Fat Slob was explaining and gesticulating wildly in my direction, saying "commander". I got it, as, that's the guy who wanted to wake you up at this god forsaken hour".
I told Othman to sort out the rabble. You have to give credit to Othman, he told them in his best voice to move to the trucks and start their engines and at that, they started moving, someone hesitated, I saw a blurish movement, someone caught the butt of Othmans's rifle. That Somali was holding his jaw, the rest got the message and scattered. Othman organized them, moving the armoured vehicles into the convoy spacing them evenly. Roll, we did at precisely 4 am.
There is another exit from the seaport which we had to use, this exit too was guarded by the Egyptians. I got the 20mm Oerlikon to be in the lead, soon the vehicle came to a stop. I made my way up to the front, there was this Egyptian soldier who refused to open the barrier. I asked him to remove the barrier, he refused, he kept on saying,"officer". By which time a crowd of armed Egyptian soldiers gathered, I dismounted and pointed at the barrier and told the Egyptians to move it, they refused to.
That burned a good two hours, looked like we were in shit creek, as far as schedules and timings were concerned. I got into my vehicle and told Othman to ram through the barrier, which he did, the rest of us followed training our gun in the turrets on the Egyptians.
I heaved an audible sigh of relief, that I did not become the "Butcher of Mogadishu", so did the rest of the team.
They were sore, some middle fingers were exchanged between the Malaysians and the Egyptians, quite a vigorous exchange. The day was already breaking. I wanted to move out in the dark as I did not want to attract too much attention, the streets of Mogadishu were too narrow and I was afraid of losing some of the trucks.
We came out of the perimeter, the convoy halted once again. I asked the lead vehicle what was happening, the lead vehicle commander replied that there were "technicals". Somali Technicals are soft skinned vehicles mounted with heavy weapons. I moved forward, with my vehicle. I saw about 8 technicals with assorted heavy weapons. I whispered "red now" (merah sekarang) into my radio set. All the armoured vehicles started racing up front to get into a good fire position. The soft skins were guarded by the Armored Vehicle Fitter.
Okay that was that, now, what? I was not taught in tactics course, the courses of action if a peacekeeper is confronted by the above "Technicals". Your heart starts beating faster than normal, why is this shit happening, it's so not fair. Of course, you must maintain your composure, the soldiers are watching and hearing you. You clear all traces of panic in your actions, steady yourself and think. As far as the soldiers are concerned, they were being led by a reliable, dependent and a very cool officer. I did not want to shatter that myth.
I would have to leave the service and change my identity if I did panic. I believe my family would disown me too, if I behaved as though I was born of chicken. That's a real big load you carry on your shoulders. All it would take for the shit to hit the fan would be one, stupid trigger happy Rambo.
If that guy or whoever let's out a round, it will be one heck of a bloody firefight. Which I would have to manage for the best outcome. It certainly won't be the best as we were facing off at 30 meters. Not many people can miss at that range. It could turn out to be a bad career or life decision. Split seconds are what we always have to play around with.
So, to play it safe, not wanting to be known as the "Chicken of Mogadishu" or the "Butcher of Mogadishu", I called Malbatt headquarters. Yes, cooly with not a trace of tremor, when actually you wanted to scream. It is forced control. "Hello Zero, this is 29A (2IC Bravo Company)".
Zero : Zero : Send over.
29A : 29A, Fetch Sunray (Malbatt Commander) for Sunray (Me).
Zero : Zero Wait.
29A : 29A I can't wait, hurry up.
Zero : Zero Roger.
About 1 minute passed.
Zero : Hello 29A, Zero, Seagull (Adjutant - Captain Ivan Lee), send over.
29A : 29A, I don't want to talk to you.
Zero : Zero, Sunray sent me to find out what it is all about, over.
29A : 29A, I am confronted by armed Somalis, I need someone to make a decision, you certainly can't.
Zero : Zero, you old coot hang in there, wait over.
29A : 29A watch your mouth.
Zero : Hello 29A, Zero, this is Sunray (Colonel Radzi), send over.
29A : 29A, I am confronted by 8 Technicals and about 30 militia, they are blocking my convoy, can I have independence of action.
Zero : Zero, you have independence of action.
29A : 29A Roger over.
Zero : Zero out.
That settled that, I get to be the "Butcher of Mogadishu". I thought I could give further instructions. No, I was flooded with calls from all the other platoons and company's in the vicinity. They had been listening to my radio conversation. They were asking me, my dear brother officers, if I needed help. I was overwhelmed, some of them said they would be with me in 5 minutes flat.
I turned them down. I was uplifted in spirits, if I did get into a world of shit, there were people out there who would come to bail me out, without hesitation. I was cool from that moment on.
I turned on my speaker in my turret for the benefit of the Militia in the technicals.
I looked at them with my head out of the turret, I had every confidence in Othman and his men. I looked at my men. They looked aggressive, professional and confident holding their rifles, machine guns, anti-tank weapons in the direction of the Somali Militia. I spoke into the microphone, "Listen here you mother fuckers, today is a good day to die !! Who wants to go first ?"
Slowly, I lifted my hand and pointed at a guy who looked like their leader, then very slowly and deliberately drew my fingers across my throat, pointed at him again, without batting an eyelid. What it meant was, "I will personally cut your throat". The Somalis started pointing their guns into the air, the smaller guns were lowered, we moved with our guns trained on them herding the Somali trucks, the truckers were smiling at us as they passed us and we slowly linked up. I came up last, Othman was leading.