Plans Change

(6/7 Story) Previously - "Prepare For Mission"

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michael j penney turret

January 2006 Ramadi, Iraq, I was a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps Infantry. I drove the lead vehicle in a Combined Anti-Armor Team, CAAT. My truck was staged, waiting to leave on a mission, when something crazy happened.

An explosion rocked the complex and sent a black fire torched mushroom cloud up toward an empty blue Iraqi sky.  The mission just changed...

“What the hell was that?!?!” I blurted as Willy came scrambling down off the trunk lid and onto the ground. He and I watched the cloud rise into the arabian air.

Lieutenant and Sergeant came running out of the operations center screaming for us to start the trucks and get the leaders to the front vehicle, my vehicle.

Lieutenant was the first to speak, “The raid is going to have to wait, 80 people were in line when that suicide bomber detonated.”

Leaving the gate of the patrol base, I didn't know what to expect.

I could see the carnage. It was catastrophic.

The mission I had prepped for was not this. This was something worse.

An immediate coordination effort happened using the trusted operations order method, but the leaders on the ground had no idea how to successfully clear the area of hostiles, civilians, and debris but it was done.

I share this story because there are tragic events that we cannot prepare for as leaders. It takes ingenuity in the moment to concur under such horrible conditions and circumstances.

Next Time - "The Unforeseeable" the greatest challenges facing a leader

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