Jan 31, 2012
On the 29th of January, 2012, Gambler platoon were assigned the task of escorting high value prisoners from Camp Reality situated at Prozakhar Airbase in the southern mountains to Camp Branca located in the river basin to the north. This was to be accomplished via ground convoy consisting of two Jackal MWMIK class patrol vehicles, a Landrover Series III military transport and an adapted armoured SUV.
For the duration of the mission, one UH1-Y Venom armed utility helicopter and two AV8-B Harrier STOVL ground attack aircraft will support the platoon with reinforcements and close-air support respectively.
Goals and Objectives
Deliver the high priority prisoners to Camp Branca
Scout the western road through the mountain that passes through Hysad, Hetnikora and Gonzalabad for enemy presence, and determine the strength thereof.
Callsigns and roles
Highroller – Command units, tasked operating the prisoner-carrying vehicle.
Gambler 1-2 – Mounted infantry, operating mounted weapons on vehicles or disembarking to deal with any threat.
Blackjack 1-1 – Convoy drivers
Talon 1-1 – UH1-Y Venom
Talon 1-2 – AV8-B equipped with GBU laser-guided ordinance
Talon 1-3 – AV8-B equipped with FFAR rockets and 500lb bombs.
Rover 1-1 – Additional support units
The convoy embarked from Camp Reality on time as a convoy of 4 vehicles. However, after reaching the T-Junction located at ref. 155811, the SUV carrying Rover 1-1 was deemed inappropriate for the task, as it was unable to cope with the muddy terrain. The vehicle was secured on site and recovery was arranged with the Camp Reality quartermaster. Rover 1-1 joined Highroller in the prisoner vehicle for the remainder of the mission.
Terrain through the mountains was challenging as expected, and progress was further slowed due to the necessary caution for mines and IEDs; however the first 12 kilometres were uneventful.
After reaching the T-Junction at 092891, a Afghan civilian was found digging a mass grave. After securing him, he reported that he had been made to dig the grave by insurgents, and warned of IED and enemy presence on the road ahead.
Gambler proceeded up the eastern road, encountering one IED and safely bypassing it. Reaching a crest in the terrain at 097921, the convoy happened upon an enemy Ural transport truck, which unloaded troops and engaged the element.
Gambler 1-1 disembarked the vehicles and provided sustained fire from a ridgeline onto enemy positions, however the enemy were obscured by dense vegetation. The convoy backed up out of the line of fire, however moderate infantry casualties were sustained from heavy machine gun fire. Talon 1-1 was dispatched within 5 minutes to provide the platoon with reinforcements.
The remaining units held their position before pushing for higher ground to the north east of the t-junction, gaining the advantage. The element came under fire from a BTR, and the squad was held in position for around 10 minutes.
Talon 1-1 arrived with reinforcements and laser designation equipment which were delivered behind the platoons position, and then provided support in way of FFAR strike and eliminated the BTR. Talon 1-1 then returned to base.
Unpinned, the squad returned to the vehicles, and the decision was made to push through the enemy lines to deliver the prisoners. This was aided by accurate laser-guided ordinance from Talon 1-2, and further fire support from Talon 1-3, who neutralized several enemy technical vehicles on the route of the convoy. Following a short firefight, all ground units mounted the convoy and proceeded to camp Branca.
The convoy made the final stretch out the mountains and proceeded along the highway to Camp Branca at speed, escorted by Talon 1-1 and 1-3.
Analysis of Outcomes
All prisoners were successfully delivered to Camp Branca on time
Additionally, the civilian informant was also secured and provided valuable intel for the mission.
Enemy strength was well observed in the western valleys
Operation casualties were higher than acceptable, and the ambush caused organization issues within the platoon while command was re-established and the position secured.
All vehicles were accounted for, with no damage.
The mission was a success, however the casualty count was higher than anticipated. Command had wanted to avoid using rotary-wing aircraft to transport the prisoners, however their presence was required regardless for reinforcements, thus the benefits of a land convoy were overlooked.
- Future convoys should be lead with a highly-mobile scout unit which can assess enemy strength on the fly ahead of the main convoy
- Further drilling in convoy operations, especially disembarking.
- Further drilling in the Afghan mountains, so that soldiers may gain a better familiarity of the terrain