Insider threat the mogad.., p.9
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       Insider Threat: The Mogadishu Diaries 1992-1993, p.9

           E. Clay
 
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  I have a few more questions, then the other board members will follow.”

  “In the counterintelligence field, we attract quite a few A-type personalities, some of which can be off- off-putting and abrasive. Have you ever worked for an asshole?

  “If I can be honest and candid...I'm working for one now at MARFOR.”

  “How is your relationship with him or her?”

  “Strained at times, but not to the detriment of the mission.”

  “Alright. If you were Commanding General for a day, what would you do to improve the security of our troops?”

  “If I were General for a day, I would reverse policy and arm our interpreters. If we trust them enough to provide us with intelligence support, then I feel we should trust them enough to carry weapons, especially in situations where they may be subjected to enemy fire. The current policy is a morale killer for them.”

  All the board members began taking notes.

  “Fine. Do you consider yourself a good liar?”

  Trick question alert.

  “Basically, I am an honest person. But, if I have to lie through my teeth, in defense of my country, then that is what I’ll do.”

  Lieutenant Stein proceeded Pritchard, with just one question.

  “Gunnery Sergeant Thompson, if your package is denied what are your plans?”

  “Lieutenant. If I do not succeed today, then I will return in six month’s time, better prepared and more qualified, per Marine Corps Order 3850.”

  Gator was waiting for me, like a cheetah ready to pounce on its prey.

  “Gunnery Sergeant Thompson, have you ever used an ethnic slur?” Gator asked with contempt.

  “Yes, I have.”

  “You voiced concern for arming the terps (interpreters) yet I do not see that data point anywhere in your report. I guess you forgot to mention that critical piece of information.”

  Gator was working my nerves, but I wasn't going to let him in my head. I responded.

  “Then you have not read my latest report, CIR-002. I just happen to have it. Here it is. Read the last paragraph, it's all in there...Gator.”

  Pritchard took the report, put on his spectacles and gave a quick read before starting another round of questions.

  “Gunnery Sergeant Thompson, are you familiar with word association?”

  “Yes I am. You tell me a word and I tell you the first word that comes to mind?”

  “Exactly. I will start now.

  “Security.”

  “Home.” I responded.

  “Protection.”

  “Parent.”

  “Control.”

  “Bully.”

  The next question threw me for a loop, but only for a moment.

  “Gator,” Pritchard said as he leaned back in his chair and removed his glasses to gauge my reaction.

  I paused for a moment and looked Gator in the eye as I answered.

  “Insecure.”

  My response provoked anger in Gator. His face became red and the vein in his neck was on the verge of bursting.

  “One last word, Gunnery Sergeant Thompson, and that will conclude this interview.”

  “Yes, sir,” I responded.

  “Interview.”

  Once again, I paused and looked at each one as I scanned them from left to right.

  “Passed.”

  As I concluded answering my final question, I heard three loud claps from the rear of the office. It was Major Haycock.

  “Well done. We did not expect you to return. I liked your responses and I will review your most recent report,” said the Major.

  I was relieved. It was true. Twenty seconds of courage changed the course of my life.

  Chapter 23

  Death of a Private First Class

  27 February 1993

  My elation was cut short by a disturbing phone call. The Sixth Counterintelligence Team received word that a Marine on a foot patrol had just been killed. The news of the death was like a punch in the stomach. We were in Mogadishu to assist, not to lose lives. I think all of us became angry and demoralized. Although we did not know the deceased, Major Haycock’s command decision would bring the death up close and personal and a little too close for my comfort.

  “Gentlemen, let’s gear up. We will conduct our own inquiry. At the moment, I don’t know if we have a dog in this fight, but we need to find out. A Marine is dead and we owe it to his family to allocate every resource available to find out what happened. We leave in five mikes (minutes),” Haycock said as he put on his body armor.

  Pritchard approached me and I thought he was going to escort me out of the office so I headed towards the door.

  “Gunny Thompson, where are you going? This is an opportunity for you to see how we operate,” Pritchard said as he unlocked the rifle rack against the wall.

  I had seen dead bodies when I patrolled during the first month of my deployment. But those were badly decomposed corpses that barely resembled living beings. The thought of seeing a dead Marine who was just killed was saddening and depressing.

  “Look alive,” Pritchard said as he briskly handed me a shot gun.

  The shooting took place near the Mogadishu Airfield and on the way there I was trying to figure out how this could be a counterintelligence matter. In my mind it seemed to fall squarely into Military Police jurisdiction. I asked Pritchard about it.

  “Gunny Thompson, if this was a set up or a premeditated ambush we need to determine how the militias gained access to the patrol route. Maybe someone provided the gunmen with inside information. We don’t know, but we will ask the question.”

  When we arrived, the location was taped off like most crime scenes but there was no body. It had been recovered prior to our arrival. There were investigators bumping into investigators and locals were standing around spectating from a distance.

  Major Haycock instructed us to reenact the incident. We did so, several times. But it wasn’t until I role played the deceased that it really hit me. I took his last steps right against a large brick wall where his life ended. I stood right in front of the bullet holes in the wall and it was a terrible feeling to know that a young Marine died in the spot I was standing. Haycock and Pritchard examined the bullet holes to determine the trajectory of the rounds. By ascertaining the trajectory, it was easier to determine where the shots were fired from. There were a few Somalis on the scene that spoke fluent English and were willing to talk to counterintelligence. I was impressed with the zeal and diligence demonstrated by all who conducted the investigation. Pritchard made a comment that summed it up best.

  “It’s not often that you see counterintelligence and law enforcement working together and not fighting over turf. Today we put our rivalries behind us to work as a team. That is how we honor our dead.”

  As I departed the location in our Humvee, I mourned for the loss of a brother, a brother in arms. His name was Private First Class Domingo Arroyo Jr., a United States Marine. Arroyo was the first Puerto Rican and American serviceman to be killed in Operation Restore Hope, the first of forty-four to sacrifice their lives during the humanitarian campaign. The Marines of the 1st Marine Division honored Arroyo by naming their camp and a nearby beach in his honor; Camp Arroyo and Arroyo Beach.

  Private First Class Domingo Arroyo Jr

  (March 7, 1971 – January 13, 1993)

  Chapter 24

  Twenty Seconds of Restraint

  27 February 1993

  As we proceeded thru the gates of our compound, I asked Master Guns if he could drop me off in front of MARFOR where I worked. I surrendered the shotgun I was issued for the mission and had a few parting words.

  “Master Guns, thank you for letting me ride along and support today’s mission. What’s the next step to advance my application?” I asked as I shut the Humvee door.

  “All we need now is your autobiography and that’s it.”

  “No problem, I will finish that tonight and have it for you in the morning,” I said as I started
to walk away.

  “Hey, Gunny T. There is one last thing we will need to submit your package.”

  “Sure. What is it?”

  “I have it here,” Pritchard said as he handed me a document folder with a two-page form inside.

  I thanked Pritchard for the folder and proceeded to my workspaces. As I read the form, I stopped in my tracks and kicked the dirt beneath my boot in anger.

  “Damn it.”

  The last form needed for my acceptance into counterintelligence was a recommendation from my Officer in Charge…Major Lewis.

  I tried to look at the positive side of things. Sometimes officers are more than happy to rid themselves of problem children. I knew that Major Lewis hated my guts, so maybe this would be his chance to say sayonara to me. I saw his light on in his office and I braced myself as I walked towards it. While I waited outside his office, I overheard Major Lewis in a private conversation with a Captain from the JTF.

  “Major, starting tomorrow MARFOR and the JTF will be subcontracting out laundry services to a local Somali clan.”

  “Is that so? This compound is crawling with

  Somalis. How are we supposed to ID these workers?

  Has anyone thought of that?” said the Major as he shook his head in disgust.

  “I am sure the issue has been raised sir,” replied the Captain.

  Major Lewis reached for his pocketknife and lighter. He began running the knife’s blade through the lighter’s flame.

  “If JTF doesn’t have a viable plan… I say we brand them like cattle.”

  I wished I had a tape recorder that very minute. Talk like that was not tolerated, especially from officers.

  After Major Lewis and the Captain concluded their conversation, the junior officer dismissed himself and walked past me on the way out.

  I knocked several times but Major Lewis did not respond. I persisted and then he stood and yelled.

  “I’ve got a bone to pick with you. You deliberately failed your last mission and it will reflect, you better believe that.”

  “Excuse me?” I said still standing in the doorway. “Gunnery Sergeant Thompson. I gave you a direct order to ensure that Lance Corporal Sullivan received his legal papers. You pussyfooted around knowing that you would not succeed in your mission. I find that disrespectful and disloyal.”

  I had forgotten about that and hoped Major Lewis had also. Sometimes passive aggressive behavior backfires. Today, it did.

  I walked in his office uninvited and placed the brown folder in his inbox.

  “What’s this?” Major Lewis asked as he snatched the folder from his in box.

  “It’s a form I need you to sign to allow me to cross-train into counterintelligence, sir.”

  Major Lewis reached for his pack of cigarettes but he was out and that put him in a more aggressive mood. At least he would not be blowing smoke rings in my face. After Major Lewis read the two-page form he placed it back in his inbox and leaned way back in his chair, putting both his feet on his desk.

  “So, what do we have here? As much as I would love to stick it to counterintelligence by sending them an underachiever, I really have to be objective here. You see, I know your type, I have seen them my entire career. The story is always the same, just the names change,” Major Lewis said as he placed his hands behind his head.

  “What is my story?” I said, growing more rebellious with every second passing.

  “Let’s see. Your father told you that you needed discipline and the Marine Corps would make a man out of you. Am I right?”

  I remained silent, but he was exactly right and it made me even angrier. I was on the verge of losing it and then I thought of “Twenty seconds of… restraint.”

  I needed to keep my cool because my Marine Corps bearing was ready to fly out the window.

  “Gunnery Sergeant Thompson, you can take a kid out of the inner city, but you can never take the inner city out of the kid. Not even the Marine Corps can fix that.”

  Just twenty seconds. Hold it together, I thought to myself.

  “Major Lewis, some of the things you have said may be true. But none of that is really important. What is important is how I define myself, not you or anyone else. What defines me is my family, my friends, my troops and my dedication to the Marine Corps. Back home, I can tell you how many kids my troops have. I know their names and even the school sports they play. Since my arrival in Mogadishu I have gained an appreciation for the trust that I built over the years. I arrived here with my Corporal (whom Captain Shaffner sent home) and we supported many patrols together. In several instances, we were placed in harm’s way and it was that trust that kept us alive. Corporal Ramirez knew I had his back and I knew he had mine. Major Lewis, do you have my back? Would you trust me with your life?” I asked as I stepped closer to his desk, not breaking eye contact.

  Major Lewis was silent and then he stood from behind his chair and started to clap.

  “What a performance that was. I almost shed a tear. It was just so…touching. So what do you want me to do, Gunnery Sergeant Thompson? Help me, help you,” Major Lewis said with his hand clasped together on his chest.

  “Major Lewis, if you just sign the paperwork, that’s all I am asking, sir.”

  “The Marine Corps pays me a lot of money to make tough decisions. This is an easy one,” Major Lewis said as he signed the paper and handed it to me.

  “In fifteen minutes MARFOR will have an official group photo taken. Be there or be square. You are dismissed.”

  “Thank you sir,” I said as I took the folder and walked out of his office. I sighed with relief. That exchange was truly uncomfortable and agonizing. As I stood outside his door, I opened the folder and looked at the last page where he signed.

  Not Recommended. Signed Major T.W. Lewis.

  Chapter 25

  High Risk Counseling

  27 February 1993

  I left Major Lewis’ office just like every other time in the past: majorly pissed off. He knew what buttons to press to get inside my head and he did so at his own risk.

  Reprimanding someone with a loaded firearm had its challenges. It didn’t take very long before some officers and senior noncommissioned officers figured out how to negotiate this dilemma. The trick most leaders I knew used was to concoct a story about why the wayward Marine needed to surrender his weapon. The line I heard most used was this:

  “Lance Corporal So and So, when was the last time you cleaned your weapon?”

  “Last week, sir.”

  “Give it to me, I want to inspect it.”

  Once the officer gained positive control of the weapon, he was free to indulge in the fine art of ass chewing.

  I thought Major Lewis assumed too much. He did not know my breaking point, but I was not far from it. I did not deploy to the Gulf War but I heard of Marines surrendering their weapons to their buddies. Marines did this to prevent them from harming themselves, others or all of the above. When I heard of this practice, I could not imagine being pushed to the brink to make me contemplate such an action. But it was becoming more understandable working for Major Lewis.

  When I left Major Lewis’ office, I observed Dr. Gaye within earshot. I am sure he overheard my conversation. I avoided making eye contact and proceeded out of the Operations Center. For the next ten minutes, I watched personnel form outside of the MARFOR Headquarter for picture taking. I found my assigned spot toward the back row; smiling was not an option. I felt tormented and miserable.

  Everyone was in place and just before the combat photographer was about to take a picture, the Colonel made a comment referring to Dr. Gaye’s absence. Dr. Gaye was supposed to be in the front row with the MARFOR leadership. I thought it was strange because I had just seen Dr. Gaye in the Operations Center. For some reason, he opted not to take part in the group photo.

  After the group photo, I saw Eric and he walked toward me with a big smile on his face. I was sure Tootie had something to do with it. I was just hoping I would not
have to endure another poem recital.

  “Yo, Clay. I’ve got to make a run to the Port to pick up a situation report. Wanna come along?”

  “Naw. I’ve gotta wait for 10th Mountain to show up to pick up a classified document. After that I am secured for the day. If you can hold on until I release the classified, I’ll go. I could use a change of scenery.”

  As I was speaking to Eric I heard Major Lewis shout my name. 10th Mountain had arrived, waiting to collect their classified document.

  Eric was pleased that I was riding along, but he rushed me.

  I ran to the office and opened the safe to retrieve the classified. I confirmed the title of the document to make sure it was the correct one.

  “Okay. Somalia Threat Assessment, copy two of two. Is that correct Corporal?”

  “Yes, Gunny,” replied the Corporal, looking over my shoulder.

  “This is a pretty dated document. It’s dated September 1988. Are you sure this is the one? I asked.

  “Affirmative.”

  “Okay. Sign your life away Corporal.”

  The whole time I was processing the classified, I was thinking, I need to get the hell out of here. As soon as it was signed, that’s exactly what I did.

  MARFOR Official Photo

  Mogadishu, Somalia 1993

  Chapter 26

  Three Shades of Treason

  27 February 1993

  Within ten minutes, Eric and I were headed out the gate in a borrowed Humvee. But, instead of turning right we turned left. I had to correct my best friend.

  “Hey dumb butt. The Port is that away,” I said pointing in the opposite direction.

  “Yeah, I know but I gotta make a stop by the University first,” said Eric as he floored it once we were well clear of the compound gates.

  I knew full well Tootie would be waiting and I was fully prepared to be the fifth wheel, the odd man out. As soon as we were waved through the University gates, I saw Tootie and Ayan waiting by the basketball courts. As soon as I saw Ayan, I sat up straight and asked Eric if he had any gum. I was very happy to see Ayan, and her smile immediately made me forget about my non-recommendation for counterintelligence training. Tootie sat up in front next to Eric and I jumped out of the truck to assist Ayan into the back of the Humvee, which had benches for seats along the sides. I stood behind her and lifted her up with my hands on her waist. With my hands around her waist I could feel just how contoured her body was. I didn’t want to let go. Even though it was only a few seconds it was an indelible moment for me. With Ayan seated in the back I jumped in the back with her with the grace of Spiderman. On the way to the Port, Ayan and I held hands and did not say a word, but we didn’t have to. It was just nice being with her in a stress free environment.

 
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