Christmas Eve – Recce Style

Capt M.J.D. Mallette
2 January 2005

"Dashing across the desert,
In a diesel powered sled,
O’er the berms we go,
Firing all the way

Thump, Thump, Thump.

Sabot strikes a hulk,
Making targets bright,
Oh what fun to lase and blaze,
On a Recce Squdron Gun-camp."

What is the best way to show the Christmas spirit on a quiet Christmas Eve in Kabul? A Squadron gun camp, of course! Christmas Eve 2004 saw the Coyotes of Recce Squadron deploy en masse to KMTC Range 2 for the first Squadron level gun camp of Op ATHENA Roto 2. In the true spirit of the season, Recce maintained the old adage that it is better to give than to receive.

The road move across Kabul began before sunrise, with the first packet headed by 49B and 47A leading the charge. Once the command post was established and communications with call-sign 4 were up, the remainder of the Squadron, along with some LAV IIIs from 11 Fd Squadron, began arriving at the Afghan National Army range complex. Cannons were promptly uploaded and ghost rounds cycled without delay, but as usual, proceedings were delayed as the Squadron stood patiently by waiting for morning fog to burn off. While we were waiting, foreign officers and officials began trickling in to watch the Coyotes in action. Once the damp clouds had lifted, it was right down to business and the Squadron took to the firing pad.

As is often the case, zeroing procedures took most of the morning and no shortage of problems arose for the ‘gun plumbers’ from call-sign 48 to attend to. There were a few U-Boat commanders to be seen on the firing pad as well, with two or three torpedoes being launched from the ‘bow’ of the Coyote. Once zeroing was completed and some of the Squadron’s Surv Ops and Drivers had a quick famil shoot on the C6 flex, the Coyote’s got down to business.

The first scenarios, designed to simulate a staged increase in aggression, saw 41 and 42 lined up on the pad identifying targets and dividing the ‘battlefield’. Once the fire order was given, the four patrols on the line opened up simultaneously quickly destroying an advancing enemy. Their job done, 1 and 2 Tps retired to the back of the range while 3 Tp along with SHQ and the Echos took the spotlight and decimated the enemy force.

After static firing was completed and with the day-light hours waning, the Squadron quickly re-cocked for patrol level battle runs. The runs were a timed competition, scored by onlookers and based on number of targets hit and total run time. Coyotes lined up on the firing pad with Surv Ops deployed on the ground. Once the Surv Ops finished engaging dismounted contacts with C7 and M203, they quickly mounted up and the Coyotes were off down the range. The Squadron quickly cycled through the runs, with 41 and 41A not only leading the charge but also winning the competition. All allegations of ‘stacking’ the patrol should be completely ignored.

With all the ammo downrange and the winter sun low in the sky, the Squadron conducted a staggered redeployment back to Camp Julien to spend a quiet Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us in Recce Squadron.

Disclaimer: For all the AGS and other gunnery SMEs out there – I know that we weren’t really lasin’ and blazin’ with the Coyote, but I needed a rhyme for the carol. ‘Oh what fun to lase and manually apply the range to the graticle pattern because the designers of the Coyote didn’t include a ballistic computer’ just doesn’t fit. Besides, once Britney Spears records the video no one will pay any attention to the lyrics anyway…