The most alarming thing I have had to experience so far (and I pray no worse) is the 2-3 times a week where we get these "Incoming, incoming, incoming!" messages over the base speaker system advising us that a rocket attack on the base is in process. The good news is that most of the attacks are rather unsophisticated and rarely do much damage, which is a big relief. Having said that, given the frequency with which they occur, a number of individuals have been killed or wounded by these somewhat random attacks, so it’s certainly a threat worth taking seriously. Btw, I can’t think of a much worse way to die or be injured. At least let me be “outside the wire” doing something halfway Rambo like, which for me can be as simple as riding as a passenger on a Blackhawk with a bunch of dudes with big guns around me for protection. I don’t even have to be the one shooting back. However, getting hit by a rocket on my way to the shower with my clogs on just doesn’t qualify for Rambo like and not a cool way to die. To be clear, I am not trying to make light of those who have been killed or injured by such attacks…very sad indeed.
So, the question then becomes, in taking it seriously, how do you minimize the chance that a given rocket attack is not going to somehow intersect with your personal GPS coordinates at the moment of impact? In other words, how do you stay out of the line of fire? That’s where the problem comes in. In the past, there was apparently no real warning system, other than perhaps the whistling noise as it approached your vicinity, at which point it was probably do late to do much about it. However, there is now some ability to detect rocket attacks that are in progress, hence the prepatory warnings we now receive. The only problem (and it’s a big one) is that when the warning message comes across the system, you have no idea regarding the direction or where it might land. The disconcerting part for me is that no one can answer my question, “Which way do I run?!” In my simple mind, I am thinking that if I run in the wrong direction, I might well run right into it! So, do you run at all? Do you just stand still and hope for the best? I guess I have been unable to reconcile in my own mind whether these warnings are meaningful because there's not much you can do about it other than perhaps to seek shelter, which my “plywood box” home is not. Anyone who has lived in these things know they would burn down in less than 60 seconds, never mind being easily penetrable by a rocket!
We haven’t had an attack in the middle of the night yet since I’ve been here, but we had 2 today (so perhaps I am “tuned in” to the possibility). I am thinking that if I hear the “incoming, incoming, incoming” message in the middle of the night, I will take my chances underneath my warm heated blanket and simply hope it’s not my time, lest I run outside towards a real shelter and low and behold run right into the direction of fire, never mind getting cold for nothing!
Anyone who might have a “rocket avoidance strategy” with better mathematical survival probabilities than my idea of simply taking my chances, feel free to chime in. I guess the advantage of living in the dormitories besides having indoor plumbing (by far the biggest advantage over a B-hut) is that you at least have some concrete around you!