I'll bet they didn't see *that* coming.
Posted here on the reddit.com message board Military Stories by member roman_fyseek (2014)
Operation Agile Provider, 1994(?). I'm TDY from Fort Drum, NY to Little Creek in Virginia Beach where we've spent the last 5 months planning a major joint-forces exercise on humanitarian relief in hostile environments. This is likely the result of the disaster that came out of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. I say "we've planned." That's a lie. I'm a secretary to O-6s and an O-7. I'm not planning shit. I'm typing.
So, here it is, month 6 and exercise kick-off. We've moved from Little Creek to Cherry Point, North Carolina. We're calling it Oceana or some crap. We have maps that look like the North Carolina coastline except for this massive land-mass jutting out into the Atlantic like a very straight erection. I wish I'd kept that map but, I didn't.
The exercise kicks off with Navy elements delivering supplies to Army elements for distribution among the local skinnies who are played by linguists and other spooks. Some operations are disrupted by hostiles. Let the games begin.
Now, in a former life, I was a radio operator for 4 years. As such, I'm a willing volunteer to keep radio watch over all of the networks. I have 4 radios, each tuned to a different frequency and each with a different crypto-tape. One is the humanitarian relief network. One is Navy SEALs. One is Army Rangers. One is the command-and-control.
Most of the radio-watch involves me making log entries documenting what time certain events occur so that we have a good time-line. Sometimes, somebody will come into my office and have me transmit "Intel" on one net or another to move the game along. Sometimes, I have to play the role of REMF and take SPOT reports that should coincide with the documentation in a binder.
Like, if somebody calls in a report of 50 hostile armored personnel carriers and my list says they should see 6, they get dinged on shitty intel.
So, late, one evening, the SEAL net is buzzing with activity so, I call one of our staff SEALs on his cell phone (back when cell-phones weighed 11 pounds) and ask him if he wants to come in to monitor. He says that he'll be there in about 10 minutes and I should also call the Army Ranger guy because something big is supposed to happen tonight. I call and the Ranger guy spontaneously appears in my office. Pretty sure he was asleep in his car outside.
Together, we all huddle around the radios. The SEAL has taken the handset for his network, the Ranger has the handset for his.
I have the log form thingy and a pen.
The SEALs have the enemy camp in sight. I glance at the clock, it is 23:30. I make a note. The C&C net tells me to inform them that the operation is a go. I make a note. The staff SEAL relays the information to his network. I casually mention that I'm the radio operator. He waves his shiny O-3 collar at me. I weep.
Jerk. (actually, he was a hell of a nice guy)
23:55. SEAL net says that they're in position. Now, something weird about this whole operation. The Ranger net is completely silent. I have inside information that the SEALs are attacking the Rangers. I suspect that the Ranger E-7 knows this, too but, in the interest of good wargames, he's not keying the mic to warn them. It's still very strange that they don't seem to be aware of the SEAL element sneaking up on them. In my mind, I can either picture them right up against the perimeter of the Ranger camp or 18 miles away. I guess SEALs are super fast and will cover the 18 miles in the 5 minutes remaining before midnight.
By the way, if you ever hear gunfire commence at exactly midnight? That's the U.S. Military. You should be okay to go back to sleep. You hear that shit start at 9:37 in the evening? Be afraid.
Midnight strikes and the SEAL net comes alive with SPOT reports and the sound of blank rounds being fired.
Then, complete and utter silence.
For 15 minutes.
Lieutenant SEAL, SFC Ranger, and I sit watching four completely silent radios and each other for the entire 15 minutes.
Radio silence is broken, "Headquarters, Headquarters, this is SEAL team."
I snatch the handset from the LT. "SEAL team, this is headquarters."
"Headquarters, we're going to need a bus."
Shit. Injuries. I've seen exactly enough cop shows to know that "bus" is code for "ambulance."
"SEAL, this is headquarters, how many wounded?"
"Wounded? No. I... I don't think there are wounded. We just need a bus to these coordinates (he throws an 8 digit grid at me)."
At this point, SFC Ranger stands up and starts walking toward the window. LT SEAL stares at me.
"SEAL, this is headquarters. What do you mean by 'bus'?"
"A bus! A schoolbus or a freaking greyhound! I don't really care which. We've got some 30 boy scouts out here all screaming for their mommies and the scout leader is demanding a bus and a hotel!"
Over the next 3 hours, SFC Ranger laughed so hard that I thought he was going to puke. LT SEAL spent most of this time screaming into the radio that the team needed to get their shit together and get the situation resolved with the boy scout troupe.
During this time, we learn that the boy scouts had asked for a site to do a camp-out and they were about 2 miles away from where they were supposed to be. The Army had donated a GP Medium tent and 30 cots and fart-bags. The SEALs had noticed an extreme lack of perimeter around the 'Ranger' camp and the big-assed GP medium tent didn't tip them off that they were also a couple of miles off course.
The Ranger net called in a report at 0600, their scheduled time, with "Nothing Significant to Report" and that started another wild laughing fit from SFC Ranger.