Tow Missile Takes Out Mortar: Mortarmen Live To Play Cards Another Day

first published on April 25, 2017 by

A very near miss of a rare, TOW-worthy target allows a few lucky soldiers to survive a near catastrophic kill, as a TOW missile gunner targets soldiers emplacing a large mortar system.


Very often, videos of TOW systems and other Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM), surface exposing the wasteful use of these expensive and difficult to procure types of ordnance. Sometimes a single soldier without an obvious crew-served weapon is targeted, highlighting a lack of discipline and tactical maturity. Why waste a highly effective, yet hard to come by missile on such trivial targets? Why expose an undetected and concealed position, leaving the launcher and gunner vulnerable?

Fortunately, and surprisingly, in this video a TOW missile team locates and selects a worthy target. A detail of approximately a dozen apparent Syrian Army soldiers are emplacing a large (appears to be 120mm) mortar system in the middle of a street. Very unwisely, the detail had staged the ammo prior to the emplacement of the tube. Foreshadowing a looming and sizzling mistake.

The TOW somehow sails through the group of complacent troops and appears to hit the mound of staged mortar rounds just behind the tube, causing a brief but all-consuming fireball. Miraculously, a few of the troops appear to survive relatively unscathed, if not wanting for eyebrows. Left medium-well but alive, the survivors then attempt to extinguish the lingering flames on ammo crates before abandoning the now pointless, and dangerous efforts in the outflanked and exposed position. The mortar is still standing at the end of the video, however given the proximity to the explosion and fireball, it’s easier to infer that it suffered enough damage to be unusable. The soldiers abandon the heavy crew-served weapon as they retreat.

Dispersion and working parties are at constant odds on the front lines. Fortifications need to be built, and heavy weapons emplaced, requiring soldiers to work in groups. Not utilizing cover and concealment in such details leaves a delectable target for enemy direct and indirect fires. This detail is incredible lucky given the lethality of a TOW missile and the secondary explosions of the mortar rounds. Complacency kills, and apparently, the inability to skate on working parties does too. ~Sean


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