May 6, 2015: Embrace the … New Normal
Two trucks left the farm today and one returned.
Tanner and I came to an agreement yesterday. He would send eight of his men back to the Freeman Militia Center with two of our trucks loaded with supplies while he and three of his men remained here with us.
I also negotiated two Mk 19 automatic grenade launchers and 400 rounds of 40 mm grenades, two M60 machine guns with 24 belts of ammunition and 2400 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition for our M2’s in payment for the use of our trucks and fuel.
We saw Tanner’s men off at around 6:00 this morning. By about 9:00 p.m. one of the two trucks showed up at the gate. Initially, we were concerned that they had come under attack … and that they might have led the attackers back here to the farm. As the truck came down the lane, however, it became apparent that it was in perfect condition. The likelihood of an attack shrank in our minds and we all began to wonder why one of the vehicles had returned.
As it turns out, it was for a far worse reason than an attack.
When the driver of the truck pulled to a stop in the yard, the four men jumped out of the truck and rushed over to where Tanner and I were standing. The man who had been in the passenger seat – I can’t remember his name right now – reported.
They made good progress for most of their journey sticking to back roads and avoiding contact for the most part. A few miles north of Omaha, they stopped for a bio break. The man giving the report said that while everyone was relieving themselves, he heard a somewhat familiar noise. It took him a moment to place it, but once he did it gave him considerable cause for concern. He had been a part of The Big Red One – the Army’s First Infantry Division – at Fort Riley and the sound of big diesel engines and tracked vehicles was forever burned in his memory.
I also spent time in The Bloody First and I’ll go to the grave with the sound of those M60’s and M1 Abrams woven permanently into the fabric of my being. Both the older M60’s and the newer M1’s were an awe-inspiring sight and sound.
Anyway … Tanner’s men hustled back to their trucks and hid them out of sight in a nearby grove of trees. Once the trucks were well hidden, they made their way toward the sound. As they got closer, they heard quite a bit of noise. Finding some concealment, they managed to take a look. Much to their surprise, in addition to a M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System – the vehicle with the big diesel and tracks – they saw their own five ton trucks, several HMMWV’s with mounted machine guns, several Deuce-and-a-halfs and somewhere between 200 and 250 troops marching behind the vehicles.
The fighting force appeared to be composed of both U.N. regulars and unidentified irregulars. It seems relatively safe to assume that the irregulars are the same crew that relieved Tanner and his men of their vehicles.
The vehicles and men were headed in a northwesterly direction following Highway 275 which extends from the Omaha area in the general direction of Union Creek. We’re only a few miles from the highway as a matter of fact.
Tanner’s men were able to observe the troop movements for nearly 45 minutes. The small army continued to follow the highway up out of the valley and onto higher ground. Once they reached the higher ground, Tanner’s men were able to observe them setting up camp for the night.
The two five ton trucks and Deuces were covered with tarps so Tanner’s crew was unable to ascertain the nature of the loads being carried, but the MLRS is definitely of grave concern. With that piece of equipment, they could sit 20, 30 perhaps even as far as 40 miles away, depending on the rockets, and simply pound their target into a bloody pulp. I’m quite familiar with the MLRS. I was attached to a civilian contractor, while I was in the Army, that was responsible for training stateside troops on the operation of the system. It is a highly effective tool to say the least.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it lately … I really hate the new normal.
It took me about 30 seconds to put two and two and two together. The soft probes with the families like the Schmidts. The hard probe at Pete’s. The capture of Tanner’s equipment and vehicles.
We’ve been weighed and measured and found to be a desirable target … by someone. Someone with a MLRS and several military truckloads of other weapons and ammunition … one can safely assume. Someone with a troop strength of nearly 250 men. Someone headed this direction … fortunately at the pace of marching men. Thank God they don’t have troop carriers. Thank God they didn’t round up a handful of buses or a cattle truck or ….
That little fact should tell me something.
Why march men for 100 miles when you could simply load them up and haul them much more quickly? Do they lack fuel? Are they good tacticians but prone to miss little details? Are the U.N. soldiers in the group simply used to marching everywhere they go?
That’s going to nag at me all night.
To finish up the debriefing …. Upon completion of their observation, Tanner’s men sent one truck south to the FMC to deliver a few supplies and report their findings to Gunny Hood. The other truck came back to us as quickly as possible.
Man, I wish we could risk radio contact with the FMC through that relay again. No way without encryption and with the enemy between the two of us.
We probably have two days. I’ve done a hundred mile march in four days before, humping pretty hard. That was with a full ruck and carrying my weapon – same as the men coming our way. However, I spent quite a bit of time preparing for that march. I had boots that were well broken in. I had socks and liners to keep my feet from bursting into blisters. I doubt these guys are in that kind of condition. They’re probably not as well prepared or in comparable physical condition.
Still … no more than two days.
Time to embrace the new normal.