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Flight in, largely uneventful, did have some odd looks from
TSA. Hit site around 1400. First day is largely an informal orientation
day. I get the tour of the camp which
is, in order: 2 water buffaloes, mess kit cleaning station, the Mobile Field
Kitchen, Mess tent/Ready tent, the Tactical Operations Command tent/Supply
tent, the BOQ, Ladies tent, GI tent, UK tent, Jaeger tent and Canadian
Tent. There’s a line of vehicles
opposite the tents, large trucks, small trucks, UK scout car and UK SP. Latrines and parade ground are behind the
motor pool. And that’s camp.
I’m shown to the UK tent, I’m the last one in so
it’s not like I get to pick my spot. But
there’s a cot (herefore referred to as “rack”).
So I unpack what kit I have immediate need of: Battle
rattle, uniform, sleep sack. Everything
else goes under the rack until needed.
Unpack rifles and stow them in the rifle rack in the vestibule of our
tent. Spend most of the rest of the
evening loading mags, filling canteens, making sure my kit is ready to roll,
trying to arrange my possessions so that I can keep track of them and get them
when I need them, rain trenching around the tent and meeting the rest of my
AJ is the youngest, rifleman and needs a haircut,
quiet. Scuba is next, LSW gunner,
doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t like the orders or the discipline. Davey, gunner for the Ferret scout car, real
goofy kid, can’t personal admin to save his life, but good heart and works
hard. Burgess, the only other squaddie that hasn’t done an EW before. Also an LSW gunner but treats this like he’s
on a picnic, also doesn’t like orders or discipline. Furnas, 2inC, rifleman and RTO is solid and
professional. Dave, drives the Ferret
and if something is wrong or broken, he can fix it. None of us have met our new squad leader
yet. That will happen tomorrow.
Up at 0630, chow at 0700, (A note about meals, I remember
the meals themselves, but I may mix up the order they came in. Also, unless
specified as MRE’s, our meals are A-rations: Hot, fresh food. Surprisingly well done) eggs, bacon, biscuit
and gravy with juice. We eat and wash
our mess kits, stow them and then it’s time to meet out new squad leader. Corporal Mercy. Cpl Mercy also is new to EW, but knows as
much, if not more, about UK
operational doctrine as I do.
Additionally, she’s (yes, “she”) a RECONDO school graduate, and as we
discover, is an extremely squared away, competent and professional person.
Our first actual task is first to get some core principles
established. Each of the squad leaders, holds a class on one subject. Mercy does map reading. Codi (the only one
that wasn’t a squad leader) from the Jaegers does pace count. Sgt Scheffer from
the Canadians does map terrain features. Sgt Larsen (Top) does walking a
bearing. I forget who it was that did
the compass class (it might have been Feldwebel Zee, the Jaeger squad
leader). All basic stuff, but it is
these basics that will get us through the next week. If you didn’t have them down before you got
there, you sure did by the time you left.
With that info under our belts, now it’s time for Cpl Mercy
to find out what her troops are like.
Naturally, it starts to rain.
We’re dismissed to suit up rain gear, grab our rattle and out to the
parade ground for manouvres and hand signals.
We are not crack troops. Most of
us aren’t even decent Territorial Army troops.
We spend hours drilling in the rain, until, lunch (Brat with sauerkraut),
then it’s time to take it outside the wire.
We draw our weapons, and out we go to employ our new skills in a simple
patrol, road crossings, fence crossings, contacts advance and clear, and
ambush. We aren’t “terrible”. Patrolling
is an entirely different skillset than what I usually do. The confidence I usually have from all my
high speed gun handling and competitive shooting background fades as I realize
we’re only as good as the worst of us.
We do manage to lie in ambush undiscovered as the Canadians patrol past
us. Have to take the good where I can,
because it gets worse. We stay out until
around 1830, then it’s back to base for chow (Spaghetti and Meatballs), and
back to our bivy to rest for the rest of the night. This, doesn’t go quite as planned. The rain, partially flooded our tent,
including my part of it. So, we spend
the rest of the night stringing clothes lines to dry things out, firing up the
tent stove and improving our rain trench.
My mood sours, but I am here and just have to suck it up.
(A note about the squad formations. The basic element in the British army is the
four-man “brick” usually arranged in a diamond pattern. We only have six squaddies, so we arrange
ourselves into two, three person bricks.
“A” (Furnas, Scuba and AJ) and “B” (Cpl Mercy, Burgess and myself). The same people are always in each so they
can deploy rapidly. A is the left side
of the Ferret, B is the right side for mounting, dismounting and security.)
0700 breakfast is pancakes.
Weather is clear and warm. Our first actual duty, we’re called on to
patrol the far east sector, using the Ferret for overland xpo, then dismounting
and patrolling on foot. After TOC
briefing, route planning, OPORD, squad briefing and PCI we’re out the wire after
a hasty lunch. On our first dismount, I
catch a glimpse of what I “think” is an Ivan LP/OP. We radio back to appraise the TOC and get
orders. Furnas is RTO and we have some difficulty with the SOI, making the
radio contact take far too long. We are
not at war yet, so we are not allowed to cross the border or engage unless
fired upon. Worried that we are under
the eyes of Ivan, we dismiss the Ferret out of harms way and finish the patrol
on foot overland. Which we do, for about
five more hours with no events, then back on the Ferret and back to the wire by
around 1700 for a very tired and soggy UK squad catching dinner. Once back, we have our first significant
setback: Furnas has a diabetic episode
brought on by the heat and exertion and is placed on sick list for 8 hours and
restricted duty, we’re down one man. And who’s the poor bugger that gets
promoted from 3inC to 2inC. Me.
We report back to the TOC, then stand down in the Ready tent
doing our AAR.
By the time that is all finished, it’s 1900 and dinner (Chicken, rice
and stir fry veggies). And then we have Charge Quarters duty from 2000 to
0200. CQ is two people in the TOC, one
at the radio (Cpl Mercy) and one as a runner (me), while everyone else is in
the Ready tent with full kit ready to be QRF if needed. Fortunately, none is. We’re relieved at 0230 by one of the GI squads
and it’s off to grab some rack until breakfast.
0700 Breakfast is eggs and sausage. Right after breakfast we’re heading out to
patrol Coleville (AO Deputy Dog). A
built up area right on the border. We
move into Deputy Dog in good order from the woods to the west, patrol up to the
boarder then back to take position in Deputy Dog. We need to know what is to
the east of us, so I get to lead my first patrol to recce that area. We go a half klick up and down trails until
we run up against interdiction zones we cannot pass. About face, and back into Deputy Dog, a half
hour of tension and terror total. We
improve our positions in the town, I’m given the forwardmost position with a
clear line of sight to the border. I get
my second bit of excitement. A four man
Ivan patrol goes marching parallel to the border right out in the open. Just outside of my range. If I’d had a GPMG I’d have fired, but the
range and the wind was too much for just my rifle. I report it, and find out we are due to be relieved
by GI’s soon, but we aren’t out of the fun yet.
We’re sent across the border to investigate an airstrip and towers for
LP/OP sites for Ivan and search for traces.
AJ finds a Russian cigarette case, while I pick up a pistol mag dropped
by Scuba during his search. That’s a big
screw up, leaving behind trace like that.
We fall back to our side of the border in good order, and we’re pulled
off the line while the GI’s settle in.
We get a ride back on a water truck and all pile in, with the Ferret providing
badly done rear security. The turret is
facing forward. We’re all tired and
everyone is thinking about their racks and chow, including me and Cpl Mercy who
both should have known better. We get
zapped. Behind our lines, an Ivan AT
team pops up, gets frags and rifle fire out, slotting the lot of us in less
than 15 seconds. They search us, missing
our intel, dropping it on the floor of the truck, but they did get our freq off
my radio. I didn’t have time to change
Well, dead and dejected we go back to base, where we get
another surprise. Furnas has another
diabetic episode and is now on 24 hour sick list, is attached to the TOC and
relieved as 2inC, and I get his job. AJ
is our new RTO. Yipee. We’ve got low spirits after the ambush and losing
Furnas. The lads stand down for
refurbing kit and get some rack before dinner.
Borscht from the cultural exchange.
We sent them a chocolate cake.
We’ve been on somewhat short rations and expending a lot of
energy, and the younger players are getting a little grouchy about no
snacks. The Cpl and I notice this and
she asks me to see what I can find about to snack on. I excuse myself from dinner, step into the
night, creep into the rear area supply depot, find a few MREs, pinch them, dump
them in the tent, and return to dinner informing the Cpl it’s handled.
I perhaps shouldn’t have been so smooth about it. After
dinner, we’re informed that the Jaegers have been out on LRRP for about 36
hours and are short on water and food, and also need a new radio handset and a
SOI card. A resupply mission is
arranged. Cpl Mercy volunteers us. Four MREs and two 5 gallon jerrycans of
water. This will be delivered by the
Ferret and 4 men. Scuba and Burgess
dropped off to provide security for the intersection we have to pass to get to
target, then Mr. Warrick and myself as the catering staff. This was probably my best part of the event.
Warrick and I draw NODS from supply and we rehearse where
the supplies are in the Ferret, who gets off on which side and what supplies
they are responsible for, how to get them off fast and secure the Ferret again
and how to do it all with NODS on. I
skim down to minimal kit. Face
blackened, commando sweater, no armour, no PLCE. Rifle, four cell cloth bandolier, grenades
and a helmet. We load up and move
out. Ferret drops off the security
element in five seconds and is off again.
Now we’re going deep into enemy territory. The Ferret reaches the RV point set by the
Jaegers (not their OPLP) and Warrick and I are dismounted, supplies clear and
stashed in less than ten seconds (the rehearsals paid off). The Ferret zooms off and Warrick and I move
to a LUP where we can watch for the Jaegers.
Fwbl Zee arrives presently, we guide him into us, have a quick brief and
hand over the SOI and the handset. He moves out to get his lads to get the
supplies in while we wait for them to clear the area, then we wait a bit more,
then it’s time to E&E back to base, through enemy territory, on foot, in
the dark, two lightly armed men. It is a
very long, quiet and tense hour we spend creeping back to base, avoiding Ivan’s
active IR NODS. Ultimately nothing
happened, but we didn’t know that at the time.
It was the total immersion experience.
I was really relieved to cross the wire and it felt really good to walk
back into the TOC being all grimy, sweaty and painted and report a successful
A state of war now exists.
This is probably our worst day. 0700 Breakfast is corned beef hash. We have CQ from 0800 to 1300 and a quick
lunch of MRE’s when we have to go out on a long range patrol, across the
border, recce, and engage targets of opportunity. Mr. Warrick, the XO is attached to us. We’re also given an AT4 at the last moment as
we’re stepping off. No chance to
familiarize ourselves with it (or make sure it works, but that comes
later). We spend the whole morning
inserting very very deep into enemy territory.
Past the airstrip we recce’d yesterday, right into Ivan’s backyard. So far I don’t think anyone has gone as far
as we have. We come across an Ivan
guardpost and decide to hit it. We make
the attack is decent order, but with bad communication as to where targets are. We’re 20 seconds into the attack, I’m on the
far right in a good position on where I thought Ivan was, and as it turned out
a lousy position as to where Ivan actually was.
I get hit and then hear “REAL WORLD!”
Game stops, I charge back up the hill to where most of my
team is and find the ditch that has Cpl Mercy at the bottom of it holding her
leg. I tell AJ to get a hold of the TOC
and get a medivac up here now, when our Russian opponents join us telling us
they have already done so. A UAZ
trundles down with the Medical officer.
They pick up Cpl Mercy and put her in their vehicle, I cram her kit in
after her and they are off to the closest facilities (the Russian base).
Being the only dead, I get everyone back into positions,
call game on and Ivan wipes the floor with us, now that we are two down and
those two are the most experienced players.
Warrick tries to use the AT4 against their pos and it misfires. The Brits die to the man, Warrick escapes. This is not cowardice in Warrick’s part, it
is prudence and the ability to return intel to our TOC.
(A note about death and intel. Players wear a helmet and/or body armour with
a “medic rope” a rope with three knots tied into it. A player hit has five minutes before he
bleeds out to be mediced back alive on the spot by untying his knotted rope. Any hits after that, the player is dead and
must return to base for two hours down time starting once they cross the
wire. Once you are dead, everything you
learned on patrol dies with you. You can
also be mediced back by the enemy and taken captive. Ivan may search you for documents. You have to surrender them, and you do not
get them back. Ivan may also search you
for food, it is your discretion if you want to give them food. I’m a nice guy, I always carried a snack bar
on me and gave it to them when they searched me, and they freaking loved it! The Russian food isn’t really “bad”, just
So, now, dead again, and depressed about losing our Cpl, we
trudge back to base. During that walk,
we also discover that Burgess has wrenched a knee in a gopher hole on that
attack and it’s steadily getting worse.
By the time we cross the wire, I inform the TOC that he’s on sick list,
scrounge up a knee brace for him and get him some ibuprofen from my FAK. I get the lads on refurbing their kit, MREs
for lunch and then I report in to the TOC to see if there’s any status on the
Cpl. Her leg is broken, pins needed,
surgery scheduled. EW is over for
her. Great, guess who’s taking over the
squad? Yep, me. I have rarely ever not wanted a job so
Being a squad leader isn’t just ordering people around a
lot, it’s a lot of work. Our schedule is
basically 6,6,6,6. Six hours on patrol,
six hours on CQ, six hours sleep, 6 hours “down time”. Of those six sleep hours, you really only get
about 4 1/2 once you’ve reloaded, filled canteens, latrine, chow, clean mess
kit, refurb kit for next stand to,
replaced any consumables, changed socks, whores bath, brush teeth, shave,
memorized new SOI, polished boots, cleaned up the bivy…get the picture?
Now when you are squad leader, you get to do all that AND: sit
in on TOC planning, briefings, route planning, writing OPORD, making sure you
get whatever additional kit drawn from supply, making sure the squad has done
all the things they are supposed to have done to take care of themselves
mentioned above. You get about 3 hours
of sleep if you are lucky. Seriously.
It’s a dark time for the UK squad. Remember, eight total, two of which are
vehicle crew, leaving six on the ground.
We’ve three on sick list, down to three combat effectives. And we have a
rookie squad leader. At this point I
have to make a special thanks to Sgt Scheaffer of the Canadian Paras who took
some of his down time to help instruct a freshly minted Cpl Santos in the
essentials of squad leadership, and to help drilling our under strength brick,
doing action on drills and trying to ramp up the aggression and confidence of
everyone, myself included. Hamburgers
This was neat enough to warrant mention. I was pulling a shift in the TOC that
evening, writing out my OPORD when Fwbl Zee came in. The Jaegers had contact, he got separated in
the dark, E&E’d back to base and reported that he ATE the SOI card. This is the sort of person that does EW.
Corned beef hash for breakfast again. It’s ok with a lot of Tabasco.
We luck out (I think they took pity on us) and have no duty until after
lunch, as CQ, and now I’m manning the radio in the TOC. No pressure.
The lads sleep through the day, which is good because we have a night
patrol coming up after dinner. I spend
the day writing OPORD and making sure the squad is ready (three hours rack on
average, remember). There’s a big difference between a night mission and a
night patrol. Patrolling is such an
independent skillset. So we are to go
out to Caen (AO
Steamboat Willy) and interdict Soviet AT teams and engineer teams. It’s a big night, the Canadians, and one GI
squad are already out. I very
specifically ask TOC if there are any friendly units in our AO. “No.”
Right then, we see anything at all, we slot it, no challenges, no
passwords. Some good news, we get Furnas
back for duty so at least we’re going out as a full brick. Bad news, with so many others going out,
there’s only NODS for two of us, and getting that was a trick. We make it up to Steamboat Willy in good order,
the Ferret is beating for us, but in using its big floodlight, is also a hazard
for us as well. We’re trying to avoid
our own scout car and we lose AJ. Five
minutes of controlled panic (one of the GI squads came back with one fewer man
than they went out with, and while we may be getting our asses kicked, I didn’t
want us to be those guys!) we found him inside one of the buildings. Furnas and Scuba pile into the building with
him, I keep a position on the outside corner.
(a note about buildings, cover is great and all, but
ultimately it’s a barrel, and we’re the fish)
A few minutes later as we’re sorting ourselves out to move
out again, my NODS show me a squad moving up on us, very close. No friendly units in my AO. Check.
Frag out! I fire up my first frag
of the event, burning the crap out of my hand, throwing it into the enemy. From their bottled position in the building,
AJ starts a contact report to the TOC requesting the QRF, Scuba and Furnas open
up, and I go prone, gunning like hell, watching tracers go overhead. I get another frag out and lowcrawl to put
the building between myself and the enemy, I shout inside the window for who’s
alive and who is hit. All three
I run. It’s the only
way I can get intel back to the TOC. I
hate leaving the lads, but I can’t help them either. I break contact, and sprint for the
woods. I see the Ferret patrolling on
the other side of this big mucking pond that is on site. I don’t stop, I go straight through the pond,
actually swimming at times. (Try swimming at night with a rifle and battle
rattle. It’s an education). I reach the
Ferret, we start back and run into the Canadians coming out. I link up with them, to lead them out to
where I left the lads, and we run into the US
first squad coming in from having slotted the UK squad. Yep, we totally got friendly fired.
Here’s what happened:
The Ferret saw an Ivan AT team and called in to the TOC for QRF (US 1st
squad) rather than call us. So, 1st
squad came out, and we, having no intel that there were friendlies in the area,
opened up on them. It seemed like a good
idea at the time. Having more NODS and
more numbers, they clobbered us. I’m not
upset about friendly fire, that’s night ops and fog of war. I’m annoyed that the QRF was called out
without notifying us, I’m annoyed we were in a building, and what I’m most
annoyed about was that we didn’t kill more of them. When we get back, and everyone is alive
again, its QRF duty from 0000 to 0600.
Good news of the night, the Canadians came back with an
entire AT team as EPWs. They were all
really cool, and I learned how much better NATO treats its EPWs, they got Cokes
and crispy crèmes. I hadn’t seen a Coke
in a week. I was ready to commit a war
crime for a Coke.
(A note on EPWs. NATO
values EPWs higher than its own troops.
They get fed before you do, they’ll be given your rack while you sleep
on the ground. If you have them in the
field, you put yourself between them and enemy fire. They are worth more than you are. Deal with it.)
0700 Breakfast is dry cereal. (I choose Fruit Loops). If you’ve been keeping track, I was on TOC
duty Wednesday night, then planning, writing orders, PCI Thursday day, our
night patrol, then CQ from midnight Thursday to dawn Friday, so I’ve been awake
for about 30 hours straight. After
breakfast, thankfully we stand down until 1200, and I sleep. After chow (Rubens, very good too), we’re off
on another patrol right back over where we were last night.
My plan for the patrol is simple, we go back to Steamboat
Willy, police up anything we left behind in the firefight, find a nice LUP and
wait out the remainder of the patrol in a picnic. We’re not taking armour or
helmets with us, nor medic ropes, if we’re hit, we’re dead.
We head out, making to Steamboat Willy in good order, police
up our mags, and are about to go find us a batch of nettles to hide in, when we
hear the THUMP of AT taking out the Ferret behind us. The Ivan AT team is between us and base, and
close. We’re game on now. We’re itching for some blood. We hunt them down to their hide in a
valley. Furnas gets shredded in the
initial volley. I get into an argument
with one of the Russians about the rules, and the last two lads, rather than
fall back to the last rally point, just take off running across open ground
heading back to base like rabbits. No
tactical posture, just running. I sort
out the rules issue with the Russian, and they aren’t pleased with not being
able to capture us. Tough. We did take out three of their five men though. This was our first real victory as a unit.
I start trotting after the lads to try and get them under
control when one of them calls out “hit”, then the other. Bugger.
Now I have one wounded Ivan AT team behind me, and one fresh one ahead
of me, but all of my good cover and routes take me forward. I get a visual on their position, and it
isn’t particularly good. I have a decent
chance. I throw out three frags in quick
sucession, hoping to keep their heads down while I move to a defoliade where I
can make an approach. Good theory, but
they still outgunned me. Oh well. It was a little flattering that the Ivans
ignored the lads and very specifically searched me. I guess they though I looked important for
Back inside the wire and I caught up with the lads, and they
were retelling their adventure, and they were all excited about it. These weren’t the whipped UK squad from
yesterday. Even though we got clobbered
again, this time we fought back with measurable results. It made all the difference. I’m cool with getting punked, as long as
we’re having fun doing it. Them having
fun with this, made for a better day for me.
I got the lads sorted out again, we got a few hours rack,
dinner (chicken and dumplings) another shift in the TOC and QRF, the lads
sleeping in the Ready tent. It’s a slow
night, the Canadians are out on LRRP harassing Ivan to ruin his night’s sleep.
0700 Breakfast (French toast and oatmeal). It’s St Patrick’s Day and the 11th
Hussars gets word that they are to be recalled to quell the troubles. We pack our kit, break camp, load the heavy
haulers, and are moved to a rear area where we await xpo back to the UK and
Ok, so that’s what happened.
And how do I feel? Well, it was
the worst best time I ever had. I was
sore, always tired, often hungry, usually too hot or too cold, and I smelled
TERRIBLE! I learned a lot, in practical
skills and just about the experience of being stood to in a “combat” zone. I met some really great folks, Cpt Swayze, Lt
Warrick, Fwbl Zee, and especially Cpl Mercy and Sgt Schaeffer.
After a week of patrols, firefights, and living in kit, I
feel totally confident in about any other AS challenge ahead of me. I’m trying to get a spot in the next RECONDO
I kept pace, never fell behind and often led the way. At my age and fitness level, this was
important to me. After spending all
winter climbing up SPTG steep sides covered in snow at 9500 feet elevation,
negotiating the ground there was a lot easier than I was afraid of. Sure, I was sweating, panting and gassed, but
I never felt like I was so beat I was going to just flop on the ground.
Will I do it again?
Hmmm, ask me in a month or two.
As of today, I’d say no. This
could change with distance.
If you have any other questions feel free to ask or PM me.
- Private E-2
- Posts : 21
Very well written, definitely paints a good picture of your adventure. You could turn it into a book.
- Corporal E-4
- Posts : 72
Age : 63
Location : Windsor
- First Sergeant E-8
- Posts : 682
Age : 34
Location : Westminster, CO