The smoke pot plan……. An essay by William Marshall

Win. The Army is really about winning. If you are not winning, at least against the enemy, then you are, well, losing. If you are a leader, trying to win and keep your Soldiers alive is priority one. Sometimes you have to send your Soldiers on a dangerous mission to have an effect on the enemy. We were planning that mission. Planning it hard. CPT Holler was the Commander of Charlie Battery, 3-4 ADAR, 82d Airborne Division. We were at the Joint Readiness Training Center and we were Air Defenders. We were planning the demise of enemy aircraft.

The Mi-2 Hoplite is a little Russian helicopter that is used for scouting and resupply missions. We noticed that it was flying a predictable pattern for the past three days and we had whiffed against it. It just flew too low for us to get a good shot on it with our Stinger Missiles and Avenger weapons system. We had a plan.

During this rotation, we couldn’t bring all our unit for some reason, or at least not all of the leaders. We had pulled teams from other platoons and made a new platoon. I was the acting platoon leader. I will never forget that call sign. Cold Steel One November. The November part was because I was an NCO. Paul was my driver and we were all in for this crazy and dangerous mission we had planned. The Commander gave us his intent, we knew the plan. Now it was just time to carry it out. We were going to conduct an Air Ambush………..

All stations this net, all stations this net. “Air Defense Warning and Weapons Control Status now changed to Red Tight,” the radio crackled. Its time. Pucker factor 10. Our wonderful early warning platoon was providing updates as to the location of the aircraft. We knew it was going to be the Mi-2 because of our extensive analysis of the battlefield. We thought that we knew where he was going, we were setting an ambush. We had all of our units in their ambush positions. We were at Air Defense Warning level Red. That meant air attack was imminent or in progress. Weapons Control Status was tight. That told us that if we could positively identify the aircraft as a bad guys. We could shoot it down. Game time.

Paul and I peeled out in our Hummer and headed into Indian territory. We had to go do the dangerous part. The idea was to get right into the flight path of the enemy aircraft and then set out some smoke pots in order to make him pull on that collective and gain altitude because he could not see. We drove as far as we could, just like the plan. We grabbed a smoke pot each and sprinted towards the preplanned location. We set them down and lit them up. One smoke pot was thick grey smoke. The other was even thicker with white smoke. They began to do their job. We sprinted back the truck, hoping to dodge and duck any sniper bullets coming our way. We made it back to safety. The smoke wafted into the air just as we planned. Success on our part.

We killed the Mi-2! Very early along his route actually. We were very good. He never made to our smoke pots. Looking back on it. That little bit of smoke from the smoke pots probably wouldn’t really have the effect we wanted. But we had to try. It was fun. We were making sure that we won.

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