Our squad had just been tasked to set up security for a new Forward Operating Base (FOB). The reason for building a new FOB was because there was a remote roadway between the two largest FOBs in the Area of Operations (AO) that served as an egress route used by the Taliban after placing IEDs and ambushing our Main Supply Route (MSR). Command wanted a FOB there because of the high enemy activity and to split their routes up. Our squad had the most firepower and the senior squad leader so we were chosen.
We had machine gunners, assault men and motormen attached to the squad. Myself and two of my guys with a M240 made up the bulk of the firepower, machine gunners. We stepped off with enough supplies, ammo, and clothing to last us a week. But most of us packed dip, Monsters, and cigarettes. Our ilbes were filled to the brim and gave everyone a hunch as we patrolled. We finally made it to the new FOB site and saw just an empty farm field. I set my team up down a road while our riflemen and assault men cleared to the site for IEDs. The site was clear and we dug one foxhole per marine in a 360. That was our living area and our defense, and a small camie netting with green gear made our Command Operations Center (COC).
Anyone we saw we were allowed to engage because the area was considered a tier 1 Taliban stronghold, and civilians were not allowed. A few days went by and nothing big but a few mortars and pop shots. Nothing close enough to legitimately engage. Usually the side of the 360 degree that took contact opened fire at the muzzle flashes. The problem was that we were not allowed to patrol farther than a certain matter of yards with less than ten marines. We had more than that but still had to man three posts so any engagement we called it up and let it go. They were testing us and we all knew it. The fourth night had just passed and we had not received contact. Some of the boots thought it was over and that they were done, but none of us knew the fight that lied ahead of us.
The next day was hot, filled with fixing up our defense, and small security patrols around the farm field. The fire team that was sent out had returned about an hour before dawn. We huddled around the COC for a debrief and some MREs. Engineers and CLB were supposed to arrive two days ago to start putting up hescos and posts but because of the Marine Corps’ infinite wisdom, they had screwed up and weren’t coming for another three days.
We had communications with our company PB and tried to get vics, or more ammo and crew-serves out to us, but most of our resources were out in action. What we did have was 24/7 air on station; usually an F-18 or at least a raven, “watching our backs.” Our squad leader had set us up for dawn and dusk stand too with about 90% of us geared up, but the Taliban were smart and knew that already. They waited until most of us were in our holes asleep. The night that will change my life forever was about to unfold. Read more