Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Patrol Googly 2 - A resounding UNSAF success

Corporal Hutchins led his section along the ridge running north from FOB Breakbone to a position west of Rahthkabir.  His group included the EOD team, who followed his section in a six-wheeled Quad, the interpreter from MANA and the dog team with Blackie the bloodhound.  By 7am they headed down into the southern end of Rahthkabir.  The town of Rahthkabir had been a thriving town before 2003, but with the continuous fighting in the area between 2003 and 2013 the town is now a ghost town, home to wild dogs and a few insurgents intent on planting IEDs on UNSAF-Breakbone’s main supply route (MSR).

Corporal Hutchins split his force, sending his second fireteam to protect his eastern flank while he advanced up the main road.  Corporal Hutchins hauled his fireteam’s AT-4 and moved to a position where he could scan the road, the dog team moved in and spotted the first IED.  Corporal Hutchins motioned Private Thatcher to inspect the IED.  Corporal Thatcher gingerly approached the IED, he found a 107mm rocket with wires leading to a pressure switch in the road.  Corporal Hutchins ordered him to blow-in-place (BIP).  Private Thatcher was carrying the teams charges, he proceeded to set a BIP charge.  He continued to hope his assessment of the IED as a pressure-plate trigger was correct and some insurgent was not sitting with two wires and a battery.

Placing a BIP charge
On the eastern flank the second fireteam moved protect the flank [they proceeded to neutralize a hotspot].
By now the insurgents were aware of the British but no one seemed to know what to do. [failing their TQ to activate w/o a leader].

Private Thatcher and O’Connor ran across the street to hide from the explosion, they realized the compound they hid in was less than stable, but when the charge went the secondary explosion was minor and they survived without injury.

The EOD team spotted the 2nd IED further up the road and started the long drive for their remote controlled bomb disposal robot.  The slow grinding drive up the road eventually elicited a response from the insurgents, but before they could fire Corporal Hutchins spotted the insurgents in the upper storey across the street from the IED, he fired the AT-4 he was carrying, it was a perfect hit, downing all five insurgents.

The EOD robot arrived at the IED and the EOD began attempting a neutralization.  While the robot worked the flank protection team came under attack from the insurgents in the grain field, but before the insurgents could fire effectively the British fireteam poured accurate and devastating fire into the insurgents, the three insurgents fell under the hail of bullets.
In the town Corporal Hutchins united his fireteam and headed to the old police station, the building adjacent to the building he had attacked with the AT-4.  He occupied the police station but was unable to observe the enemy in the neigbouring building.  He radioed his second team to bring fire to bear so he could assault the building.  By now the insurgents in the building were incensed by the EOD robot and an RPG roared across the street, missing the robot by mere inches, the robot continued it escape after placing a charge.  Unfortunately the charge failed to explode and the EOD team remained ineffective for the remained of  the patrol.
The 2nd Fireteam continue their deadly advance
 The second fireteam moved in a position behind the old bazaar and spotted the enemy in the building near their section leader.  They bought accurate fire to bear, and only one insurgent returned fire.  Corporal Hutchins followed up the attack by moving into line of sight and poured fire into the enclosed space, dropping the last insurgent.
Insurgent captured and insurgent attack fails to materialise

Meanwhile the second fireteam split, with half heading to the IED and half on over watch.  They placed a charge and fell back.  Meanwhile insurgents had accumulated in the house north east of the over watch team, and tried to bring fire to bear on the British, the British, however were reading for them, and the attack was neutralised.  Corporal Hutchins then assaulted the insurgent building along the main street and captured the last insurgent.

He then took cover in the rear of the building as the IED was BIP’d across the street, once again the IED was destroyed with only a minor secondary explosion.  Insurgents, though in line of sight to the 2nd IED failed to muster the bravery to attack and they melted away.
Insurgents fail to muster courage to attack
 The insurgents had had enough and the last few survivors fled the battlefield.  Corporal Hutchins was then able to clear the last IED, which he found to be a remote trigger device, and was very thankful that the insurgents had given up.

Corporal Hutchins then returned to base using a different route.  The patrol had been a resounding success, his section has eliminated four enemy teams and cleared the town of insurgents, had captured an insurgent and had returned without his troops suffering any wounds or fatalities.  A textbook operation, helped by indecisive and poorly led insurgents.

Lessons: Dogs are fantastic for spotting IEDs and hidden insurgents.  Insurgents being limited to moving or shooting is highly restrictive and needs to be planned for by both sides.

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