Before you leave the wire, you have to make sure that everything in the vehicle is strapped down, otherwise it could become a missile. It's like a car accident, only the other vehicle is a bomb made with several hundred pounds of poo. You strap everything down. Ammo cans, food cans, water ... it all has ratchet straps and bungee cords on it. So what happens to the piss bottles? Well, they only go free at the risk of having your skull caved in by your own pee in the event of a blast. Nobody wants that on their tombstone.
Most of Your Time Is Spent Waiting for Parts
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We do preventive checks and maintenance before we ever leave the wire. We check our belts, our hoses, our fluids, our pee bottles -- everything. It takes two hours. But the terrain out there is bad enough to break any vehicle. You're going to blow a tire. It's a given. Any mechanical part that moves is going to break. U-joints, suspension parts, air conditioners -- everything breaks. You start to wonder: Was it ever truly working? Is its natural state what we call "working," or perhaps was it always meant to be broken? It's downright goddamn philosophical. Wait, no -- annoying. That's what it is.
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But what is philosophy if not annoying?
If the air conditioner breaks, the vehicle is considered "deadlined," and we can't take it out on a mission until it's fixed. Just because of the A/C. Think we sound like a bunch of fancy-pants armchair infantry with our precious climate control? Try wearing full-body armor in a 20-ton metal can baking under the Afghan sun. With the windows up. There is no such thing as a bomb-proof convertible.
Air-conditioning is a necessity because heat stroke exists. But if it breaks on a mission, you're just fucked, and you might as well start strokin' that heat. One of the trucks we had consistently lost its A/C about two hours in. And when it went out, the inside of the truck would easily hit 120 in the summertime. The smell in that cabin after a full 10 hours of body armor and anxiety sweat is best described as "Lovecraftian."
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Taint-sweat in the morning does not smell like victory.