Case Study: The Soul Plane Incident

Marauder06

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This is a followup to an event I mentioned in a previous thread. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the way this works, I post a starting point for a plot, and you chime in with your thoughts, opinions, snide comments... whatever you like, and I develop the story based on the responses. At the end I'll separate fact from fiction and provide a completed story.

This thread will probably make more sense to you if you read "Case Study #2: The Loving Wife" first.

Once again, this is a work of fiction. Although it is very loosely based on an actual event, anything that sounds "cool" or even remotely interesting is most likely completely made up. Additionally, the dialogue and situations in this work of fiction are representative of how Soldiers think, talk, and sometimes act. Consequently, there are likely to be incidents of "adult language" and "adult situations." Viewer discretion is advised...

The Soul Plane Incident

2nd Group’s deployment to Iraq is coming to a close. You are Captain Faith, an MI officer in command of the Group MI Detachment. Your first sergeant and right-hand-man is 1SG Reynolds. Your MI detachment consists of 100 individuals, most of whom have been spread across the length and breadth of Iraq. Some of them you haven’t seen, spoken to, or otherwise communicated with for the duration of the deployment. It has been a tough deployment for the detachment; many of them have seen a lot of combat and several have been wounded. One Soldier, SGT Billy Bradley, was killed during a major operation in Najaf during the uprising directed by Moqtada al-Sadr. Overall, the deployment has been a resounding success, and the Group commander and command sergeant major are very pleased with your unit. Even more importantly, the ODAs that the majority of your Soldiers are there to support are very satisfied with your troops’ performance. During the packup to head home, uniform standards are unofficially relaxed, and you notice some of your Soldiers wearing “team” hats and t-shirts, a reflection of their status as “honorary” members of the ODAs they supported during the deployment.

As the time comes to do up the manifest for your flight home, there is an unexpected wrinkle in the plan. The CJSOTF J4 tells you that an ODA is now scheduled to fly out on the same flight your detachment is on. No problem, right? Wrong, seating is limited and the 12 members of the ODA are going to bump a corresponding number of members of your detachment to a later flight. The next flight leaving is not for another week. What do you do?
 

Ranger Psych

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take volunteers for the second flight.

screen for mature individuals capable of handling themselves given they'll be effectively unsupervised except by themselves for the course of a week while in-country
make sure they all have their stuff wired tight still so there's nothing they're shirking personally if they get home a week late
Single guys go to the top of the list as volunteers
make sure you either have a volunteer, or a good ranking individual that can act as "hmfic" for the group while still in country.. IE, make sure they get your shit packed if there's anything left to pack and lift behind the main body, make sure they DO get manifested to go home, and make sure all ducks are in a row and get on a bird.
 

moobob

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Bring up the issue to the Group Support Company Commander, to bring up to the J4 and Group Commander if needed, and ask if there is a pressing reason the ODA needs to go home before your guys. Are you part of the same unit or not?

ODA's are the reason for existence as far as support soldiers, but getting bumped from a flight home because someone has a tab is bullshit. Order of movement into theater would be according to needs and mission priorities. Going home isn't.
 

Marauder06

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No one is more pissed off about this turn of events than 1SG Reynolds. When he hears about this, he storms straight over to the Group J4 sergeant major, who says he’s acting on the orders of the Group command sergeant major. When the highly irate first sergeant speaks to the CSM, the CSM explains with uncharacteristic patience that this particular ODA has another operational assignment pending in less than 30 days, and that is the reason why they have priority to return home. It was not, as was commonly believed within the MID, that this is a case of “because they’re SF and you’re not.” As usual, it was hard to argue with the CSM’s decision, and in any case it was certainly understandable why this team had priority.

The support company commander is flying out with his company on the flight that leaves in a week. That flight is big enough to take all 100 of your Soldiers as one unit, but it puts everyone back a week later than originally anticipated. The support company commander tells you that he will be glad to swap flights with you so all your guys can fly home together, if that’s what you want. First Sergeant Reynolds says, “we all came over together, we all need to go back together. We should take the later flight.” Do you take the support company commander up on the offer, or do you split your force on the flight home?
 

TLDR20

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I am an SF guy, I want to get home, I see no problem with either anything that has been stated or the trouble the support guys are going to get into "because" of the team guys. I see where this is leading(I think).
 

moobob

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I'm all for unit cohesion, esprit de corps etc, but I don't believe in keeping soldiers away from their families any longer than necessary.

I would have the 1SG identify soldiers that have skills such as forklift driving, bus driver qualification etc that can act as a redeployment ADVON, and have them take the original bird. If there is room to send individual sections and teams within the MID, you can fill the remaining seats keeping team integrity (SOT-As, CI guys, SOT-B, Analysts) etc. I would present this as a course of action to the 1SG and get his input before we (quickly) made the final decision. If the 1SG hadn't thought of that (from being so irate,) then I'd strongly suggest my plan. However, I'd more than likely agree with what the 1SG wanted to do in the end. I just think that my idea might be a little better in this particular case...

While "coming home together" is an understandable reason for taking the later flight, I don't think it does much for married Private Joe Snuffy who, in Group, is probably only getting about 3 to 5 months downtime before PMT and deploying again, and THAT is assuming he doesn't go to any schools inbetween.
 

moobob

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I am an SF guy, I want to get home, I see no problem with either anything that has been stated or the trouble the support guys are going to get into "because" of the team guys. I see where this is leading(I think).

I was kind of expecting the "they have a mission right after redeployment" twist, but I'm not entirely sure where this will lead. The title "Soul Plane" has me wondering.

Also, while things like what the MID guys perceived was happening, do happen, it's not all that common so long as you're in a good unit. I went to the SSG board as a support dude. The first guy in was a fresh out of the Q Course SGT (non X-ray, former 11B). He came out of the board drenched in sweat after being kicked out. I think someone told him "Dude you're 18 series, you're good bro" and he walked in without studying expecting to be maxed. I went in, a lot more nervous after what I just saw, and maxed the board.
 

Ranger Psych

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Having done Rearvon and actually having somewhat liked doing it, I stand by my original thought process. Everyone wants to get home, but some really don't have pressing needs... ie, the barracks rat that is going to end up taking leave and staying in his barracks room post deployment... cough..cough.. I don't know anyone like that, really.

But in all honesty, you have a slated opportunity to get the significant majority of your guys on the bird. You'd do everyone a disservice by pushing them back a week, where you inconvenience (because that's all it is, without the major COC there they won't be tasked for shit, no bitch details, literally they're effectively "unsigned-for property") 12 guys who volunteered to stay late.
 

TLDR20

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If it is a real instance, one of which may either be real or VERY close to real I know where this one is going! Strippers would only be the beginning. Mara I am pretty sure I know the origins of this story, so I will stay outta it.
 

Marauder06

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If it is a real instance, one of which may either be real or VERY close to real I know where this one is going! Strippers would only be the beginning. Mara I am pretty sure I know the origins of this story, so I will stay outta it.

:) sent you a PM. I think your story is a lot more interesting than mine...

/////

OK, I pretty much finished writing the rest of the story, like I said this is a short one. I'll continue to make changes to what I have so far based on the responses made in the thread.

So how do you guys want me to do the posts, in quick succession or string it out over a longer period of time? I like to run longer because it gives more people the opportunity to chime in as the story is being written, but I'm OK with getting the story over with in a prompt(er) fashion if that's what you guys want.

This thread better have some strippers or something. Yeah, strippers.

The last case study had a stripper in it; remember what eventually happened to her? Surely no one wants that to happen again.

Right? ;)
 

Marauder06

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You vaguely recall that the detachment didn’t all come over as one, there was an advance party that arrived several weeks in front of the main body. In fact, 1SG Reynolds headed up that group. When reminded of that, the first sergeant looks a bit sheepish but still insists that everyone come back together. While unit integrity is important, it’s not essential in an operation like going home. Moving everyone to a later flight means needlessly disappointing Soldiers and family members, many of whom had already made arrangements to get off of work or to travel back home to be there for the re-deployment. No, you will split the detachment and try to get as many people home on time as possible.

1SG Reynolds doesn’t need a lot of convincing when you tell him of your decision. “OK, 12 of us need to stay behind. The commander travels with the main body, so it’ll be me, SSG Rico, and who else staying the extra week?"

Who do you decide who goes on what flight?
 

CDG

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Ask for volunteers and see if you can fill the slots that way. If a married guy or a guy with kids volunteers, make sure it's not going to cause a huge issue with his loved ones back home to stay the extra week. If it's a single guy I think you still need to make sure his parents/siblings/ other loved ones haven't planned a trip to see his homecoming. Barring any major issues with that, the volunteers stay and then you see how many slots you still need to fill. At some point I'm guessing the 1SG will have to tell a couple guys they don't have a choice and are staying. It sucks, but it is what it is in that situation.
 

Marauder06

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Ultimately, you decide that four single junior enlisted Soldiers will make the trip back with you. All four of them are young guys with no family, who said they had no plans that couldn’t wait a week longer. After speaking with them to make sure they’re not putting themselves out by volunteering, you thank them for taking one for the team. The fact that there are four Soldiers going back now frees up one more spot on what has now become known as the “Early Bird,” as compared to the “Late Bird” that you and the rest of the leadership will be on. You decide that the 2LT augmentee will go back on the Early Bird with 1SG Reyolds. It will be a good experience for the 2LT to be the OIC for the flight, and having a competent officer around will mean that Reynolds won’t have to do all the admin work himself. In fact, if he’s smart, he’ll let the LT do it all; they’re young and motivated at that age anyway, and this LT has proven himself over the course of the deployment.

The night before the Early Bird is scheduled to leave, the warrant officers of the detachment throw a party for everyone. There is music, food, movies, and “near beer.” From the smell and the way some of the troops are acting, you suspect there is someone a little stronger than “near beer” going around. But they’re smart enough to keep it away from you, and there are no incidents. Towards the end of the evening, a movie is shown. It is the new movie “Soul Plane,” and the DVD is pirated- badly. Listening to your Soldiers making fun of the quality of the movie was actually far funnier than the movie itself. Someone says, “Hey First Sergeant, you think that’s the Early Bird?” Reynolds just laughs. “For your sake, it better not be, Smitty” he replies.

When it comes time for the Early Bird to depart, you all go down to the flight line. 2LT Hyatt is very pleased to have been trusted with a little bit of responsibility, and jumped right into his role as OIC. With 1SG Reynold’s coaching, he seems to be doing very well. It’s not that the OIC’s job is particularly difficult, there is just a lot to keep up with. You watch as the weapons, commo, crypto, and other sensitive items are inventoried one last time and stuffed into tuff boxes to be floor loaded on the board the aircraft. Hyatt and Reynolds come over to say goodbye as the troops form up. After shaking hands with you, Reynolds directs his attention to SPC DeSilva, who stands beside you holding the unit guidon. “Take care of that guidon or I’ll have your ass when you get back home,” he growls. DeSilva smiles. “Roger First Sergeant.”

Reynolds stands at the top of the boarding ramp and counts the troops as they board. LT Hyatt brings up the rear. As Hyatt boards, Reynolds looks over at you and the troops that are remaining behind. You direct the small ground standing with you to the position of attention and call for order arms. The detachment guidon snaps smartly in the wind. Reynolds stands at the top of the ramp and returns the salute. He holds it for a long time even after you’ve given your group order arms. Reynolds slowly lowers his salute and takes a deep breath. This is clearly an emotional moment for him. He looks around one last time, then ducks into the airplane’s cabin and disappears into the metal monster’s belly. The door closes and the plane takes off, taking a hundred happy Soldiers home after a year in Iraq.

So, what do you think might happen on a flight from Balad, Iraq to CONUS, with a stop in Rota, Spain, that’s carrying an ODA and a bunch of support types who have been deployed for a year, and oh yeah a Reserve 2LT is in charge of the flight?
 

CDG

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Ummmm... A stripper, or several strippers, are videoed getting "friendly" with the guidon. They forget to wash it so it grows some type of something that could only come from foreign stripper contact. Pictures are taken in order to be sent to friends for medical analysis (along with the video) and an e-mail accidentally gets sent to 1SG Reynolds.
 

Dame

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Ummmm... A stripper, or several strippers, are videoed getting "friendly" with the guidon. They forget to wash it so it grows some type of something that could only come from foreign stripper contact. Pictures are taken in order to be sent to friends for medical analysis and one accidentally gets sent to 1SG Reynolds.
Oh, eeewwwwee.
 

Marauder06

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Ummmm... A stripper, or several strippers, are videoed getting "friendly" with the guidon. They forget to wash it so it grows some type of something that could only come from foreign stripper contact. Pictures are taken in order to be sent to friends for medical analysis (along with the video) and an e-mail accidentally gets sent to 1SG Reynolds.

:eek:

Uh, no. The guidon stays with the commander.
 

moobob

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The plane breaks down in Rota and they get some Spanish girls pregnant and marry them?
 

SpitfireV

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Yeah it's the Bounty all over again.

If someone could help with one thing though- the Gideon. Is that the Standard?
 
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