Chapter 16: Don’t Get Too Comfortable
“I was complacent once. And I almost died for it.” – Drill Sergeant Duffy
There was a sergeant who was on patrol in downtown Baghdad. He was married with kids, and was active duty infantry (frontline soldier).
When you are stationed somewhere for a long time, it is very easy to become complacent. There are certain safety precautions put in place to help raise the chances of you returning home in one piece. However, such precautions are sometimes forgotten because a soldier has become too comfortable with his environment.
One such precaution is to never go anywhere alone. This soldier became complacent. He left his group behind and went to the market alone. What was he looking for? A goddamn bottle of coke.
He was ambushed at a stand. Small arms fire broke out from the village, and the sergeant was shot in the back of the head. It was over quickly. The medics could do nothing for him. A widow now has to raise her sons all by herself. Why? Because the soldier wanted a bottle of coca-cola. War is very unforgiving for the slightest mistakes.
Another incident occurred at a base where a bunch of soldiers got drunk in a guard tower and thus failed to secure the perimeter. Some insurgents took the opportunity to launch mortars at a bunker. Soldiers were complacent and figured the mortar fire wouldn’t land anywhere near them (mortar fire is very very inaccurate unless the enemy has a spotter in place). They went outside of the bunker, and a mortar blew up the platoon leader, a lieutenant who commissioned through ROTC.
Although you might think it was the lieutenant’s fault for becoming complacent, he wasn’t the only one to blame. Soldiers look out for one another, and his soldiers failed to act to save his life.
Did you know General Petraeus was shot before? Not by the enemy. Back when he was a Lieutenant Colonel, he was shot by a soldier due to a negligent discharge during a training exercise. Soldiers get complacent and forget to use basic safety precautions that could save their lives.
With all these mistakes having been made, I intend on coming back alive in one piece. I just have to stay focused, alert, and motivated. But war is unforgiving and chaotic, and no matter how many precautions you take, you can never account for what is going to happen. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.