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Peace Is Hell

It was another cold overcast morning. I wondered if i would ever stop shivering. Here we are in this forsaken country. Not our own. As a teen I was barely aware that this country even existed. Now i am here. Not a tourist destination in my opinion.
We had been 'on station' observing for 3 days. We cannot have a fire for warmth. It would give away our position. Even our meals are eaten cold. Let me tell you about cold food, there is little flavour to it. Maybe because it's a cold ration. Food like this they say is meant so that any preference in food will be able to eat it. It's equally loathed no matter what type of food you like. We have one semi warm meal a day, usually kept for supper. The packet has a pocket on the pouch that you insert a chemical pack to and it gives it some warmth. When you finish the meal, you put the chemical packet in your mitten to try and give your hand the last bit of it's meagre heat. All trash must be kept with you, not buried. Leave nothing behind, nothing and no team mate.
I feel damp and chilled to the bone. The night time temperature dips just below freezing and the daytime not much above it. We can't even move around to warm up. My muscles ache from the long long hike here. Moving silently, unobserved takes a lot of effort and goes slow. It felt like we travelled over 15 kilometres. Avoiding roads, staying in the treeline, minimizing any chance of being seen or heard.
Three of us are in this blind. We know of another 3 man team observing from another vantage point. The information we are gathering better damn well be important. If we get caught, our government will deny knowing us. We might be killed, we might be tortured or executed as spies. We are supposed to be the good guys, but official observers can be tricked. The real things that happen are never in plain sight. My sergeant is snoring slightly. I lightly kick his foot and he stops, and rolls over.
Our uniforms are a collection of other countries uniforms. All mixed up. All without labels or rank. No easy path to identify us if the worst happens.
We are hidden from view at a treeline on the side of a hill. We have a chamo blind setup. We set it up the night when we arrived, We have it localized with some the surrounding foliage. This has to be replaced nightly or the withering ferns will give us away. This is done very slowly and silently. we can't speak in more than a faint whisper. We can't even use the radios to talk to the other team. The radios are set on very low and to receive only. The earpiece has been in my ear for 3 days now and it's very uncomfortable, downright painful. We all feel grubby and dirty. We are. I know i feel itchy from being in the same damp clothes for 3 days. Not even a change of underwear or socks. We have spare of both but no chance to change them. Even if we did want to change sitting in the mud. I would not want to give up any body heat, I am short on it as is. We have a passive infrared detector to let us know if someone is looking for us with an infrared scope. We are strictly using light amplification gear. It is my turn on the sniper rifle.
We scan for 30 minutes with the rifle scope, never to take a shot. Then when you are spotter, you can grab a cold meal, take a leak into the bag (to be emptied as far away as can be reasonably taken) and just look through the binoculars.
This mission is so freaking boring. When i get back home, i am going to shower until the water heater is dry, eat a nice steak so hot it hurts, and drink every hot drink i can find. Then sleep for month. These guys are army, i am on loan from the air force. I am trained in what we are observing. I am also trained in advanced tactical medicine. Its rare we need my skills and I pray that this is NOT one time where it will be needed. There will be no medivac, no close support or extraction. It's up to me to make sure that the 3 of us make it out intact. I carry a jump kit with a substantial pharmacy and array of instruments. I can perform a lot of minor surgery if need be. I carry this gear plus my weapons, ammo, water and food, There is no room for a sleeping bag for each of us, we take turns sleeping (ha ha, right) 4 hours and take 30 minute shifts at the scope. The only positive thought about all this is that we will be leaving with a lot less weight than we came in with. If all goes well, we will be doing that without a fuss in another week. 7 more day this sore and I might want to cut my legs off myself though. I am so sore. I know the other guys are pretty much in the same state I am. It's not like training, you play hard, then rest hard. Here, you do little, suffer much and get no relief. The one bit of advice i are thankful of above all else is that you brought 4 times the amount of ASA. All of you are taking them like candy. Trying to stave of the discomfort slightly. I have a headache from the crappy sleep, the miserable conditions and the eyestrain. The sergeant is snoring very lightly again,, quiet enough this time. I let him rest. I have a runny nose that is driving me crazy. we all do. but none of us can actually sniff properly. The sound might give us away. So our sleeves are crusty with mucus. I scan the area with the binoculars, the zone we are observing and the surrounding area. All still quiet. On some level i wonder if SOME action might actually be better. Maybe if these people do what the brass is concerned about, we can go home. Fat chance, if we can get ANY Intel, we have to stay. I pat the corporal on the back and we swap spots, The mat is slightly warm from him lying there, I'll take that heat, greedily. I sight in through the scope. My eye is burning from all the intense staring, I have to force myself to relax the face and eye muscles or it gets worse. I scan the primary area. It's not big, it's not interesting. It's the same boring freaking view i have watched for the previous 3 days. No changes. I sigh to myself quietly. 29 minutes to go for this shift. The little warmth from the pad seems gone and i feel the cold creeping into my legs and feet again. Scan the primary zone again. I pull back from the scope a bit and look with both eyes for a moment before I sight in through the scope again. I would love to chamber a round and shoot something. But it would guarantee our capture or worse. 7 more days and we can stalk our way home.

Oh man i feel cold.
Deepressed Deepressed 46-50, M 2 Responses Jul 4, 2011

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Hmm I plan on doing just that :)

Not hard to see the pure hell in this assignment. I so admire the enlisted who committ themselves to our forces and allow the vast majority of Canadians to sleep peacefully.

When people see a soldier, sailor or airman on the street, stop and say hello. It's all the thanks we ask.