American Morning

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August 27th, 2010
12:11 PM ET

Hurry up and wait

Editor's Note:As part of an ongoing series “A Soldiers Story,” CNN's Jason Carroll follows Sgt. Randy Shorter and his unit as they head into Afghanistan. Catch their stories on our AMfix blog, and CNN's American Morning in September.

It's an expression you hear a lot in the Army. Now I know why. We had hoped to arrive in Sharam, Afghanistan a few days ago, but we are still waiting. Currently, we're bunking at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Our journey with mortar platoon Sgt. Randy Shorter and the rest of the unit began at Fort Campbell, Kentucky last Saturday. We ended up staying in Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan longer than expected. The military transport flights in Sharana were either delayed, full, or any number of other reasons. Finally, half of my crew (thanks to the help of all involved- especially Sgt. Shorter) got seats on a flight to Bagram. The base in Sharana would have to wait. Meanwhile, I stayed with Sgt. Shorter back at Manas and waited...

Thursday night a C1-17 was availble to handle the 150 plus soldiers who were waiting to go Sharana... Sgt. Shorter among them. Now we're here at Bagram – another pitstop – waiting for the flight to Sharana. In the meantime, they've given my photographer, Dominic Swann, and myself bunks in something they call the "clam shell". Think of a very large tent that opens at both ends. The soldiers at Bagram call them clams because the openings look like well.. a clam shell. It's packed inside but soldiers are used to it. They laughed at the mattresses which create clouds of dust whenever you sat on them. Bagram is a very dry place.

They can squeeze hundreds of soldiers in these bunks at a moments notice. And they do it every night as the transport flights keep coming.

Much of all this hurry up and waiting has to do with the surge. Since so many soldiers are now coming to Afghanistan, they may have to wait in places like Bagram or Manas a little longer than they would have pre-surge. The transportation system is trying to meet the demand. Until it does...expect more "hurry up and wait."

Filed under: A Soldier's Story
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    I learned how to sleep like a professional when I was serving I could even sleep standing up there not kidding when they say hurry up and wait .

    August 30, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  2. Mike Posey

    As a combat soldier for over two years in the Viet Nam War, I know about, "hurry up...and wait". I understand someone said once, "combat is 1% terror, and 99% boredom..." That pretty much sums it up...Firefights lasted a few minutes, at most...they were intense, men were killed and wounded on both sides. As a combat medic I saw, close up, the results of these many encounters....I was in probably 500 or more firefights.....They were all scary, but took up little of our time...Essentially we just waited for an enemy who attacked at will, disappeared into the jungle.....We shot back, planes dropped TONS of bombs, sometimes on us! After the initial adrenalin rush, there was a HUGE letdown....It never failed.....All of those fights were a very SMALL portion of my time in that War....Basically we cleaned weapons, trained, and patrolled endlessly, looking for an elusive, and cunning enemy, the Viet Cong.....They were good, and they had good equipment....They were dedicated, and motivated, as we were....Certainly as capable as anything we had over there....I never disrespected the Viet Cong, or NVA....they were tough and didn't mind dying for THEIR country....I minded like hell dying for THEIR country, as did nearly every American Soldier I ever knew, there, and since....If we were attacked on our shores I'd be right there...but fighting to build a nation, or settle a civil war is NOT what the United States Services do well...We still don't do it well. We fight like hell, but we don't win alot of hearts and minds when we do....It's been that way since the Revolutionary War, frankly...If you stick a bayonet into a guy, you have NOT won his heart, NOR his mind....He has a family, they hate you, he had friends, they hate you, etc....It's a no-win situation. I just hope we someday figure this true fact out....Mike Posey Lakeside

    August 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm |