No Hero by Mark Owen

No Hero by Mark Owen

Author:Mark Owen
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Group US
Published: 2014-10-21T16:00:00+00:00


Shoot, Move, and Communicate


The dogs were keeping up a steady bark as we patrolled toward the compound.

I could hear them as soon as the sound of the helicopter’s engines faded. The first bark echoed through the valley as the team took our ritualistic piss after getting off our long helicopter ride. Seconds later, I heard a second one. By the time we were in patrol formation and started moving toward the target, it sounded like a choir of dogs alerting every farmer and fighter in the area to our presence.

I was now a veteran of eleven years in the SEALs and had been around long enough to become a team leader, and I was pretty well versed in the basic building blocks of operations. I no longer let standard human fears get in the way of making good decisions, and I knew communication and teamwork were the keys to success in combat.

That didn’t mean anything came easy.

We had flown up to Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan. The Germans and other Coalition forces had been in charge of the northern part of Afghanistan for years at this point. They conducted very few, if any, offensive operations in the area. They were focused much more on building roads, schools, and clinics. With no one chasing them out, enemy fighters had begun using the area as a safe haven. Hell, I wouldn’t want to leave the wire either, with a beer garden and several bars and clubs on base, but that was a different story.

We’d come up to northern Afghanistan after our intelligence analysts picked up a tip that a high-level Taliban commander was in the area. As the analysts continued the surveillance, we flew up to the area. We wanted to be close so we could launch once the operation got the green light.

We had no idea what the commander looked like, so the image of him on the briefing slide was just a silhouette.

Throughout the day, our analysts tracked the commander and watched via ISR as he moved from location to location, picking up fighters along the way. Finally, after the sun set, we observed the group move to what we call a bed-down location, usually a tree line or some defensible position where they would stop moving for the night and get some rest. It just so happened that the tree line they picked butted up against a large compound. It was standard practice for fighters to show up at a random civilian compound, demand to be fed, then, with full stomachs, fade into the tree line to sleep. With the thick vegetation of northern Afghanistan, it was easy for the fighters to simply patrol into the trees and hide from our drones flying overhead.

When the fighters arrived that afternoon, the drone pilots watched them go into the compound and then a few hours later disappear into the trees. From what we could see via ISR, the fighters never left the tree line. This didn’t mean they hadn’t moved through the trees and left the area.


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