1 February 2008 (ON PATROL)

Things went smoothly today. I talked the platoon sergeant’s piece during our pre-patrol ramp briefing, and I did what I thought SFC AB would do.

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LT Schardt and I briefing the platoon on the day’s mission.

The platoon sergeant makes certain checks, and then kind of hangs back to let the platoon and squad leaders do their things. He is sort of like guard rails, there to keep the PL and other NCOs on track. If things go badly, that’s when the platoon sergeant really goes to work. As the platoon was preparing for the patrol today I checked vehicle safety equipment, combat lifesaver bags, crew served weapons, and I spot checked some individual soldiers.

We left Taji on schedule, and the ride north on MSR Tampa to our dismount point was uneventful. We turned off of the highway and stopped. We started walking down a muddy canal road. As a matter of fact, it was the same road that we went off of during our raid a few days ago. My boots were picking up so much muck that it seemed as if they each weighed 10 pounds.

As we passed the target house, we sent a squad in to see if anyone had been there since we searched the place. The doors had been closed, and all of the things we had dumped and torn apart while in the process of searching were cleaned up and put away.

Leo’s squad checked the surrounding area and found a shed full of old computers and a few other things.

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Electronics in an old shed near our target house.

We also found some places along the road that looked like small fox holes dug into the ground. There was one directly across from the house we had hit, and it was in a perfect location to have an open view of any approaching vehicles and clear fields of fire down the canal roads. It seemed that someone was concerned about having a security perimeter around this house.

LT Schardt went with Leo’s squad to check out the area to the west of burned house, and I waited with the remainder of the platoon. SGT Bridges came walking up to me and pointed out a purple car and a white truck moving down the road from the north.

“Think that’s our HVT from the other night?” he asked.

The guys had studied the target packet before our raid the other night, and it mentioned that our HVT was known to travel with a white truck and purple sedan as getaway vehicles.

I called the PL on the radio and told him that we had eyes on a white truck and a purple car near the target house. He didn’t seem to be impressed until I reminded him that we were sitting across the street from our HVT’s house, and those vehicles match the description in our target packet.

We moved to the CLC checkpoint that the vehicles had just passed through and asked the guards about the vehicle’s occupants. They told us, through our interpreter, that they knew those guys.

“He says that they live in this area, and that they are not insurgents,” George told us.

Personally, I think that this whole area is shady, CLCs included.

George added,  “They think you should drop bombs on the house so that the bad guys will not return.”

After talking with the CLC leader, we loaded up in our Strykers and started the drive back to Camp Taji. We are supposed to be patrolling back in the same area tomorrow, so maybe we’ll get another chance to catch the guy.

On our way back to base, we received a follow-on mission. We were given the description of a man, and we were told to immediately detain him if we saw him. We made a u-turn and headed for the CLC checkpoint we had just left. The description matched the leader at that checkpoint, who we had just been talking with; the same guy who vouched for the men in the car and truck.

There was some conflicting information coming over the radio, so we stopped just up the road from his checkpoint and waited for clarification. Finally, we got another call informing us that the intel was wrong and that we should disregard the previous order.

We headed for Taji again, and we made it back just in time for lunch, after which, we took the customary post-patrol nap. Overall, it was a successful patrol for my first time as platoon sergeant. There weren’t any major fuck ups,

and everyone made it back in one piece. I would call that a success.

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