Small Wars Journal

What Makes Grunts Smile

What Makes Grunts Smile

Keith Nightingale

Most people who have not been a Grunt in combat, they do not appreciate what makes a Grunt smile or what passes for amusing. Or understand it even less.  It’s always the simple things that both elude and horrify the outside viewer or reader that are accepted as common-place and good by those that are “real.”

The YouTube/video death squad/pyro up the gazoo crowd constantly bombards itself with self-gratification gun slinging and repetitive spray and pray scenarios with satisfactory gouts of blood and exploded body parts.  But that is not what life is like on the cutting edge and is a very unrealistic approach to mortal confrontations.

A case in point.  Going full auto all the time.  Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Rarely a hit-usually a miss.  Auto success requires a close-up encounter. Bad. Bad. Bad.

This is an act of desperation, not deliberation.

Whacking the bad guys and gals at max range is always the way to go.  Send them to Allah and the 72 virgins long before they even know or understand they are about to enter their Valhalla.  Range matters.  The farther the better.

This approach requires a couple of things that Grunts acquire easily.  Not moving and exercising patience in the presence of bad people. Move Bad. Sit/Hide Good.

If they can’t see you, they can’t hit you.  If you see them first, you can hit them first. Simple. Not stupid. Grunt wins.  Do the math.

A personal example…………..

During Tet 1968 (could be anywhere in the Sand Boxes today-the point applies)…….

As we cleared several bad guy blocks in Cholon/Saigon, my Platoon Sergeant found an M1 Garand modified with a sniper scope, as well as a number of bandoliers of ammo.  The previous owner no longer had a need for the piece.

His eyes lit up like searchlights at the sight of it. (He was a Korea vet).  We went to our rooftop Command Post to overwatch the clearing operation to our direct front and to coordinate all the support assets.  The Platoon Sergeant had found his.

He took the rifle and laid it on a sandbagged ammo box and scanned ahead.  He sighted a number of bad guys several blocks away--at least 300 yards and possibly out to 450 yards-- on the roofs or upper floor windows.  He began to methodically plink away at them with great success.  I doubt their associates even knew where the fire was coming from.  Approaching these buildings became a lot easier for the troops on the ground.

After a while, we traded off with the radio operator keeping score and with our associates keeping us hydrated with local “33” beer in an ice- filled tea glass.  February in Saigon is toasty.  We decided that any "fair" score had to be at least three blocks away. 

This technique is easily replicated in either an urban, wooded, open or mountainous environment.  A few rounds coupled with great efficiency, keep the good guys safe, happy and lethally effective.

Smiles on faces.

There are lessons here easily understood by those that play real games.

For those that don’t, it doesn’t really matter.