Michael's Dispatches

War Stories & Rumors

tankimg_9890_1000-webRussian Tank near Tarin Kot

02 March 2011

There are always the stories.  Some true, some not, most are hybrids.  There was the story in Iraq of the farmer who found a crashed UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).  The farmer thought it might try to fly away so he tied it to a tree.   There was the rumor among some Iraqis that the UAVs were piloted by mice.

When I went through the excellent British tracking school on Borneo island, British instructors warned about Afghans who can track you across the rocky desert.  The instructors said a sniper team had moved into place in Afghanistan, was tracked down and killed.  Such tracking would be easy to do in most places here.  If you move during daylight--making it easier to hide your tracks--you might be spotted from miles away.  But if you move at night for any appreciable distance, you’ll almost certainly leave behind an easy to follow trail.  You might was well drop a red marble every ten steps.

I heard a story that, given the source and circumstance, had the ring of truth.  It went like this: Taliban had been attacking some cooperative villagers with IEDs along a road.  In response, one of our Special Forces sniper teams secretly moved into place to shoot the Taliban.  The sniper team, out there on its lonesome, spent the night waiting.  Patience is ninety percent of their game and with sunrise they had gotten nothing.  But the team had been compromised, and an Afghan was coming straight toward them and when he finally got close, he found them pointing weapons straight at him.  “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!  I am from the village!”  The man was not the enemy, but was sent to bring a “grocery list” from the village to the Americans hidden on the hill.  Nobody was hurt.

There is no telling how much of this story is true, though it’s good for a laugh, and is in character of the place, the Afghans, and, for sake of storytelling at least, it’s true enough.

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