A tale from Afghanistan

Taken from the BBC (link at the bottom)

An interesting story of an US army unit in the Mountains of Afghanistan. For those of us who might be going out there next year, perhaps an idea of what to expect!

A routine mission for a small unit of US troops based here turned into a fight for their lives when they came up against a group of suspected Taleban militants along the border with Pakistan.
It did not make any headlines. It was just another incident among many in this volatile region.

But it gives an insight into why the US-led coalition is having such difficulty defeating the insurgency that has affected much of eastern and southern Afghanistan for the past two years.

It was 25 June. Second Lt Louis Fernandez had led seven members of his platoon to the top of Peak 2911.

A distinctive, bulging mountain straddling the frontier, it gets its name from its height in metres.

The night before, a US artillery battery had shelled the peak after lights had been seen there.

The suspicion was that insurgents might be using it as a launch site to fire rockets on American and Afghan troops - an almost daily occurrence for units based along the border.

Lt Fernandez and his men from the 2/504 Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, had been ordered to do a "battle damage assessment", to see if anything had been hit.

We were hugging the dirt, most of the time just praying to God that He was there for us. And He was definitely there for us

An Afghan officer, Capt Mohammed Islamuddin, and two interpreters were with them.

They found nothing except a well-travelled trail. They decided to follow it. As they moved down the path, Capt Islamuddin says he spotted a man in local clothes about 200-300 metres away, carrying a Kalashnikov.

Staff Sgt McKenna Miller says he saw another man near some trees raising his Kalashnikov.

Sgt Miller raised his weapon. "I asked for permission to fire."

"I told Sgt Miller to shoot," says 22-year-old Lt Fernandez. "He pulled the trigger and hit the guy right in the head and put him down.

"Immediately after, we started taking fire from another direction," he says.

A lot of terrain on the border provides little cover

"That's when pretty much everything unravelled," says Sgt Miller, a veteran of Iraq and the Balkans.

They realised they were up against "not two, but approximately 15 to 20 individuals", with a barrage of fire coming down on the US and Afghan troops.

Where they were though, there was almost no cover. The only escape was to move back towards the summit, the soldiers taking it in turns to provide covering fire while others scrambled up the slope, fighting for breath in the thin air at this altitude.

"I was starting to pray as I was running back," says Sgt Juan Carlos Coca, the unit's radio operator. "There were rounds flying everywhere."

"We were definitely fighting for our lives," says Sgt Miller.

Full story here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4657645.stm
Gah running away to the summit! I quote a certain WO2 teaching a bunch of impressionable Ocdt's the actions on contact/ambush - "Attack man, attack! Run away and you'll lose-thus you all die"... Bags of aggression and all that.

"Nice hair love..."



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