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Old 11-26-2004, 00:58   #1
Basenshukai
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: The Woodlands, Texas
Posts: 906
"FID" Series (Part 1)

NOTE: The following reflects the opinions of the author alone and does not reflect the opinions of anyone in the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, or anyone working for the US Government in any official capacity. All the names and locations have been changed, or modified, for security reasons.

"Foreign Internal Defense"

THE INSERTION

Time: 2257 (Local); 0357 (Zulu)
Place: Flying somewhere over one of the largest cocaine producing areas in South America

The constant humming of the MC-130’s four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines did little to coerce me to sleep. The cavernous interior of the aircraft was dominated by a single civilian vehicle – a Toyota Hilux Pick-up Truck –, two of my men, and three members of the aircraft’s crew. In the darkness I fumbled for the light button of my Suunto watch and illuminated the dial for a few seconds. It was nearly 23:00 local time and, by my calculation, a few short minutes before we began our descent. I tried to stretch on the cargo net seating to no avail. Sandwiched between my senior 18D (Special Forces Medical Sergeant) – dozing off to some MP3 tunes – and my long gun discreet carry case, I barely found restful sleep but still closed my eyes. I felt a presence near me and opened my eyes long enough to catch the dim red lights silhouetted by the plane’s load master. He extended both hands towards me: “Ten minutes!” He shouted. I took one more look at my watch and glanced over at the men. Both nodded an affirmative in my direction. The hum of the engines and the creaking of the chains holding our pick-up in place were the only noises we heard for the next five minutes.

Suddenly, the pitch of the engines changed dramatically and the aircraft angled forward in a very significant manner. My immediate instinct was concern; I hate delegating my fate to pilots, regardless of how much respect and trust I have in their abilities. I lit my Suunto watch once again and checked the altimeter; it began to plummet rapidly. The atmosphere in the aircraft began to change from a dry cold to very warm and humid. I could feel beads of sweat form on my forehead. I glanced over at the men, both fully awakened by the aircraft’s pitch, and extended one hand: “Five minutes!” With that we all pulled our M9s, placed them on safe, locked them to the rear and ejected the magazine. We checked that all 15 rounds were present, loaded the magazine and let the slide forward to drive a round home into the chamber. The M9s were placed on fire and holstered. We followed a similar drill with our M4s but placed them on safe. I checked for the spare 9 mm and 5.56 mm magazines in my 5.11 tactical vest and felt the rear pouch for my AN/PVS-7D night vision goggles (NVG). I pulled out my NVG, held it up to my eyes and worked the on/off switch. “Click”, a cellophane green light revealed details inside the aircraft. Another “click” and the infrared light shot out like a powerful flashlight. I put on the head harness and replaced the NVG to the rear pouch of the vest.

The aircraft straightened out, but only slightly. The engines revved even louder as I sat back and caressed the selector switch on the M4. I could see a few city lights in the distance through one of the portholes available across from me. As the aircraft landed, I saw the pick-up lurch forward and then ease back. The loadmaster quickly looked around the tires at the chains and headed back to the rear of the aircraft near the ramp controls. The two other crew members readied their M4s and put on assault vests. As the aircraft slowed to a crawl, the hydraulics began to whine as the ramp was lowered to reveal a pitch black runway and airport. We stood up and waited. Finally, the loadmaster came back towards the truck and began to unchain it from the fuselage assisted by my senior 18C (Special Forces Engineer Sergeant). The two crew members ran out of the aircraft and pulled security on either side. The load master peeked inside the pick-up one last time to ensure that the parking break was engaged and ran back towards the ramp. The engines were still whining loudly making this drill into a silent film as it drowned any other discernable noises. My 18D and 18C both followed the load master and assisted him in placing the ramps down to allow the vehicle to be driven off. I entered the pick-up, placed the M4 on the passenger seat and put on my NVG on the head harness. I revved the engine and began to back-up the vehicle ever so slowly. Finally we were out of the bird. “Patrick”, the 18C ran into the aircraft one last time and checked to make sure we did not leave anything behind, while “Kirk”, the 18D, checked that all the gear on the pick-up was tied down properly. When we were all together on the tarmac, I gave a thumbs-up to the loadmaster who returned it with a wave. The two crew members pulling security ran from both sides of the aircraft and joined the load master as the ramp began to close.

Then, as quickly as it had arrived, the aircraft turned, taxied down the runway and returned with a screaming run back to the air. Soon, we were drenched in sweat and standing in a pitch dark airfield in civilian clothes with nothing but our M4s, M9s and other miscellaneous equipment. The sound of the crickets returned and we spent a quiet three, or so minutes, getting used to the new environment. We stood each on one side of the vehicle with weapons at the low ready contemplating the next six months ahead of us in what the US Embassy’s Military Group Commander dubbed “the most difficult, and perhaps the most dangerous mission” in country this year. The darkness of the airfield was symbolic, in a way. This area was dark in other ways. There was no real intelligence available to us during the planning. We were not able to perform a proper area study for our planning process. No team had ever operated for longer than weeks at a time in this area and when they did, they limited themselves to a local Partner Nation (PN) military base and rarely explored anything outside of that. But, we were expected to work out of a firebase in the middle of an area recently contested by two opposing narco-terrorist groups. We were expected to operate in and near the town; and this town was run by one of the two narco-terrorist groups. The SF Group Commander’s guidance for Force Protection (FP) was simple: “Don’t fuck around with blanks, even during training … always carry live ammo down there.” Our company commander’s guidance was just as general, and justifiably so. He recommended to “be flexible” and to “let me know what you might need” because “we are not quite sure what you’ll have available”. This situation was “special”, which suited us just fine. Besides, the rest of the boys would be joining us soon.
__________________
- Retired Special Forces Officer -
Special Forces Association Lifetime Member

Last edited by Basenshukai; 03-06-2005 at 16:50.
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