Written by Timothy Payne
Back in 2011 I was deployed to Afghanistan, not just any place in the "Stan" but Kandahar in Zhari Providence. Let me tell you something, it was one heck of an adventure, before deployment my unit designated all Soldiers MUST read "The Last Patrol" Here is a link to the article.
***Disclaimer: If you didn’t read the article, keep in mind that the 82nd Airborne Division was my first duty assignment and those men portrayed in the last patrol were my legacy; they were taking heavy casualties. I knew the 82nd was one of the best Army Divisions, I’ll take that claim to the grave. There are 7 values Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-service, Honor, Integrity and Personal-Courage. If you can’t live by those values, your apart of the problem and you are out of the game. Time to adjust fire an unscrew yourself.***
As an Infantry Squad leader, it is my duty to make sure my men are ready for deployment. I am responsible for all their lives. My squad is composed of two fire teams, a machine gun team, radio operator, forward observer and a combat medic. The fire team consists of a rifleman, grenadier, automatic rifleman and a team leader directing those men. The squad’s main job is denying enemy movement and killing them with fire and maneuver tactics and destroy enemy positions in close combat.
I am responsible for these men and I will do whatever it takes to bring everyone home. While I was reading the report of "The Last Patrol," I was enjoying some icy cold rocky mountain Coors light. I was crushing the cans to save space in my trash can and it was looking pretty full. I would typically drink a 12 pack a night and the next day workout like a maniac. Usually cross-fit workouts. The PSG (Platoon Sergeant) had me run physical fitness one day. and afterwards no one wanted me running fitness. The workouts would consist 10 different exercises, hitting major muscle groups for an hour straight. There is no lollygagging in my squad period. This is the normal life style of an infantryman.
Looking back now, I think I would make some minor adjustments for example the drinking. Anyways I digress, while I was reading the report, I paused for a minute because it became pretty evident we were on our way to the slaughter house. I already had about 7 beers in me, paused for a moment and looked up towards the ceiling shouting out to God. “Hey, God!!! If you’re out there and someone got to go then just kill me instead of my men." Boy did that take me on seriously crazy adventure. Its the adventure that drives me to do what I am now.
I finished reading the report and the next day I ordered the men of Dog 1-3 into formation. I remember very clearly asking them, "Who here joined the Army because they like Call of Duty games?" I saw a few hands rise out of the ranks. " Wrong ANSWER! This is no fucken game! This is some real hardcore fighting were about to embark on and guess what? We're going to lose men! You all have to get yourselves mentally prepared because I take pride in the 82nd and that unit in that report is my old unit, not to mention my old sister company!" I remember seeing their faces dropping as they were eager for combat. Some of the men, their demeanor had changed as a culture shock. I could feel my blood boiling from the thoughts of carelessness between the ranks. Some of these men weren't ready and some think nothing will happen. Ignorance is a killer and I was expected to take 40% casualties.
I showed up to the 10th Mountain Division December 10, 2010 and I was being assigned to 3rd Brigade, 1-32 Infantry Battalion, Dog Company 1st Platoon 3rd Squad. My last position as a Squad Leader was in Italy with the 173rd Airborne Division but I was kicked out for pursuing Special Operations. I remember after returning from Special Forces Assessment and Selection the Sergeant Major, who was in charge pulled me in his office. He told me how he didn't have room for soldiers who didn't make it as Special Operators and I wasn't welcome anymore. A three letter acronym came to my mind "WTF!" I replied to him pleading with the man about how I was merely trying to secure my spot for the qualification course (which is the next phase of Special Forces) after deployment, but I was injured the second last day of the selection phase. I was actually on the show "Two weeks in hell" by the Discovery Channel and my roster number was 155.
As soon as I got to Dog Company and met my Warriors I was as serious as could be. "The Last Patrol" had members of my first Army unit from the "82nd Airborne Division." If you’re unfamiliar of the 82nd Airborne Division, then let me tell you one fact about the unit. When the President needs to call 911 it goes to Americas Guard of HONOR! The 82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION that is a 100% fact. As paratroopers we like to brag of how badass we are. We participate in extreme and grueling training. There is no room for slackers or troops who don't want to be there, there kicked out. We will send their ass to the choir and they can sing about how bad as they wish they were. After all the unit is located at Ft. Bragg, NC... All pun intended.
Paratroopers are willing and ready to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours. When I was assigned on Army recruiter there was a saying, "If you’re putting them in boots, they better be JUMP-BOOTS!" We go above and beyond to do the dirtiest of the dirty i.e. Shitty work! But we don't complain, were paratroopers! We're meant to be surrounded and cut off without aid and even though it sucks we drive on, "CHARGE IT!"