does the patrol attack

The Lt called the men in to brief them. He believed in making sure that everyone knew their part, and were fully informed of a situation where they may lose their life.

“Two teams. Marksmen in both, I want those machine gunners taken out in the first few seconds. We go in from South and West, catch them in a cross-fire. I want Jackson and Evans on the SAW aiming West-East, enfilading fire only. Every one else short aimed bursts, grenades if you get the chance. The two guards have to go first on my signal, when they go, that’s the signal to let rip. Keep your eyes open for runners, I don’t want anyone getting away. If this is the group that has been snooping around, I don’t want anyone getting out of here with any reports. Ramirez, you take the 2nd team out to the West. You get the bulk of the squad, I want you to hit that larger group with all you got. I will take the other team in from the South. Any questions?”

The men in the patrol sit, and show their trust in the Lt by remaining silent.

“Ok. Drop your packs, weapons and ammo only. Good luck.”

There had been no questions, because everyone involved had done this more times than they cared to remember. Sergeant Ramirez led his eight man team off on a flanking loop to the West, with the second scout as his guide. With them went their heaviest weapon. The Squad Assault Weapon, nicknamed ’the SAW’. A General Purpose Machine-Gun, that could cut a tree in half if it needed to. Before the squad split, the spare ammo belts for the SAW were handed over, no point in carrying what you didn’t need. The only equipment essential for the purpose of the next half hour would be a weapon, spare ammo and grenades. A personal belt-kit and a med-kit were the only other things to be found on any member of the team. Everything else was dumped.

The Lt and his smaller team, led by Andrews the lead scout, looped South. Soon, they were in position. The clearing open before them. The Lt knew that Ramirez and the others would be off to the left, spread out in a firing line maybe 20 metres long, and from there he would be able to pour fire down through the length of the enemy group, and also from a semi-flank position too. His own team, just four men strong, were in a line about 10 metres long, facing the flank of the enemy. Their main attention would be on the smaller group of about five enemy soldiers. Ramirez would have already designated the high priority targets to his team. They would need to go in the opening salvo. Machine gunners, radio operator, medic, N.C.O.‘s and Officers.

The Lt looked over to his right, and then his left. His men were in position, and ready. He had spotted the Officers sat in the little group, and had designated the two guards to the best shots in his team. Two headshots would open the attack. If all went well, then within maybe thirty seconds, it would be all over bar the shouting. He raised his rifle to his cheek, flipped the safety lever to the firing position, and started to increase the finger pressure on the trigger. He raised his hand from the fore-grip of the rifle, and paused. Deep breath. Exhale. The hand drops, and all hell breaks loose.

As soon as the hand dropped in their peripheral vision, the two marksmen gently squeezed their triggers and opened the attack with precision head shots. Less than half a second after those first shots, the clearing became a killing ground. From the left, the SAW does its deadly work. Bursts of ten rounds slam into the seated enemy, tumbling them backward. The high priority targets are the first to be hit. In a couple of seconds, the 2 Officers, the N.C.O.’s, the medic, the machine gunners and the radio man are all dead or wounded before they had even realised which direction the shots were coming from. Some of the enemy in the main group panic, and commit the cardinal sin of standing up and trying to run away, instead of seeking cover to return fire. Ramirez and his team fire in controlled bursts, picking their targets, letting the SAW act like a scythe with its sweeping bursts. A sudden explosion as a grenade detonated threw sods of earth and pieces of equipment high into the air. A figure staggered away from the point of detonation, clutching his face and screaming. One of the team takes a careful aim, and puts a three round burst into his chest, knocking him backwards.

Out on the far right of the Lt’s team, lead scout Andrews fired round after round into the enemy. He knew they have been lucky so far, he doesn’t even think that the enemy have had a chance to return fire yet, but its almost ten seconds into the fire fight now, and at some point empty magazines will need to be replaced, someone could get a stoppage, the enemy could get lucky when they start to return fire. He has mentally kept track of how many rounds he has fired from his 30 round magazine…19, 20, 21, 22, 23...he gets to 25 and picked up a grenade ready…26...the pin is pulled and the grenade soars on its way to land within a metre of the quickly diminishing group of enemy survivors. 27, 28, 29. The dull ‘CRUMP’ of the grenade going off barely registered in his mind, as he automatically ejected the almost empty mag’, and rams another home in its place. A metre to his front left, the earth exploded in cascades of leaves and dirt. The fire fight had become two way at last. Someone over there had found cover to return fire.

From his position out on the left, Ramirez could see that the opening few seconds had gone smoothly. His team had halved the enemy group almost instantly, and the SAW over on his left a couple of metres distant was tearing at the air with reassuring bursts. One of the boys had launched a grenade which although it fell short, had caused casualties, and a few seconds later, one of the Lt’s group had thrown a grenade too. He had no idea how effective that had been, but, he could see that the Lt’s team had shifted their fire into the main group of the enemy already. Suddenly rounds start to hit the tree he is using for cover. Splinters of wood, leaves and branches rain on him like confetti. The uncomfortably familiar buzzing of bees tells him that rounds are passing him, a few inches away from him. Some one over there had spotted his firing position alright, those rounds are too close to have been fired in panic, they were aimed. Rolling behind the tree, he ejected his magazine and replaced it with a fresh one. He hadn’t been sure how many rounds were left, and if you get confused in a fire fight, then you could be dead. Continuing to roll, he moved over a couple of metres to his left, out of the line of fire. By the time he was back in a firing position, it was all over.

Silence. The strange silence that immediately followed a fire fight. Its like nature is frightened, and holds its breath.

An unspoken signal, and both teams rise at once, and move forward a few metres, then crouch into kneeling stances. A quick glance to either side, and he sees everybody bar his machine gunners have stepped forward. He is relieved. Jackson and Evans will stay put to give covering fire to them all if needed, and his team will cover the Lt’s while he moves in to the now silent enemy position.

As the Lt and his three men move up, a scene of horrific devastation greets them. It had taken about twenty five seconds for his group of twelve to have wiped out a group of twenty. The fact the sight of shattered faces, dismembered limbs, broken bodies and blood and gore no longer bothers him, actually bothers him. How can he go back to a normal life after this? Gun smoke hung in the air, acrid to the nostrils. The smell of fresh blood from the many wounds made this section of the clearing smell of an abattoir. The smouldering craters from the grenades told their own mute stories.

“Police up anything of any intel value. Check for survivors. Be careful of anyone faking it, don’t take any chances.”

Andrews moves over to the three bodies that he knows for certain he brought down on his own. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you aim in the direction of the enemy and take an educated guess at where or when he will appear, and pull the trigger. At others, like with these three, you aim like you’re back on the ranges, you lead your target, and you squeeze the trigger, not pull. He may have accounted for more of the enemy group, he would never know, but these three, probably friends who didn’t want to separate from each other once the firing started, he knew, were killed by his hand alone. The first was slumped where he was sitting originally. Andrews had tried to slow his breath, waiting for the Lt to give the signal to open fire. When the first two shots went off, he had gently increased the finger pressure until the rifle recoiled into his shoulder. The bullet hit the man centre of his chest. Hopefully he died instantly. The second had started to rise when Andrews’ next three shots hit him. One in the hip which spun him around a little, the second in the stomach which made him double up, and the third hit him in the side of his head, opening it like a melon. He collapsed at the feet of the third man, who was covered in gore from the head shot a split second before. As he moved to pick up his rifle, Andrews had fired again. Bullets had smashed into his legs, and into his arm, knocking him sideways and out of the fight. He had lain there, listening to the screams, and the sounds of seemingly ceaseless gunfire. Andrews only realised he was still alive when he went through his pockets looking for anything of intel importance.

“BOSS! I got a live one here!…”

The End

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