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And off to war we go...

by Angel Erk failed to retire (#659)
Thu Feb 22 12:42:13 2007

A bugle sounding Reveille stirred the soldiers from sleep to full alertness. Today was the day that all the hard work and preparation would finally pay off. Today they would rally forth and meet the enemy for the first time. Today they would taste victory.

The platoon sergeant began barking orders. The parade ground slowly filled up, first a trickle, then a river and finally a flood, filling every corner in precise rows. To the sergeant’s experience eye everyone was immaculately presented, uniforms and equipment where it should be, not a blemish to mar the spectacular sight before him.

He knew elsewhere that other leaders were readying planes, vehicles and ships. This was going to be a well co-ordinated take down and everyone knew what to do. The spies had penetrated the enemy’s defences, the spy planes had flown undetected over the enemy buildings. The platoon sergeant knew his target. Maximum gain, minimal losses, that is what the general had planned. The communications placed on the Brigade Message had been clear and precise.

He was in charge of explosive engineers. The Bomb Squad as they were affectionately known. He was going to be the last to attack, his job was to crush the last of the resistance and bring the enemy territory under the brigade’s control. The roar of engines being started drowned out any chance he had of making a stirring speech, not that anyone would have listened; the adrenaline was pumping too hard.

Soon the sky darkened as the planes flew overhead in tight formation. There must have been thousands of them. He hoped they knew what they were doing. Every Combat Boat, BMP-3 vehicle, sniper, machine gun nest, Blackhawk and F-35 had to be taken down. He would not allow his troops to loose. Not this army, not this time. If mistakes were made, they were made to be learnt from.

Then the ground started to rumble. It was almost amusing watching the assembled troops fight for balance, watch the masonry shudder as the legions of armoured vehicles quickly followed the planes. He knew the plan and though he couldn’t see the navy, he was sure it was following orders too. Splitting the blue green of the ocean with grey steel hulls, comprising one of the largest fleets the world would ever see.

Then it was time. It was time to move out and follow the diesel fumes, walk the now rutted ground, marred by the treads and tyres of the countless vehicles which had gone before. With a resounding cheer that drowned out the bugler, the assembled troops quickly formed a series of columns, snaking across the country side, very much like ants hunting for the prize that lies just out of reach, a prize that will soon be theirs.

No sooner had the march started than the first sounds of the assault echoed back to him from the hills that dominated this country. The explosions of bombs, the scream of artillery and the roar of flames as the destruction darkened the sky with plumes of oily black smoke. The platoon sergeant knew the signs, and prayed to the gods that things were going as planned. His units weren’t designed fight back; they were tasked to destroy buildings.

Occasionally a group detached itself, following orders only they knew. It was not for him to question the General, the command team knew the plan, his job was to follow what he had been told to do. Thwaaaaacckkkkk… His aide suddenly developed a third eye. Snipers… Thwack, another person keeled over. People were starting to panic, Thwack, Thwack… people were dropping. Where was the enemy. Thwack. Where were they hidden? The church? Thwack… The steeple? Thwack… Someone was using their initiative deploying themselves to the church. A muffled explosion soon followed. He watched in satisfaction as the once stately edifice crumbled into a large mound of rubble and, hopefully, body parts. Silently cursing the support units he regrouped his men. He couldn’t afford to loose any more troops, be it to enemy fire or cowardice. Quickly pointing out the pile of smoking rubble he asked his men “Is that what you’ve come here for? Is this your purpose?” When he got a mighty “Sir! Yes Sir!” back he knew that they were still with him and would follow him into the jaws of hell if he asked.

And that seemed to be exactly where he was going. The neat lines that had left the Barracks weren’t neat anymore, they had dispersed, winding around hills of broken armour, mud filled craters and masses of barbed wire. No barbed wire was going to stop his men; they had received advanced unit training. Learning from what had happened previously at the church, he had placed forward scouts whose task was to reduce to rubble any structure from which someone could get a shot off at his men.

The air and vehicle support seemed to have done its job. Nothing had come to threaten his team from the air, and the only vehicles he had seen had gaping holes in the side and plumes of smoke from the rear. It was going to be a walk in the park.

Incoming!!!!!!!!! The sudden cry broke his reverie. Incoming what he thought? Then suddenly a crater opened up where the right flank was. Biological missiles? Who used them these days? Why wasn’t he warned? Where were the patriots that were meant to stop them? The sudden crowd of thoughts sent him into a tail spin. Could he go on, should he? Would the men go on? Then with a rush of air, another screamed over his men, falling to the rear, exploding in vacant land, thankfully causing no further damage.

Taking heart with the stroke of good luck, he shouted at his men. “Break Formation, Find your targets, You know your objectives” And then silence, the kind of silence that can only fall in the middle of battle, the sudden expectation of impending action, the calm before the storm. And suddenly it happened. KABOOOOOOM!!!!! A building exploded into a dizzying array of shrapnel. Then another, and another, silence had waved the white flag. Finally his team was able to do what they do best. Blow things up. The fragmented skyline was crumbling. Barracks, hangars, garages and the harbour were disappearing into piles of rubble. Occasionally an enemy vehicle got in the way and was reduced to a twisted remnant of its former self. His men had the upper hand. This was a complete rout.

An engineering team had been dispatched to ready the runway. The vehicles had covered all key exits to the city. The harbour had been blockaded. The day was almost won.

Rank has its privileges. His men knew how hard he had worked to get them through today and had left the last building to him. They knew it was over. With a large grin the platoon sergeant lit the fuse, screamed “Fire in the Hole” and ducked behind the sandbag wall. Like it was made of cards, the enemy’s house of parliament folded into itself. It was almost graceful, a column pirouetting here, a small plume of smoke spiralling there, and then finally, the last building disappeared. This was the art work with explosives which had placed him in charge. The roar of his men celebrating was his motivation.

Turning around he saluted his General and asked for further orders. This town and its brigade may have been levelled, but there were plenty more out there. It was time to get back to work.

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