CS, the other smokey grenade…

Someoldguy’s comment about a CS grenade brought back a memory of my own.

CS (C10H5ClN2 ) is the formula for what is euphemistically called a ‘riot control agent” or what you and I know as “tear gas.”  Every recruit in the Army gets to go through the gas chamber, and while in a room filled with CS gas, remove their protective mask, to enjoy the effects of this  lachrymatory agent. It’s unpleasant.

So, a few years after crying like a sissy in the gas chamber, I found myself at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, CA. Each company and platoon undergoing training there is accompanied by an Observer/Controller, a senior NCO or officer who acts as a combination umpire, grader, and occasionally instructor for the unit he’s O/C’ing. After each training evolution, the O/C would discuss with the unit what we had planned to do, what we actually did, what we did well, and what needed improvement.

Sometimes, however, the O/C would feel the need to intervene during an evolution and make an on the spot correction.

It came to pass that your author was riding in the troop compartment of a Bradley on a very lengthy mission which seemed to consist mostly of driving in a formation with the rest of the company. And waiting. Mostly waiting. We’d drive a few minutes, and then sit waiting for an hour or so.

Eventually, the call of nature struck me, and became quite urgent. Urination in the back of a Bradley is delicate, but hardly impossible. That’s what Gatorade bottles are for.

But there’s no possible way to defecate in the back of a Bradley with five other guys. First, it’s simply physically too crowded. Second, your battle buddies would bludgeon you to death.

So during one of the long, long waits between moments of driving, I finally decided that my options were to either have a catastrophic accident in my pants (knowing the story would follow me to the end of my days) or hop out and take a crap.

I figured Option 2 was my better bet. We were at the back of the formation, and with a little luck, I might just get away with a bit of field hygiene without even getting caught.

And my better judgment clouded by the biological imperative to void, I hopped out the back troop door without my weapon. Or my load bearing equipment. Or even my helmet. And especially, without my gas mask.

I was a bit slow to notice that our O/C, normally a pretty fair minded Sergeant First Class who was quite helpful throughout our rotation, had spotted my affront to good order and discipline. Taking a dump might be excused. Doing so without my equipment was, however, something more than a venial sin.

Did he take notes for the After Action Review? Did he drive up and verbally remonstrate with me? Did he call on the radio and suggest to my chain of command that uniform standards in the field still have to be enforced?


He came rolling up in his Humvee about 10 feet away from where I was leaning on the side of the Bradley, pants around my ankles, trying to quickly take my urgent crap.

And then he tossed three CS grenades all about me. And since I’d left the back door of the Bradley open, my fellow team members also were reminded of why it doesn’t pay to be a dumbass.

6 thoughts on “CS, the other smokey grenade…”

  1. We had to do it the Navy as well. Even the weaker stuff used is very unpleasant. I coughed so hard I nearly puked.

    I just bet your motor mates really appreciated you.

  2. Now that’s the type of evil I expect from a SFC that’s an O/C.

    The best AAR comment I ever heard was our company O/C, he was a captain if I remember correctly though he might have been a major, telling our 1SG and CO to practice the phrase, “Do you want fries with that.” You can guess their quality and how well our rotation went from that statement..

  3. To change the subject yet again….there is even another kind of white smoke.

    Vietnam again. We had pulled into another fire base a few hours before and had just finished setting up. Suddenly there was a brilliant flash of light from behind the trees to the east that went on for several seconds, followed quickly by a long LOUD rolling boom! Then it got really scary – a huge white mushroom cloud rose way up into the air! We’re using tactical nukes?? THEY’RE using tactical nukes???? :-0

    It turned out there was this place, a big pit, a couple of clicks away where they detonated unusable UEX ordnance. That day there was not only an unusually large amount but a whole shitload of white phosphorus in the mix. Since we were the new kids on the block we were not yet on the ‘fire in the hole’ notify list.

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