Contrary to popular imagination, we are not gun-toting cowboys. We have the our guns and we will use them. But we are never at war, just always in the crossfire ...
Our firm is trying to move the family of our client out of the war-torn countryside of Takistan. We have them in a safe house at a small town within the shrinking territories under control of the Takistani Army. We bribed the hell out of the Takistani officers and they will let this family go. They don't know whose family is this one and that's good because this is one of the traitors who brought to them the coalition invasion. Our money can buy us a very short span of time and we are conducting what in the private military contractor lingo is called "short notice movement". Courtesy of the US Army, we are prohibited to use our helicopter. The excuse today is indirect fire deconfliction. How close the US Army is anyway?
Planning a route for moving a client through a war zone is an affair of intuition. They call it risk management but in the end is all second guessing after the motorcade is either safe or a bonfire outlasting an ambush. We barely had time to plan this one and I am afraid all the time of the world wouldn't have helped anyway. As the coalition forces push the Takistani Army towards the north, fanatical insurgents are claiming ownership of any inch square of terrain that is left in the path of withdrawal. Risk areas shift by the hour. All we could do is a map exercise assuming the worse: choose our movement routes, possible safe heavens for if it gets hairy, evacuation routes to those safe heavens and (what gives) helicopter landing zones for an extraction in case we feel extra brave to challenge the US Army's aerial curfew. Choke points, just one! , my boss told me with that annoying facial tick he pulls every time there is bad news.
They were technically two choke points, just very close to each other. A couple of bridges over two dried out canals channel all vehicular traffic coming out of the area we are trying to get out from.
My team of four men was assigned the security advance patrol (SAP) role. In areas as volatile as this one, SAPs are the eyes of the whole operation providing real time intelligence to the coordinator. We are to asses the trafficability of the bridges before the main body commits to this movement route. We traveled ninety minutes, delighted to cross paths with just the occasional small group of refugees. We are driving a civilian car, as much inconspicuous as un-armored, to avoid bringing attention or bullets to us.
We can shoot the hell and more without dismounting from our SUVs. Even when their armor is good for just a couple of minutes of sustained hostile fire, we have always managed to transform "sustained hostile fire" into "scattered hostile fire" by using our firepower. We kind of developed muscle memory on how to shoot in any direction from them. This small blue sedan is a different story. Hell, we couldn't even figure out how to put up the extra kevlar blankets we brought along. We all agreed that our chances of speeding our way out from contact at the bridge would be very dim if we don't shoot back. Thus we decided to dismount and unveil any hostile position at the bridges not sitting on wheels but rather standing on our feet and holding our guns. We pull out of the road some kilometer before the bridges and leave our ride hidden between the rolling hills.
We keep our movement slow and on the left side of the road. There is plenty of bushes to conceal us and the rolling hills can be used to cover our withdrawal in case we get into contact.
Concealment is a two way avenue. The thick bushes get all my fields of view blocked as we approach the first bridge.
What a relief is to get to your target area and find it free of armed opposition.
Our motorcade operations can only thrive at high speeds. We ram the hell out of anything that denies us the edge of speed. Today it looks like somebody forgot to clean up this checkpoint before abandoning it. Ah, hell ... is it actually abandoned?
To be continued ...