Hopefully, this isn’t too “inside” for people to appreciate, but I suspect it may be.
It relates back to a conversation I had once with a friend of mine at my very first duty station. We were both at Fort Carson, Colorado, which for me was my first-ever duty post after Basic Training. My friend was a bit older and he’d been in the Army for a few years, and he’d already served as a member of the Multi-National Force Observers unit in Egypt. This unit is a team of soldiers stationed near the Suez Canal in Egypt and is part of the 1982 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. A bunch of different countries would send troops to patrol the area and act as a sort of “buffer zone” between the two sides.
Anyhow, at the time, the Egyptians were considered “more or less pro-Western” but they had also been Soviet allies in the recent past… and so while the US troops and Egyptian troops would train together, the Egyptians were still mostly fitted out with Soviet equipment. American forces trained a lot back then in “friend or foe” vehicle recognition but training with the Egyptians threw all the cards into the air. My friend told me of a jarring incident where, during a training exercise in the 1980’s, they called for an air-support mission only to have Egyptian-manned, Soviet-made Mi-24 “Hind” helicopters show up. If you’re not familiar with the Mi-24 “Hind”, check it out on Wikipedia when you get a chance. It is a pretty impressive helicopter gunship that most of us treated with respect because it was (and still is, to this day) considered quite dangerous.
That image stuck with me for years, and I thought of it again during the 1991 Gulf War, when various Arab states joined in the Coalition effort to liberate Kuwait from Iraq. Groups like the Syrians used entirely Soviet-era equipment, so a lot of care had to go into making sure there were no accidental attacks on them. But as Eastern Europe switched to join NATO, they brought a lot of their old Soviet built equipment with them, and for a long time Western partner nations had a mix of vehicles that most of us had been trained to recognize as “enemy”.
The Iraqi Army comes to the aid of the 213th in this comic, bringing with them some of the Russian-made BMP troop carriers and T-72 tanks they have, which for the characters in the story (especially for the old Cold Warrior, First-Sergeant Dawg) is at first greeted with worried alarm before realizing that they’re allied forces.
Totally not what was expected.