I've been in the military for over six years now, including ~3.5 spent on active duty in Fort Bragg, NC. I deployed in 2010 and spent almost every day clearing IED's off of routes, engaging in firefights, and talking with the locals. Some bad stuff happened, but overall it was an experience that I wouldn't trade for the world. Now that I'm off active duty and in the reserves, I attend college full time studying political science with a concentration in the Middle East because it's an area of the world that's always fascinated me. Obviously, since I'm still in I sent my proof to the mods. Ask me anything you want!

Comments: 188 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

chili_ring34 karma

Aren't you worried that the people that planted the bomb could blow it up while you're clearing it? I saw the Hurt Locker and now I assume all IED dismantlers are just insane yahoos.

12BOEFX52 karma

There are three primary methods they use downrange to set off IED's.

  • One is a remote controlled detonation in which the person intending on setting off the IED sits at an observation point some distance away. When the intended target drives or walks over it, he hits a switch that sends a signal to the antenna and sets that IED off. This isn't usually very successful now because, without getting into specifics (OPSEC), the military has a device that is both carried and loaded into vehicles that disrupts and blocks all telecommunication signals in its range. No signals get into the bubble unless they're our own encrypted signals.

  • Another method would be a command wire detonation. This means that they actually physically run a wire from the IED to their observation point, hook it up to the switch and manually press it when their target drives/walks over it. This was never really successful with us because we adapted after our first IED det to a specific ground formation. Basically, there are two dismount teams, one on each side of the road. They go slightly ahead of the convoy and spread out into a Y shape. This way they're out clearing the tree lines or any other area where there might be an OP. Here, I drew you a shitty picture to show roughly what I mean.

  • The last method, and the most dangerous, is the good old fashioned pressure plate. Basically what this is is two plates (can be made of everything) with a spring connecting them. There's a wire on each plate and they're both connected to the explosives. When someone passes over it or steps on the pressure plate, the two wires on each plate connect and complete the charge setting the IED off. This is the most dangerous because whether or not it goes off completely depends on how good your guys with the metal detectors are, or how good your Husky driver is. It is completely subject to human error.

Just to be technical however, we're not "IED dismantlers". We're combat engineers. Our job is to find them. There are certain classes you can take to be authorized to disable up to a certain size and type, but EOD typically handles all of the IED disposal in a route clearance package. At least that's what it was like for my RCP downrange. We always had EOD attached on a clearance mission.

zhiggins7216 karma

What did citizens think of you? Did they appreciate the removal of ieds or did they want you out of their country?

12BOEFX54 karma

A bit of both, I think. There are obviously those who don't want us there and I completely understand that. This is their country that we're walking and driving all over. One of the things that always bothered me is that on patrols, we obviously can't walk in the road (IED's), so we spread out off the sides of the road. Most people in Afghanistan are some sort of farmer, and we'd have no choice but to just walk all over their crops and their land. It sucks, and I still feel horrible about it even though most people would consider that a small thing. It's the small things like that though that make you realize why some of them don't like us.

And some of them certainly did appreciate the removal of IED's. We were on a clearance patrol once and this elderly gentleman ran up to us to let us know that anti-American forces had just planted a new batch of IED's a few kilometers up the road. Our interpreter talked to him and the gentleman said that he has grandkids that walk to school that way. His information turned out to be good, and I'm sure he didn't have to worry about his grandkids being blown up walking to school.

my_baby_ate_dingos6 karma

the gentleman said that he has grandkids that walk to school that way

That hit me hard. Foreign forces are in his country, nutjobs with AK's shooting at everything and everyone that doesn't live exactly by the rules of their medieval ideology, and this guy's main concern is still living his life as it should be and improving his family's lives.

Did you ever get a chance to participate in the community's life? Did your unit, I don't know, help build a bridge, or irrigation, or show up at school to talk to the kids?

12BOEFX1 karma

Not really know, at least not anything like that sort of stuff. We had to run a few missions to repair IED damage. We took a construction unit out with us and all their heavy equipment and cleared the route for them so they could repair the roads. that was cool I guess.

ohhhhigetit11 karma

What's the hardest part about being in a war?

12BOEFX30 karma

It's hard to name one thing as the "hardest" part of war. The whole thing is hard. It takes a toll on your body, your mind and your spirit. That's why the military is always sponsoring USO and MWR programs to come to warzones. When I was at Jalalabad they sent some NFL cheerleaders out. I didn't go because I wasn't interested, but it's cool that the military funds that sort of stuff for us. If I did have to name one thing that was harder than the others though, it's that first day waking up after a buddy dies and knowing that he's not there to talk to anymore. Being away from family is hard, but I know that they'll be there when I get back. My buddy who I've slept next to, joked around with, showered with (because communal showers still exist!) will never be there ever again.

thedreamlab9 karma

What was the most devious location of an IED that you found? Did you develop a 6th sense for finding them

12BOEFX19 karma

I wouldn't call it a 6th sense necessarily, but you do sort of get an eye for things outside of the ordinary. Dig patterns that would be invisible to someone who doesn't know what they're looking for, things like that. The most devious location though would have to be a rocket that was embedded in the wall of a house that had 3 children living in it. Basically the idea was that we'd walk by and they'd set it off to hopefully injure us, and then deflect blame on the family that lived in that house.

poohslayer8 karma

Are you still serving? If not how do you adjust from what is perceived to be a high adrenaline and stress level job back to the more mundane way of life?

12BOEFX17 karma

I'm in the reserves now. My active duty contract was about to expire and I was just going to cut the leash completely, but when you enlist you sign up for an 8 year commitment regardless and I decided I liked the military, so I might as well keep doing it in some form or another. Plus, I figured I'd already be employed by the army than have them call me sometime down the road in the next 4 years and tell me that I have 30 days to report.

It's hard to adjust, even if it's been a few years. When you're down range you always have a get up and go mentality. you wake up, do your mission, come back, workout and go to sleep. Wake up and repeat. Back home in the "real world" the downtime is what gets to me. Real life doesn't have any of the adrenaline-inducing moments you'd have down range. You can be just sitting in your tent down range and BAM, a mortar falls right near you and you have to get up and go to work. So you're always ready. When I get home from work or school there's not really much to do besides exercise, watch TV or play video games.

The only way you can adjust is to pick up a hobby that satisfies that craving for adventure and adrenaline. I picked up snowboarding, and even that doesn't even come close to comparing but it's better than nothing.

NinjaNymph5 karma

My so was marine infantry. He told me once or twice he cleared IEDs. Any general advice for everyday with him for me?

12BOEFX17 karma

To be honest I wouldn't even know where to begin. Being a wife is completely different than being a friend. My only guess would be to be patient with him. Things will be different than before he left. He might yell about mundane things from time to time and you might feel the need to yell back, but try to restrain yourself, especially if it's little things. He came from a place where all the little things matter. Patience is key. Try to talk to him, get him to open up. I said the opposite for another guy but he was just a buddy so it's different for you.

Sha11owBay8 karma

I have always wondered, how difficult it is to maneuvere in those giant bomb suits while doing such a delicate, precision based job?

12BOEFX12 karma

Not my job. It's a common misconception though when I tell people what I did. Basically, EOD does all the actual disposal. Combat engineers in a route clearance package search, find, and then expose the IED by digging it up. Basically, we do all the work while EOD gets to do the fun stuff (I'm only sort of being sarcastic).

To answer your question though, we only had one EOD team towards the end of our deployment actually use the suit. We rolled out with a NAVY team, an Air Force team, a Czechoslovakian team, and two army teams. The only ones that used it was our second army team towards the end of the deployment. He did not look or sound like he was having a good time in it. The other teams have told me that there's no point in using it anyways, because if you're right over the IED and it goes off, that suit isn't going to save your life.

Blutarski6 karma

How do you differentiate between peolple who are friendly to you and those who are not? Does your anger at the latter bleed over? I don't know how you could do anything other than treat every local as a potential TB, suicide bomber, or otherwise adversary; even though that seems crappy (by crappy I mean it must suck to have to suspect the people you are trying to defend). What was your technique?

12BOEFX23 karma

I always tried to treat every local as kindly and respectfully as I could, unless something major had just happened. If we're just walking through the street and there's people (men) passing by, I just say hello, shake their hand and move on. There's no reason to treat everyone you see as an enemy. A lot of people already don't like us, no reason to push anybody that's indifferent over to the other side. Now, if an IED had just gone off or if we were in a firefight, I would be a little more forceful and actually shout commands at them because I'm not just trying to protect myself, I'm trying to protect them too.

I never really got angry at the ones that weren't friendly at us. I understand where they're coming from. How would you like it if another country was constantly patrolling your neighborhood? A lot of people have this misconception that enemy forces in Afghanistan are terrorists that want to come to America and bomb the shit out of us. That's just simply not true. A lot of them are just sick of us dropping bombs and walking all over their land, and that's understandable.

Jonnyred6 karma

How would you describe combat to some like me who has never been in combat. I read a description once that said combat is hours of extreme boredom followed by minutes of sheer terror?

12BOEFX15 karma

Pretty much. You roll outside the gate and conduct a mission that can take say, 14 hours. On that mission maybe you get into a firefight that lasts only a few minutes before they retreat.

In reality though it's hard to describe. Firefights are simultaneously awesome and terrifying. Obviously you don't want any of your friends to die, but there's nothing like that adrenaline rush you get when it's you and someone else and the only thing that matters for life and death is how good you or the other guy is at aiming your weapon. There's nothing like it.

DefinitelynotAussie5 karma

Im aspiring to become a combat engineer, i was wondering if you could give me a short list of pros and cons about being deployed and maybe tell me if it was a worthwhile experience?

12BOEFX11 karma

Pros and cons of being a combat engineer in general:

  • A lot of fun, depending on our unit.
  • Combat jobs tend to create stronger bonds with your buddies than other jobs in the military.
  • Satisfying knowing that you're doing a job that most other people can't physically or mentally do.

Cons:

  • It's a combat job, so a lot of the shittier aspects of the army are going to be front and center (D&C, customs and courtesies to the max, etc).
  • It's not going to help you do anything when it's your time to get out. It's not a job with any transferable skills really. I had a hard time finding a job when I got off active duty, so much so that I eventually had to start over and take an entry level position that a high schooler can get just to get transferable skills.

Pros and cons of deployment

Pros

  • You're out actually doing something that benefits both the mission and the locals. You're literally taking injury and death so that others don't have to.

  • Once again, you get to do a job that not very many people are capable of doing, and that would give you a lot of pride. Less than 1% of the entire US joins the military, and even less of the ones that do ever see any type of combat (whether it be IED's or firefights).

Cons:

  • You'll never get a full nights sleep, ever. Even if you have a "day off", it's never an actual day off, it's a day for you to fix trucks and maintain whatever gear/weapons you have.

  • The stress is unbelievably high. That's why I mentioned about that it's a job that most aren't capable of doing. You have to be clear-headed every time you roll outside that gate, whether you find out your wife is fucking your buddy back home or whether you just watched your buddy bleed to death just a few days prior.

Overall, it's a worthwhile experience in my opinion. I saw death and destruction, and that sucks, but it's a fantastic experience that would have happened to someone else anyways had I not joined, so I'm glad that I was a part of it and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

andypandy3424 karma

Was there ever a moment where you thought "Oh shit, I'm gonna die!"?

12BOEFX10 karma

Nah, there's no time to really think about that sort of stuff because when shit hits the fan and you do start to think about it, you really can die. You can't hesitate for those types of thoughts, ever.

Rdunklee4 karma

Pardon my bluntness but what was your salary? I personally think we dont pay our military enough for protecting our country.

12BOEFX7 karma

You can view all the paycharts for the past 65 years here. When you're deployed to a combat zone though, you get a little bit extra. At the time when I was deployed, we got a per diem allowance every day, imminent danger pay, hostile fire pay and demo pay. And your pay is tax free. Back in the states, I was a single soldier living in the barracks so I actually made out okay considering that my only bills I had to pay were my cell phone and my car insurance. By the time I got off active duty I was making like 900 every 2 weeks after taxes, and only roughly 200 of that went to bills.

As for deployment, there's not really much to spend your money on so I was able to put like 25k in the bank by the time I got back.

Rdunklee3 karma

How do they record the eminent danger pay and hostile fire pay? Is there like a punchcard? EDIT: Pardon my lack of knowledge

12BOEFX4 karma

At the time, the military just paid it out as a flat rate. If you were in a country that qualified (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc), you got paid it for the whole month. I know that's changed over the past year or two though, but I honestly have no idea how it's calculated. I would assume that the finance personnel would submit a request per soldier if they took fire.

BorderColliesRule4 karma

Would you describe the most complex and or most insidiously made/designed IED you've come across?

Coming from a former 11B3P. Cheers

12BOEFX13 karma

There were never really any super complex ones, but that most insidiously made one that we came across was a bunch of hollowed out 155's or 107's (I forgot which one) hooked right into the power source. They were filled with hundreds of little flechette rounds packed inside. Except, these weren't just regular flechette rounds. EOD took them in and studied them and found that each flechette was coated in an anti-coagulating substance, so that even if we were struck by some and had typically non life threatening injuries, we would bleed out. One of the most devious things I ever saw.

BorderColliesRule4 karma

and found that each flechette was coated in an anti-coagulating substance.

I can only hope an S2/G2 followed that shit up and tracked down the source because that's some fucked up shit right there. That pretty much qualifies for a Bio-weapon designation.

Quick follow up. What was the most amateur hour IED that you encountered? The one that made you laugh your ass off?

12BOEFX14 karma

Most IED's were actually roughly the same type and build, just different materials for triggers and things like that. It's almost like they have their own FM's dictating how to make it. There is an incident however that's not quite what you asked but it relates. It wasn't the IED that made us laugh our ass off, it was the trigger man. They got a legitimate mentally retarded person to try and set off the IED. Needless to say, we found him because he couldn't lay still or quick making noise. He eventually guided us to the IED and we arrested him and took him back to base to be interviewed. He was released within a day because nobody wants a legitimate mentally handicapped person stuck in jail, plus, he's already shown he's not even mentally sound enough to push a button.

pnewell4 karma

Besides the obvious answer of hugging your loved ones, what's the first thing you do when you get home?

12BOEFX16 karma

The first thing I did was take off my shoes and walk through the grass barefoot. It was awesome. 12 months of just sand, dirt and rocks makes you really appreciate the little things like that.

Ralph2123 karma

We're you ever involved in the capture or pursuits of high priority targets?

12BOEFX4 karma

No, never. That wasn't our job. Those types of operations usually involve infantry or some form of special operations (rangers included). We did end up getting tasked with two missing persons missions though. In 2010, there were two Navy gentleman that went missing somewhere in Logar province and then later in the year after we moved we were tasked with setting up roadblocks and searching vehicles and surrounding countryside to try and find Linda Norgrove. That was when we were assigned to JAF.

Ralph2123 karma

Would you ever consider to deploy again should the US intervene in Iraq or Ukraine?

12BOEFX18 karma

I like to consider myself a humanitarian, which is why when I say yes it might seem contradictory. I don't know much about the Ukraine situation, but that seems to me to be more a civil war on which direction the country should head (pro-EU or pro-Russia). That's more of a "classic" civil war that I feel like the US should have no business intervening in.

In terms of Iraq though, absolutely. At it's worst, the 2nd Iraq war was absolutely nasty and I've had friends that have come back a shell of what they were, both physically and mentally. However, this is where the humanitarian in me comes in. I do not like ISIS, and I actually think fighting them would be a worthy cause. Anybody that commits egregious human rights violations should feel the weight of the entire US military step down on them in my opinion.

Now, I know people on here are going to point out that the US commits their own human rights violations, and I agree. ISIS is in an entirely different spectrum though. Anybody who offers the chance to pay, flee or convert and then kills them anyway is not somebody worthy to breathe the same air as the rest of the world.

Murica-WeThePeople3 karma

What is the hardest war zone to pronounce?

12BOEFX6 karma

What do you mean? Like what province, city, town etc? As far as war zones, they were split into battle spaces "owned" by varying military commands.

Murica-WeThePeople3 karma

It is like abaddabad and other impossible to say names

12BOEFX12 karma

Ohhhh. Well there's Jalalabad which can be hard for first timers to say. There's Mazar-i-Sharif which some people tend to have trouble saying (the i is pronounced ee). To be honest, I still don't even know if Kabul is pronounced "Ka-bool" or "Cobble". There was a place called methalamb or something similar that I could never say right or name, so I just called it Meth Lab.

lets-start-a-riot2 karma

Could you tell me how your routine was? And how often did you find IED's?

12BOEFX6 karma

The frequency of finds would depend on a few factors. How often we would patrol that route, the weather and season, and how many we found since we started patrolling that route.

There were some routes that they never touched, simply because they're just as valuable to them as a supply route as they are to us. We didn't really find much in the winter, as the ground is hard to dig into. The summer we found at least one almost every single day. There was a route that they just stopped putting them on because we kept finding them, guess they realized it was a waste of resources on that specific route (it was an easy route to find IED's).

As far as routine, we'd wake up every day, prepare the trucks, weapons, ammo, water, food, etc. Typically we'd be on the trucks two hours before the mission started. Then we'd conduct the mission would could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on what exigent circumstances arise (missing aid worker, etc). If it was an IED heavy area, we'd patrol by foot really slow (called deliberate clearance), and if it was a low area of interest, we'd all just stay in the trucks and drive approximately 10kph, just using our eyes.

SociallyAwkwardPika2 karma

My boyfriend was in Afghanistan too.. he's back, and now we're dealing (we live together) with his ptsd, chronic pain from deployment relates injuries, depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, and so on. Any experience with the matter or advice to help him get through this? He's in therapy, getting treatment from the VA, on wellbutrin, and goes to group therapy. We're trying to be proactive but I still can't wrap my head around everything completely and I have a difficult time dealing with his outbursts a lot of the time :(

12BOEFX5 karma

Like I said earlier, it's going to be hard but you'll just have to be patient with him. His outbursts will fade over time with your help and psychiatric help from the VA and other therapy. What I've found that actually helped me is going to a place like the VFW to have a drink every now and again. Most of the vets that go there are from Vietnam, but it's always good to talk to fellow veterans, share war stories, etc. Take him on activities that you think he'd enjoy, try to keep his mind occupied. Try to find out what makes him "tick", not so you can straight up avoid those situations, but so you can recognize the signs and develop a way to keep him calm.

HereIsWhere2 karma

If you had to wear the same shirt everyday for the rest of you life, but the shirt had one word on it, what word would that be?

12BOEFX1 karma

Can the word be an acronym for many words?

HereIsWhere1 karma

It must be one word. No acronyms, sorry.

12BOEFX2 karma

Abibliophobia

bodobeers2 karma

If you are able to tell, what is the local lifestyle like for the average Afghanistan person in the areas you were deployed? I mean if you are in the rural areas, is it very primitive or do the folks there live kind of like any normal farmer communities from other countries if you could compare them? PS thanks for serving and putting yourself at risk.

12BOEFX7 karma

It's very primitive. Many of these places have no electricity or running water or anything like that. They live in mud houses. But it's still impressive because families have lived there for generations. They're able to farm in the most desolate and dire of conditions and they're able to provide for themselves and their families rather comfortably. Nobody ever looked like they were underfed or dying from starvation or thirst. It was kind of awe-inspiring to be honest with you and I'm a little jealous that I wouldn't even be able to survive a month in an environment like that.

RDRKeeper2 karma

how do the locals feel about the military struggles? do they choose sides? what do they want that the media might not be telling us?

12BOEFX5 karma

Some of them choose sides, some of them are indifferent and don't care either way. Really, I think they just want what we all want; to be self-sufficient and to raise their family in peace.

Sirpwnyourface2 karma

How big were the IEDs you ran into?

12BOEFX6 karma

The biggest one we found was ~500 pounds give or take (10 50 lb jugs of HME). The biggest one we hit was maybe 200 pounds. Everybody was fine but the ~1 million dollar truck was sent to the scrapyard.

j3ffjessie2 karma

Where did you serve while deployed?

12BOEFX2 karma

At first we mainly ran missions out of Shank in Logar province, and then about halfway we moved and ran missions out of Nangarhar and Kunar province. However, being route clearance, we tended to be sent all over the place.

zoricabrunclik2 karma

Any experience with Legionnaires of the FFL or the Foreign Legion for that matter? if so pls give some info on those guys, there's lot of misinfo on the internet. thinking about enrolling with them mainly for their rep and for a military life

12BOEFX2 karma

We never rolled out with them, but we hung out with them when we first got to country because they got there roughly the same time we did and we all stayed in the tent. They were a great bunch of guys. It was cool to meet all the people from different countries all over the world. One of them was from Texas and he translated for us. We traded some little stuff with them. Patches, hats, etc. They were all pretty awesome. Played some spades with them one night and they all seemed to enjoy their lives just fine.

IWasOnceATeddy2 karma

What goes through your mind when you are clearing a potentially active IED?

12BOEFX3 karma

Not much really, you don't feel any sense of danger while you're uncovering it. If it was a remote controlled or command wire IED, it would have gone off and if it's a pressure plate, the amount of care that you put into safely uncovering it means that it's not likely to go off anyways. Whenever I was digging, I'd like to sing to myself to keep any nerves at bay.

2white2care1 karma

Haha weird question but what songs do you sing?

12BOEFX1 karma

Whatever's in my head really. I sang a lot of Frightened Rabbit.

TheAlphabetMan2 karma

What are the living conditions like over there?

12BOEFX2 karma

Depends where you are. There are big bases like Kandahar and Bagram, and then tiny little observation posts like you'd see in the movie Restrepo. At big bases, there are pretty awesome living conditions, awesome chow halls, etc. Full AC, heat, good shower facilities, etc. Both Bagram and Kandahar have plenty of amenities as well. A nicely stocked post exchange (store) where you can buy everything from toiletries to iPods. They even have fast food out there. Kandahar even had a TGI Fridays!

On the tiny bases, it could just be you and a cot or even you and your trucks. I kind of loved that aspect though because it's just you and your buddies, no brass walking around you have to watch out for, etc. You're always filthy and everyone smells awful much of the time, so it doesn't matter. It's the easy life!

openyourmouthbitch1 karma

Is route Red still clear?

12BOEFX1 karma

I'm not familiar with route Red. All of the routes we did were named after cities and states in the US (Route Indianapolis, NY North, NY South, etc).

[deleted]1 karma

[deleted]

12BOEFX4 karma

I messaged it to the mods. I'm not sure how much crap they have to cycle through though to get to mine.

Spoonner1 karma

Why did you decide to go in for IEDs?

Do have any funny stories from basic?

12BOEFX3 karma

To be honest, I didn't even know a thing about IED's when I picked my MOS. Anybody who's ever chosen to be a combat engineer probably saw the same info video that I saw. They were blowing shit up and kicking in doors and I was like, "fuck yea I wanna do that!". I got to blow some stuff up, but never in combat (I got to watch something blow up almost everyday though, damn EOD give us our chance!) and kicking doors in was against EOF and ROE by the time I deployed.

Man, basic was six years ago. The hard part about telling basic training stories is that everyone goes to the same basic training (as in curriculum not location), so pretty much all "funny" basic training stories are the same.

-fry-1 karma

[deleted]

12BOEFX3 karma

Probably blue. Reminds me of the ocean.

jakeakas4l1 karma

I assume you were RC-East? Which province?

12BOEFX2 karma

Logar and then Nangarhar & Kunar.

user58291 karma

How much of life in the armed forces is controlled/influenced by private contractors?

12BOEFX1 karma

Only to the extent of certain equipment. Like the trucks for example. Our mechanics could do some stuff with them (fixing them, etc), but there was a certain point where we had to bring it to the actual private contractors who work for the company who made them. ManTech I think was the name. Where we were there was only a few of them so if a truck was down past what the mechanics could do with it, it might take a while and some sweet-talking to get them to bump you up the line.

user58291 karma

what about housing and food? I've heard that most army camps are actually built by halliburton.

12BOEFX1 karma

And KWR. Housing was okay at large bases, build it yourself at smaller observation points and the like. Food on large bases was great, and if you have a good cook then tiny base food was okay too. If all else fails, MRE's.

Thecuccinater1 karma

To start, thank you for your service. As for my question. What unit was your EOD team attached to and what was your gear SOP? Thanks!

12BOEFX1 karma

Not EOD, I'm a combat engineer. I don't remember the exact EOD units that were attached to us because only two army EOD teams got attached to us and I'm not familiar with Navy, Air Force or Czech units. For gear, the only requirements were at least 210 rounds (if you were just a rifleman), your vest (could be an IOTV or a plate carrier), your helmet, eye protection and gloves. And water, never forget water. Those were the only requirements that were dictated by the battalion. There were other units that made their soldiers wear the whole shebang with the IOTV (shoulder pads, etc), but we had to maintain mobility and safety so we went with the bare minimum we would be comfortable with. Anything else was just extra that you could take if you want.

Thecuccinater1 karma

Thanks for the info. If you wanted to use top tier equipment (Crye Precision, LBT, Paraclete) did you guys have to buy it your self from overseas and have it shipped or was it offered at the FOB for free for your unit?

12BOEFX1 karma

There was never really any need to buy much equipment outside what the army issues you. For some things, like boots or gloves, it's beneficial but the army provides you everything you need really. We didn't get issued any of the top notch gear but we didn't really need it.

Cageweek1 karma

Haave you gotten any sort of injuries, wounds, or even scars from your service in the army?

12BOEFX1 karma

Nothing visible. I have a bad back that will hurt for the rest of my life. My lumbar got fucked from both IED's and sitting in trucks for hours/days at a time. Sometimes it hurts worse than others, but currently it doesn't really affect my daily life unless I let it. Sometimes I get headaches. I'm not sure if that's from combat or not though, so I don't like to say it is. Could be I'm just not drinking enough water.

kylenigga1 karma

What responsibilities does your CO have? Like a Lt or Captain in EOD.

12BOEFX1 karma

Not EOD, I was a combat engineer. The CO for my company was responsible for getting the tasking's from the battle space owner and directing the correct route clearance package to the mission. Our CO was in command of four route clearance platoon's, so he had to constantly assess each one for what they were good at and what they were poor at so he could send in the right one for the mission. For example, one platoon was poor at finding IED's but they excelled in firefights; so they would be sent to the lower IED routes but high risk firefight routes, etc.

vis_comica1 karma

Have you ever been impressed by the devices manufactured by enemy forces? It's there a standard or are they mostly rudimentary explosives weapons? I would also like to thank you for your service. I don't think you guys get enough credit.

12BOEFX3 karma

The thing that's impressive is that they're fighting a war with a negligible fraction of the resources that a country like the US has, and yet they're still keeping us on our toes. The US has complicated bombs and missiles and other weapons of war, while the enemy forces mostly have old AK-47's and they make most of their IED explosives by hand, and yet, they are a very real threat every time you roll out of that gate.

ZeldaWithASword1 karma

Thank you for your service. I have a friend that recently came back from overseas, my question is, is there anything I can do for him to help his transition home? Thank you again for your time.

12BOEFX5 karma

Just hang out with him. I know you might have a desire to ask questions, but don't. He'll eventually open up to you. Invite him to stuff and make him feel included back at home again.

OmnipotentStudent1 karma

What was your physical training like on a day-day basis?

12BOEFX2 karma

The job was already physically demanding, so there was that. Walking many kilometers every day with 50+ pounds of extra gear is a great way to maintain fitness. In addition, I would try to hit up the gym for an hour every day that I could. I had a workout regiment that would vary on when I could go. My job didn't permit for a "Friday is leg day, Saturday is upper body day" sort of workout. So I just had to do the best I could with the minimum workout gear available as with the low amount of free time I had. An example workout for upper body would be: 3 sets of 10 pullups, 3 sets of 71 pushups (71 was the max on PT test for my age at the time), 3 sets of bench press (weight varies) and 3 sets of curls, both dumbell and barbell.

jaywhoo1 karma

Thanks for your service! Have you ever read the book "My War?" If so, how similar would you say the author's experiences were to yours, or the average soldier?

12BOEFX1 karma

I haven't. Is that the book by Andy Rooney? Sadly, I haven't really read much in years although it was a love of mine before I joined the military. I should really get back into it though, and maybe I'll start off with that book!

jaywhoo1 karma

It's by a guy named Colby Buzzell. It's basically about his time in the Army. He made a blog about it and was censored for OPSEC reasons, so it's probably not very typical to that extent, but his descriptions of firefights etc are pretty interesting.

12BOEFX1 karma

This AMA has actually been a lot harder than I thought because I don't even know what would constitute an OPSEC violation or not. Obviously there's the obvious, people, places, specifics, dates and times, etc. But outside of that with like descriptions of events and things like that, I actually have no idea. So I've been trying to be really careful.

thehairyrussian1 karma

What was your best experience in the military? the worst?

12BOEFX2 karma

Best experience? Getting back from deployment without any significant physical damage and virtually no mental damage outside of some bad dreams here and there. Worst experience? Seeing my buddies lifeless body or emptying out his sleeping area when we got back from mission.

Sihplak1 karma

Was there any aggression against you from any militants/rebels/etc. there?

12BOEFX1 karma

Of course, it's a war zone. The type of aggression would vary. Some people would just swear at us from the side of the road, some would throw rocks at our bullet/bomb proof trucks, and someone would actually shoot at us.

GoldenRatios1 karma

They don't really disarm IEDs in person right? A friend of mine in the Army OCS said EOD drones were employed more frequently.

12BOEFX2 karma

When I was down range, the IED's were disposed of exclusively by hand in person. The talon is there to use, but it's clunky and not reliable. We liked to be both efficient and successful, so we just cleared by hands. It was much quicker than deploying various technology. Of course, not all EOD teams are the same and they all have their own TTP's and SOP's.

eodryan1 karma

EOD guy here. I'd say 95% IEDs were done by hand for me.

12BOEFX1 karma

Did you just find that it was actually safer and more efficient doing it that way like we did?

GoldenRatios1 karma

Interesting. So its more of a decision to be made by the individual team then.

12BOEFX1 karma

Absolutely. That's why there are other route clearance units who do the complete opposite of what we do. Each unit has the authority to dictate their own procedures.

sobieski841 karma

Why is it ok to not support the wars but we are required to support the troops?

12BOEFX10 karma

I made mention of this in another reply, but I'll do it here to. Simply put, in my opinion, we just do a job that you and others are not willing to do. There's nothing wrong with that, the military isn't for everybody. But if we didn't do it, then you might be forced to do it. If people didn't volunteer, people who really didn't wanna go would be drafted and forced to participate regardless of what personal views they hold. It sounds cheesy, but people who volunteer get sent so you don't.

amuuricaa1 karma

This is probably the best opinion I've heard about this topic and would consider quoting you on this if anyone ever had asked me that question

12BOEFX3 karma

Feel free! Send my royalties to my lawyer.

alexesver1 karma

Are you in EOD? What does a typical day consist of? Whats the scariest moment or time you've had? Also? Those trucks you ride in.. how badass are they?

12BOEFX1 karma

No, not EOD. EOD is a completely separate MOS. They get more in depth training on how to dismantle explosives and what not, on par to what a bomb squad would get in the states. We just look for them, uncover them and then call EOD up for them to actually get dealt with.

A typical day consisted of waking up, being on the trucks two hours early to prepare anything we needed to prepare. Someone usually runs and grabs just plates of of random breakfast food for us to eat. We get our mission brief and roll out of the gate, spend hours up to days in a mission, come back. We fuel up our trucks, refit everything that needs to be resupplied, eat, work out, go to bed and wake up to do it all over again.

The scariest moment was probably my first IED det. You get all disoriented and you don't really realize what happened at first. It's a weird experience. Your eyes and ears are still working but you can't make sense of anything for a few seconds/minutes. Then you realize what happened and you check on your buddies.

The newer buffaloes are fucking awesome. Great AC, comfortable seats. The RG's and the Husky are pains in the ass. The RG seats are made of hard rubber and when you have to sit on them for hours at a time it really sucks. The AC never works a damn bit, and it's just uncomfortable and cramped. The Husky's okay. It's just you in there so you kinda just cruise around and do stuff when you're needed.

Creature-teacher1 karma

What are IED's made of? Did you find they were made of different types of materials? What was the strangest?!?

12BOEFX2 karma

I'm not too familiar with the technical aspects of IED creation, but it is my understanding that they primarily use fertilizer as the main ingredient. Presumably fertilizer with a high ammonium nitrate content, which is used for farming as well as mining explosives.

PutinsButtPlug1 karma

Fellow 12B here, Husky or buffalo? And did you guys have the two man huskies? If so how were they? I miss my husky :(

12BOEFX1 karma

I mainly worked out of the Buffalo and RG. Never drove the Husky. At the beginning of the deployment we did have two Husky's, but they kept breaking on us so we downgraded to one Husky. The GPR was always breaking on that fucking thing though.

flal41 karma

My sister is enlisted in the Navy but her contract expires in a year, I am trying to convince her to stay in (which she is leaning towards) and to join the Navy's EOD team (She is not as interested in this)

Any advise on how to convince her?

Edit: Remembered the name of the job

12BOEFX1 karma

I'm not really sure, I'm not EOD. But since I did work hand in hand with them, I can say that they did enjoy the challenges of their job. It's a great job to do if you like working under pressure, that sort of thing. It's also a great thing to take with you to the civilian world. Good EOD experts don't come around very often, so police agencies tend to pay very well for the skills. And she could probably even make more if she went into the private sector and worked for say, a mining company.

iigorii1 karma

I have just completed EOD 1 training, and now I'm thinking of going service somewhere, can you describe what kind of job is it out there?

12BOEFX1 karma

What do you mean? Military or private sector?

ayures1 karma

Two questions on behalf of /r/military:

1) I heard you EOD guys have all praised Hurt Locker for its realism. What's your favorite part?

2) Thank you for your service.

12BOEFX3 karma

The Hurt Locker is the pinnacle of war film realism. I really enjoyed the documentary feel to the whole thing. I really enjoyed the part where the lead EOD guy tells his 3 man team to split up. If there's one thing I learned in basic training, it's that it's always best to split up a tiny team to cover more ground.

oridjinal1 karma

does us mil protect/use poppy fields?

12BOEFX1 karma

I don't know what the CIA does but we trampled all over that shit so no.

oridjinal1 karma

does local population get "angry" when you destroy their fields?

12BOEFX1 karma

The US has a a formal compensation program for any damages suffered. Other than that I have no idea. I would imagine. If you were a farmer you probably wouldn't like people walking all over your crops. I mentioned this in another comment, but it's always one of the little things I felt bad about.

staper231 karma

How many EOD bots did you lose?

12BOEFX1 karma

None. Only one team ever used a TALON and that was because it was an IED attached to a fuel truck in the middle of Jalalabad.

DeePro11 karma

Do you wipe standing up?

12BOEFX3 karma

I do. I never understood the whole sitting down thing. I feel like you would miss some of the major spots, no? Plus I'm not very flexible, so wiping standing up was always much easier for me.

DynamiCircuitry0 karma

To put it bluntly, how are you not completely mind-fucked? PTSD is serious business. I'll bet you know at least one guy whose head is ruined as a result of all of this.

12BOEFX1 karma

To put it bluntly myself, some peoples minds are just weaker than others. That's not a criticism because it's not something that they can control. That's just the way they are. I've always been pretty strong in that regard. I have no problem voicing my feelings or talking to people if I'm having issues. It helps me to do so. But there are some people who have major issues and they'll never feel comfortable talkin about it, and it's tragic because no one will think any less of them if they do. I've had a few buddies commit suicide after we got back, and it sucks knowing that sometimes all it takes is letting a buddy know you're in pain. If we don't know, we can't help them.

Heisenberg5050-37 karma

Ever killed anyone?

12BOEFX25 karma

Maybe, maybe not. I actually have no idea. The attacks never came close enough to actually see their faces or anything like that, so you have to shoot at where the muzzle flashes come from. I've sent thousands of rounds down range (both 5.56 and .50), so the probability that one or even some of them hit somebody are pretty high, but I feel more comfortable not knowing one way or the other.

Heisenberg5050-63 karma

So if you have killed someone, why arent you in jail for murder?

12BOEFX34 karma

For the same reason that if someone started shooting at you in the US and you shot back and killed them you wouldn't go to jail either. In all seriousness though, I don't know how familiar you are with ROE and EOF, but no one ever started shooting unless they were being fired upon first, per the rules of engagement. None of us ever fired a round otherwise.

Heisenberg5050-64 karma

Well you really shouldnt be in their country to be fair, if you seen some, lets say Iraqi soldiers, patrolling the street where you live, what would you do? Your no different from a murderer lets face it pal!

12BOEFX35 karma

Oh, I would fight back the same as they are. I've always understood their mentality in fighting us, and I don't blame them or hate them. It's just war. I respect your opinion though, and you're certainly entitled to it. We may have originally went to Afghanistan under false pretenses, but then I remember what the Taliban was like when they were in charge of Afghanistan and I realize that regardless of how the US got there, I might as well do that best I can while I'm there.

Heisenberg5050-64 karma

Its just war? You say that like its an inevitability, you have a choice whether to go their or not, but they cant make you leave, stay out of their country and thy wont bring you any harm i guarantee it. What good have you brought the people of Afghanistan anyway? By the way as you have probably guessed im anti-war but if i had to pick a side, id pick the taliban just because its tight what you do to them, invade their country and bomb them, then release false information to the media to brainwash your people into thinking youre there for the right reasons.

I hope you lost many friends there pal.

12BOEFX37 karma

I understand where people who think the way you do come from. The reasons we went to war with both Iraq and Afghanistan were not entirely truthful, and that's something I carry with me everyday. The only thing you've said that I take objection to is your statement on the Taliban. I don't know how much you know about them, but before we got there they were executing men and women in the street for offenses as slight as walking with someone who's not an immediate relative. The human rights abuses have definitely gone down since we've been there. there are parts of Kabul now where women can walk around in jeans and a shirt without much fear for their lives. In the Taliban era, they would be hunted down, raped and killed for that. Corrective rape still exists in parts of the country. Female genital mutilation, etc.

In my opinion, I've never even been a fan of the pro-military stance that's expected of Americans. In truth, the only real reason to support the military is that they're willing to do a job that you aren't. If they weren't, you might have had to go involuntarily. That's why the draft exists; to fill slots in the military that people aren't volunteering for. I mean you can say that you'll resist all you want but it would be hard when they're waving a felony conviction and prison time in your face if you don't go.

I know you're tying to rile me up, but it's not going to work. I'm a pretty objective person and I realize why people are anti-war, why they disapprove of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, etc. And I agree with them on many points. My reasons for wanting to fight the war having nothing to do with the US military's reasoning.

Heisenberg5050-12 karma

Im not trying to piss you off, im putting my views out there in my own way, people might not like it and downvote me but i dont care.

Anyway, i dont believe that if you disagree with the way a country is being run then you should invade it and force your own views and laws on people who dont want it. Just because that country isnt westernized and run by white jewish men like America and England, doesnt mean theyre doing it wrong. Let them be and if the civillians dont like it, then run away to another country or be prey for the big dogs, or ya know actually stand up for yourself.

And i think everyone knows America invaded Iraq for the oil, and because war=profit, that aint no secret anymore. Fuck America, fuck western civilisation and Obama, id shoot him myself if we were allowed guns in this country!

Plus, if they tried throwing me in jail for not going to war, id stab the fucker up arse!

12BOEFX4 karma

I agree with you to a certain point. Cultures should be able to thrive and be themselves whichever way they see fit. I don't have a problem with Sharia law at its roots and I feel like Islamic countries should practice that if they see fit to do so. However, there are more classic examples of right and wrong. You don't execute people in the street for arbitrary offenses, that's wrong.

As for Iraq and oil, now that time has passed we now know that that's not entirely true. We got more oil from Iraq before the invasion. And oil prices have gone up for us to buy oil from Iraq. What I think it was really about was the military industrial complex as a whole. War is a big industry (tanks, bombs, guns, gear, etc).