CROSSVILLE, TN - The U.S. Army has reportedly fixed a family's leaky faucet in Crossville, Tenn., although Army sources have confirmed that most of the family's neighborhood was destroyed during the operation.
Maj. Paul Studwick said that Operation Dripping Thunder, launched by the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division had successfully fixed the plumbing in the Tosetti family household at 2230 last night and that elements of the 3rd BCT had already begun to redeploy back to Fort Knox, Ky.
The Army has been conducting similar community outreach programs to highlight the many uses of the military as the war in Afghanistan winds down.
"Most people say the Army is only good at breaking things and killing guys," Studwick said at a press conference held in the smoking remains of Crossville's former town hall. "But as we move forward, I think Dripping Thunder shows that an Army at peace can still do many useful things."
According to Studwick, Dripping Thunder first began on July 14, when Crossville resident Paul Tosetti e-mailed his Congresswoman, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), complaining, "I don't know why we're spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan when I can't get a city inspector to come out to my house and fix my damn sink."
Black's staff immediately forwarded the inquiry to the Pentagon for comment and it eventually landed on the desk of Secretary of the Army John McHugh. Intrigued, McHugh asked his staff why the Army couldn't just kill two birds with one stone and fix Tosetti's sink while also spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan. And so Operation Dripping Thunder was born.
After ten days of planning, Army leaders determined that while the Tosetti sink could be easily fixed by a small unit of Water Treatment Specialists, the mission would be perfect for highlighting the versatility of the Brigade Combat Team. The 3rd BCT, recently selected to be cut as part of the Army's drawdown, was given the assignment.
3rd BCT staff immediately began figuring out how to apply their fire and maneuver scheme to fix the dripping faucet.
After the command began debating whether to bring an armored battalion, engineers began reinforcing the road outside the Tosetti house as a precaution, resulting in the destruction of half a dozen civilian cars which had been parked on the street.
The engineers also took over the town's Palace Theater, which they renamed "Camp Duke" and spent several million dollars turning it into a reinforced brigade command post and logistics depot. This completely disrupted traffic through the town and caused some embarrassment when a group of students trying to see "Riddick" were fired on by nervous sentries.
While engineers were destroying other buildings around Camp Duke for both an expanded Morale, Welfare & Recreation center, as well as an all-weather improved runway, staff from the 1-6 Field Artillery Battalion suggested that an extremely limited artillery barrage might just shake the pipes loose. They argued this would save both time and money, while also giving their artillery crews some much needed training.
Battalion staff eventually concurred, since their doctrine called for a limited barrage before before sending in 2-2 and 1-26 [infantry units] to formally inspect the house.
The following day a Civil Affairs team arrived in the Tosetti's neighborhood to negotiate compensation for the destroyed cars, only to discover that their neighbors had fled after their houses were destroyed in the previous night's artillery bombardment, along with the improved road created by the engineers.
Although the location of the Tosetti house was known in advance, since Tosetti had included it in his original e-mail, Special Operations Command still insisted on inserting a team in a night-born helo landing to conduct in-depth reconnaissance for potentially hostile elements.
This ultimately resulted in their CH-47 helicopter flying into an unmarked relay tower set-up by the communications section to improve their data flow. The crash killed all aboard. A subsequent investigation discovered that the intelligence section tasked with mapping out the helicopter's route was busy creating high-gloss posters and a moto video for the information operations section.
When news of the crash reached senior Army leaders, Dripping Thunder was immediately augmented by additional staff from the 1st Infantry Division skilled in managing the inevitable public relations fallout. Unfortunately they took the seats on the resupply convoy needed for the actual Water Treatment Specialists, who at this point were not considered vital personnel in what had essentially become a public affairs mission.
A second team was eventually airlifted in from Fort Drum and promptly fixed the sink, but not before apologizing to the family after a Specialist shot the family dog in front of Tosetti's children, which he claimed was justified under the rules of engagement.
Following the operation, 3rd BCT staff reportedly awarded themselves a dozen Bronze Stars and a slew of commendatory fitness reports. Paul Tosetti is also writing the Army a thank-you letter from the motel where his family is now living.
At time of publication, the faucet that had been serviced had begun leaking again.