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7th Rangers: Clearing Barricades Enroute to Baidoa - Leadership

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Clearing Barricades Enroute to Baidoa - Leadership
Monday, August 08, 2022

2nd Lt Hamuddin Tarinchang and me briefing the Platoon, soldiers of yester years.

After clearing off the village, when we were into a good two hours, I come upon another "tax" collection point. I ask myself, will these never end? I call Lt Othman and tell him that I was going to dismount alone and ask them to remove the barriers this time without shooting at them.

I give strict instructions that no one else was to dismount. That I, and I alone would negotiate and clear the barriers. I instructed Lance Corporal Shamsuddin to take my place in the turret. I also told him that if anyone fired upon me, I was going to let loose the M79, which fires a 40mm high explosive grenade. After which I will throw myself on the ground and hope for the best. 

He was to, at that moment open up with all the fire power he had and decimate anyone still standing. This same instruction I gave to Lt Othman, who commanded 4 other IFVs'. Before I opened the door of the Condor, I cocked my pistol, my M4A1, put in a round of the 40mm into the M79, checked the M73 grenades, put another bandolier of 40mm rounds around my neck, checked my 4 magazines on my chest, the two more magazines on my thighs and my machete. Tightened the Velcro straps holding the 7.62 NATO defeating ceramic plates.

Oh yes, I put on my Ranger beret with hackle and all, not the Kevlar helmet. I was in other words "armed to the teeth". I was a virtual walking weapons system. I opened the hatch, one of the guys quickly shut it and locked it. I looked in front of me, there were about 15 Somalis, with weapons.

I had my M79 in my right hand and my M4A1 in my left hand. There were another 20 odd Somalis further back, high probability of them being armed too. I walked towards the barrier. Something caught my ears. A sound of people moving behind me. Shit and double shit! The Somalis were moving behind me to capture me alive to be used as a hostage for bargaining purposes. I would never live it down, being captured, I pivoted, ready to fire.

No ! There were no Somalis but a whole section of my soldiers paper - potting in the the fire and maneuver formation, heavily armed. I was angry that my orders were deliberately disobeyed, I shouted at them :"Hey you xxxxxxx (expletives), who asked you to dismount ?",(Dey xxxxx(expletives), siapa suruh kau orang turun ?). The answer I received from the youngest soldier, who happened to be a Malay in the platoon was : "Hey, sir, you don't want to die alone, do you ?" (Tak akan tuan mahu mati seorang ?)

To this answer I experienced real goose bumps. I felt invincible. I have done many things, alot of crazy things. I was from the rank and file. I have been promoted so many times. Did I have satisfaction? Yes! That day was a day of awakening for me. I felt goose bumps forming on my neck, in reaction to the answer given by a very young Malay soldier. I knew then and there that my soldiers accepted me as their leader and willing to do anything for me. Even die for me ! I knew from then on, that my soldiers and I could take on anything.

Many an officer would give his all, to experience a moment like that. I was elated. It was better than promotions. I approached the Somalis while a whole section of men were on the ground to support me, with others covering me from the Condors. All my boys meant business.

In the Infantry you must love your soldiers with a passion, it will be reciprocated in unexpected ways. Be cold hearted and merciless when it comes to combat training.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 8:51 PM  
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