Here is a picture of myself taking part in some Call For Fire (CFF) training in Afghanistan. It was my first time and you can tell my virgin status because I’m holding the cheat sheet in my left hand and the hand mic in my right as I talk to the Cobra pilots. Over all I thought the Marine Cobra pilots were impressive as hell, they certainly didn’t have many of the restrictions that regular Army pilots had.
Coming in on a gun run. As the CFF mission comes in, the pilot heads towards the target while angling up into the air.
Next he comes hurling downwards like cresting the peak of a hill on a roller coaster.
Lined up with the target that has been pin pointed by ground troops the Cobra opens up with it’s minigun and hoses the target down. In this instance, we are just training by calling in gun runs on some empty connex containers.
These pilots would fire on targets so close to us that we would get showered with hot brass as the helicopter flew overhead. You could hear it dropping all around us like rain drops.
The real fun came during the night portion of this training. We were pin pointing the targets down range with infrared lasers mounted on our rifles. Because of the dust kicked up from previous gun runs, our lasers were blocked out by the cloud of debris about fifty yards in front of us. The pilots thought that we were intentionally targeting something fifty yards to our front and went ahead and lit that area up, the minigun almost putting lead down in our laps.
In 2004 my Task Force rounded up a former (current?) member of the Taliban who was up to no good. I won’t mention his name here for OPSEC reasons, but I will say that we were forced to release the jackass a few weeks later due to lack of evidence. In the meantime we shot the guns we confiscated from him out at the range. It’s the least we could do, I did have to carry crates of his ammunition down the side of the mountain he lived on.
The PPSh-41 is a Soviet WWII era Sub-Machine Gun that was designed for close in fighting in urban and forested areas. Like other drum-fed machine guns, I found this one was very prone to Failure to Feed malfunctions. On the other hand it could be that this specific gun was as old as Uncle Joe Stalin and had been kept in a Taliban cache for god knows how long.
Firing a .303 Lee Enfield rifle. Strong recoil but a nice rifle to shoot. I’d love to know the back story of how some of these weapons found their way to Afghanistan. Among other confiscated items we had laying around was what looked like a Rhodesian web gear harness…I can only imagine. One thing I found notable about the .303 was that the sights can be adjusted out to 1000 meters. A friend told me that in the old days the British were prone to sending volleys of fire.
In this picture our mortar section is conducting some cross training with the rest of the Task Force. This was a pretty good introduction to mortar systems before I went to the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant course years later…I was never that great running the Fire Direction Center (FDC) but running mechanical mortars and hanging some rounds is always a great time. Here is myself a second after dropping a 60mm HE round down the tube.
Here is a cool picture where I am firing the 60mm hand held, also called shooting from the hip. Using your left hand you aim the tube with your thumb. Looking down, you use the level above the trigger mechanism to cant the tube at the proper angle for the desired range. With that done, you squeeze the trigger and a firing pin fires the round. Watching Red Phosphorous burn at night is cool as hell! We also fired some “shake and bake” fire missions which consists of a couple HE rounds followed by a RP round.
Here is the real deal. A couple guys from our mortar section set up this mortar pit out in Indian Country to provide fire support for our maneuver element. This one is actually a 81mm mortar system, giving the gun team some much needed range for call for fire missions. Also, note the 81mm rounds on standby next to the gun. The Phosphorous rounds are stored nose up, otherwise the jelly inside sticks to one side, drastically altering the trajectory of the round.
In a past post I showed some pictures of our compound in Iraq in 2010, where we lived in CHU’s. CHU’s are Compartmentalized Housing Units imported to Iraq from Italy. Basically they are micro-trailer homes, or a really high end whack shack, depending on your point of view. Still, that is pretty good living compared to Afghanistan in 2004 where as a dozen troops, we were crammed into a GP Medium tent. In this picture you can see my bunk, with the jumbo sized duffle bag sitting underneath (jumbo sized for transporting dead hookers of course!), and my SR-25 sniper rifle laid out on my shooting mat.
Okay, okay, let me explain the crucifixes… We built those to sling our combat gear over. The shoulder straps of your body armor rest on the lateral portion and your helmet sits up on the vertical piece at the top. This way your gear is always ready to go at a moments notice.
My printer/scanner came in the mail today so I began scanning all my old pictures from Afghanistan. I’ve got some pretty good ones, I think, so keep an eye out for them over the next month or two. Here is a preview, me shooting the .50 caliber Barret Anti-Material rifle.
Offering his hand Kurt helped the next Kazakh up the slope preventing him from sliding back down. Grabbing him by the belt the German’s bicep flared as he lifted and flung him onto the embankment. The Kazakh stood up dusting himself off when the hand of god seemed to swat the mercenary right out of the air, literally tearing him to pieces.
With his face now splattered with his comrade’s blood Kurt rolled out of the way as large caliber rounds tore apart the ground he had occupied a fraction of a second before, churning up a cloud of dust in their wake.
The noise was deafening, the twin barrels chewing apart everything in their line of fire. What had become sporadic PKM bursts now ceased completely, the assault’s momentum now lost.