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Firefight in Afghanistan

Turn your sound down. In-combat soldierly language abounds. If you are in an office (or home) of delicate sensibilities - save it for later. If you click through to the website hosting the video - know that Live Leak is NSFW in some of their peripheral advertising. There's no blood and gore, that's all, literally, off-camera - but it's there. No blanks were fired during the making of this video.  No Hollywood explosions.

To win the war in Afghanistan we have to fight the war.  The post below this one talked about some of the "soft power" elements of that fight.  This post is about "hard power" or, as the current term du jour puts it...  the "kinetic" fight.

Sit back and watch a what it's like in a FOB mortar pit as the Bad Guys™ conduct an ambush on guys just outside the wire, or an attack on the base proper - which seems more likely, but I'm not sure - it could be an attack on guys going out or coming in.

Note the relative calm of the troops in the opening scene inside the operations center - though things get a little more animated when the mortar crew heads out from under overhead cover to feed their beast.  Those aren't blanks in the background.  No Hollywood special effects here.



The mortar crew  is firing a mixture of White Phosphorus (the light-greenish rounds) and
High Explosive (the dark green rounds).  This is standard for what is termed "immediate suppression,"  fires intended to help someone disengage from direct fire contact and be able to maneuver.  That indicates that it is probably a "far ambush" - meaning the enemy isn't right on you. The proper response to a "near ambush" is to assault into it, rather than try to break contact and let the guy shoot at your back as you withdraw.

  If you're taking fire from a distance, that's a far ambush and you use the mixture of smoke and HE to get the Bad Guy™ to put his head down and the smoke to obscure his vision while you extract yourself to a better place to fight from - such as setting up to further develop the situation for deliberate manuever on the enemy with whatever additional fires and effects you can layer on IAW the rules of engagement.

The fight is close - these guys are firing charge zero or charge 1, meaning that round isn't really going all that far.  The mission is direct lay - i.e., they are aiming by eye, and not laying the gun to shoot indirect - they can see their target - as the troop firing his personal weapon indicates. Note single shots, not just rock-and-rolling on full auto - a sign of good discipline and training. 

I don't hear the sounds that indicate incoming fire, but that may just be an artifact of the video, my bad hearing, or, they weren't taking any fire there at the mortar pit.

The fight is pretty extensive in scope, as evidenced by the amount they slew their tube around to service their targets.

They're excited, but they're professional.  They've got the shakes from all the adrenaline coursing through them, but they're focused on what has to be done.  They really don't have time to take counsel of their fears.  They just do their jobs.  They're in the zone.

And, most impressively, when the fight ebbs and you can see the post-fight reaction set in... one of the first things they do is take care of their gun.

Assuming their gunnery is as good as the rest  of the video - damn fine crew on that gun.

Update: Ooops.  Forgot - h/t to Denizen Boquisucio for the link to the video!

27 Comments

That's some pretty impressive discipline.
 
John, I'll defer to you in all things related to indirect fire gunnery, but I feel compelled to remind you that an ambush is an attack against a moving or temporarily halted element.  Our intrepid mortar crew most obviously was in a fixed, prepared position. The Taliban (or whomever) attack against their position would not be an ambush. It might be characterized as a raid, a hasty attack, or a deliberate attack, either an attack by fire, or by fire and assault (we can't tell from the video).

It would be highly unusual to assualt into the attack from prepared positions. Why forfeit the benefit of cover? If defensive fires were not enough to repel the attack, normally the option would be to either a) have elements from another unit move to attack the flank of the assaulting forces, or b) thin the line from the unengaged side of the defensive position, move them out to counter-attack the Taliban, again, preferably in the flank.
 
And with that said, I'm stealing the video. For some reason, I'm not smart enough to get my trackbacks to show up here.
 
At 5:39 on the video, the pit sgt. states that they were originally pinned down at their Command Post, being machine-gunned right at the pit.  In other words, they were in a Near Ambush.
 
 Greetings:

Ham & Eggs or Whiskey for Papa, it's all good for me.  Just tell me that that wasn't a "sippy cup" in the opening scenes.
 
I thought I left that open enough - but what's missing is - are they firing in support of people outside the wire, or in simple defense of their FOB.  I suspect an element of both, what with shooting the WP rounds that indicates there is some manuever going on.

Your sense of things is just as valid.  Perhaps someone who was there or knows more will weigh in.
 
Boq - Brad is right - if the attack is on the base, then it's not really an ambush by definition.  And it could be a complex attack, with an ambush in the area near the base resulting in conjunction with the attack on the base.

Or a meeting engagement, where a patrol from the FOB stumbled into insurgents setting up for the attack.

Like I said, insufficient data, and I'm leaning on old habits of thought regarding the use of the WP.
 
As to the near vs. far ambush, memory may  fail me, but my recollection was that near ambushes were characterized as those within hand grenade range, roughly 35 meters. We practiced the battle drill many times- two grenades, go cyclic and assault through the ambush.
 
Were ever really fighting a war in Afghanistan?  Wasn't Operation Enduring Freedom merely a campaign of the Global War On Terror which is now morphing in to merely a generic Overseas Contingency Operation?

We are still living with the consequences of failing to accurately name this war and identify our enemies.
 
Heh.  Why, #4, do I think you meant this to be on the post below this?
 
God, I'm glad I was born a Hog Driver. I love these guys and I wish we had had some airborne iron to f**k (technical term) the scumbags up REALLY bad. 

People just don't understand how impressive the 'Merican soldier is. Especially the current administration. - attila

US GI: 'We being shot at. Let's kill the motherf**kers."
State Department: [nothing...she fainted.]
White House: [Damn...these warmongers just don't understand soft power. Who the Hell is the overzealous commander there?"]
State Department: ["Find the damn blogger who posted this and arrest him!...and discipline that icky army guy for using "war" instead of "contingency"!]

The next four years are going to be a Loooooong four years...

P.S. The capital "a" is inop on this machine. My apologies.
 
To win the war in Afghanistan we have to fight the war.

But if the National Command Authority can convince enough sheeple that the war  is now just an Overseas Contingency Operation, we don't have to fight, or win, we just have to conduct Overseas Contingency Operations, more or less successfully, but who owns lack of success in Overseas Contingency Operations?  

I'm on the right post.
 
No enemy is going to respect you if he doesn't believe you're serious about winning -- Mark Steyn, a few minutes ago
 
Yeehaw! That's my boys!!
 
Overseas Contingency Operation Against Tuggy Feelings, that's really gonna make 'em shake in their boots!
 
Wow .... an intense several minutes.  Great job .... and glad everyone's okay!
 
What MaryAnn said, doubled for me.  Them's some a##-kickin' troops!
 
Well that was a lot of action.  Well you can argue about the far idea from reasoning about the use of the smoke and HE rounds but you can't argue with thrust from 0 or 1 charges, can you?
 
No, no, get the nomenclature right, troop!  (Oops!  I mean, earth-toned government chemical accelerant application employee.)  It's Overseas Contingency Operations regarding Man-Caused Disasters!
 
Argent - while I think, all things considered, it probably was an attack on the FOB, when I was talking near and far ambush, it was in relation to a patrol outside the wire, regardless of how far away from the FOB it was.

As someone upstream in the thread noted - near ambush is hand grenade range.  Far ambush is outside of that, and is in relation to the notional patrol, not the FOB.

That it was a close-in fight for the mortar pit is obvious, but that's a different tactical situation. 
 
John: Oh OK. I think I follow you now.

Mitch: That spot was taken by Kyoto.

alternatively;  Where the wife does when the husband wants to cook something that isn't char grilled.
 
Ah, yes -- contingency operations.
Normandy, 6 June 1944 (AP): General Dwight Eisenhower announced earlier that this morning's incursion into Festung Europa was a tentative land-centric joint contingency operation conducted utilizing several Units of Employment in an AirLandBattlespace Named Area of Interest for the purpose of imposing a future-reducible containment policy on enemy combatants and getting inside the OODA loop of their C4I infrastructure.

That really would've drummed up domestic support for the Second Front, now wouldn't it?
 

Overseas Contingency Operations

Orwellian doublethink and newspeak straight from the Ministry of Truth .... using euphamisms to hide and distort the truth in an effort to convince Americans and the rest of the world that everything is fine and dandy, no problems here.

Obama is president, that mean old Bush has been sent home to his village in Texas, peace has been restored, and all is well.  Inshallah.

Winston Smith would be proud.

 
Bush has been sent home to his village in Texas, peace has been restored, and all is well. Inshallah.

Or, as they say in those villages in Texas, "Enchilada."

Which the cadets are also picking up on, along with "Cool beans"...
 
We shall all know that the end is nigh, when the cadets at KRAB absorb: "Awsome Opposum" into their lexicon.
 
A couple of 'em use "awesome" to describe something that actually *is* awesome, but 'possum will be a stretch. No marsupials over here...
 
What I find interesting is that the tube is pretty obviously a 120mm...last I remember, MTOE for 'light' infantry (basically, not mech or Stryker) mortar platoons had 81mm mortars.  And all of the Army infantry troops in Afghanistan (thus far) are 'light' or IBCTs in today's nomenclature. (Actually, whichever company from 1-4 IN is in A-stan at any given time may be an exception, since 1-4 is the OPFOR unit at Hohenfels.  I'm not really sure what they're formally classified as, structurally.)

I didn't seen anything that looked like a unit patch or crest, which might give me a clue as to what unit they were and where they were located.