After securing the north neighborhoods of As Samawah, the south (and main urban center) part of the city has become an afterthought for the higher ups. The Iraqi authorities in As Samawah were eager to reach a deal in order to secure material support from the coalition. So the idea of this bloody meeting came to be. A British Army Col. and the chief medical officer of our regiment were the guests, scheduled to arrive six hours later in a southbound land convoy passing through the north part of As Samawah, then crossing a bridge into the very territory that our intelligence has deemed as friendly.
No peace-support-operations convoy of our regiment was supposed to enter into territory we have not patrolled extensively. But the meeting's time and place was a done deal. In order to take any potential troublemakers by surprise, we planned a heliborne insertion one kilometer north of the meeting place. Then we planned to move on foot through the north neighborhoods of As Samawah. My section was to march the exact route that the land convoy would take. The first bump in the road was the gateway to the south part of the city: a lengthy bridge over the Euphrates.
Part (hasty) reconnaissance, part show of force. We are the patrols platoon of the regiment and this is what we do.
|Heliborne insertion (LZ Champions), approach march and the first tactical mission (secure the bridge). My section is the middle one.|
|En route towards LZ Champions. We were very uneasy knowing that our Chinook had no attack helicopter escort.|
|The Chinook helicopter starting its descent into LZ Champions. The good news: nobody was shooting at us. The bad news: we will be walking from here.|
|Iraqi civilians along our march route. This is the north part of As Samawah and we know they are friendly to the Coalition forces.|
|A few minutes later we are seemingly alone. This is not good. This incident (everybody standing in the median of the street) happened when I ordered my men to shift from the right to the left side of the street.|
|Some 50 meters from the bridge there was a turnaround (to my left in this picture) that can receive plenty of fire from the other side of the river. Time for a thorough visual scan.|
The best thing against snipers? Another sniper! Alas we didn't have one. So I had to settle for doing it myself to the best of my knowledge. I am not a trained sniper, but if there is one thing I know is that if he could see me, I was going to be in serious pain.
|This is the firing position I settled for. An insult to the sniper craft, but I needed the enemy sniper out quickly. Note the river and the small bridge in front of my position. This small bridge is not the one we are trying to secure.|
|The aiming pole did not keep steady enough. After three misses the enemy sniper was starting to turn towards me. Mega! I had no bloody way out of my firing position.|
|Enemy sniper neutralized after four shots. Not bad for a L85A2, huh?|