THE BREAK (Afghanistan I)
This is a story I remember from my tour in Afghanistan a few months prior coming to Iraq. It’s a look back as these events which you may find interesting. From time to time I will cover the Afghanistan experiences as well. I hope you enjoy them.
We ended a busy and tuff cordon and knock mission that lasted about 2 weeks. Usually we spent 2-3 weeks out and then one back at out FOB (Forward Operating Base) We did get about 4 days off to clean gear and relax but then the next mission was sent to us. It was an easy going mission and the Marines could use the break to tell you the truth.
Our mission was based to provide security around a particular voting center within providence and additionally provide a MEDCAP (Medical capabilities) center aka first aide. As we departed for a reconnaissance flight over the village we observed the route we would take and identified any problem spots that lie ahead. The flight was quick and as we approached the valley that had our location the medium sized village had about four to five hundred armed men dressed in the traditional man dresses with several of them holding AK 47s. As we flew over the area the men climbed onto buildings shaking their weapons at us. “Catfish” the pilot of the CH 46 Marine helo talked to me through the headset to verify our route along the way. As we passed over the village he asked “you guys are going into that village?” I replied yea, it’s a beautiful country isn’t it? We then departed to resist gun and RPG fire and began our return to KAF (Kandahar Air Field). With the mountains tops prevailing over us the helo snaked through the area as the crew chiefs manned their weapons as scumbags could actually be at higher terrain than us and shoot down to hit the helo.
Concluding planning a full Company of Marines departed for our village by the means of 7-Ton trucks. These trucks are awesome and can drive over just about anything. They are fairly new to the Marine inventory and we use them a lot. Packed full of Marines the IED threat wasn’t existent like it is in Iraq. Although armor protected us we would travel 6 hours in the fine dirt we called “Moon dust” to our village. The dirt was so fine it was like flour. You could wear scarf’s and goggles but you would still taste it. While traveling I liked to test fire all of the weapons in the convoy. Seventeen 7-Tons in this particular convoy. We stopped along a mountain that was about half mile away. After providing security we gave the command and began to fire everything from 9mm to 50 caliber weapons to test them before getting to far into Indian country (bad guy territory). After traveling to the village we arrived out side of it and had instructions to call the “tribal Leader” before we rolled in to have him meet us outside of town and then escort us in.
Everything is “Tribes” there. The tribesman is the big Kahuna and everybody does what he says. If we move into town with the tribesman everyone sees that and figures he set it up. NOT. But it gave him a chance to excel with his people. We called him on a cell phone and waited as spoke broken English to meet us at our point. He was late, an hour late and so we got tired of waiting and moved into town. We traveled to our preplanned area and began to set up a company defense although our mission was to secure the voting building and designate a safe place to bring doctors in and give free medical assistance. As the defense was set in and was inspected we needed to get eyes on the voting center. We were positioned on a mountain side in a three sixty formation overlooking the village by about a hundred yards. There were many tree orchards and mud huts. They have no electricity except for the generators they buy and power one or two huts. I took my hummer, two gun trucks with 50 cals and a 7-ton with 20 Marines. I didn’t know what I was getting into so I wanted to be ready for anything. Two other trucks with 50 cals mounted on them acted as a support by fire position to cover us with a range of aprx five kilometers. We had no air support to cover us during our movement. We departed late afternoon and the village was calm and the temps were cool. Taking interpreters with us “Terps” we moved to the toward town. It was a windy road and roads there are built for very small cars and donkey carts. My men were jumpy and we expected the worse. The round wound around a few small hills and we slowly passed a few Haji’s working on cars. We treated everyone as bad guys so we passed them but watched them. Moving down a hill into the village we began to reach greenery. Like Iraq everything lives next to the water (river). The dirt streets (there are NO paved streets in Afghani) began to narrow and the 7-ton had to slow as its giant wheel smashed the dirt. The road ended in the river and had to drive through it to the beginning of the road on the other side. The atmospherics of the people were all very nervous. We approached the village that was filled with vegetation and I radioed everyone to be ready for anything. Kids lined the road so that’s always a good sign. The vegetation stopped and opened to a small village and we were on its main street. It had several shops lining it on both sides and the streets could barley handle the vehicles. There were a lot of people out on the streets looking at us like they had never seen a vehicle before. (More to follow next time)
COMBAT UPDATE (IRAQ)
Today has been tough for some of the Battalions as they have taken some wounded but dished out more to the enemy. We had found a strange amount of IED throughout the area today. Usually we only find them when they explode. I guess the men are getting better seeing those like the enemy would and spotting them before we get close. Counter battery rang out again today but not as much as in the past. The Marine & Soldier teams are doing well keeping Haji off balance. With Ramadan closing we are entering into “Nights of Power” & Nights of Glory” where the scumbags get double their virgins if they die these last couple days of Ramadan. Just what we needed a two fer! We are ready for whatever they bring as always we expect the worst.