By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
Here is an event that could make the rescue mission in the U.S Vietnam War amateur and the Mamapasano Incident revolting. This military rescue mission could make Senators Merriam Santiago and Alan Peter Cayetano run amok and died with envy after they compared it to our manifestly incompetent Army and police generals who did not even flew a kite from the Army 6th Infantry Division, which is only 3 kilometers away to Mamasapano, Maguindanao, to scare away the operatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsa Moro Islamic Liberation Front who were routing like crazy a company of the British inspired commandos' Special Action Force.
I drooled reading a portion of the book entitled “Two Wars” written by U.S Ranger Captain Nate Self -- a 1998 graduate of the United States Military Academy
Here’s the synopsis:
Command radio report at the Joint Operation Center (JOC) Ranger’s base in Bagram, Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush Mountains ordered Shift and his platoon (composed of 21 men) to fly and looked for a CH-47 Chinook helicopter that crash landed and rescue a member of the commando SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Team who fell from the window of the transport chopper.
As they near the landing zone (LZ) in Takur Ghar one of the two Chinooks that carried the Rangers were shot by the rebels with their rifle propelled grenades (RPG), but luckily the Chinook landed safety on the summit.
Just like what happened to the SAF troops in Maguindanao, the rangers were caught by gunfire as they were not able to exploit the BMNT (before morning nautical twilight).
The sunlight became a factor on their vulnerability as they could no longer move in stealth.
Three of Captain Self’s men were hit by the RPG from the Al Queda’s supported Afghan rebels whose bunker was just 100 meters in the hill near the crash site of their Chinook.
They did not know that in that bunkers the rebels held hostage the SEAL guy and another U.S Air force’s combat controller (CCT) personnel.
The mission of the CCT, for those tricycle drivers and carpenters who read this article, is to establish assault zones for aircraft, and provide air traffic control, command and control communications, and terminal control (CCA).
The Afghan rebels were snipping them, firing machine guns, lobbing grenades, hitting them with RPG, and firing mortars.
Aside from the wounded pilot who was holding his limp hand suspended by tendons, the Chinook carries a CCT named Gabe – who would play a major role in saving the lives of the beleaguered soldiers.
To neutralize the rebels hiding in the bunkers at the North West sides of the hill and the South side of the hill who were shooting the U.S troops, Gabe have been frantically calling a pair of F-15s, F-16s, F-18s, and F-14s multi role jets, Predator, and AC-130 gunships, B-52 bomber to fire 20 millimetre canons and machine guns and to drop 400 pounds, 500 pounds, 1000 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions – a GPS guided bomb), and hell fires (for the drone) not only to the location of the rebels in the bunker but on the 250 Afghan militiamen crawling at the south side of the mountain’s slope.
The massive bombs from the air force turned into smithereens the rebels and the two U.S service men inside the bunkers.
Captain Self described the extraction as dusk enveloped the surrounding:
“I looked at my watch, 1645 (4:45 pm) Zulu time; 8:15 p.m. local time. The extraction helicopters should be here any minute. Five Chinooks were en route, escorted by Apache helicopter gunships, A-10 Warthog fighters, and a few sorties of regularly scheduled CAS (Close Air Support). The flight lead Chinook called us on the radio. “One-Six, this is Razor Five-Four; three minutes; over.” “Roger, do you see our IR strobe?”
The AC-130 began thumping rounds into the mountainsides to our east. The familiar sound brought back memories of training with the AC-130 at Fort Knox. It sounded like a giant popgun overheard, with the 40-mm cannon’s impact a split-second delayed.
Thum-BOOM, thum-BOOM, thum-BOOM, thum-BOOM.
“One-Six, Razor-Five-Four; one minute; over.”
“Roger; we’re burning the LZ (Landing Zone) now.”
Captain Self said he called the Predator overhead to “burn” the LZ near their location with its infrared spotlight, which they had sighted in minutes before, as their insurance against the lead Razor bird landing in the wrong spot, an error that had occurred on previous missions.
With six dead, Captain Self and his men including the 10 rangers who reinforced them escaped death from the hands of the rebels who ambushed them at Takur Ghar.
I hope this article could be a wake up call to those "enterprising" defence officials, senators and congressmen not to procrastinate the modernization of the Philippine Armed Forces to purchase advance weaponry not only to save lives of our soldiers but as a modest preparation against the sabre-rattling Mainland China that already occupied and built structures at four of our islets in the West Philippine Sea.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org)