Give Me Your Ammo

  “Give me your ammo and I will take it out to the observation post (OP).”  This is what I told my active duty counterpart after one of our joint (US and Afghan) OPs had been in a firefight.  I was the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the company size element of Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and my fellow active duty CPT was the OIC of the company of US soldiers at this small, remote Forward Operating Base (FOB) near the Afghan-Pakistan border.   

The problem that my fellow CPT was having was the issue with the weather and the limitations it puts on our forces.  The weather had taken a turn for the worse and it placed a restriction on movement outside the wire.  At least for US forces.  This is where I was trying to convince him that I could move with my ANA forces regardless of the weather (although not recommended), and I could re-supply the OP as both the ANA and US forces were dangerously low on ammo after the latest attack.  To me, this was an easy choice.  The boys on the OP needed ammo and I was willing to do everything I could to get it to them.  I knew if I was on the OP and needed ammo, I would want someone willing to re-supply me.  What also was bothering me was the fact of having less then 1 hour of daylight remaining and the trip to the OP was 40 minutes round trip, and that’s not counting the transfer time of the ammo.  For US forces darkness isn’t an issue with our night vision but the ANA don’t have that capability and have to drive with their lights on at night.  Not a great idea to do when having to drive through bad guy territory.

After being unable to persuade my counterpart to partake in the loophole that I offered with my ANA, I decided to go and check on the status of the ANA and the loading of their vehicles for the ammo re-supply.   To my surprise they were almost finished with the loading so I went back to see if my fellow CPT was finished dragging his feet on making a decision.  He actually said yes to my offer of assistance but he needed time to get the ammo around.  I was pretty ticked by now as hadn’t even started rounding up the ammo and my ANA were ready to roll.  They in turn weren’t happy either as we lost another 20 minutes of daylight due to a leader not thinking of what his next 1-2 steps needs to be.

By the time we left the wire there was only a few minutes of daylight remaining and we soon had to turn on our headlights.  Nothing screams “HERE I AM” louder then  5 vehicles driving on the Afghan-Pakistan border towards a spot in which every bad guy in the area had just attacked, and we all have our headlights on.  Was the pucker factor up a bit more then normal?  Yes, but we had a job to do and you just drive on by focusing on the mission.  Once my vehicle finally came to a halt on the OP, the first thing I heard was “Sir, we are so glad to see you!”  It was easy to identify that the ANA and Americans still had the adrenaline pumping through their systems and they all were in good spirits.  We quickly unloaded the ammo and then my ETT NCO partner and I braced ourselves for the return leg of our white knuckled sprint along the border with the lights on. 

We made it back to FOB Tillman that night without any issues.  Sometimes you just have to throw caution (and common sense) to the wind and go with your instincts.

Live Free or Die Trying!

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