Did I ever tell you about the time I killed 97 American soldiers?
I’m not going to write all the doctrinal manuals here for you. Just trust me when I say that there’s a lot of them. Doctrinal manuals spell out how the Army conducts its operations. And every rule in them is written in blood. These are the lessons learned in 233 years of American soldiers fighting. One of the rules talks about crossing into and out of friendly lines. As in, you should coordinate with people before you do it.
We were in the Pinion Canyon Maneuver Training Center in Southern Colorado. The company was set in the defense. In the morning, we expected a battalion to come crashing down on us, trying to break through our lines. We figured that before the onslaught of tanks and Bradleys came, the enemy would try to infiltrate some dismounted infantry into our position. They would be tasked to pinpoint our defense and possibly to attrit a few vehicles at the start of the battle. That meant we stayed up all night, scanning the area with the thermal sights on the Bradleys (our own dismounts had moved forward towards the enemy position in an attempt to locate the main effort of their attack and give us early warning. Once they spotted them, they could call in artillery missions on them).
So it comes to pass that while my driver is sleeping in his seat, and my gunner is in the back of the vehicle catching some much needed rest, I look through the thermal sights and see quite a large number of dismounted infantrymen approaching. They are about 2 kilometers away. They are in a column formation, which isn’t the best way to disperse a crowd of grunts, but it is the easiest way to navigate at night. No sense getting everyone lost! I didn’t count noses, but I could tell this was quite a crowd. I knew our company had only put about two dozen grunts forward, and this was a lot more than that.
I called the CO on the radio and told him what we had. I mentioned that they didn’t seem to be taking any particular efforts to hide or conceal themselves.
The CO called back, “Kill ’em.” So I fired up the 25mm (hooked up to MILES gear, of course) and lit them up. You could see them jump around and reach for the keys to turn of the squealing of their MILES harnesses. I zapped every one of them. Easy as pie.
Pretty soon, the radio net started heating up. There were some very unhappy people out there. It turns out, we had been augmented by a National Guard light infantry company. They had gone forward to perform a raid on the enemy and to strip away his dismounts. The only problem was, they didn’t bother to tell anyone what they were up to. Nor did they tell us that they would be coming back through our lines. My CO had a pretty good idea it was them when I called him, but had me fire them up anyway. The lesson they learned was one the parents of any teenager has taught- be sure to let us know where you’re going and when you’ll be home!