A while back I wrote about a joint operation I did with a LRS unit in Iraq in 2009 but for the life of me I could not recall the specific unit designation. Thankfully, I had a member of that patrol reach out to me recently to help jog my memory and provide some details. The unit was 1st DET, B Trp, 38th CAV (LRS) (ABN) out of Ft. Hood, Texas which has since been reflagged as C Co (LRS) (ABN) 2-38 CAV but is still active as the III Corps LRS Company.
We did five days out in the desert doing an area recon. The dynamics of the desert to the south west of Mosul were somewhat interesting. Known locally as the Jeezera, meaning island in Arabic, this area was home to some very remote villages that served as waystations for smugglers and terrorists flowing across the border from Syria. More than one foreign fighter had been intercepted by Special Operations teams in this region as they made their way to Mosul. Village leaders are called Muqtar and are about as two faced as they come. When you meet with them they will tell you that there is no Sunni or Shia in their village and that they don’t support terrorism. It was pretty clear to us that they were mistaking their mouth for a bull’s asshole.
I get a lot of kids looking to join the Army, as well as active duty soldiers, e-mailing me with their questions about Special Forces. One of the rumors going around right now is that all Special Forces candidates graduate from HALO School and get an Associates degree as a part of their training. This didn’t sound quite right to me so I made some phone calls to get to the bottom of the matter. I got this information straight from the source so we can cut through some of the misconceptions going around.
ODA 555 in Afghanistan
I’m proud to present to SOFREP readers this special interview with Scott Zastrow about his experiences with ODA 555 during the initial invasion of Afghanistan. Scott was an 18D (Special Forces Medic) on his Special Forces team and was among the first boots on the ground in country on October 19th, 2001. This will be the first of a two-part interview, and maybe I can twist Scott’s arm into having him come back again to tell us more of this incredible history of Green Beret’s waging Unconventional Warfare during the opening salvo of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Tell us about what prompted you to join the Army in the first place, and Special Forces in particular?
I was raised in the Midwest where there is a lot of Patriotism and American pride. My father and brother had both been in the Army, so it was an easy choice for me to make.
I went to Germany as a medic right out of Basic/AIT, and luckily landed in a unit with a handful of guys I trained with. Like most young soldiers, we took to drinking, fighting and trying to find love in the local pubs. We had this asshole PLT SGT who was your standard E-6 with 24 years in, three ex-wives and a couple DUIs. He lived in the barracks with us and made our lives hell daily, but it turns out that’s exactly what we needed. I owe that crew a lot to the man I am now. The first month I was there, I was supposed to cover a road march for one of the Scout Platoons and was told to link up with the PSG the day before. I asked him what they were carrying and where to meet and he said they were running 65lb rucks and were starting at 0500 at the motor pool. So the next morning I showed up with my 65lb ruck at the motor pool and jumped in with the PLT. Halfway through the ruck, the PLT LDR came up to me and asked me where my weapon was, and I told him I didn’t have one, that no one told me to get it. Well, he flipped, he started screaming at me for being such a dumbass, and I felt like one. Who doesn’t bring a weapon on a road march? I knew he was going to tell my PSG and I was going to get killed, great way to start my Army career. The PSG came over to help him scuff me up and he noticed who I was. “Sir, that’s our medic,” while I’m in the front leaning rest; under-ruck. “Oh, sorry, Doc. Get up. Thought you were one of our guys. Normally the medic follows behind us in the ambulance, good for you for walking. Catch back up with the boys.” As I ran back up to the PLT, all I could think about was why no one told me I could be driving behind them instead of walking with this ridiculous weight on my back for 12 miles. Then the word got out there was this new high-speed medic in the unit and anytime someone went out dismounted, they requested me by name, not knowing I was just stupid, not hard. We had an old 18D as our PA in that unit and after hearing his stories and watching him do his job, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. He held us to a higher standard and that became our minimum standard, which was a great thing to learn at that young age.
Jack Murphy's Kifaru ZXR
I’m not going to try to pretend that I didn’t already love Kifaru before I linked up with them at SHOT this year. I’d been enjoying my Kifaru ZXR rucksack since I took it on my last deployment to Iraq and got some good use out of it while out on patrol with a LRS unit. These packs will set you back a few dollars but they are like the Rolls Royce of rucksacks and come with a lifetime warranty. When I spoke with Mel from Kifaru he was more than happy to show me some of their latest offerings.
Filed under Gear, Pictures
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The SOFREP crew and I have been hard at work and we are all very proud of the content we’ve created. Be sure to check the website each day for new articles!
Military.com contributing Editor (host of Kit Up) and former US Navy SEAL Brandon Webb has launched the most legitimate and comprehensive Special Operations media site on the Internet. The site is SOFREP.COM, Special Operations Forces Report (SOFREP).
“I saw a gap in online media, specifically, a Special Operations site that serves as an information portal to the public and industry. SOFREP provides timely and accurate information about current and past events involving the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community.
Information about the SOF community is often misunderstood and fragmented on the web. I was also shocked to see that the few sites that do exist are not even run by experienced SOF Operators. Even worse, their site managers are misleading people to believe they have a SOF background when they do not.
I recognized this and proceeded to build an authentic SOF editorial team comprised of former Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps personnel. Then I turned the guys loose and challenged them with building something truly unique that would reflect positively on the entire SOF community.
We were very conscious of Operational Security (OPSEC) and only put information up that can be found on existing official recruiting sites. The difference is that the information is better organized on SOFREP.com, unbiased and that you can now access it all in one place.
The team did a great job, and together we’ve built something really special with SOFREP. In the end, we are all cut from the same SOF cloth and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. One team, one fight.“