Welcome to Part 2 of our AAR for the Joint Training FTX with One Shepherd, which occurred in the last week of September, 2017.
I apologize for getting this out so late, hopefully my memory of the events hasn't faded too much. I believe there are still lessons and stories that should be told however.
If you haven't,please read Part 1 to bring yourself up to speed on the FTX as I will not be recapping.
Day 1, approx 1830 hours.
After completion of our weapons maintenance, chow and rest plans, I initiated another patrol.
I believed we needed to maintain some presence in the AO with a light patrol down Howell Loop road to get eyes on the breach in the minefield. My rationale of thinking was that the enemy may have pulled back beyond the breach to a patrol base deep within their territory. So perhaps we could stop them from advancing far from our FOB.
Our small patrol led by APL Schreckenghaust on point, moved up onto Howell Loop road right at the Honey Hole. We proceeded East towards the T intersection.
Within 20 to 30 meters APL Schreckenghaust detected the enemy patrol moving along the fence line in light vegetation. Making use of what little concealment that was available and avoiding exposing themselves on the roadway. This slowed down their advance and made their movement noisy.
"SAFETY KILL, SAFETY KILL, SAFETY KILL!" APL Schreckenghuast yelled initiating another fire fight.
I immediately pulled our patrol back to the honey hole in hopes of holding the OPFOR there again. This time, with light waning and the enemy patrol already 20-30 meters away, I decided we needed to pull back to our final phase line and defend-able position before the FOB- PL KIA.
Here at PL KIA, the position was not as favorable as the Honey Hole. We maintained 2 rifles on the road & 2-3 in the field south of the road. The enemy and casualties came on quickly.
Here however, night vision devices proved be worth their weight in gold. With incredible natural loom, we were able to detect & fire onto unsuspecting OPFOR almost at will.
Myself and Rifleman Chester Misener embarked on a large flanking movement to the enemies rear. We moved approx 200 meters to the rear of the enemy and moved back West. Passing their CCP along the way, we began to pick off OPFOR members as they sat along the side of the road with NO rear security.
Here is where the challenge and pass security question became obviously important. We pressed all the way to the OPFOR Patrol Leader's position who issued their challenge to use. This made us scramble for an answer before we fired upon them. They returned fire in kind.
A heated discussion ensued with us all agreeing that we should be mutual causalities after such a close range engagement.
The frustration in the OPFOR members & their Patrol Leader was palatable. It was obvious the earlier defeat & current tough fight was wearing on them. We hoped this morale issue would be an exploitable benefit to us.
It wasn't long for the OPFOR to adjust to our capabilities with night vision and to begin to take counter-measures against it.
One counter-measure being to look for the subtle red glow of our IR floodlights or IR lasers. Secondly they began to white light our positions with tactical lights, blinding our NVG's and giving them clear shots on us.
This change in tactics immediately began to produce more casualties on our side with no re-spawns available, they pushed into our FOB. A 2 man defense was struck at the FOB and held on for as long as they could be the OPFOR would be victorious in taking and destroying our FOB.
This OPFOR victory despite being earned at such heavy losses turned the their morale around.
After the firing had stopped we were re-spawned and put in an operational pause. We debated pushing the enemy that night to keep the momentum on our side and to continue to wear on their morale.
With the minefields on the AO and uncertain routes into their suspected PB with no real intel on where their PB was, I opted to rest our patrol for follow on missions the next day. Again, we returned to our PB, initiated maintenance, chow & rest cycles and prepared for the next day.
1.) I didn't prep my NVG's prior to stepping off near dusk. Real rookie move, I should know better.
2.) Radio coordination took place, but wasn't as effective during this engagement.
3.) We had no plan in place for the enemies NVG counter-measures.
4.) With so many available sets of NVG's we only drew 2 sets. I should have required more members of our patrol to bring them and will do so in the future knowing what a game changer it is.
1.) NVG's especially against a non-peer opponent are essential assets to have, it made us brazen in the face of an enemy with no night vision to the point of near carelessness.
2.) Resting our patrol instead of keeping our thumb on the enemy. Had we even one more fire team I would have initiated some kind of night patrol. But with limited numbers, everyone is pulling more weight. Physically and mentally. I believe it would have hurt us more than the enemy to continue patrolling that evening.
3.) Our morale was high despite losing our FOB. We knew we had a near impossible mission with our low numbers. Inflicting such high causalities on the OPFOR held our expectations and morale high for the remainder of the FTX.
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