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I thought we’d cover danger in Afghanistan again by examining, “When Insurgents attack.”
A quick aside…over the years one develops a sense for explosions. Some are “ours”…outgoing mortars, rounds from a gun or controlled detonations. We learn the sounds of different weapon systems. A helicopter followed by a high pitched drone and several whooshes is an Apache firing it’s main gun and rockets. Whomp Whomp Whomp
We also develop a sense of distance and direction for the booms…it’s all part of our survival mechanism. Another aspect is awareness of our surroundings. We constantly scan and consider what to do if we are attacked …where is the nearest bunker or where is the closest safest place?
This sounds frightening, but we all do this. Motorcycle riding is a good analog. When riding
we have to be aware of spacing. Scanning for threats and escape routes saves a rider’s life.
The sound that puts me face first on the ground are mortars wobbling towards me. They make a unique sound that I can’t quite describe. Sort of of a frantic flutter…the closest sound I can come up with is the rattle of a door stop when accidentally brushed. Rockets and their vibrating engine sound are also unnerving. If you can hear them flying, they are too damned close…
~~The following tale is fictional for security reasons…however, it’s based on real events~~
Just the other day an interpreter, an associate and I were interviewing a local. As we discussed a variety of topics BOOM shatters our interview. My brain, a brain with years of combat time, comes up with “That’s too loud to be them…but doesn’t sound like us.” This brilliant statement was followed by a closer explosion, much closer, 50′ from our location. This burst launches a splash of pebbles on the window near us.
“We need to move to the middle of the building.”
Other than a lucky shot through a window, we’re safe from their rockets here.
The first explosion alerted soldiers…they drop whatever they are doing, scramble to grab gear, rack rounds and set up defense. The post is a safe haven in seconds.
I’m not on post.
The commander, a good looking tall blond dude stands on top of his command center, hands on hips, not a drop of fear…leading by simply standing there.
As the firefight escalates, Afghan forces probe with bullets for Taliban fighters. Their shooting is reckless and ineffective.
Decision time, do we stay in our “bunker” or make a run across open ground to improve our security on post? While shots ring out, “Let’s get back to post.” No discussion, no hesitation, once one of us makes the call, we all move together. BTW—my dumb ass is wearing flip flops (its culturally appropriate) as we jog back toward post.
One big worry remains, I say “call it in…I don’t want to get shot by one of us.” (a Pat Tillman jersey hangs by my bed.)
Then we see something you can’t understand. It’s “Dave,” he’s sprinting out of the gate we’re headed towards;OFF post!!! Sprinting past us…no, he’s not there to help us…he’s doing what warriors do, “running to contact.”