We’re going on a foot patrol…
Get up! It’s 2am, start planneeeerrrr*STOP* Say that again. 2!!! am. When did you last get up at 2am to do ANYTHING besides pee? And we’re just getting started.
Why 2am? The early bird catches the Taliban? Ultimately, it’s because we have to reckon with how long will it take to get 50 dudes, Afghans and Americans over a MOUNTAIN, no shit, a mountain.
Is it always 2am? No. Sometimes it’s during the worst heat of the day. We’d also walk in a dry riverbed. Why, it’s “safer”–safer is code for “so hard nobody else wants to do it.” Sometimes, like this patrol, safer means walking OVER a montain instead of around. I think you get the idea.
What do we wear?
Uniform, long pants, long sleeves, gloves, knee pads, helmet, body armor (approx. 25lbs). As soon as you put on your armor your shoulders hurt, back complains, rubbed raw sides light up and you start to sweat. Are you a SAW gunner? That’s about 30lbs of weapon, plus your ammo.
Boots? Not only boots, but the correct ones. This terrain is hazardous and chews up soft boots (the comfortable ones). We’re walking on loose rocks on a tiny trail lit only by moonlight (remeber it’s 2am). You WILL roll your ankles; you WILL have to save yourself from falling more than a few times. Someone, you hope not you, will let out a “whew” and enjoy a shot of terror when their leg surprises them and holds (remember you weigh over 300lbs with all the gear). You look down a 1000′ and walk on…
You carry your own water, a Camelbak, bottles, whatever. If you run dry–I’ll get back to this–there is a troop that carries a 5 gal bladder for refillls. Don’t chug your water, you’ll want to puke the next 45 mins while you huff and puff up the trail.
Breakfast? That’s easy, you don’t want any. Sure you need calories and you eat a little something…but the “hump” up the hill makes breakfast a mistake. Instead, you nibble on protein/energy bars. Regardless, heartburn, farts and burps are a constant on patrol.
While we climb you are gonna swear you need to stop, your heart is racing…but you can’t. If you stop everyone suffers or worse. No talking..and for sure no lights of any kind. It’s a lonely affair.
Why would you run dry of water? We’re on a mission, it’s not a hike. We’ll cover six miles, several hundred feet of elevation changes, over rocky technical trails at about 5000′ altitude. Even descending is hazardous and draining. It’s going to be cold in the morning before sunrise; but you’ll still sweat. The temp will hit 100+ by the time we get back. IF, we get back on schedule. If we run across a bomb, something that looks like a bomb or anything weird happens, we’ll address that “thing” until complete. Complete can take hours. So bring lots of water. BTW water is heavy.
When you climb mountains and patrol 6 miles EVERYTHING is heavy. My notebook 4×7 takes on a weight 3x it’s own. It moves from hand to hand, this pocket…under my arm. It gets covered in sweat no matter where you put it.
Oh, and the Taliban wants to kill you.