USMC Sniper Team in Close Fight in Afghanistan

#1
EDITED AFTER POSTING--CAUTION---DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE ISSUES ABOUT THE US MARINES--IT WILL ONLY MAKE YOU UPSET:

It seems some readers apparently believe by posting this I am merely a shill for the Marines. While I am proud of my service and make no apologies for that, in point of fact, I did not really notice the service as much as the actions of these youngsters and thought at least some readers would appreciate what they are doing on our mutual behalf. If the critic had bothered to check, it would have been apparent that the article was not written by me or any other Marine but was merely posted on the internet and I happened to find it looking for timely articles that would be of interest.

As is also apparent to anyone who will check, I try to be even handed with my posts and do not engage in immature criticisms of other services (or posters for that matter) and any digs are always in jest. I also do not apologize for trying to find information to post on this forum that might go a bit beyond the UK-centric postings that are so well covered by others.


Danger Room in Afghanistan: A Close Fight, and a Couple of Miracles

* By Noah Shachtman Email Author
* August 27, 2009 |
* 8:41 am |


usmcp1000714_cropped_smallerMIANPOSHTEH, Afghanistan — For seven hours, the Marine sniper team waited, crouching behind a concrete block in a dusty courtyard, at the edge of an adobe compound. They were pretty sure that a group of local Taliban militants was on the other side of the compound wall. But the snipers couldn’t strike until they had some proof.

So they stayed there, in silence. They downed energy drinks to stay awake. They urinated in bottles and defecated in bags, so they wouldn’t leave evidence of their presence behind.

Team leader Sgt. Erik Rue kept himself sharp by running scenarios in his head of what could happen next: What if the Taliban burst in, guns blazing? What if they enter unarmed? What if there are children in the way? What if the courtyard is overrun by the militants? Where do we go then?

U.S. Marines and Taliban guerrillas have battled in the villages and compounds of this farming community nearly every day for eight weeks. It’s become one of the epicenters of America’s renewed war effort in Afghanistan. But during most of those shootouts, the two sides have been hundreds, even thousands, of feet apart. On Tuesday, they fought at point-blank range.

And despite all those hours of what-ifs, Rue and his team couldn’t have predicted how this gunfight would play out. By the time it was over, at least two men were dead. Another took a bullet to the chest but escaped unharmed. And another had his gun shot out of his hands. Four more survived what should have been a lethal bomb blast. “It was a fuckin’ pretty eventful day, to say the least,” Rue says.

After waiting for so long, the sniper team decided to try something new to flush out their targets. Rue — a smallish, slight military brat with a clean-shaven head and world-weary brown eyes — whispered into his radio to his headquarters, about a mile away.

Bring some helicopters overhead, he said, and make a low pass. The guys over the compound wall might start shooting at the helos. And then we’ll have proof of their hostile intent. The helicopters — already circling over another group of Marines engaged in a firefight — began to swoop in towards the snipers’ position. They made their pass.

But the men on the other side of the wall didn’t take the bait. If they had guns, they didn’t bother shooting them at the Cobra gunship and the Huey attack chopper.

Staff Sgt. Doug Webb was getting sick of waiting. The tattooed, twitchy Long Island, New York, native wanted to figure out if these guys were Taliban or not. Right now.

He scooted into a small room, adjacent to the courtyard. On the western wall of the room, at floor level, was a yard-wide “mousehole.” Webb lay his chest on the floor, and stuck his face in the hole.

At first, all he could see were ankles and feet. All he could hear were four male voices, speaking Pashto. Then he recognized a single word: “Taliban.” Webb looked up, and saw that one of the men had a vest packed with ammunition. And an AK-47.

Webb came back into the courtyard — and almost got shot himself. He surprised his teammate, Sgt. Nick Worth, who drew a pistol on him. “Whoa!” Webb whispered. Worth returned the gun to its holster.

“Man, I just saw a guy with an old-school mujahideen chest rig and a weapon,” Webb whispered excitedly. But the guy — and his three pals — appeared to be walking away from the snipers on a north-south trail, at the compound’s edge. If the snipers were going to attack, they had to do it right away,

“**** it. Now or never,” Rue said. He sent three snipers to the roof, and ran out of the courtyard with three others: Sgt. Ryan Steinbacker, Cpl. Fred Gardner, and Worth. They entered an east-west alleyway, perpendicular to the trail that Webb had spied through his mousehole.

They reached the intersection, and saw one man in the distance to their left. Luckily, he didn’t see them in the alleyway. Then, a second man, wearing brown tunic and a black hat, turned the corner. He was maybe five feet from the snipers. His eyes widened with surprise.

“I gave him half a second. He swung around his AK,” said Worth, who was carrying a Benelli 1014 shotgun. “Then I put four buckshot rounds in his chest.” Rue added a few more shots. The man crumpled to the ground.

A third man in a white robe was in the distance, about 150 feet to the north. He raised his AK-47 and fired at the snipers. Steinbacker dropped to one knee and shot the man with his M4. He dropped.

Almost immediately, a barrage of bullets came flying in directly at the snipers, from the cornfields in the west and from the trees to the east. Clearly, there were more than four militants on the area. Many, many more. And some of them could shoot.

Lance Cpl. Justin Kuhel, positioned on the roof, had the M203 grenade launcher blasted out of his hand. Lance Cpl. Justin Black, next to him, took a shot in the center of his chest. It spun him around. He collapsed on his forearms.

“It felt like I got hit with a hammer,” Black says. He reached his hand underneath his armor plates. Luckily, there was no blood.

But Black was clearly in trouble. “After I got hit, I’m laying there. And I saw rounds hit right in front of me. I thought, ‘Man, this might be it.’”

It was another now-or-never point for the Marines. The fire from the corn was about to separate the sniper groups from one another — and make them much easier to pick off. “Pull back! Pull back!” Rue yelled.

They ran back to the courtyard, and took up guarding positions at the entrances. “Hey, are you all right? Are you all right?” the snipers asked each other.

They gawked at Black’s perforated chest plate, and wondered how the hell he was still alive. The snipers knew he wasn’t the only lucky one; that storm of lead from the cornfield could’ve killed any of them. “I felt invincible until then,” Black says. “Then it’s, ‘Aw, ****. I can get shot.’”
usmc-helmand-2p1000719_croppedThe gunshots died down, for a minute. Rue’s mind turned to those two Taliban bodies, outside on the trail. American forces could glean valuable information from their weapons, their documents, their radios, their fingerprints. But the Taliban were famous for removing their dead almost instantly.

Once again, it was now-or-never time. Rue and Webb went out to get the bodies. The Marines grabbed the first dead militant by the ankles, and dragged it back into the courtyard. He had his AK-47 still slung across his chest, and a rice bag, filled with ammunition.

Again, the Marines took fire from at least two different positions in the corn. Again, the fire died down. It was time to make a run for the second body. They hurled themselves into the alleyway, and made a right on the trail.

Ordinarily, Marines here have avoided these obvious footpaths; local militants have turned the trails into death traps, filled with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. But there was no time to cut through the fields. As they moved, Webb noticed a purple sack. “I bet this guy left us a little present,” he thought. “That’s probably a bomb.”

That’s when the thing exploded.

A thunderous boom rang out. A cloud of dirt engulfed the snipers. Webb fell forward. “I saw a white flash and stars, like I got hit in the face,” he says. Days later, he’s complaining of memory losses. Webb and several other members of the team have been diagnosed with concussions. But somehow, none of them were seriously hurt.

“That’s ****ing it! Everyone back inside!” Rue shouted. In a daze, they stumbled back to the courtyard.

Not long after, a handful of infantrymen from a Marine platoon wandered into the compound. They were later joined by the rest of their squad, and a second unit from nearby Echo company.

The firefight continued. But now it was the Taliban who were outgunned. The Cobra and the Huey blasted thousands of rounds into the treelines and buildings that the militants were using as firing positions.

That allowed the sniper team a chance to exit the battle, nearly 12 hours after they had first slipped into that courtyard. Scampering along the side of a canal, they walked out as they entered — in silence.

Rue, for one, is still surprised they made it all back intact. “Being that close to the IED blast and everyone walking away — that’s a miracle,” he says. “Receiving such heavy fire down an exit point without getting shot — that’s a miracle. And two guys getting shot and not getting hurt. That’s in the category of a miracle, too.”

Echo company and the Taliban are still battling around those compounds, more than 36 hours after the sniper team’s initial attack. But the conflict has returned to its normal routine. The two sides are back to firing at each other from hundreds of yards away, not right up-close.

And the sniper team has been confined to base to recover from that harrowing morning.
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/200...a-close-range-fight-and-a-couple-of-miracles/
 
#2
Look up "overstated"

No disrespect to the guys mentioned, they did it and got the Tshirt, but you sound like someone pushing movie rights.

No wonder we take the mickey out of the sceptics, and the Marines in particular, if you are so all so insecure that you have to make a mini series out of every engagement.
 
#3
Aunty Stella said:
Look up "overstated"

No disrespect to the guys mentioned, they did it and got the Tshirt, but you sound like someone pushing movie rights.

No wonder we take the mickey out of the sceptics, and the Marines in particular, if you are so all so insecure that you have to make a mini series out of every engagement.
Thanks for your opinion. I think it is spelled septic actually. You can generalize if makes you feel better.

Cheers Mate.
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
A good, terse account of ground-zero combat.

Can't see what Auntie Stella's problem is: There is a whole genre of dramatic accounts of combat by British soldiers - MacNab's "Bravo Two Zero", Macy's "Apache" and Mills' "Sniper One" - that go on to become blockbuster bestsellers in the UK. (Moreover, I would not be surprised to see films of the latter two.)

The only difference here is that this is a second-person, rather than first-person account.

We could do with a bit more of this kind of up-close reporting from Afghan in the UK press, rather than the endless pieces on "Another Soldier Killed..." which monopolizes so much of the Armed Forces' media space at present.
 
#5
To fully understand the campaign the UK is waging in Helmand, the experiences of the USMC fighting (and dying) alongside us, are invaluable.

I have complete respect for the Marines I have worked with (which is probably not mutual :D ). Although why they eat cat food for breakfast, I will never know.
 
#6
Dilfor said:
To fully understand the campaign the UK is waging in Helmand, the experiences of the USMC fighting (and dying) alongside us, are invaluable.

I have complete respect for the Marines I have worked with (which is probably not mutual :D ). Although why they eat cat food for breakfast, I will never know.
Without making this a sickening love fest, I can assure you that among US Marines at least (excluding of course the usual 5% who criticize everything--much like many ARRSE members it seems :D ), UK troops enjoy a very good reputation. You may be aware that there are several rather long-standing ties between the USMC and UK forces including in Korea where USMC and RM troops spearheaded a now epic breakout of UN allied forces from the Chosin Reservoir and for which Lt. Col Drysdale and his 41st Indep Commando RM was decorated by the US govt http://www.rt66.com/~korteng/SmallArms/41RMCpub.htm
and in the Boxer Rebellion where the USMC and Royal Welch Fusiliers fought together so closley that they still exchange annual official greetings:

The strong and enduring relationship between the United States Marine Corps and the Royal Welch Fusiliers date back to the time of the Boxer Rebellion in China when they fought together as a combined Allied unit. To this day the Royal Welch Fusiliers are the only unit of the British Army to have the unique Battle Honour "Pekin" on the Regimental Colour.

Annual greetings and salutations have been traditionally been rendered on the occasion of the Marine Corps Birthday
and on St. David's Day, birthday of the patron saint of Wales. Of interest also is the origin of the American Naval mascot, a goat, which was originally given by the Royal Welch to the United States Marine Corps, who at that time came under the command of the United States Navy. At the time of the Marine Corps' evolution into its own arm of the service, they selected the bulldog as a form of distinction from the Navy, while the Navy retained the goat as its particular mascot.
http://www.rwfia.org/RWFA_USMC.htm
 
#8
Annual greetings and salutations have been traditionally been rendered on the occasion of the Marine Corps Birthday
and on St. David's Day, birthday of the patron saint of Wales. Of interest also is the origin of the American Naval mascot, a goat, which was originally given by the Royal Welch to the United States Marine Corps, who at that time came under the command of the United States Navy

Doesn't this violate the Mann Act or some similar legislation?

Although if the goat came from the Royal Welch it probably explains how syphilis was spread to the New World. I never personally believed the claptrap about Conquistadors and Llamas.
 
#9
Good article, kep 'em coming.

To the naysayers out there; delete "USMC", insert "Rifles", "Paras" etc, and ask yourselves if you'd still slag it off.

Silly billies. Bet you're all Pogies. :)
 
#10
tomthetinker said:
Annual greetings and salutations have been traditionally been rendered on the occasion of the Marine Corps Birthday
and on St. David's Day, birthday of the patron saint of Wales. Of interest also is the origin of the American Naval mascot, a goat, which was originally given by the Royal Welch to the United States Marine Corps, who at that time came under the command of the United States Navy

Doesn't this violate the Mann Act or some similar legislation?

Although if the goat came from the Royal Welch it probably explains how syphilis was spread to the New World. I never personally believed the claptrap about Conquistadors and Llamas.
I suspect the statute of limitations has expired.
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#11
jarhead - no complaints from me. Good lads having a hard day!

aunty stella does not speak for many, USMC are good eggs and nothing wrong with a bit of overblown reporting now and again!
 
#12
Yep good stuff IMHO, btw ally pics especially the first one....again IMHO.
 
#14
Great Story. It is good to see the other side of the coin now and again.

I have a lot of respect for Marines, 3 Marines from Biloxi saved my brother and I from a severe kicking on Bourbon St one night by evening up the numbers a little bit. :)

Course we drank em under the table afterward's with 4 for 1 specials 8)
 
#15
Spank-it said:
Great Story. It is good to see the other side of the coin now and again.

I have a lot of respect for Marines, 3 Marines from Biloxi saved my brother and I from a severe kicking on Bourbon St one night by evening up the numbers a little bit. :)

Course we drank em under the table afterward's with 4 for 1 specials 8)
LOL--I will not argue the point about Brits being able to play "sandy bottoms" with the best. It makes for much hilarity for the duty officer collecting up the
flotsam and jetsam in the wee morning hours with the red caps (ah memories!).
 
#16
[quote
The strong and enduring relationship between the United States Marine Corps and the Royal Welch Fusiliers date back to the time of the Boxer Rebellion in China when they fought together as a combined Allied unit. To this day the Royal Welch Fusiliers are the only unit of the British Army to have the unique Battle Honour "Pekin" on the Regimental Colour.[/quote]

Althought the action took place in 1860, The Wiltshire Regiment also has it on it's Regimental Colour.

Jim
 
#17
The Sailor said:
[quote
The strong and enduring relationship between the United States Marine Corps and the Royal Welch Fusiliers date back to the time of the Boxer Rebellion in China when they fought together as a combined Allied unit. To this day the Royal Welch Fusiliers are the only unit of the British Army to have the unique Battle Honour "Pekin" on the Regimental Colour.


Althought the action took place in 1860, The Wiltshire Regiment also has it on it's Regimental Colour.

Jim[/quote]

sorry if not accurate-this came from the RWF website--it may be intended to refer to the Boxer Rebellion operations only.
 
#18
You keep your sandy bottom to yourself JJ, we weren't all in 3 Para Mortars! But thanks for a good article.
 
#19
kabulronin said:
You keep your sandy bottom to yourself JJ, we weren't all in 3 Para Mortars! But thanks for a good article.
Thanks mate-I needed that! :D
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
jumpinjarhead The Intelligence Cell 41
Trip_Wire Multinational HQ 12
ExPara The Intelligence Cell 12

Similar threads

Latest Threads