Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Quest: A closer look

At ten fighters to the square mile and a six mile length of Howell Road to pull from, Greene had sixty fighters organized into six squads.

The squads that was farthest east would be the first to be hit by the red forces. In most scenarios, those squad would have little time for fancy maneuver before being rolled over.

The other complication was the dearth of materials-of-war. There were plenty of logs and no shortage of dirt. What was in short supply were arms and high quality explosives.

The template Quinn had rolled out to the Lieutenants was for the easternmost squads to concentrate on laying-in multiple layers of Improvised Explosive Devices that were daisy-chained in strings. Larry Tomanica had spent hours-and-hours drilling the Lieutenants and Squad Leaders on this skill.

The defense had the advantage of knowing where the aggressors were going to travel (on the road) and the direction they would be traveling. There was no need for cannon or mortar when the defense already held the ground and dirt could be moved with a pick-and-shovel.

Laying in Improvised Explosive Devices calls for creativity. A half kilogram of ANFO has the propulsive energy of 700 grams of C-4 if earth is tamped behind the explosive charge. That meant that every kg of ANFO had the potential to be the equivalent of two, M-18 Claymore mines provided the troops followed the simple basic Ps-and-Qs of demolitions.

Given the critical nature of their mission, Quinn chose to infiltrate and monitor David Greene's squads that were closest to the enemy. They had to be more than speed-bumps if there was to be any hope of an effective defense.

Quinn expected to find piles of screened gravel and piles of sand. He expected to find tired troops. Troops bitching about cold and wet and too much work.

Instead, he found troops energetic enough to play grab-ass and plan  “pussy patrol" raids on the local women.

Using a picks to bust through the frozen surface and using shovels to move dirt is heavy work. Quinn considered it unlikely that EVERYBODY had brought their picks and shovels back. Quinn took a discrete walk along Howell road expecting to find the picks and shovels conveniently cached where the soldiers could pick them up in the morning

He also looked for muddy clothing hung on lines.

No joy.

Then Quinn visited the equipment shed. He was impressed that all of the shovels were neatly leaning in a corner of the shed. Even more impressed when he noted they were not caked with mud.

His opinion nose-dived when he rubbed the blades and they felt oily. Then he smelled his hand and could tell they were still covered in the motor-oil they had been covered with prior to shipping to the front.

In his mind it was absolutely impossible that every shovel had been cleaned and re-oiled after every shift. It just did not happen.

Three hours after sunset there was not a single, sober soldier left in camp. It would have been a walk in the park if the enemy struck now.

Quinn found himself confronted with a moral dilemma. By rights, he should share his findings with Lieutenant Greene and allow him to explain. Then, he should allow him some amount of time to fix the problems.

The problem with following that path was that Greene would be alerted to the fact that Quinn had found a way to evade the electronic surveillance SOMEBODY had placed him under.

Quinn had a deep, burning desire to know just how deeply Greene’s organization was in the ditch before he revealed anything.

Ironically, that was one of the shortest night Quinn spent away from the marital bed. Dysen woke up when he came home. They made love. Quinn slept like a log the rest of the night.


The next day, Quinn visited each “layer” in turn. He emphasized to each Lieutenant and to the appropriate squad leaders how important the Improvised Explosive Devises were. “At thirty miles per hour the enemy can be through most of our defenses in less than ten minutes” Quinn said.

“Drop a tree across the road or crater the roadbed and let the traffic stack up behind it. Then trigger a chain of IEDs and they lose ten vehicles, fifty men and a half-a-day. That gives your buddies time to get into position and take pressure off of you” Quinn told them. “Rinse, lather, repeat.”

Quinn’s understanding of war was at a visceral level. It is like basketball when the other team’s ‘big guy’ drove on the basket and then went vertical to deliver a jump-shot and your team’s THIRD biggest guy goes even more vertical and jams it back, down into his face. The entire other team deflates when their biggest weapon fizzles in the face of your third biggest guy. So it is during war.

"Let the aggressor drive deep. Let the fruit of success be almost within his grasp. Let him almost TASTE the victory. Then crush every bone in his hand and burn the stump to char. Do it over and over and over again" Quinn said.

"The enemy expects resistance as soon as he is in our territory. Fool him. Let him in deep and smoke his ass. Then, do the same when he is just across the river. He thinks he is safe because he thinks he knows where the first set of IEDs were. The only time you should do what is expected is when you are baiting a trap."

While giving his pep-talks, Quinn kept an eye out for working level grunts. He never missed a chance to talk it up with them. It made every Lt as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs and most squad leaders looked like they wanted to puke when Quinn did it.

Quinn kept his own council. He let the grunt share what was on his mind. Quinn’s eyes evaluated the condition of the shovel, if he was carrying one.

Quinn looked at the knees of their uniforms. It is almost impossible to nest explosives into earthen cubbies without kneeling in the mud.

Quinn always shook the soldiers’ hand to assess their callouses.

Quinn judged that just under 50% of the soldiers in the first four layers had religion. Another 25% were going through the motions and 25% were completely drunk-and-disorderly.

Quinn had come to the realization that he did not need to share the cards that were in his hand. It was regrettable that his Lieutenants were choosing to be in conflict with him. But that was their choice.



  1. I am waiting to see if Donut shares what he overheard with Quinn. Looks like heads are about to roll anyway.

  2. Eaton Rapids Joe should be required reading at the War College.

  3. The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle. Time to make some people sweat buckets.


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