Highway to Hell
It’s been a busy day on Highway 1.
One convoy, en-route to Bastion, was engaged at about 0930hrs with small arms fire from about a section-size group of insurgents using abandoned houses and gardens 300m south of the MSR as cover. Our guards dismounted from their vehicles and returned fire. Fortunately, this time, no injuries or damages were reported and the convoy quickly pushed on.
Another of my convoys was not so lucky today. En-route to Bastion, the convoy was ambushed at about 1030hrs by probably the same group of insurgents only 3 km west of the previous contact. The bad guys piled in accurate small arms and machine-gun fire from abandoned houses and gardens 300m south of the MSR. Same cover, same range, and same side of the MSR – all they had done was have tea and move a short walk down the road. During the contact a tanker driver was injured and lost control of his tanker causing it to leave the MSR and become bogged in soft ground. The injured driver was evacuated to a nearby FOB by ISAF and one of my teams remained with the bogged tanker to wait for recovery assets – they are still out there as I write – while the remainder pushed of the convoy forward on its task.
A short time later, it was hit again.
At about 1100hrs, most of the guards dismounted to provide all-round protection as the convoy moved through a choke-point on a high-risk stretch of the road. Only seconds after they de-bussed an IED detonated right next to one of my guards. He was killed instantly. The teams kept their head, stayed in position until the convoy was through the choke point, then mounted up and headed out.
Reading this, I am conscious it is a dry and clinical description of an action that killed one of my men but, really, how can it be otherwise? It is so commonplace in our battle to get the fuel through. I feel every one of the deaths but can’t let it get to me. As the commander of that guard force says with a fatalistic shrug “It is war and it happens.”