Five in the morning, July 13 2013 Ukraine. If I didn’t know this for sure, I would have thought that I had really been transported by time machine to the summer of 1987, somewhere in Nangarhar.
I met my 44 birthday at the “war”. More specifically, the reconstruction of the fighting 40-th army in Afghanistan. It took place last Saturday at a military training ground near Pereyaslav. In the morning I got out from under the tarpaulin (I had to spend the night on the sand, spread a blanket), the sun rises over the camp on the hill, a powerful figure in the shape of a sandy color stands on the parapet and “casts”, as expected, in the direction of the “enemy”.
One edge of the tarpaulin is hooked onto the lip on the BTR-70. The other two are for the trees. And one more end is for a peg driven into a sandy hill covered with lichen. Between these four points in the evening we dug a pine pin. The result was an improvised tent. It rained at night. But we didn't even get wet. Drops flowed over the canvas.
"It is forbidden to make halts near mosques and other religious places"
There are five of us. Seva Volovik - a former special forces, and now the head of the security service of one of the firms. Andrei Yaremic is a businessman-builder, once a cadet of the Soviet Army. Lesha Vishnyakov is an emergency person who has already served urgently in Ukrainian times and is now a security guard. The driver of the BTR with the rank of colonel is a real tank colonel Dmitry Zelinsky. And I am an ordinary SA stock. All have not died away fighting ardor. We are reconstructing a group of GRU special forces. Speaking in a simple way - we play war. But very seriously. BTR-70 - real. And the mortars are real. And an imitation grenade can burn the face, if you hesitate. Outwardly, the machine guns do not differ in any way from those that we had in the army - they just shoot with ball lights.
Behind us, the camp of the paratroopers is sleeping quietly without snoring. On the next hill in the kilometer - motorized infantry. And somewhere ahead still at the same height - spooks. In general, as Andrew jokes: "Beautiful guys in an elegant Soviet form against terrible guys in ugly robes with towels on their heads." In total, a little more than a hundred people are involved in the reconstruction, and we are “fighting” from Friday evening, getting here from Kiev after work.
Savvy. Awning set, hooking the corner of the canvas for the BTR-70.
The guys brew tea on the fire. "Congratulate me, - I say, - I have a birthday today." "Surely, you will not forget such a birthday," I hear back. We begin to install a 82-millimeter mortar, pulling it out of an armored personnel carrier. Someone pulls a heavy plate. Someone is carrying a "pipe" (that is, the trunk). Another one is a tripod. Exactly the same used in Afghanistan. 1937 sample of the year. Dragging him into the mountains was hard. But he shot exactly - much better than the later models. Just due to this very heavy plate, which facilitated the adjustment.
Sometime back in 1989, I was in a hospital in Odessa with a mortar brigade sergeant. They were just taken out of Afghanistan. The sergeant said: “Three shots. Undershoot. Flight. And you take a fork in the middle! ”I would not want to get on such a“ plug ”in reality. After all, mortars were not only ours, but also the "spirits".
Before the start of the game was a build. Each was given an exact copy of the memo to the internationalist warrior "on the rules of conduct on the territory of the DRA." Item 14: “Strictly follow all the prescriptions and advice of doctors. Do not use water from aryks, canals and other bodies of water - they can be a hotbed of infectious diseases. ” And immediately remembered - the sergeant with whom we were in the hospital, was sick with malaria. He was shaking a few months after the withdrawal. In addition, during the service, he twice suffered from jaundice. Infectious diseases were the scourge of a limited contingent of the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Rarely, who managed to return home without a fever or hepatitis.
Mortar. A terrible thing in the right hands. Though invented in 1937.
It's easier for us. At the foot of the hill is an iron barrel with clean water. And although mosquitoes have devoured us all night mercilessly, it is unlikely, there are malarial among them.
And another item from the memo: “IT IS FORBIDDEN ... to go into the courtyards and other houses of local residents, to look into their windows and doors, into the faces of women, to engage in conversations with them; to visit Afghan state and private shops, shops, markets, to purchase there, as well as from private persons, various kinds of things, foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages and drugs. ”
If women did not look at the houses and faces of women, in reality, shops and markets were secretly visited by commanders, contrary to all prohibitions. The same sergeant confessed to me how they exchanged worn-out army boots for watermelons from the Afghans right from the armor on the streets and how he sold his binoculars. Binoculars sergeants issued only for combat. But it so happened that during the exit, the Mujahideen burned down a warehouse at the base where my interlocutor served. And with all the documentation. “I was so happy! - he told. “He came back and immediately drove his binoculars!” Memo with memo, and our man is difficult to fix. I don’t remember exactly what my familiar binoculars changed, but usually the dream of a Soviet demob was to bring a Japanese dvuhkassetnik from Japan or a dozen stamped Hong Kong hours. It is ridiculous to believe that it was precisely this junk that was lacking in the Union, which knew how to fly into space, win the World Hockey Championships and build FREE apartments for its citizens!
Under the red flag. In reality, the sniper would not sit so bravely.
On Friday, as soon as it got dark, we descended from the hills to hunt for "spirits". From our side, two spetsnaz groups were snooping around the hollow. And somewhere here in the darkness invisible "enemies" wandered. In the army, I served in the air defense. And at the military department at the university we were trained by the commanders of motorized rifle platoons. All this is completely different from what the special forces are doing. We are in intelligence. Our task is to capture the prisoner, and not to get there. I’m wearing boots, trousers from the “experimentalist” of a protective color, a spotted top from the GLC (protective net suit) and a cap without an asterisk — they were often not worn. In fact, the GLC served to protect against the consequences of a nuclear explosion - it was soaked for this with some kind of special shit. But the Soviet special forces erased it (if you put it on unwashed, there may be irritation on the skin) and used it as a camouflage. In the hot conditions of Afghanistan, the mesh provided excellent ventilation. Belt - cloth. The buckle is aluminum, not brass, so as not to shine.
From time to time our searchlight scans across the plain from a high-rise. From him, too, have to hide. Terrain disgusting - a mound on the mound. You can get around from any side. And you can bypass anyone. Step silently. The main thing is not to ring out even with the metal fastening of the belt of the automatic machine. I go together with Andrey. His broad back in the dark is not visible in a few steps - Mabuta (so-called special forces uniform) provides good disguise. People best understand each other as a couple. This principle was followed in the special forces. Couples, fours, sixes - the number of people in a group was a multiple of two.
Here it is, happiness. Andrei and Seva charge a machine gun.
Suddenly Andrew sensed some noise in the undergrowth. We decided to lie down. It is at the foot of the mound. I - just below the ridge. This is a game. But feelings are very similar to real ones. The main idea that occasionally flashes through my head: “You should not be killed in any way. And you - should. "Death" - just a portion of the balls from the machine. But how you do not want to get it!
Suddenly in the darkness begins to appear some elongated spot. A figure in a characteristic Afghani push-up hat rises on a hillock. I put a line in it: “That's it, you're killed!”. The figure obediently falls and the minutes 15 lies, stirring from time to time. Something is shining on it - either the watch face or the mobile phone. Then the "dushman" rises. "Where are you going? - I say to him. “You are a dead man!” The poor "spirit" groans: "Mosquitoes are jammed" ... I offer him a deal: "Ok. We will assume that you are easily injured. And we captured you. Going? The revived "mojahed" agrees: "Just do not hit!". During the game, there are times when, having entered the image and having lost the sense of reality, some start to fight almost for real. “We will not hit,” I promise him. - Come on rifle.
We take the prisoner to headquarters (to the question of his name, he is called Mustafa), and then we go down into the hollow again in three, along with Seva, who has changed into long black Afghan clothes. Another two hours wandering in the dark. But this time we have no luck - the enemies no longer come across. Sleep for an hour and a half. Mosquitoes are worse than our gaming "spirits". They are real and hungry. To escape from the bloodsuckers, it is necessary, without unwrapping, to wrap a blanket with his head. But it does not really save. By morning, everyone is covered in combat bites.
The current boys. But those, too, were only 18 — 20 years old.
Under the terms of the game, we have to ensure the next day the wiring of several caravans consisting of trucks and MT-LB - this is a tracked tractor, which was used by the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Fortified camps can not be taken. But the "spirits", spitting on the script, suddenly decide to play "the owner of the mountain" and capture the height of our motorized infantry.
Andrew offers to attack her on the armored personnel carrier. It accommodates ten people. We take with us five more paratroopers in bulletproof vests and rush over the bumps to the hill. "Spirits" are waiting for us to dismount and climb into a frontal attack. But we rush around the hill, pouring it with automatic fire from loopholes and open top hatches. Figures in robes are beginning to scatter. Balls flying out of their machines, click on the armor, but can not do anything.
In reality, such an attack could also take place. BTR-70 did not take any automatic or even rifle bullets. Yes, and get out of a hand grenade it was quite difficult. By the standards of 1980's, it was a well-balanced machine with a large-caliber machine gun turret. She even survived on mines. One of the eight all-wheel drive wheels fell off, but the rest spun!
Without Colonel Zelinsky at the wheel of the BTR-70, the game would clearly have failed. Technique brought victory.
To get into this armored personnel carrier, to parachute out of it is a pleasure. Everywhere you find some kind of footboard or grab, with which you can easily climb. The BTR-70 is nice to ride even on armor - you put one foot into the hatch, and the other somehow finds support. The only drawback of these machines was overheating of the engine. Therefore, our soldiers had to ride with raised armor hulls of the power section. We went the same way on the day of the game, because the heat passed for 30.
I don’t hide it, it was about four o'clock in the afternoon - in the very sun - when I asked myself: what are you doing here? Is it not served? Sweat flooded. Feet are buzzing. Boots are not sneakers. And the sandy hills in which you get stuck is not a treadmill. But I immediately drove doubt. Pleasure overpowered fatigue.
I can not describe everything that happened that day. Each of us had his own. But don't let the impression that this reconstruction is an easy thing. Six months with the help of Seva and Andrew, I selected uniforms. Everything we played was authentic.
The hardest thing was to find pants. Unlike jackets, this piece of army clothing wears out the fastest. Pants cost me in 300 hryvnia. We found them at the fish market near the Dnipro metro station. Boots were found on the "Petrovka" - there is a good flea market on weekends. And they were cheap - only 200 hryvnia. I found a winter pea jacket at Kurenivka for 160 hryvnias. Automatic - a birthday present. Sometimes in the process of searching you may get lucky. Dirty worn jacket Afghan form cost only 20 hryvnia. Having washed it, I got a great item with a completely vintage look. No one would say that she smelled like mice at the bazaar.
Tractor MT-LB. The task is to conduct a column without losses.
The main thing in the reconstruction is complete authenticity. Everything should be like in life. No plastic bottles of cola, plastic bags and even modern products in the game area are not allowed. Watch - commander. Blankets - Soviet soldier's release 1980's. Clothes are real. Food - condensed milk, stew and crackers. Wonderfully restores the power of chocolate, which was part of the spetsnaz suhpaya. Labels with canned food before the game are ripped off for the effect of authenticity.
In the military reconstruction there are two most popular themes - Napoleonistics and the Great Patriotic War. Now they are joined by a third - Afgan. He was the swan song of the Soviet Army. And, admittedly, well sung.
Seeing the red flag over our position, I suddenly felt out of place, remembered the words of the oath and suddenly felt a sense of pride for serving in the Soviet Army - in a real army, officers and soldiers of whom knew what they were fighting for, and didn’t imagine how can you not execute the order.