A day like any other
I went in and picked up the land line handset. The XO in Baghdad was on the line. He was a no nonsense ring knocker from West Point who also had a MBA from the Wharton School of Business. What he told me chilled my blood. "MiG, you have three shot up convoys heading your way. We have been taking fire all over the country on the MSRs since the early hours of the morning. We don't know how many casualties there are or the condition of the rolling stock. Find these men and give them shelter. We have put out a call for Safe Harbor all over the country. Send an immediate SitRep for each convoy through our COSCOM LNO in Balad. Git r Dun." Holy shit, this is a real war. I took a few deep breaths and went out to find my rocks. Where the fuck was Big Lou? What about Bob? Fritz? Billy?
Finding the first convoy was easy enough. They contacted us. They were on the runway at the CSC and were an Army/Civilian mixed unit if HETs (Heavy Equipment Transports). Bob and I drove over and got the head count. Good, all present and accounted for. They were angry and surly and wanted to take it all out on me but I stood my ground. I told them that not only was there a stop move order but that safe harbor means full battle rattle for everyone. They were not wearing their vests or helmets. While I stood there arguing with them 6 mortar rounds walked right across the runway about 200 yards from us. We could clearly see the impact and debris cloud from each round. These rounds were tightly grouped and the blast pattern was round, not concentric. This meant they were impacting almost straight down and were being fired from nearby. The Cav did not have all their aviation assets in yet so we did not have the 24 hour per day Kiowa CAP we had later. Once the last round impacted I turned to the guys who had been arguing with me and I said,"Any more questions Gentlemen?" They all just trudged off and put on their gear. Grumbling was heard but I didn't pay attention to it. Bob and I laughed about this as we drove off but it was that macho fake laughter. The mortar rounds scared us too.
Now to find the others. the second convoy was easy too. They came barrelling in and came straight to our man camp. I had them laager their vehicles in the future CHU locations and come inside our fence. Finding the third convoy was a bitch. Try as we could they just were not to be found on the 27 square miles of real estate at Taji. We kept getting calls that they were on post but we could not find them. We searched frantically. Some how this convoy had been split in two and the head count was messed up. Full accountability of personnel is crucial in times like this. We knew we had dead and missing personnel but we just did not know who yet. We kept being told that there was a missing guy named Joe Markup (name changed). They said his truck was found burned up with a body in it and that they think he is dead. They also told us that Al Jazeera was spreading his name out as the had found some of his effects.
Right about this time we started getting some of the news feeds and I was called to the DISCOM HQ for a briefing. When I got there they told us the plain facts. It was absolute fucking chaos out on the roads. The Shiites who had been very quiet so far had risen up to have a "Tet Offensive" aimed at inflicting enough casualties that they would force us out. Little did they know that this was not the same Army that was in Tet. We were told that we may get no convoys for days so we needed to plan the LSIP.
I went back and sat with my staff. We had to know how long we could hold out with water, food, and other consumables. We figured that we had FFV (Fresh Fruits and Vegetables) for 5 days and enough frozen stuff for two weeks. We also had enough MREs to last us a month. We were good. the ROWPUs were not up yet and we still relied on an NG unit to make all the water. We had warehouse full of bottled water and enough fuel for weeks too. We were GTG.
I reported this back. Most other camps were not so fortunate as us but I still did not have any lumber, wiring, nails, etc even though it had been on order for months. Purchasing was killing us by starving us of supplies. Anytime construction supplies showed (What was not looted in Baghdad by our own people) was sucked up in priority 1 projects. Usually something important like a stadium seating arrangement for the aviation unit or a stage for a USO show that never showed up.