The sight was not that unusual on a summer morning in Mosul, Iraq: a car parked on the sidewalk, facing opposite traffic, its windows rolled up tight. Two young boys stared out the back windshield.
The soldier patrolling closest to the car stopped. It had to be hot in there; it was 120 degrees outside.
“Permission to approach, sir, to give them some water,” the soldier said to Sgt. 1st Class Edward Tierney, who led the nine-man patrol that morning.
“I said no — no,” Tierney said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan.
Tierney said he had an urge to move back before he knew why: “My body suddenly got cooler; you know, that danger feeling.”
The U.S. military has spent billions of dollars on hardware, like signal-jamming technology, to detect and destroy what the military calls improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, the roadside bombs that have proved to be the greatest threat in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, where Tierney is training soldiers to foil bomb attacks.
Still, high-tech gear, while helping to reduce casualties, remains a mere supplement to the most sensitive detection system of all — the human brain. Troops on the ground, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for many foiled IED attacks, and, like Tierney, they often cite a gut feeling or a hunch as their first clue.
Everyone has hunches. But U.S. troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people's brains can sense danger and act on it — by ducking, by dropping to the ground, by shielding a child — well before others do.
Read more about utilizing and exploiting guts, brains, emotions and intuition on the battlefield, here
When Donald Rumsfeld set about to transform the Department of Defense and our war-fighting capabilities, we're quite sure not even he anticipated this.
What we will take away from this past 6 or 7 years, is the amazing adaptability and prowess of our soldiers, sailors and Marines. Indeed, what our troops on the ground have brought and continue to bring to the table in Iraq and Afghanistan is nothing short of incredible.
In the 2nd battle of Fallujah, it was reported that ordinary Marines were executing close-in, urban warfare tactics that had previously been the exclusive domain of Special Operations forces. Nothing ordinary about that.
And then, midstream, we ask these same troopers to think in terms of relationships built (R.B.s) instead of body counts (K.I.A.s)
in winning over the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan.
And with that, let’s not forget about the Play-doh offensive
being waged by our people in country.
The case for whether or not our military, let alone this country, should be in the business of nation-building is not up for debate here. That’s for another time. What is of relevance is the awesome burden we have placed on our men and women overseas and how amazingly they have responded.
Reading and hearing about some of the above, one starts to get a real sense of those Marine Corps mottos: “Adapt, improvise, overcome”
and “No greater friend, no worse enemy.”P.S.
A shout-out to Dr. Dave of Feed Your ADHD
who made the unfortunate error of following along with this site. Drop by his place - we think you'll enjoy it. Thanks for your support, Doc.