2nd Last job of ROT XII
It was on this day 10 years ago, ACCG (Alph Commando Company Group) deployed for another mission as we were heading toward the end of our time in Afghanistan with the Special Operations Task Group Rotation XII .
We knew it was going to be a pretty heavy job ahead of us and as we inserted onto the edge of the “green belt” and covered by some larger hills from the villages we were to be focusing on.
To a village area known to be harbouring Taliban fighters and commanders about a little more than 50km to the south of Tarin Kot.
We were flown into our target area north of Kandahar by helicopters from the 1st Battalion of the 101st Airborne Regiment call sign “No Mercy” (we will use them again for our next and final mission).
We landed before first light and our Platoon Commander " C" tasked me and our Platoon Medic ("CPL D") to move up as a pair and to clear the crest of the hill we were ordered to watch over by "MAJ M" (ACCG Officer Commanding)
We were shitting ourselves (well, I was), and it was wasn’t too hot… yet, but I was sweating buckets as we moved as silently as possible in the dark to clear the top of the hill.
When we gave the “all clear” to "CAPT C" the rest of our HQ (HeadQuarters) team followed up with a sniper team to “reach out and touch” anyone coming across the open plane to our front and left with the intent on doing us any harm.
On the hill to our right was our other Platoon and the other Electronic Warfare operator from my detachment.
By 10 in the morning it was starting to heat up, both in temperature and action, the Taliban then engaged our positions both of our hills had next to no cover (except some battle brollys) as the day progressed and it really started to heat up, in both temperature and action.
As the temp soared, the action kicked off and we reported that we had a TIC (or Troops In Contact) meaning we had all sorts of small arms, machine guns and rockets coming our way.
I got a message from my teammate on the other hill saying that when/ if we get home to TK, he had a funny story to tell me.
Turns out that as he was typing away, most of his gear had dirt kicked all over it and he turned to tell the reset of his team to stop kicking dirt everywhere. Turns out, that a RPG or 107mm rocket landed just near him and didn’t detonate, so it splashed dirt everywhere.
It was getting really hot, our Air Traffic Controllers thermometer died at 55 degrees. We were on top of a hill with no trees or shade other than what we could climb under next to some of the bigger boulders.
It was then that we knew we were going to get shot at up on our hill when all of a sudden there was a BANG on the ground next to my foot and a splash of dirt kicked up.
SHIT!?! I didn’t know what happened when our Platoon SGT heard it and yelled “CONTACT!” So we all reacted and dove into the tiniest gaps in between the rocks we were frying on.
We waited, and waited… and waited, and there were no further gunshots coming our way, I’ve gone back to my equipment and back to work and thought, “Gee, I’d love a durry… Where’s my lighter?”
Last thing I remember doing after I lit my last cigarette, was to place the lighter next to my foot, where the dirt had been kicked up... had they shot my lighter?
NO. What had happened was my cigarette lighter was sitting in the sun just next to my foot and had exploded with in the extreme heat.
Our radios crackled to life with a request from the other teams resting in the “Green Belt” below us, they asked us “are you guys still in contact?” To which our SGT replied, “Nah, Garys lighter exploded”… through the rattle of gunfire and rockets, we could hear the rest of the teams pissing themselves laughing at both my SGT calling “contact” over a lighter blowing up, and at me for shitting myself.
Even in the heat of battle, there's always time for a laugh.
We had reports that one of the teams from the SASR element from our rotation that had inserted into the town were being pinned down and may have been in a bit of trouble and our Platoon had been warned that we had to be ready to push up and help them out.
We readied our kit to move urgently to race up and do what we could to help out as the SASR boys were reportedly outnumbered 4 to 1 but that number was reduced thanks to a flying machine gun, the A-10 Thunderbolt ground-attack aircraft, was used to break up the hostile force.
The SASR guys managed to pull off their kill/ capture mission into the town after sustaining a few close calls, a gunshot wound and some damage to their Blackhawks, but they left the town after inflicting massive amounts of damage to the insurgency network.
Also, all of our actions combined resulted in 13 individual awards honours
1 Victoria Cross
1 Star of Gallantry
1 Medal for Gallantry
1 Commendation for Gallantry
1 Bar to Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
2 DSM (including Sergeant Garry Robinson)
4 Commendations for Distinguished Service
As well as the Special Operations Task Group was to be later awarded the first battle honour since the Vietnam War for outstanding performance during the Shah Wali Kot Offensive in Afghanistan from May to June 2010.
We were then relived to move back down to the Green Belt to refresh and cool down in the shade, hence it was shoes and shirts off. Not very tactical, but we were roasting in the sun.
Then we were extracted back to Train Kot to repair and replenish both ourselves and our equipment before our next and final mission for our rotation to Afghanistan.