|Oh yes. There will be swashbuckling.|
I lay on the floor of my poor quality hotel room. I have an AK-47 in my arms, and I'm pointing it at the door. I wait. The sound of automatic sub-machine gun comes from the room below me, and the rounds hit the ceiling. I know this because I feel the reverberation on my chest.
A coworker and I are heading down the street in our rented Toyota Hilux junker SUV. We stop by a camp, and head back using the same route we came. A car door is hanging from a power line. The remainder of the vehicle is charred through. Whoever was in it is very, very dead. They weren't far behind us, and they were a victim of a suicide bomber that was targeting westerners. It could have been us.
I wake up in a bunker, with my helmet and IBA on. The mortar rounds are pounding down. They stop, and I take a Blackhawk to another base, where I work into the wee hours on a communications problem. Later the next day, with very little sleep and shoddy equipment, I am told that there is a suspicious truck near the parade grounds, where hundreds of people are watching an IA graduation, and that I am their only chance of getting in touch with medivac should the suspicious truck explode.
And I'm just a lowly comm guy. Imagine what the high speed guys must get to go through.
The majority of contractors downrange will experience little danger. There will be incoming rounds, but they will be on the other side of camp. There will be suicide bombers at the gates, but they'll never make it anywhere near where your sleep. There will be battles right outside the walls, but you will be fine in your Conex, protected by Hesco barriers and sandbags. Some base dwelling workers do die, but the odds are very much in your favor. Be prudent, and follow your God given instincts, and you will probably make it through A-O-K.
- When the incoming alarm goes off, get into a bunker. Everyone seems to become complacent after a few months. The rounds can hit your area, and they will kill or maim you if they do. Use risk management. The inconvenience of suiting up and going to a bunker is nothing compared to losing your limbs.
- Do what you're told. You're likely not a badass. If you are, you already know how to take care of yourself. If there is someone ordering you around, and there are things blowing up, listen to what the guy is telling you. It may save your life.
- Convoy only when you must. Wear earplugs when you convoy. IEDs can take away your hearing, if not your life.
- If something is coming down near you, if you can hear or see the object falling, hit the ground, cover your face with your hands, and keep your mouth open. This last bit may save your eardrums from the effects of a pressure wave.
- Be nice to local nationals. This may end up saving your life.