Another story from Reddit’s r/MaliciousCompliance, again from u/B_Lawyer2019
- 1LT LightSpeed, A newly minted 1LT, who is now the company executive officer, the officer in charge of the range.
- SFC Grizzly: A seasoned Sergeant First Class. Was 1LT LightSpeed’s Platoon Sergeant. Takes no shit. Gives boat loads.
- LTC HardAss: The squadron Commander.
- MAJ GoodIdeafairy: The victim of our malicious compliance, a genius level idiot.
- RCJoe: A Range controller who has a brief appearance.
It is September 2014, Fort Hood, with an unidentified unit, that is well known for their ponies. The end of a fiscal year is a very rough time for units in the US Army. You see, it is this time that senior leaders advise lower units to expend all ammunition. All of it must go. Like a fire sale. Why? Money. It goes like this.
Uncle Sam gives you, a unit, X amount of dollars to spend on just ammunition. If you don’t use X, then obviously you don’t need X, so you won’t get it next fiscal year, instead you’ll get Y, which is less. But that is no good! We are the Army, we need all the money for things that go boom! So naturally, battalion elements tell company elements to go and blow their loads. This is fine and dandy for units that are combat arms, but my unit was not. We are support elements. Whenever the combat guys are out training, we run their food, repair their vehicles, make sure they can communicate, and shoot, by providing ammo. So we usually don’t expend all of our ammo. This is important.
LTC: Hey Major GoodIdeafairy, have the companies go and blow their loads!
MAJ: Hey LT, go and expend all of your ammo. All of it.
LT: Umm. Sir how?
MAJ: I don’t care how, LT. Just make it happen. You have this day (a day the next week) to make it happen. This needs to be done before the end of the week. Here’s your day, make it happen.
The Calm before the Storm
LT comes back and tells us about his orders. To expend all ammunition, in one day. That is daunting for us, being a forward support company, we don’t ever really use it all, and being support and all, here is what our numbers were, roughly as it was a long time ago.
5.56mm (M4/M16) : 25 000
5.56mm (link) : 22 000
7.62 (link) : 20 000
.50 (link) : 16 000
9mm : 500
Claymore AP Mine : 5
Hand Grenade : 3
AT4 AT Rocket : 1
The day prior to the range
LT has all staff for the range present. The safeties, the communications guys, his medics. We are there with our commander, CPT WonderWaffle. He lets us know that he doesn’t expect us to achieve our incredibly overzealous goals, set by the Major. But he has a plan. You see, CPT WonderWaffle was indeed, a wonder waffle. He has had plenty of run in’s with Major GoodIdeafairy. This gentlemen is an idiot. Give him a standardized test, and he does great, but any level of common sense is lost on him. In an effort to aid the Lt’s endeavor, the commander gives him a seasoned Non Commissioned Officer, SFC Grizzly. It was the job of the LT to acquire the range for us to use. The range he got was perfect. It was way far out of the way, and able to hold everything in our arsenal. The only issue was that only one weapon system at a time could *TECHNICALLY* be on the firing line at once. That is something we will address later.
The day of the range
The range was a 40 firer range, so giving due diligence, we let those who needed to qualify fire first, they were complete by 0900. Now the fun can begin.
LT has two troops go to the road and up a bit to keep an eye out for a particular type of vehicle. The Range Control. You see, what we were trying to do was not exactly “by the book “
I have never before now seen what had been laid in front of me, nor will I likely ever see it again. A firing line with every piece of armament that our arms room had in its inventory. And surprisingly nothing untoward happens, until it does. Around lunch time, one of the road guards had grown negligent in his duties, and let a very noticeable vehicle slip past him, without radioing it up. As our shooters were trying to dump as much of the 5.56 as possible, a Range Control Officer drove past on his way to wherever. He slammed on his brakes and made an immediate U-turn.
RCJoe: LT, what the hell is going on here?
LT: What do you mean sir?
RCJoe: You’re firing M4’s on automatic? You know that’s unacceptable, it is dangerous, and requires a particular range and ….
SFC: Sorry sir! We had a runaway weapon! It’s been handled, and we will mitigate it in the future!
RCJoe: Oh it was a runaway weapon! Okay that’s fine!
LT and SFC make eye contact. One confused, one determined. The Range controller leaves without another word. We tell our radiomen what they are to do again, and impress upon them the challenges ahead, and we continue. We spend all of the small caliber, and step up to the rest of the belt fed 5.56 and 7.62
Have you ever, dear reader, seen what one drum of 7.62 ammo looks like? Try imagining linking these boxes together, to where there is essentially one thousand rounds in one belt. This seemed like a great idea, at the time. About an hour or so into this round, someone screams “CEASE FIRE “. Several of the barrels of the 7.62 and .50 cal weapons systems are glowing cherry hot. These became known as the “Cherry barrel cease fires” there would be several more of these throughout the day/night. During the first of them, the rough retort from SFC Grizzly to the LT goes like this.
SFC Hey Sir, lets pop off the Roman candle and toe poppers (AT4 and Claymores)
LT: That sounds good, while there’s still sunlight, let’s get a volunteer for the AT4
Fun Fact. Even with cavalry, no one was excited to fire the AT4. Everyone was exhausted, and there had been several minor injuries, mostly minor burns and cuts from hot brass, and handling dunnage.
SFC: Sir, it will have to be you, no one else is interested.
LT: Fine I’ll take it.
It was not fine. He did not clear his back blast. A few more minor injuries, some laughter and apologies later, it was time for the toe poppers.
Claymores. Boy oh boy are they fun. Each claymore is supposed to come with two separate lengths of Detonation Cord (DETCORD) and a clacker, which is used to provide the charge to ignite the DETCORD, subsequently detonating the claymores. We had five claymores, five individual and very short DETCORDS, and a clacker. This is bad, as we could only *TECHNICALLY* detonate one claymore. You know that “warm and fuzzy “feeling you sometimes get when you see or hear something heartwarming? It was at this point that I heard a phrase that gave me a “Cold and prickly” feeling.
SFC: Hey Sir… I have an idea *with a shit eating grin*
LT: what’s that idea?
SFC: We detonate all five
LT: We can’t.
SFC: We *SHOULDN’T*
LT: *SIGH* don’t get hurt
This mother fucker literally grabs the satchels, two Joes and runs away laughing. God the Army is great.
About 15 minutes later, halfway through my MRE there is a very weird retort from the hills, five distinct explosions. SFC Grizzly had managed to DAISY CHAIN TOGETHER the five claymores. And use one clacker to detonate. Surprisingly no one was hurt, and using the glorious 3M olive and yellow combat ear protection, saved their hearing.
LT at this point is a mess. He is panicking, and relieved that no one is hurt too bad, nothing is too destroyed. During the next Cherry Cease Fire, up rolls SFC.
SFC: hey Sir?
LT: Oh God, what now.
LT: God damnit.
Three volunteers are gathered for grenades. Luckily there is a bit of a decline on this range, so even a chicken wing *bad throw* would be fine because it will roll into the berm hill.
FRAG OUT! Boom
FRAG OUT! Boom
FRAG OUT! Fuck.
Now we had an unexploded grenade on a range that doubles as a grazing field for cows.
Fort Hood, the great place. Is massive. Most of the training areas (ranges included) isn’t actually owned by Fort Hood, but the surrounding areas. These areas are owned by FARMERS who raise CATTLE. The cows are lord here, if one is even NEAR a range, it will be shut down until they move on. And the penalty for killing one, intentionally or otherwise is steep. You pay for that one cow, then five generations. So much money. This is why this is such a bad problem, but worse, we would need to call Explosive Ordinance Disposal… Here comes the SFC.
SFC: Sir, there is an easy way around this mess.
LT: You know what, I don’t care anymore. What’s your plan?
SFC *emperor Palpatine style* yes greatttttt. Don’t call EOD.
LT: Why not? We have unexploded ordinance.
SFC: No, we have an explosive target, and the .50 cals still to shoot.
LT: God damnit.
So that’s what we did. Was it a bad idea? Yes
Did it work? Also, yes.
The Day after
LTC, MAJ, LT
Poor LT LightSpeed was called immediately to the LTC’s office, being as I am a lowly enlisted man, the following is based off of what I was told by LT, but it all adds up.
LTC: LT LightSpeed what the hell was that range?
LT: I did what I was tasked with sir.
LTC: 15 destroyed weapons systems, five casualties (minor injury requiring medical attention) firing up and not DOWN range (another LT who decided to fire his pistol straight up, instead of at targets), daisy chaining claymores, shooting at a LIVE GRENADE, firing an unauthorized night fire and not clearing the back blast of a rocket launcher. How exactly do you plan on answering for this mess?
LT: I have no way…
LTC: NOT YOU, LIEUTENANT. YOU, MAJOR. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS?!
MAJ: Umm, Sir?
LTC: You tasked this young LT to do a near impossible task, in one day. He did the best he could with the tools at hand. Frankly I am impressed. But YOU have some shit to clean up. You’re dismissed LT.
Shocked and enthralled, LT head back to the unit, and informs CPT WonderWaffle what has happened. He had expected this. The LTC had been trying to reprimand the MAJ for a while now, with no real way of getting at him. But the MAJ giving the order to expend all ammo in one day was the straw that broke the camel’s back. LT could have done everything by the books, yes. But we never would have accomplished the goals. Sometimes the ends justify the means. Within the next quarter, the MAJ was gone, and replaced.
Caveats: this is a true story, with names obviously redacted. No one was seriously hurt and care was given immediately to those that needed it. It was a good time, things like this makes me miss big army.