Posted on Dec 31, 2018
CPT Aaron Kletzing
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I was debating this topic with an old friend who was in the Navy -- we both deployed at various times in support of OIF. He made the argument that basically, a tiny fraction of people who deployed (Iraq/Afgh) end up in situations that are legitimately dangerous. He wasn't criticizing specific MOS's or people who don't leave the wire -- he was just arguing the point that he didn't think there was any real danger for most people over there. For example, if you are on a huge FOB and never leave, he was asking..."What's the actual danger you are in?" -- and we know there's subjectivity with this. For example, if you are on that huge FOB that's basically the size of a city, and it gets hit one time per year by 1 mortar round, does that really constitute being in danger? The issue also isn't MOS-specific, because there are plenty of combat branch people who get put on battalion/brigade staffs that never left the wire either. So I was curious to ask the RP community what everyone's thoughts on this topic are, and how you would think about that.
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SFC Senior Counterintelligence Sergeant
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Edited 2 y ago
Having operated on COPs for two deployments and FOBs for two others, I can say that the danger is "different." On a COP, the enemy danger is obvious and Soldiers have to deal with it on a daily basis. On a FOB, external danger is less likely, but the internal threat is significantly higher; however most personnel will get too remain oblivious to this danger, because friendly internal intelligence services are always at work ensuring servicemembers don't have to worry about getting killed in their sleep by a local or third country national they thought were their friends.

That is not at all to downplay the very clear danger and loss of life that the minority of forces face in remote combat locations. I'm just offering the difference between the perception of danger while deployed.
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CPT Jim Kotva
CPT Jim Kotva
2 y
The 1st time for me I did not know what to expect then after a month I realized yeah this will not be that bad
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COL Jon Lopey
COL Jon Lopey
2 y
SFC: While all warriors are exposed to the dangers of terrorist attacks overseas, I agree with you that generally, the dangers are different at COPs vs. FOBs. However, I was in a large FOB for OEF and we ventured outside the wire almost daily. While in Iraq, warriors, often combat support and service support Soldiers and other servicemen and women ventured outside the wire on convoys and at times sustained more casualties due to IEDs than combat arms' units. You bring up some valuable and well-informed distinctions and you know because you were there. Thank you for your courageous service in some challenging and often dangerous assignments. COL L
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Sgt Aaron Kennedy, MS
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There's an old adage. "The safest place you can be is surrounded by a company of fellow Marines."

The thing with deployments is you are skirting the line between levels of threat. Think about how we carry our rifles depending on whether we are expecting combat or not. The Alert (pointed to the dirt) for imminent (Severe or Critical threat levels) all the way to the traditional carry for low or moderate levels.

It's not that any single member is in danger.... but collectively our combined risk pushes up way up the charts. Kind of like buying a really crappy lottery ticket. Quantitatively, the chances of "something" going bad is just ever present. We're working with firearms, explosives, fuel, vehicles, heat (weather)... all things things just exacerbate our overall danger level.

You mentioned this discussion was between you and a Navy cohort. Ask him how safe a ship is. Just think about that for a moment. Ships are floating office buildings which we launch airplanes off of. But we train constantly on them for when things go wrong. And that's in "peace" time.

So to answer your question, I generally never felt in real danger (I come from a different era though), however there was LOTS of dangerous things happening around me.
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SCPO Morris Ramsey
SCPO Morris Ramsey
2 y
Excellent comments. I remember all of the training we did on board ship. One of our training films was titled “115 Volts, Your deadly Shipmate”. Think about it surrounded by water on a steel ship moving at maximum speed 13 miles off the coast of North Vietnam firing “all guns” to port with enemy shells exploding, waiting for the task force commander to give the order “TF 77.7, hard to starboard,......”. Sgt Aaron Kennedy, MS
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MAJ Milan George
MAJ Milan George
2 y
Very well said.
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COL Jon Lopey
COL Jon Lopey
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SGT: As a former Marine sergeant and retired Army colonel, I have to agree with you. In unconventional warfare, there is no real safe place but there is a lot going on around a warrior assigned overseas in a FOB, COP or larger base even if you don't venture outside the wire. I was assigned to a large FOB on two occasions, and especially during OEF, we frequently ventured outside secure FOBs on missions outside the wire. Great comment. Thank you for your service. Semper Fi, Marine! COL L
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COL Jon Lopey
COL Jon Lopey
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As service members serving in a combat zone, regardless of branch or MOS, we all face potential dangers overseas from the enemy and sadly, while in Iraq, the war was pretty much won and we sustained more casualties in tragic accidents opposed to enemy action on some days. From experience, vehicles of any kind, aircraft, and ships definitely can be dangerous whether in combat or outside those zones of action. COL L
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SFC Ralph E Kelley
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I've been to Chicago - there's dangerous tour. :/
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CPT Aaron Kletzing
CPT Aaron Kletzing
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I grew up in Chicago! ;)
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MAJ Milan George
MAJ Milan George
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Aint that the truth!
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COL Jon Lopey
COL Jon Lopey
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Ralph: You've got a point there! I once worked in East Los Angeles and that could be pretty hairy as well. I've also been to Chicago and one cannot deny there are sometimes more shootings on any given weekend there than some of our most hazardous combat zones overseas. COL L
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