first published on August 22, 2019 by Will
A time lapse type video from an Afghanistan deployment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade shows paratrooper mortarmen firing 60mm mortar rounds to suppress and interdict heightened Taliban activity during the historical 2010 election process.
In the following statement, the video uploader describes the circumstances of the event, and describes his frustration with not getting clearance to fire the 120mm. Rules of engagement were so tight for this deployment that the soldiers often weren’t allowed to fire their larger mortar system, even to defend themselves under heavy enemy fire, because their leadership wanted to reduce any chance of collateral damage.
The warfighters were able to circumvent these restrictions by using the 60mm mortar, which only needed ground commander level clearance to fire, rather than battalion or bridge level approval.
“I was reading about how peace deals in Afghanistan could undermine security operations in the region. Made me think back to the 2010 election. 1-91 recon 173 had a joint base with about 130 men or so on it. The Taliban wanted very badly to have people stay home from the voting process. They spent the day lobbing RPGs and maneuvered in small groups taking quick shots at our little compound. The orders were simple. Keep the patrols very short and close to home. Get gun trucks to positions that could see over our concrete walls and create as many crows nests of observation with machine guns around the base to have a bullwhip that could strike out in any direction when the attackers would prod. In one corner was our mortar section. We had only one 60mm and a 120mm. The rules of engagement said if you want 120 fire you might as well just curl up and die because someone would have to say they trust you. Instead the 60 was put to work needing only the ground commander. As our presence patrols check the two voter stations close to the base we would track them and stood by to give as timely and accurate of fire as we could.
It seems peaceful watching it sped up. We were just young kids becoming good friends. Every person in this video has a Purple Heart except for the really good looking guy.”