Merten, Paul, 2PLT, B Company, 03-13
LT Justin Smith, 10 April 2009, Time, Enemy, Terrain
Preliminaries: B CO. Commander CPT Howell sent LT Smith on a clearing operation on the Sawtalo Sar Ridge to ascertain firing positions, search for weapons caches, and disrupt the enemy LT Smith prepared for the mission; he studied guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan, conducted reconnaissance, rehearsals, and gathered input from NCOs. 2nd PLT established a patrol base (PB) on the Sawtalo Sar Ridge, remaining there overnight, when another trail was found with signs of heavy traffic. LT Smith conducted a leader’s recon, established sectors of fire, emplaced claymores, and positioned scouts at LP/OPs so they could monitor the trail.
Patrol-Timing Significance: Through preparation, a well-executed movement plan, and flexibility of thought, LT Smith carried out a successful ambush.
Summary of the Battle/Results: 15 minutes after the scouts were in position they reported insurgents. When LT Smith knew the enemy’s direction of travel, he repositioned men and established a new kill zone to mass their effect. Based on the trail the enemy entered the kill zone from left to right. A machine gunner compromised the element of surprise and the ambush was initiated. When completed 15 men were dead. LT Smith accomplished his mission by inflicting serious casualties on the insurgents in the Korengal valley.
Analysis: LT Smith’s planning optimized his time, and ensured his platoon had established a PB and ambush in time. LT Smith capitalized on his understanding of the enemy’s overall lack of discipline, as well as understanding of their movement patterns. The terrain chosen for the patrol base offered good cover, and concealment, however it restricted the ambush to a linear shape. An L shape would have garnered more enemy casualties. The location of the LP/OP is questionable. They were too close to the enemy to communicate, and were at risk of fratricide if they engaged the trail...