Besides, the soldiers who convoyed together on a regular basis knew each other very well, were well-versed on each others’ habits, strengths, and idiosyncrasies, and these young, highly motivated troops had established procedures for each convoy or combat situation that all the team members practiced and knew very well (what we called Techniques, Tactics, and Procedures or TTPs – what used to be called Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs). They could react immediately with instinct and would know what actions those around them, in front of them, and behind them would be taking. They would be able to recall critical information and respond appropriately without thinking, making survival of the entire team more likely even if everything went to hell very quickly. Throwing an inexperienced stranger into that mix could have been a recipe for disaster, so it was generally understood that the guests would just ride along and observe; they would not intervene or interfere, letting the experienced team members do their job. However, if the tactical situation developed such that the vehicle was rendered inoperative, and the vehicle’s occupants were forced to exit their vehicle, of course, everyone knew that all would immediately use the most basic soldiering skills, such as cover, concealment, return fire, maneuver, “shoot, move, and communicate.”
Because of this general understanding of the role of the guest rider, I was absolutely livid when I learned that this bad leader (trying to cover his tracks) had accused my soldier of cowardice for some vague action that this leader claimed my soldier should have taken (no specificity) when the convoy got hit by an IED during the convoy. I cannot state strongly enough that this vague expectation this man had of my soldier was only in his own mind. It was not in any TTP, SOP, commander’s policy letter, Army Field Manual, or Army Regulation. He was just one of those judgmental people who was self-righteous, thinking that everything he did was right, good, and perfect, and that he knew just what everyone else should be doing to be like him. I should also point out that he had pieced together stories from second and third hand accounts from the comfort and safety of his office on base. Since he was not at the location of the incident, he was displaying incredibly arrogant audacity in quickly judging the actions of the soldiers on the ground at the incident who had been under fire. I was able to get just as much information as this leader supposedly had, if not more, from the direct sources, people who were on the convoy, and the story I was seeing was vastly different from the “official version” that this man was concocting apparently to avoid scrutiny for his bad leadership decision (to be explained later).
I pray you will all have a very blessed and restful Sunday.