"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." John 1:16

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Rocket Attacks at Kandahar are No Joking Matter

Not that we don't take indirect fire (IDF) seriously at Bagram, but at Kandahar, they up their "IDF game" to the hilt. I was running on the treadmill one afternoon at the gym when a rocket attack alarm went off. All of a sudden, everyone in the gym was lying down prone. Yours truly did what I normally do, which is to keep on doing whatever I am doing, only to realize I was the only one in the gym left standing. I pretty quickly remembered and heeded my own advice to others that "when in Rome, do what the Romans do". I quickly got down and joined them! Of course, I learned afterwards more of the reasoning for their IDF procedures. The rationale for lying down is that most of the "arc of shrapnel" that typically occurs following impact happens several feet off the ground such that if you're lying down, any shrapnel will hopefully go over the top of you. You also want your head to be away from the mountains because this is the direction the rockets tend to come from. If your head is facing "downrange", any shrapnel headed your direction is more likely to strike somewhere else on your body besides your head.

I had another interesting (and fortunately funny) IDF experience at Kandahar as well when a member of our team and I were driving around base at night after dinner. All of a sudden, he slammed on the breaks and yelled out "rocket attack, rocket attack!!!" having seen a very bright light in the sky. The suddenness of his warning startled me, but I quickly realized all he was seeing was the afterburner of an F-16 that was just taking off on the runway. We had a good laugh about it (I suspect I could have made the same mistake), but it just goes to show that you get a bit "jumpy" when you're in a war zone and are always thinking disaster is just around the corner. It's good we carry our weapons on safe because this at least gives you that extra couple of seconds to make an accurate judgment as to whether your situational assessment is accurate or not. It's easy to do stupid things when you get too on edge, but you can get yourself killed by being too lackadaisical as well. I like the saying I heard the other day from a Marine who said, "I don't shoot back. I shoot first". I pray I never have to shoot at all, despite probably disappointing my 5-year old son Logan who still asks me if I’ve killed anybody yet. He even asks the question with a hopeful optimism that today is the day I get to tell him the story about the Taliban I killed (only the mind of a child). I can live with my son being disappointed with me on this one.


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