first published on March 9, 2018 by Will
A video from the legendary 173rd Airborne Brigade highlights combat action in Afghanistan with an emphasis on mortars.
The “Ghost Platoon” footage shows both 60mm and 120mm mortars delivering high-angled high-explosive hatred during day and night fire missions.
While mortar teams deployed to Iraq were usually retasked with QRF or PSD because the urban landscape didn’t allow for the use of indirect fire weapons due to the risk of collateral damage… Mortarmen in Afghanistan were constantly firing their weapon systems.
During hours of darkness, mortar teams would fire every hour. Sometimes they would fire illumination rounds to light up suspected enemy areas of movement while hoping to catch the Taliban in the act of infiltrating.
Other times they would just fire high explosive rounds at known grid locations where the enemy has attacked from in the past. During actual firefights in mountainous terrain, mortars are a critical component to gaining the upper hand. Because of the indirect lobbing characteristic of the munition’s flight, it is possible to land rounds on the backside of mountains and other covered positions unreachable by direct fire weapons.
Coordinated illumination missions require at least two mortar systems, one firing HE and the other firing illum. Simple math is done based on the time of flight for each round, and with a stop watch, the squad leader keeps track of when each round should be fired, so they burst one just before the other. This allows observers to assess the effectiveness of the carnage being delivered to the enemy.