Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Quest: Dirt

It was late morning when Quinn and the rest of the “assholes from HQ” rolled into David Greene’s sector. That was Quinn’s plan. To show up just before lunch and see how they reacted under stress.

Quinn was right up front. “I am here to inspect your IED deployments.” Quinn made no mention of the other five men who were with him. This was personal.

Greene went into a soft-shoe routine. “Well, we have been putting them in as we had time and materials. I realize that one or two of them might not be perfect installations but we are getting better all the time. I assure you that my Squad Leaders are on top of things.”

Quinn noted that Greene had just thrown his Squad Leaders under the bus if things went poorly. He was smooth. Very smooth.

“Fighters stretch to meet expectations. Officers communicate what we expect by what we inspect” Quinn said.

“Your men have their jobs. You have your job. I have my job. This isn’t going to be a painless pencil-whipping” Quinn said “unless, of course, all of your IEDs are installed perfectly.

Quinn could tell from the dance that Greene had a head’s-up from the neighboring sector that Quinn was inspecting IEDs. Time to see some of the cards in Greene’s hand.

“Show me your IED installations” Quinn commanded.

Greene was prancing like a Kindergarten boy who needed to pee. “I am not sure we have them all mapped out” Greene said.

Quinn gave him a withering glance. “Then how can you possibly detonate them since you don’t know where they are and their respective kill-zones and safe-zones?”

Greene kept trying to scrape the inspection duty off, onto one of his minions. He had a SL call on the radio with an “emergency” he had to attend to.

Quinn dismissed the excuse. “Squad Leaders have to be able to handle minor inconveniences. This shows that you are failing to develop your subordinates.” Quinn did not allow him to wiggle off the hook.

The first IED Greene showed Quinn was a hasty, sloppy installation that had been shoved down a woodchuck hole within fifteen feet of the road grade.

“Pull it out” Quinn commanded.

Greene was forced to grip the wires, which were visible, and pull the package out of the hole.

“There are about six things wrong with this installation. Can you tell me what those six things are?” Quinn asked.

Quinn was looking directly at Greene. There was no doubt in Quinn’s mind that the package had been thrown down the hole only minutes ago just-in-case Greene could not deflect Quinn. The tracks in the snow told no lies.

“The wires were visible” Greene said.

“One” Quinn said. “Five more to go.”

Greene flailed around. He had not been paying much attention to IEDs during Tomanica’s “familiarization” class. IEDs were not sexy or glamorous. IEDs are not weapons of offense.

Quinn gave Greene and the Squad Leaders who were present a hint. “What is the optimal range for an IED?”

“Depends on whether you are targeting men or material” Smitty said. Obviously, Smitty was one of Greene's brighter Squad Leaders. That earned him a death-glare from Greene.

“This should be your rodeo” Quinn said. “What are you targeting with this one?”

The silence seemed to drag on for a minute although it was only five seconds. Greene gave Smitty an almost imperceptible nod.

“Material?” ventured the Squad Leader.

“Why do you say that?” Quinn asked.

“IEDs that target personnel should be more than twenty-five paces from the column to optimize dispersal. Obviously, this one is much closer so it has to be targeting trucks and material” Smitty said, hoping to make Quinn happy.

“Soo...” Quinn asked “what trucks would be floating ten feet above the road-bed? Isn’t that where the blast would go...along the line of the woodchuck hole?”

“OK, we only have four more things wrong with this installation” Quinn said.

“I am sure we can sort this out now that you got our noses on the trail” Greene said “If you started from the north then you still have nine more layers to review today.”

“Good guess” Quinn said. “I did start from the north.”

“Are you a fisherman?” Quinn asked.

Greene was taken completely off stride by the question. “No. Not really.”

“Let me tell you how fishing works. You throw out cast-after-cast. You might cast for hours before you get a fish to hit the lure. Now, if you aren’t able to set the hook do you just keep going or do you keep casting toward those lily pads where you KNOW there is a fish?” Quinn asked.

“I suppose you keep casting where you know there is a fish” Greene said.

“Bingo” Quinn said.

“Now, what are the other four things wrong with the installation?” Quinn drilled.

Again, uncomfortable milling around and shuffling of feet.

“Why is ANFO such a shitty explosive for military usage?” Quinn asked.

“Because it doesn’t want to explode” Smitty answered.

“So, how do you make it explode?” Quinn asked.

“You tamp it in. You pack sand or clay or even water around it” Smitty said.

“Was this charge tamped in?” Quinn asked.

Of course it wasn’t tamped in. Greene had been able to drag it out by its wires.

Quinn went for the kill shot.

“I will be coming back tomorrow. The books say you have enough material for fifty IEDs. By this time tomorrow they will all be emplaced by-the-book.”

“I will randomly select IEDs to be dug-up and inspected. If I find ONE charge that does not meet MY standards, then they will all be removed and you will personally install them” Quinn said pointing at Greene and the SLs. “Not only that, but I will personally change your first name to something I find easy to remember.”

“What would that be?” Greene asked.

“Private” was Quinn’s response.



  1. The rubber is now hitting the road... :-) Well done!

  2. Booyah! Smoke 'em WHEN you got 'em. Fear of being busted tends to focus attention.
    (Not that I know about that).

  3. So apparently Quinn does not full realize yet that Greene's plan is to let the enemy through in the hope, probably misguided, that they will appoint him as governor over the conquered Eaton County. When and if Quinn learns this, the appropriate solution is a very public firing squad or hanging for Greene and his cohorts.

    1. My experience has been that when a guy like Greene takes the bit in his teeth, he breaks rules by the dozen and leaves a wide, clear trail. If your job is to control that guy, he gives you plenty to work with.


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