combat outpost

Paratroopers from Chosen Company of the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry board a waiting CH-47 Chinook helicopter as they begin a helicopter assault mission at Combat Outpost Herrera in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province, July 15, 2012.

(Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Marines find mustard.

Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6, preparing to mobilize for a night patrol of the Main Supply Routes (MSR) surrounding Al Fallujah, Iraq, in their M1A1 Abrams Tank. The Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion were tasked with patrolling the MSRs and keeping them clear of anti-coalition force activity.

(Photo by Corporal Samual Corum, 6 JUN 2007.  [DOD has no official released photographic documentation of 2nd Tank Battalion from their downrange activities during 2008.] Part 6 of article by C.J. Chivers,  NYTimes, 14 OCT 2014. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3Part 4. Part 5. Also watch the Times Documentary video with soldier interviews.)

By mid-2008, as incidents with mustard shells accumulated, ordnance disposal techs suspected one area had become a principal source of the weapons: Al Muthanna State Establishment, the former nexus of Iraq’s chemical warfare program.

Although incidents with chemical arms were scattered across Iraq, many were clustered near the ruined complex, which this June was overrun by the Islamic State.

External image

United Nations disarmament inspectors at the Muthanna State Establishment, the former nexus of Iraq’s chemical-warfare program, in 2002. After the American-led invasion of 2003, many incidents with chemical arms were clustered near the ruined complex. (Karim Sahib/Agence France-Presse-Getty Images)

During the occupation, little remained of Al Muthanna. The United States had destroyed much of it from the air in the 1991 gulf war. United Nations demilitarization in the 1990s had made the grounds a boneyard.

But one bunker, a massive, cruciform structure, still contained a menacing dud — a 2,000-pound airdropped bomb among a stockpile of sarin-filled rockets, according to people familiar with the complex.

On July 11, 2008, a platoon of Marines unwittingly discovered that another bunker still held mustard shells, too.

The shells were found after about 15 Marines from the Second Tank Battalion’s scout platoon noticed a freshly cut hole in a small bunker, according to three Marines who participated.

A peek inside, said one of them, Jace M. Klibenski, then a corporal, showed “there were just rounds everywhere.”

As the Marines were carrying the shells out, another corporal swore. Mustard agent had spilled on his upper body. Corporal Klibenski helped him pull off his fire-retardant shirt.

“We climbed out,” he said, “and high-tailed it” to their base, Combat Outpost Hawas, from which they were moved by helicopter to Balad Air Base.

Six Marines had been exposed: five lightly, and the corporal who had lifted the leaking shell, the participants said. Doctors sedated him ahead of the expected symptoms.

“He was pretty much just laying flat as the blisters started popping up,” said another participant, Jonathan Martin, then a private first class.

The exposed corporal’s skin erupted on his right arm, left hand, right side and feet, according to the victim, who asked for anonymity to protect his medical privacy.

The military evacuated the corporal to the United States. Five days after being burned, he was awarded a Purple Heart. He later returned to duty.

Mr. Klibenski said an officer visited the other five exposed Marines at Balad and urged them not to talk about what had happened. “They told us that this was something that was going to be kept confidential for a long time,” he said.

The incident remained out of public view, and with it knowledge that mustard shells remained on Al Muthanna — long after two wars and an international demilitarization effort to remove them.

Dust off…

Soldiers with the U.S. Army’s 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division shield themselves from the dust as a Medevac helicopter takes off outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar July 30, 2010. One soldier lost his leg and another was hit by shrapnel after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blew up during a patrol near the base. (REUTERS/Bob Strong)

Far Cry 4: outposts only, permadeath, no bullets, no minimap, no shopping

I love taking over outposts in Far Cry 3 and 4. Allowing for a variety of tactics and often devolving into highly improvisatory pyrotechnics, the outposts represent everything I like about the Far Cry series’ unpredictable gunplay.

After beating the main plot and defeating all the outposts and strongholds, I wanted to replay the game with some random restrictions. I knew I wanted to play it permadeath – that’s kinda my thing – but for the other restrictions, I turned to twitter.

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Sky soldiers making it rain.

U.S. Army Pfc. Philip Price, of St. Paul, Minn., prepares to hand an 81mm mortar round to U.S. Army Pfc. Derek Kilbourne of Spokane, Wash., while U.S. Army Pfc. Chris Snyder, a native of Harrisburg, Pa., stands by to fire the round during a fire mission at Combat Outpost Kherwar. All three are mortarmen with Headquarters and headquarters company, 1st Battalion, 503rd infantry Regiment, Task Force 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

(Photo by Sergeant Michael Sword, 6 August 2012.)

An armored vehicle from the Centurion Company, 2-1 Infantry Battalion, 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team is framed by a bolt of lightning during a storm at Combat Outpost Terminator in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, April 19, 2010.