Friday, September 20, 2013

Fullbore Friday

At last, a wrong is about to be put right.
On October 15, 2013, President Barack Obama will award William Swenson, a former active duty Army Captain, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Captain Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as an Embedded Trainer and Mentor of the Afghan National Security Forces with Afghan Border Police Mentor Team, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, during combat operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.

Captain Swenson will be the sixth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.
There is a story to be told - one you can get a sniff of here - on why this took so long. I hope that comes, as some people need to be held to account.

One of the better summaries of the battle can be found here;
... on September 8, an alternate Training Team, ETT 2-8, set out with their allied Afghan forces to Ganjgal. During their mission planning, it was made clear that no dedicated close air support would be available for the mission but commanders promised artillery support from nearby forward bases. In addition, ETT 2-8 was told that, in case of emergency, helicopter support could be redirected from an operation in a neighboring valley within five minutes. Initial intelligence available to the team indicated that Taliban forces were aware of the pending mission and were setting up ambush positions within the village with a forward force of at least 20 fighters. Concerned with both losing the initiative and the safety of the anti-Taliban village elders, ETT 2-8 decided to proceed with the mission and engage the Taliban forces.

Just after dawn, after inserting into the valley and approaching Ganjgal, the Task Force came under heavy machine gun, small arms and RPG fire from at least 100 entrenched Taliban fighters, far more than indicated was present by intelligence reports. The Task Force soon found itself pinned down in a three-sided ambush and being taunted over open radio channels by Taliban fighters.Initial calls for artillery support were rejected by the command post due to new rules of engagement put in place by Commander Stanley McChrystal in an effort to reduce civilian casualties. Both an Army artillery NCO and an Air Force Joint terminal attack controller took immediate action to provide the ambushed US-Afghan unit with fire support but were overruled by the command post. ETT 2-8 informed their command post that they were not near the village but were again denied fire support. ETT 2-8 began calls for emergency helicopter support but the adjacent helicopter assets were tied up and taking fire in support of another operation.

The coalition forces were taking increasing fire and could observe women and children shuttling fresh ammunition to Taliban fighting positions. Within 30 minutes of making contact, the ETT called back to the command post to provide an artillery barrage of smoke canisters to cover their withdraw. Told that no standard smoke was available, the team requested white phosphorus rounds be used instead to screen their retreat. Nearly an hour later, the white phosphorus rounds landed and the coalition forces retreated under heavy fire a short distance before being pinned once again. By this time, three US Marines, their Navy Corpsman, their Afghan interpreter and several Afghan soldiers had been killed and an Army soldier in the ETT had sustained mortal wounds. Taliban snipers were moving into flanking positions when helicopter support arrived and began to attack Taliban positions. This arrival allowed the wounded to be pulled out and for three Marines to fight their way back up the hill to retrieve fallen comrades. By the time Task Force Chosin had totally disengaged, the firefight had lasted for nearly nine hours.

The position occupied by the three dead Marines and the Navy corpsman had been overrun by the enemy, who stripped the bodies of their gear and weapons. The bodies were recovered after their comrades, including Meyer, braved enemy fire to return to the location
Good map here.

UPDATE: Via our friends at BLACKFIVE; you have to watch this video. Especially those who have not served; you need to watch this.

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