Monday, June 20, 2011

MSR Tampa: The Road Home

Navistar - Fletch, Seth and Me

Getting out of Iraq may be more challenging than getting in
American commanders say one of the gravest threats to the 46,000 troops here is that they could become easy targets for insurgents when they begin their final withdrawal this summer and head for the border along a 160-mile stretch of road cutting through the desert into Kuwait. (NY Times)

For the last of the OIF Mohicans, MSR Tampa is the Road Home

I’ve driven up and down MSR Tampa a few times.  It is the main supply route that runs from our bases in Kuwait up through Baghdad and on to points north.  You drive from Ali Al Salim up to Navistar where you wait for your convoy to get assembled.  Once the convoy is all formed up, you cross the Iraqi border and head north.

Drive through Safwan, past shabby dwellings so close to the road you could reach out and touch the scowling faces as you drive by.  Pass by Basra and on up to Ali Base, the Ziggurats and Ur.  A few more hours and you're in Baghdad.

It was a dangerous road when I drove it various times back in 2005.  Much of my job was doing comm projects to improve security.  Units in trouble often could not make radio contact for backup or a dustoff, which is a very scary situation.  Just Google MSR Tampa and you'll read the stories and see the pictures and video memories of our troops who have fought and lost buddies on that road.

Fortunately for me, I have no harrowing tales to tell, and I was surprised at the discipline of the gunners.  We were all armed, but most of us are drivers or passengers helping the driver spot trouble and navigate.  The convoys had security people whose only job was to look out for trouble.  My first trip, south of Ali, an old Chevy Impala came screaming out of the barren fields and noisily bounced onto the convoy route.  I thought for sure he was a bomber, but no, he was just another crazy Iraqi driver, clueless to how lucky he was we have disciplined soldiers.

On another trip, we got the usual cars getting too close, despite signs in Arabic telling them to stay back.  All of a sudden, an impatient little Toyota crosses the hardscrabble median between the divided highway and goes screaming the wrong way in the opposite lane just to pass us.  Meanwhile, oncoming cars heading in the right direction are parting like the Red Sea to let him through.  I guess this was routine for them.

Anyway, I pray we can get our guys out of there safely, and I also pray the Iraqis have learned something and that they can make a go of what we fought to give them.


Hack said...

Thanks for posting this WH. I am here now and things are getting real interesting. I have had a feeling it won't be good come exodus time but we can only pray everyone gets out safe. While I would love to fly out, a strange part of me would like to convoy out on MSR Tampa just to see what happens.

Always On Watch said...

In my view, the Iraqi "insurgents" will fire upon our troops as they are withdrawing. After all, Muslims like to win -- or put on a show of winning so as to prove that the will of Allah is supreme.

Anonymous said...

I'll take a boat any day. About the only time we were in such a tense situation was when we passed through the Suez.

I'll be content to never go back to the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

We should never have gone into Afghanistan in the first place.

As someone said of the Vietnam Fiasco, "How many more troops can we reasonably expect to lay down their lives for a mistake?"

Surely someone must have noticed by now that we have not won a decisive victory in any conflict since we mopped up the floor with the Axis Powers.

Why have consistently pursued No Win strategies since Nuremberg? Is there anyone, besides the manufacturers of war material, who benefit from this pointless bloodletting?

Ron Paul -- the only candidate who makes any real sense to me -- has been smeared as "a vicious anti-Semite" because he opposes our involvement -- not just in the Middle East, but in "foreign entanglements" generally.

Does that criticism make any sense? Why would our sainted media be motivated to lampoon, dismiss, deride and denounce the ONE candidate who has the best interests of individual AMERICAN CITIZENS primarily at heart?

Is it even faintly possible that we are spending billions a day primarily to appease the Israel Lobby? Is that why we're allowing turmoil in the Middle East slowly-but-surely to bleed us to death? Is that why we're in the process of bankrupting ourselves?

If so, what possible SENSE could that make? What possible JUSTIFICATION could there be for our government to sell us out to protect FOREIGN interests? What's BEHIND our suicidal policies? WHO stands to GAIN?

Surely not American citizens.

If I were in charge, I'd get our troops to come home, stop wasting our money on pointless military adventures, and put all that formidable energy to work cleaning up the mess on the domestic front.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

I'll breath a sigh of relief when all of our troops are home safe ans sound.

Silverfiddle said...

Keep your head down, Hack. "Real interesting" is not a good thing in a war zone.

AOW: You nailed it. When the Brits were leaving Basra the Sadrists made a big deal of attacking and shooting. Even though their tactics were militarily pathetic, it gave the impression that they had chased out the British. They declared victory and got a big propaganda boost from it.

LSP said...

Pray for their safe return and the defeat of Jiahd - everywhere.

Trekkie4Ever said...

Hack, I pray you and all the troops will come home safe and sound and unhurt.

We can just pray, Silver for their safe return.

Jersey McJones said...

Hack and Silver,

Do you think that because we are only phasing out the military presense, and not evacuating, that we probably won't see back-end attacks or God forbid some "fall of Saigon" sort of scenario?

Are you concerned that there may be some cheap pot-shots at us as we depart? If so, how do you guys think we could go about trying to avert that, as opposed to the usual approach - or should it even be opposed to the usual approach?


Anonymous said...

Ah convoy. From what I gather it's become more dangerous than foot patrols. Were you working on the blue force trackers?

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: Excellent questions. As the article implies, we will bribe people to keep the route clear and hope that it does the trick. We still have lots of assets close at hand in Kuwait just in case. I'm sure we'll be airlifting everything we can.

Silverfiddle said...

Trestin: No. I was just an AF commo troop working on radios. We engineered and built a radio over IP system. Configuring sysco routers, tuning radios, and climbing towers to hang antennas and run cables.

Jersey McJones said...

Sounds as solidas possible, Silver. I pray it all goes well.


MathewK said...

If Bush had listened to the left, it would have been a saigon style evacuation.

I'm sure your troops will be fine, they took that country far from home and friends within weeks, getting out will be a cake walk for your armed forces.

Anonymous said... you even know what your taking about??? We don't bribe people shit over here to "keep the route clear". Were called combat engineers, we do the work, but being as you were air force let alone a fuckin obviously don't know what your taking about. So stick to your commo, and stop acting like you know what's going on

Silverfiddle said...

Anon: You are an obvious dumbass who doesn't know how to read.

How often do you get out of your mom's basement?

Anonymous said...

Oh sorry bro, I forgot that its airmen like you, let alone being a pog. Who go outside the wire sooo much. My bad pog im sure you know so much about everything

Silverfiddle said...

“I can’t possibly be all places at one time,” said Colonel Crissman. “There are real incentives for them to keep the highway safe. Those sheiks we have the best relationships with and have kept their highways clear and safe will be the most likely ones to get renewed for the remainder of the year.”

Take it up with Colonel Crissman, you illiterate moron.