a general agreement that a lot of the "BS" would fall by the way side with the need to focus on a war. I remember the last time our crew talked about that "BS" we lived, running down 6 decks and up 6 decks to Tag out a antenna that was part of a satellite system that couldn't give me a weather photo I could use in a forecast. We though could climb the mast and wash it with warm soapy water once a quarter. We thought if only we were at war. Silly sailors believe all sort of stuff. Oh and I never got my award for wining the "cold war" or my "order of the potted palm" for the Gulf War. LOL

Mike said...

Good thing my Infantry company spent so much time training the Afghan National Police (ANP) to do their jobs. I guess all we needed to do was hand out some reflective belts and let the locals parade around with their weapons.

How many millions of dollars and man hours have been spent on the ANP, who are supposed to be doing this kind of thing, but just end up smoking hashish all day and occasionally take pot shots at Coalition forces?