That Would Have Been Nice to Know Before I Got on the Helicopter….

Life in the digital age is great. There are so many ways to communicate information from just about any location on the planet. You’ve got cell phones, satellite phones, and radios. Even in the middle of a war I can set up my Swiftlink Satellite System and send emails from somewhere in the Afghan wilderness. It’s great. Now we just need to learn HOW to communicate and everything will be alright. Example: a few days ago I responded to an IED on Afghan Route 614 NNE of Kandahar. Now, when the call came in it was “we need EOD to respond to a roadside IED at these coordinates”. Great, no problem sounds like a standard IED next to, or perhaps buried just under the surface of an unimproved road (most of the roads in Afghanistan). So I grab my team and we grab our gear and fly out to the site on a Blackhawk helicopter. As we approached the site we’re able to see the U.S. forces that had called the item in…sitting on an asphalt road. Hmmm…OK, not a problem, the shoulder is dirt, could be buried there. The helo dropped us off without incident and I found the guy in charge, and asked him to describe the situation so I could figure out the best course of action. Well, of course the first words out of his mouth were “It’s buried about three feet in from the edge of the asphalt.” Under the asphalt. Of course. A key bit of information that would have allowed me to include a 15lbs. shaped charge, designed to penetrate things like concrete and asphalt in a hurry. Of course nobody mentioned anything in the mission brief so, instead of an operation taking maybe 20 minutes and involving a single detonation we ended up with a two hour ordeal involving three detonations, almost 40lbs. of explosive and resulting in a four foot wide by three foot deep crater in the road, and that was just to get down to the main charge of the IED (the 15lbs. shaped charge could have blasted a hole in the road significantly smaller and also detonated the IED all in one go). Fortunately the story has a happy ending, despite the best efforts of Murphy I was able to detonate the IED safely and reopen the road to traffic and nobody was injured. Well, I guess it’s happy for everybody but the guy that has to fill in that pot hole, kinda sucks for him. Sorry guy, I blame the lack of communications in the digital age.

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