On the back of an M1 Abrams tank there is a little telephone in a box tapped into the crew’s intercom; it’s called a grunt phone. I’ve never been as scared as I was the times I had to run to that grunt phone, bullet impacts dancing on the tank’s armor, their ricochets flashing like fistfuls of thrown pennies. I needed to get on the grunt phone to tell the tanks where to shoot. The tank crew would listen to music on their intercom, so if no one was talking you’d hear pop songs when you held the handset to your ear. The tankers I worked with liked Britney Spears. The squat crew chief, who looked like he was born to fit inside of a tank, told me that he played the music because it helped everyone in the tank stay “frosty.”
–Lieutenant Elliot Ackerman on the Battle of Falluja, 2004.
This is actually a gripping little account of the fighting in Falluja, but it was the tankers listening to Britney Spears that weirded me out the most.