Friday, March 03, 2006


The Romeo Legacy

I wanted to take a brief couple of moments and render an honor to an unusual group of soldiers who have come to my attention recently.

Well, that’s not quite true, if I think of the larger community of soldiers they represent.

I’m talking about Ground Surveillance Radar (GSR) Operators and Sergeants, who I first came to know very late in my military career. Little known outside of some select infantry or intelligence communities, the GSR, military occupational specialty (MOS) 96R, are a very rare breed of fighting man.

I first wrote about the first Romeos I met in the following posts, The Single Best Component and Profile: The NCOIC. Without any reservation, the Romeos who went to Iraq with our Intelligence Battalion are among the finest soldiers I’ve ever met. That’s not to at all take away from our other fine soldiers, but Romeos have to meet the challenges of both a critical Intelligence mission, as well as survive, scout-like, always out front, surviving in difficult battlespaces with little direct support.

They carry forward sensitive sensor equipment, setup and maintain it, and ensure that a valuable intelligence gathering and early warning capability is put out front where it is most needed. That’s a dangerous job, sure enough. But the kind of soldier that historically fell into this MOS was very special indeed. They needed to complete the technical components of their MOS. They needed to receive top secret clearances. And, if trained properly, they need to be able to move, fight, hide, evade, and defend like any kind of forward scout or ranger. And they pride themselves on their combat skills, and stealth.

They are every bit of A Special Group of Soldiers, without a doubt.

Now I mention all this because something very interesting is happening in the comments to this last-mentioned post.

A number of very senior and many retired Romeos are finding their way here to pay their respects, especially to each other. The honor is well-deserved for them, and I am honored too by their visits.

All of my Romeos (okay, not mine exactly, they spent their time in Iraq in a separate C Company, but the CO and I always watched out for them and they will always be ours) have to do a very hard thing, if they stay in.

The MOS 96R is being phased out, and they are being told to reclassify.

And I was just wondering what my distinguished visitors thought. There have been and will continue to be many changes in Intelligence MOS’s. Most are technology related, some just simplification, or changing specialization, or whatever. So some of this is inevitable. Battle sensor technology is no doubt changing rapidly, and a lot of tasks can be automated, or delivery mechanisms improved.

There’s no way I want any of these great soldiers in any greater danger than necessary, but what about tradition? Were there intangibles to the Romeos roaming around the battle space, often in the no man’s lands or behind the FLOT, FEBA, or however the latest commissioned grade phrase goes these days…

Anyway, I salute all those Romeos who have served, I honor their history, and I ask: besides a rich tradition, is there anything else we lose without these men “always out front?”

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