"Dammit, Ross, be more careful. We don't want to lose you, even though you still can't sing worth a damn."
"Sorry, Captain. That damned IED (Improvised Explosive Device) was too well hidden. It's a good thing we were in a Stryker instead of a Bradly, otherwise we would have lost more than a little singed paint."
"Yeah, that's true. But I mean it. Be more careful. When in doubt, shoot the fucking thing!"
"Gotcha! Unit 1 out."
"Sometimes, I think that damned Sgt. Ross has more guts than brains! OK, Harris, pick up the pace a little bit to catch up."
"Yes, Sir ... Look over there, Sir. It looks like the ragheads may have set up an OP (Observation Post) of some sort. That line of trees has a gully behind it, and I thought I saw some movement there just a few seconds ago."
"Thank God we've got no TV reporters with us this time. Spray a few from the Ma Deuce (M2.50 caliber machine gun) over there and see what happens ... Yeah, that's exactly what I meant. The damned insurgents have tumbled to the way the bleeding hearts on TV have us pinned down with needing permission to swat a fly, so they are getting bolder by the hour. With TV along, they would have to have killed one of us before I could get permission to shoot over there. From the looks of things, that could well be where the fucking IED was triggered from.
"Fire another burst just for luck. SON ... OF ... A ... BITCH! Look at the bastards run. Give 'em something to encourage their legs, Harris. They're all carrying AK-47s, so do what you can to them."
A few short bursts from the .50 MG were enough to knock down most of the fleeing insurgents, except, in the last burst, one of the bullets caught a runner square in the back at about waist level. He disappeared in a spectacular explosion. "What the shit was he carrying, Harris. Do you think that he was a suicide bomber waiting for a good target to come along?"
"I don't know, Sir, but it looked to me like he was the only one without an AK, for whatever that's worth."
"Shit, a lot of people must have spotted that explosion, so now I'll have to write it up in my after action report. The trouble is, I will have to come up with an excuse for shooting without getting permission first."
"Sir, everybody in the platoon will swear that they were shooting at us before I ever fired a shot, if it comes to that."
"Thanks, Harris, I'll keep that in mind."
"RPG ON THE LEFT!"
"FIRE! SHOOT AT HIM, DAMMIT! Unit 2, Adams, are you guys OK?"
"Yeah, we're OK, Captain. That oh so wonderful slat armor triggered the RPG before it could reach us, just like it was supposed to. I'd like to kiss the person who came up with that stuff, even if he was a man! We were shaken up a bit, but no serious injuries. I do think Hanson did swallow his chewing gum, though."
"OK, Sergeant, just be alert. It looks like we found "ambush alley" for this trip."
"Captain, what would we do without these Strykers? I would hate like hell to make this run in a Humvee. It's amazing to me that our people did that for so long the way they did."
"Yeah, the Stryker can get a little fumy at times if the mess sergeant has been too free with the beans, but it sure beats anything else I've tried. As usual, the TV has been full of sour stories about the Strykers, but I notice that the reporters never miss an opportunity to ride in one if there is much likelihood of bullets flying.
"The other day I saw a photo and a big story about a Stryker catching fire from an IED explosion, but I looked at the photo real close, and all I could see was a couple of tires burning. I'll bet that nobody inside was hurt, and they drove back on their own for repairs."
"Yeah, I don't understand why the TV networks are acting like a feed for insurgent propaganda. The way they act, you'd think that we were in another Viet Nam with the Ruskies breathing down our necks. Shit, Captain, I'd rather be home than here, but it ain't as bad as the TV makes it out to be.
"Did you see where the reporter accused some Marines of executing prisoners because they were all shot in the head? Turns out, the Marines said that the head shots were there because they didn't have anything else to aim at. With those LED aiming devices on the sniper rifles, that was all they needed to make a kill. Of course, the reporter didn't want to believe them, but the dirty looks he got from the Marines made him ask for a new assignment."
"I can't say that I blame the reporter for running. It's awful easy to get shot by 'accident' during a firefight."
Suddenly, there was a call over the inter-Stryker radio, "AMBUSH! AMBUSH! That house on the right 15 meters away."
"All units, ambush from the right. Fire is coming from a house 15 meters to the right of Unit 1. Commence firing. Give them hell!"
Two of the Strykers in the detail, Units 1 and 3 had .50 caliber machine guns as their main armament. Unit 2 used the Mk 19 40mm grenade launcher. Either weapon is death to infantry and light armored vehicles, so the house was a kind of silly "strong point" for attacking a Stryker detail.
"Unit 1, take care of the roof. We'll handle the lower floor. Unit 2, drop three grenades through that window."
This was massive overkill, but the men of the Stryker were getting pissed off at the insurgents, so they needed to let off a little steam. The .50 caliber bullets cut through the mud bricks of the house like the proverbial hot butter. Some even had enough momentum to carry through the rear wall as well. The gunners kept the bullets low enough to the floor so that anyone squatting down would still be hit by a bullet as it came through. Eventually, men were going to have to dismount to check out the house before they moved on, so the gunners wanted to make sure that they were doing a complete job.
Meanwhile, three grenades flew through the window from which had issued the RPG. The explosions completed the destruction of the house. The roof collapsed, and all four walls fell in. There was no way that anyone inside the house could have survived, but the men had to check anyway.
"OK, men, dismount and do your thing." Twenty men ran out the rear doors of the Strykers and deployed in position. There was not much for the sergeants to do to direct them. They were all veterans of this sort of action, so they already knew exactly what to do. The men from Units 1 and 3 swept around to cover the sides and back of the house while the men from Unit 2 covered the front, what there was left of it. Most of the men set up for covering fire, both on the remains of the house and the surrounding neighborhood. You never knew when some unwelcome tourists might show up with AKs and RPGs.
The sergeant from Unit 2 took three men with him and went to take a look at what was left of the house. Hell, there wasn't much to look at, but there was SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) on what to do in this situation, so they went through the drill. They did find the remnants of several RPG rocket units that had been destroyed by the explosion from the grenades. All of the AK-47s that they could find were in unusable condition, so they were just left where they were. Mostly what they found was blood and bits and pieces of bone and flesh. Definitely not a good place for a picnic. The flies were already moving in in droves.
The area was checked out and the men looked for weapon and ammunition caches, but nobody found anything. Of course, nobody expected to find anything—the insurgents had gotten very good at hiding things.
The men reloaded into the Strykers, and the patrol continued. Finally, they came to the end of their patrol range at a town called Ifjie. They rolled into town, and it was very quiet. Normally, kids came running out to beg for candy and such, but nobody showed up this time. "OK, men, it looks like trouble. Everybody make sure your ammo is recharged and you have got your water bottles with you. Ross, take it real slow and be prepared for anything. OK, guys, let's go."