Commentary by Spc. David Dyer, 3-1 Cav Public Affairs Liaison
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq – I was reading an old copy of “Armor” magazine the other day and came across an article titled, “What is a Cavalryman?” that was written in 1969.
The similarities and differences between the Dragoon’s (cavalrymen) from over forty years ago and those of today kept finding a way into my thoughts. I finally decided to lay them to rest by writing a short reply to that article that highlights the Cavalry Scout of today. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
What is a Cavalry Scout?
Somewhere between the apple-cheeked innocence of the Armor School and the urbane worldliness of the veteran, we find a delightful creature known as a Cavalry Scout.
Cavalrymen come in assorted shapes and conditions; mostly in "peak condition". You find them everywhere, but mostly riding through "Indian Country" on Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, Humvees, Stryker Vehicles, and UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters.
Local merchants love them; the enemy hates them; the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team staff tolerates them; new platoon leaders frustrate them; infantrymen ignore them; and the combat medics protect them.
A cavalry scout is confusion with profanity on his tongue; experience with three deployments under his belt; imagination with a slice of C4 explosive in his mouth; and faith with body armor on his back.
A cavalry scout has the appetite of a shark in a feeding frenzy, the energy of a nuclear reactor, the curiosity of an old maid, the enthusiasm of a kid in an ice cream plant, the lungs of an umpire, and the shyness of a bull elephant in the mating season.
He likes women, beer, ice cream, Maxim magazine, e-mails from home, surf and turf dinners, energy drinks, mid-tour leave, hot showers, video games, and hot chow.
He isn't much for dust storms, rocket propelled grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, improvised explosive devices, spit and polish, broken torsion bars, MRE’s (meals ready to eat), powdered eggs, the enemy, walking, or waiting in line.
No one else is so early in the chow line, or so often at the beverage cooler. When you want him he's somewhere in the area. When you don't, he's hovering over your desk with 117 reasons why he should be promoted or be allowed to go on rest and recovery.
No one else can cram into one fighting vehicle, a double basic load of ammunition, 10 cases of MRE’s, two rolls of barbed wire, 14 shaped charges, a portable TV, one chaise lounge, three coolers, five cartons of cigarettes, an empty tool bag, six I-Pods, three heavy machineguns, an X-Box, and a pair of fuzzy dice for luck.
A cavalry scout is a shameless scrounger and ruthless forager. If an object will make his life more comfortable, or make him more mission capable, he will find the means to obtain it. Do not ask where he got the swimming pool and the two extra 25mm barrels for your Bradley. You don’t want to know.
A cavalry scout is a fabulous creature. You can frustrate his desires, but you can't frustrate his drive. You can top his jokes, but you can't top his combat record. He's your conscience, your shadow, your second set of eyes, your psychiatrist, and your despair. But when the chips are down and the bullets ricochet off your track, he's your pride and joy, your fair-haired boy; a slashing, hard-charging bundle of nerves and sheer guts.
When you return from three days of hard fighting, trudge wearily through the dust to your cot, and finally settle down with a hot cup of coffee, he can bring tears to your eyes with those tender, sympathetic, and understanding words, "Gee, I sure am sorry about your gun truck, sir, but we were just trying to beat the tanks to the fuel point ......".