Michael Yon, an independent journalist and former Green Beret, is in Afghanistan reporting on the war against Al Qaeda terrorists and the Taliban. Here is a portion of his latest dispatch exclusively for FOXNews.com.
SANGIN, Helmland Province, Afghanistan -- Orders are given before every operation. The orders filter down through various unit levels involved, until each platoon finally receives its specific mission.
The concept for this mission came down from the 2 Rifles Battlegroup (battalion) to the companies, including elements of the Afghan National Army and their British counterparts from the Welsh Guard, and down to each 2 Rifles platoon involved.
So for any mission there might be literally dozens (or more) orders and rehearsals until each man and woman knows the perceived enemy situaton, their specific tasks, and much more.
While soldiers here at FOB Jackson received orders, undoubtedly pilots and others, stationed far away, perhaps on an aircraft carrier or even farther afield, were finalizing related plans.
On 23 July, the afternoon before the mission, a call came into headquarters that two British soldiers had been wounded by two IEDs, and that the American helicopter medevacs known as “Pedro” had been called to extract the casualties.
Pedro is a potent morale booster; British soldiers know that their American brethren in the medevac helicopters will come for them anytime anywhere, guns blazing if needed.
Medevac is dangerous work; earlier this month, a bomb detonated, killing and wounding soldiers from 2 Rifles, and when they moved to prepare for medevac, another bomb exploded.
In all, five soldiers were killed and many wounded. Yet the soldiers know that if they can get their buddies while still alive onto Pedro, chances for survival are dramatically increased.
In addition to carrying outstanding medical crew, Pedro would roar back to Camp Bastion’s first-rate trauma center in about fifteen minutes.
Night or day, gunfight or not, Pedro will be there....
This is an active battlefield — even as I write these words on 27 July an Apache is firing down with its 30mm (killing four Taliban) nearby and combat occurs many times per day — and so this mission can only be described in general terms.
In broad strokes, the mission on 24 July was to bait the enemy to take certain actions, and there were multiple moving parts to our side, making it difficult for the enemy to keep track of our combat elements.
Though we would leave obvious boot tracks through fields and neighborhoods, our units split and went here and there, and so despite that the enemy had home field advantage, we could still achieve relative surprise for at least short periods.
As the soldiers quietly sweated and moved through the darkness, dogs barked in the night; the canines sometimes go nuts at quiet but high-pitched emanations from the metal detectors.