Much has been written about fear in war and its overcoming, in particular, that this is normal and that only a complete fool is not afraid ... Of course, a mentally normal person should avoid danger, including war, by virtue of the self-preservation instinct, or try to minimize the risk to life and health, and if he is a commander, then not only for his own. However, I would make a clarification. A well-trained military man — professional — must be wary, but not afraid of battle. The difference is that, fearing he deliberately goes to a collision, he is looking for him, and he fully understands that the enemy’s bullets are not plasticine, and therefore he tries to make himself and his unit the least vulnerable. Knowing the degree of risk allows you to act thoughtfully and competently. Ignorance creates fear and even panic.
Fear has big eyes
I have repeatedly come across people who, as such, have not eaten war, but remembered it with horror. It was in Afghanistan, after a few years - as expected, everyone spoke with great pathos. There is nothing surprising in this behavior. After all, it is not so much a specific danger that is terrible as the uncertainty that a person faces when getting into a combat area for the first time. It is at the initial stage of the front-line service that the fear of an unknown war can be described as fear. During this period, he has the ability to generate new fear, and rumors (the more improbable, the worse) strengthen it. Man intimidates himself, and only the reality of the fighting can free him.
An example of self-intimidation is история about changing the behavior of officers of our squad at the entrance to the DRA in 1984 year.
The detachment was formed back in the 1980 year, at the beginning of the 1984-th is completed with officers of the 12-th special forces brigade and other units. That is, the officers, and mostly the soldiers and sergeants, were knit together in the Soviet Union. The officers knew each other for a long time. On the way to Kushka among them there was a kind of bravado: here, they say, we are going to war! As in any team, we had slightly better and slightly worse people, but on the whole, there was not much difference before the border crossing. On the morning of February 10, we crossed the bridge over Kushka and found ourselves in Afghanistan. Here was the same land, just as damp and dank, the same fog, but ... we suddenly became different. The catalyst for this transformation was fear. The awareness that a real war is going on here made us change our behavior. Some mobilized experience and knowledge and prepared to confront the enemy, while others were ready to hide behind other people's, including soldiers', backs, although not a single shot had yet been sounded, and there was no mention of the enemy.
Another case occurred two years later. There is a post of apothecary in the staff list of a separate unit. Performed by her ensign. I do not remember the name of our pharmacist, I only remember that his name was Igor. He never left the location of the unit not only for military operations, but, in my opinion, even in the column of our autocrat who often mocked at Kushka. This man has never been noticed in anything bad for two years. He served, honestly fulfilling his position, and was already waiting for the "replacement". And the “substitute” arrived, but it turned out that the MAS of the ensign ensign corresponded to the position of company head, and not the pharmacist. It would seem that nothing terrible: not this, so the other will come. But what happened to Igor! He threw a tantrum, shouted, lay in the dust. To us, military officers, it was crazy. Igor did not risk anything, remaining a maximum of a month in Afghanistan, but the adult man wept and shouted as if he were to take part in every conceivable and unimaginable fighting exits. He confused himself, apparently, for a long time, but he honestly held on for two years, having learned about extending his life in Afghanistan on some miser, he could not stand it and broke. None of this has ever happened to any of our military officers, although many have served in Afghanistan for several months. Simply, the war was not for us the fear that our pharmacist created in his imagination.
There is no time to be afraid in battle
In the autumn of 1984, my friend and a classmate from the 9 Company of the Ryazan School came to serve as Senior Lieutenant Oleg Sheyko. By that time I had fought about six months and, in comparison with him, was considered an experienced officer. In order to compensate this difference as quickly as possible, even in a theoretical aspect, because our actions in Afghanistan differed significantly from what we were taught in school, I began to interpret the features of that war to my friend. He drew some schemes, told, showed. In the end, quite pleased with himself, asked if everything was clear. Oleg, whose face was clear that he did not share my joy, replied: “We will deal with tactics. You better tell me honestly: when does the battle start and shoot at you, is it very scary? ”Having understood which problems torment my spine more, I answered honestly:“ When the battle begins, you just don’t think about fear. You are covered by the dynamics of what is happening, you are filled with the excitement of the fight. If suddenly the enemy passes, you solve the tasks of organizing the defense. In short, at work, and war is the same work as any other, there is no time to be afraid. ”
Oleg then did not answer. A few weeks later, he arranged his group on a comfortable, but shot down from other heights hill. In the morning, their spirits began to be chased from the ASC, so that they would not lift their heads, and the infantry went with a chain. Oleg managed to organize a repulse, cause support and evacuate all without loss. Then he came to me and said: “You were right! At first I didn’t believe it, I thought I was just showing off. But this morning made sure that you did not lie. There is no time to be afraid in battle! ”
A man in battle is engaged in combat, not in his own fears and self-intimidation. Over time, experience and confidence come. The behavior becomes clear, competent and prudent. It would seem that everything: the process of becoming a warrior and a commander is over, things will go further. It was not there. Approximately in half a year another danger arises, even more terrible for a person, since it is not realized.
Having won successfully six months, a person ceases not only to be afraid, but even to be afraid of war. Successes dull the sense of danger. The confidence comes that you can all that luck favors. As a result, you start to admit inaccuracies and negligence, and it is good if fate punishes not strongly, just by shaking the collar, like a puppy playing, recalling that war is not a joke and negligence is fraught with death.
So it was with me. By the fall of 1984, I fought quite successfully, without loss. Both my group and the company, which I commanded for two months, replacing the company, had solid results. Almost all officers and many soldiers were presented for awards. It was then that fate clicked me on the nose.
I commanded the 310 squad, which had been separated from our company. The task was to land two groups of armor on caravan routes in the area of the city of Buriband and in the area north-east of the settlement of Shahri-Safa. I myself, with an armored group of three BMP-2, one BRM-1 and one CMR, and an eight-man landing force, had to go deeper east of the armor and reconnoiter the caravan routes of the rebels near Kalat.
The company officer, going to hospital, forgot to hand over the keys to the safe, where our “medicine” was kept. I, having lost my vigilance, did not bother to demand from the command to appoint a medical orderly to the composition of the armored group.
Everything went according to plan. Having landed the groups, we dived into the area of our responsibility for about a hundred kilometers with a hook. The day was approaching sunset, and we decided to stop for the night. To our right was Mount Loy-Karavuli-Gunday, in profile resembling a double-humped camel. There we decided to occupy all-round defense. The main forces "sat down" on the eastern hump of the mountain, but they did not want to leave the western one unsupervised. Therefore, I ordered to put one BMP-2 in the hollow between the humps, and above it, on the western hump, put two of the troops to cover.
The night was absolutely moonless. The lack of visibility was aggravated by a strong wind that concealed suspicious sounds. Near 23.00, I went around the position on the eastern hump. Everything was fine, and I made the second mistake. Knowing that the guys we have experienced, too lazy to go check the fighters in a separate car. It was also relaxed that no one attacked the armored groups that occupied the perimeter defense. However, as it turned out later, the neighborhood of the city of Kalat was “the land of frightened idiots”. Six months later, after the described events in this area, the spirits of the 7 squadron were marching almost in columns, like Kappelevs in Chapayev. Naturally, after a while, having lost not one hundred people, they realized that they were wrong, but in the autumn of 1984, they had not yet seen a single Soviet soldier. As the agents later reported, three bandit groups came together against us, uniting in a detachment of more than 80 men.
Under the cover of darkness, the spirits surrounded the mountain and began to rise. Around 24.00 began shelling of the armored group. The fire was very dense, but due to the fact that the spirits had to shoot from the bottom up and because of the darkness that prevented the aimed fire, we did not suffer losses. In a tough and transient battle, we managed to repel an attack on the main group, but the separately standing machine — the only one that was projected against the sky — was hit immediately, the gunner-operator, ordinary Kamenkov, died. The driver of the KSHM ordinary Bazlov, who carried him out, was seriously injured. The fire of one of the BMP-2 spirits that surrounded the black car, were destroyed. Opponent moved away. The helicopter, called in 1.00 to evacuate the wounded, arrived only in 8.00. Bazlov by this time died.
As it turned out, the fighters who were covering the separately standing BMP-2 left their positions and went down to the crew, which also did not conduct any observation. If I checked their combat readiness in 23.00, then these losses would not have happened, and if I had bothered to take the medical instructor with me, due to the lack of medicines, Bazlov would most likely have survived. Having received this shake-up, I again began to treat war as a war, and not as a pleasure walk. Everything fell into place.
But it happens that a person makes unforgivable mistakes. Then the bad students in the school of life will meet with its director - the Lord God.
So died Lieutenant Sergei Kuba. It cannot be said that fortune favored him especially. In essence, despite all the desire to fight, the Cuban did not carry out a single effective (trophy) ambush. All he came across some little thing. However, I went to the ambush regularly and never a bit. Apparently, that's why I relaxed on the Khakrez road.
At night, his group “hammered” a tractor with a trailer, but empty. The guys would get together and go to another place. At night, the spirits would not have found them, and they did not look for them. They stayed. In the morning, the spirits pulled up the forces, put the snipers in and dumped ours in full. Seryoga summoned the "turntables" and made them himself, firing a machine gun. When the sniper's bullet struck nearby, he understood - they were shooting. However, he made a mistake again and did not change his position. As a result, the next attempt to shoot a machine gun got a bullet in the head. Group with difficulty and loss dragged from the gorge.
An even more tragic incident occurred in the 7 squad in Shahzhoy. The group of Lieutenant Onischuk was almost completely destroyed. The reason - all the same star fever. “Scoring” the car at night, Onischuk, in order not to risk people, decided to watch it in the morning. Everything is logical, but at night the spirits at the car set up an ambush, and the large forces pulled up and placed on the mountain, opposite our positions. The main mistake of the special forces was that the inspection team began to work outside the visibility of the main forces. The spirits, who were in the ambush, silently destroyed it, dressed in a spetsnaz robe and began to climb the mountain, where the main forces of the group were. And again negligence! No one bothered to look through binoculars at the returning, or at least chat with them on the radio. We noticed that bearded men come to them, and not their guys, too late. As a result, two or three people survived. The heroism shown in that battle could no longer save the situation ...
Having received in my time "by the nose", I clearly understood that war must be taken extremely seriously. This was taught by his fighters and young lieutenants who arrived from the Union when he became deputy company commander. Each entry to the war should be like the first. Then both the commander and his subordinates, realizing that the enemy should not be afraid, but it is necessary to fear, in 99 cases from 100 will remain alive and successfully complete the task.