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Night Into Day

Finding the Enemy

As hours dragged by, the fields were empty, and sporadic firefights continued around us while I slept in the feed storage room and the soldiers slept here and there.  Each time a soldier walked on the roof, sand and dried mud rained on my sweating face.  Another firefight broke out, apparently again with ANA, and this time some bullets whizzed overhead but we were out of the action.  The motorcycle driver had gone by probably ten times by that point.

At 1343 came a BOOM  shoooooosszzch BAM!  Diggs said that some kind of rocket had just been fired and he told the radio operator to call it up, and as it happens, my watch was off sync by about 2 minutes, and it was in fact a Hellfire launch at 1340 from an American Reaper who was helping us out.  I didn’t know what had happened other than that someone fired a rocket.  Turned out that a Reaper—flying too high to be seen or heard—had been tracking Taliban who had been responsible for some of the shooting we had been hearing.  The Taliban had been shooting at the Welsh Guard British OMLT (Operational Mentor Liaison Team) and their ANA counterparts.  The Reaper had watched as the Taliban took their weapons into a mosque and came out unarmed, but the Taliban mistake had occurred when they went to another compound and picked up some weapons and got back into the fight.  The Reaper used its own laser to designate the target and was cleared to fire by LTC Rob Thomson, Commander of 2 Rifles, and launched a Hellfire missile whose seeker head locked onto the laser reflection.  At about the last half-second, the Taliban heard the missile and bolted like deer trying to jump the bow, but it was too late for two men who were killed.  The third might have escaped with injuries, but if he did he’ll need new eardrums because the strike was very close.  Interestingly, the enemy had avoided the bait that had been laid for them, and had gone for a hook (the team the dead guys had been firing on was there to ambush Taliban), but it did little good because the Company Commander in the Sky—this time Reaper—took the shot.  (Thanks “Team Reaper,” wherever you are.  Probably Nevada.  The soldiers love to know that Predator/Reaper has arrived.)

The order was given to collapse back, and so we left early at about 1400.  We and the enemy know this is the best time to hit us, and we fully expected to get hit.  We walk away from the paths because that’s where the mines and pressure plates are most likely.  Diggs and crew had been hit heavily almost exactly here just less than a week before.  Apparently the soldiers killed the IED triggerman that blasted a few soldiers down, but they were all okay.  The IED was big but the enemy buried it a little too deep, and so it left a smoking crater and some soldiers who couldn’t hear so well but they came straight back into combat. Staying off the paths means crossing open fields and avoiding bridges. Soon, even logs will be off limits, but it’s clear that the Taliban are losing 'ground' here.

The corn is not high yet, but as it grows it will provide excellent cover for friend and foe.  There are so many bombs around here that last week a Taliban accidentally stepped on one of their own pressure plates and got blown to pieces.

Cujo: Always being watched.  He wanted off that rope. Cat and mouse:  We move in unlikely places, though the enemy is watching every step and would try to plant bombs in front of us.  The day had grown hot and I was down to 2.5 liters of water. Cat and mouse: we try to bomb them, they try to bomb us.  The enemy is now putting bombs in these ditches, too.  It would be greatly beneficial if every infantry soldier had a few weeks of tracking training.  We could spot even more IEDs. Smelly ditch Bombs often are planted in the walls, or the enemy shoots through small holes.

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