The uneasy tactical situation in the area of responsibility of the Kandahar battalion obliged the command to make balanced decisions on the conduct of complex special operations. Proper planning and careful reconnaissance of the area allowed the reconnaissance units of the 173 separate unit to succeed with minimal losses: suddenly seize a fortified area, collect numerous trophies, destroy infrastructure, undermine warehouses, mine long-term firing points and successfully evacuate.
Seventy kilometers east of Kandahar along the route to Kabul stretch the spurs of the mountain range. Fifteen thousand meters to the south of betonka in the depths of the ridge in one of its gorges is an object of interest to our command. The base area Vasatichignay is a transshipment base and a key stronghold in the caravan guide system on the central routes in the provinces of Kandahar and Zabul. For a year and a half, the intelligence chief of the detachment regularly received intelligence information about the activity of the Mujahideen. However, remoteness, the lack of roads in this area, as well as the lack of information about the infrastructure of the object forced to postpone the decision on its seizure. To carry out the operation only by the forces of the detachment was too tough for us.
In the first days of February, the special forces together with the 70 omsb successfully carried out a raid on the mountains of Hadigar and now hoped to build on the success in this productive form of combat work. The battalion commander, Captain Bohan, reported to the Chief of Staff TurkVO on the “new theme”. Lieutenant General Gusev ordered to attract all the necessary forces and means.
Senior lieutenants Krivenko and Kozlov began to gather information and develop a preliminary plan. With the help of the aerial photography they ordered, the scouts outlined the route of the approach of the 70 th brigade to the object. The officers found a DRA army soldier who had previously lived in the village of Vasatichignay. After his interrogation, the infrastructure of the base region was opened: the organization of protection and defense, the air defense system, the warning scheme, and the likely course of action in the event of an attack. It was possible to establish that the number of the Mujahideen detachment, constantly residing at the base, is one hundred fifty people. The leader of the gang is Abdul Rezak.
Column on the march
In the evening of February 27, the military equipment column began to move in the direction of Kandahar. The forward detachment consisted of reconnaissance companies of the second and third companies, as well as demolition men and sappers of the mining company of the 173-th separate detachment. Their task is to ensure the security of the entire convoy on the march. Established armor of our units - the BTR-70, is quite reliable protection against small weapons. However, while driving, we are placed on top, sitting on the armor. So more likely to survive the blast.
Moving in the dark, headlights and side lights are off. The distance between the cars is about a hundred meters. Ahead of the suburbs of Kandahar. We turn right from the city, along the dam we leave onto the highway towards Kalat. Here we stop on the highway in anticipation of the approach of the main forces of the column. Among them, a reconnaissance company of the 70th separate motorized rifle brigade, an air assault battalion, tank Battalion and units of the receiver and rocket artillery. The forces involved in this special operation are significant, the column was stretched.
It is one in the morning, we should be in the area of concentration by five in the morning, but for about two hours we are waiting for cars to leave without movement. Part of the 70-brigade units slipped a turn and went into the night Kandahar. Poor knowledge of the area can be fatal in the war ... Thank God, this time it did. "Infantry", realizing the mistake, hastily turned around in the city and quickly left it.
Finally, the commander of the vanguard Sergei Bokhan gave the command to continue the movement. It is necessary to catch up the lost time. Even after dark, we arrive at a designated concentration area twenty kilometers northeast of the village of Shahri-Safa.
With the first rays of the sun, the battalions of reactive artillery pulled up to us take up positions for delivering a fire strike.
Early morning. Great spring weather. After collecting all units, the column begins to move south in the direction of the object. The command of the brigade without coordination with the special forces changes the outlined plans. This is unexpected for us. We are surprised to note that the head march of the 70 th brigade, without warning, moves off and moves forward. We have to wedge in, the column retracts into low hills.
The terrain is rugged, the road itself is absent. The dust raised by the technique makes it difficult to observe. The hills surrounding us are cut by deep ravines. The route is extremely difficult. Machines, winding between the hills, make their way forward.
Suddenly, a cannonade of tears is heard ahead of you. The bombing assault began, preceding the landing of the assault groups. Within half an hour aviation works on the slopes of the ridge in which the base area is located.
As soon as the planes, having bombed, are gone, the rocket artillery takes over. The salvos follow one after the other without ceasing. The powder charges, burning down, leave a plume of smoke in the air, stretching hundreds of meters behind the shells.
We drive at low speed, constantly circling the rubble of stones. Technique then descends into the dry channel, then, straining by roaring engines, crawling up the slopes of the hills.
My paratrooper backpack lies on top of the armor right behind the tower. A sapper probe is attached to it. One and a half meter metal stalk hollow, inside it is a steel pointed pin. Although my military specialty is a scout-miner and I am familiar with the basics of demining art superficially, I assume that today I may need a probe in the village when inspecting buildings.
For several hours, a huge force - a convoy of combat vehicles carrying troops, tanks, and towing howitzers, moves through the maze between the hills. Movement speed is low. The head unit of motorized infantry does not conduct reconnaissance of the route, the terrain does not know. It becomes obvious that the “guides” are leading the convoy forward, guided only by their known laws. Such irresponsibility can be costly, but we can not influence the process. It remains to be expected that sooner or later it will all end. We hope that the object is only a few kilometers away.
Sergey Krivenko firmly knows the route of advancement. The chief of intelligence of the 173 separate unit does not fall for the tricks of “talented trackers”. Stop! Technique special forces worth it.
By twelve o'clock in the afternoon, it becomes clear that the units will not reach the starting line in time. The brigade’s head marching post, which had fallen into the hills, was buried in a steep slope, which is impossible to overcome. The column was retracted into a dead-end canyon for several kilometers.
Sergey Bokhan reports the situation to the commander of the operation. Lieutenant-General Gusev decides on a second strike by the aircraft on the fortified area. After the fire attack, orders the landing of reconnaissance groups of the GRU special forces from helicopters by landing method to pre-designated points.
We are waiting for when the equipment of the brigade can turn around and get out of the trap. An unwieldy armada with great difficulty, having spent all daylight hours on it, creeps out to us only by six o'clock in the evening. It takes another two hours to reach the prearranged milestone. It is rapidly getting dark.
Placing the armored personnel carriers in a dry bed, setting guard, rest. All night around there is a rumble from the working engines of the machines of the 70-th brigade units arriving at the facility.
In the morning of the next day we begin the movement.
The entrance to the gorge is covered by two knolls - defensive support points. On the tops are equipped with firing positions for large-caliber machine guns. Trenches were cut in the rocky soil, stones were laid in a row in several rows, and the concrete was poured in from above for reinforcement. Passing the hills, we enter the base area Vasatichignay. The gorge is long, winding, in some places it narrows to ten meters. The road is well knurled on a high mound. A steep slope stretches along the left shoulder, a mountain stream gleams under a steep bank to the right.
We happen to stop, we miss the BMP first paratroopers burst in and out of the area. The first structures of Vasatichignai kishlak appeared. We drive past the shop. The doors hang on one hinge, the shutters are wide open, the only window is broken, the shop is looted. Small households, fenced low dvulyami, terraces climb up the slopes. Armored personnel carriers stop at a small area in the center of the settlement. The commander of a mining company sets the task for sappers. We have to destroy the repository by blasting.
I am thrilled, for the first time I had to participate in such an exotic excursion. All this is very interesting. The Pashtun tribes have preserved the medieval order to the present day.
On the terrace adjoining the square, of all the small, squalid residential buildings, one stands out - this is the mosque. Inside, the earthen floor is littered with hundreds of Korans. It is seen that the room has already been inspected. Obeying an inner taboo, I hesitate to go inside.
The scouts of the second company are checking the right side of the village. Twenty commandos climb the dominant summit. Their task is to control the approaches to the gorge from the eastern mountainous side. Protection enhanced by heavy weapons. Two recon groups are combing the slopes. Special forces pay special attention to the cracks laid in the rocks in the rocks, perhaps behind them caches of weapons. The third company group examines the left part of the ridge.
Company and I go to the nearest courtyard. A small gate of poles in a low hedge built of flat stones serves as an entrance to a small courtyard. He is also a pen for livestock. In the right corner, several young goats are bunched together, looking at us in a frightened way, treading on a quilt. Everywhere there are scattered objects of poor household utensils. The dwelling is a tiny, four square meter building made of clay. Pieces of cloth and clothing are lying on the dirt floor.
For me, this is all unusual, as an expedition to the “lost world”. But still smoking ruins of buildings on the slopes and burned, mutilated corpses of militants, who did not manage to get out before the fire attack, return to reality. I'm at war. And this large village, stretched along the bottom of the gorge, and these steep mountain slopes that engulfed it from all sides, and the firing positions of anti-aircraft mountain installations installed on the tops - all this is the basic fortified area of the Dushmans. The rebels are stationed there and conduct combat training. From it gangsters go on protection of caravan routes of transfer of military technical goods. Stocks of weapons and ammunition are stored here. This is a very important facility for the Mujahideen of the south-eastern provinces of Afghanistan.
Once the war, so the war!
Once the war, so the war! And once we set to work, we will not retreat. The base area is captured and will be destroyed.
Yesterday our guys shed their blood here. This was the case. At two o'clock in the afternoon, eight transport helicopters with assault groups on board rushed to the target. Fire support helicopters by NURS processed the intended landing sites.
The group of the third company, commanded by Senior Lieutenant Rozhkova, was aimed at the air defense position at the entrance to the gorge. As the points of defense were not crushed by fire, the commander of the helicopter pair landed several kilometers from the target. The steppe on the approaches to the summit remotely by aviation was mined with the PFM. The mine body, a semi-soft polyethylene container, is filled with a liquid explosive. Upon contact with the tank, the filling begins to be squeezed into the area of the fuse and makes it work. The area of the "petal" of the entire 34 square centimeter, the device is hardly noticeable. During the march, the radio operator of the group, Vladimir Valeyev, stepped on the charge and was seriously injured. A Mi-24 helicopter of fire support, which sat down to the scouts, took the wounded commando from the minefield. Trapped reconnaissance group requested evacuation.
Forty scouts of the Lashkargah 370 separate detachment of special forces (commanders of the groups Sorokin and Rybalko) were not landed precisely due to the error of the helicopter pilots, a few kilometers from the place of the planned landing. From their positions, they could only observe how detachments of rebels depart from the area.
Madness of the brave ...
Only two transport helicopters with assault groups from the third company headed by its commander, Senior Lieutenant Kravchenko, arrived at the intended landing site. On approach, having come under heavy fire of large-caliber machine guns, the driven machine was shot down. Thanks to the skill of the pilots, the helicopter sat down, nobody was injured from the personnel, but the scouts dropped out of the attack.
A lone spinner made its way to the top. When podsivanii directly to the air defense positions from a distance of thirty to forty meters, she got into the engine a grenade from an RPG. Immediately puffed, pushed aside, landed hard and caught fire. The first seconds the helicopter pilots in silence continued to coolly disconnect the toggle switches on the ceiling dashboard. The machine-gun fire broke through the glazing, the crew jerked out of the cab. The enemy’s fire from a distance of fifty meters was so dense that the tracer pierced the salon through from side to side through windows. The assault hit the floor. Everything was shrouded in smoke. This helped without loss to leave the board.
Jumping out of a burning car, the fighters came under heavy fire. Jubilant "spirits" from the hanging ledge shot in the backs of the hated "shuravi" running. Protected scouts equipment. The charges got into the knapsacks, knocking off their feet, tore the ammunition, some of them got stuck in the carob stores located in breastplates, but no one died. The radio operator of the group, Vladimir Shakhmina, was punched by all the flasks in a bag behind his back, and he was flooded with warm water. The bullet cut through the skin over the upper lip.
The Special Forces, escaping, jumped into a large pit, which in a minute was filled with people. Having come to their senses, realizing that being in one shelter is an inevitable death, the guys began to crawl away from the scour, to occupy all-round defense. The machine gun working from above from the cliff did not give a lift to the head. The tragedy of the situation was added by the fact that, in the commotion of leaving the burning G-8, they did not manage to pick up all the weapons.
Smoke from a burning car hid the special forces from the militants shooting from above. But here came the "spirits", located on the slopes below the position of the group. After waiting for the air strike, the militants climbed out of the cracks and opened fire. The helicopter burned to the ground surprisingly quickly, in just a few minutes only the carcass and all-metal blades remained.
A handful of special forces took the fight. The scouts fought desperately. The machine gunner, left with his bare hands, begged a grenade from a friend and hid behind the stones. One rebel ran past him, on the other hand a stone rounded the second. The guy squeezed into the gap and hid. He had to hide until the radio operator Eduard Komkin, having destroyed the militant, had not obtained a trophy trunk. Leading a desperate shooting, the guys systematically destroyed the anti-aircraft calculation. The An-26 RT repeater aircraft was constantly in the combat zone in the air. The commander, using the ultrashort-wave "Chamomile", established contact with him, requested aviation support. Fortunately, there were attack aircraft in the area. They worked jewelry. Shells from RBC cassettes lay thirty meters around the personnel. The skill of the pilots allowed us to turn the tide in our favor.
When an attempt was made to pull a machine gun from a dead Mujahideen, one of the fighters substituted himself and was wounded, with both legs knocked out in a queue. The boy moaned in shock, then, overcoming the pain, shouted to his comrades not to try to pull him out. The lurking rebel began to shoot again at the voice.
Andrey Kravchenko tried to get to the subordinate. Stealthily, bypassing the boulder, heard a hail. Turning to a scream, in the meter saw the trunk, directed him right in the forehead. A dry click of the bolt on the bolt brought him back to life. "Spirit" minutes earlier spent all the ammunition, finishing off the wounded soldier. The gunman howled wildly and stopped fighting for life, collapsed to the ground right where he stood. Andrei immediately shot him.
Having armed themselves with the captured weapons, the heroes, breaking through on the rock, broke the whole calculation of ZSU. Among the dead, they found a grenade thrower, the author of the fatal shot. A teenager of ten or twelve years old, thin handles two fingers thick. His weapon is a museum exhibit, which looked like an old anti-tank infantry grenade launcher from the Second World War. Near the trench, shelter anti-aircraft gunners, found a tent of blankets. The insides under the covers were cut from the automatons, under them was a warehouse with missiles. Well, that in the heat of battle did not throw a grenade. In the group only Edik did not get a single scratch, all the others were injured. True, it was not heavy.
With the seizure of the position of the war for special forces is not over. The scouts aimed aircraft at the "spirits" down the slope. And knocked them off the ridge. After that, the rebels remaining in the fortification ceased resistance and began to withdraw. The enemy was retreated along the routes where the scouts of the Lashkargah detachment were to be. But the special forces, mistakenly landed in another place, could not intercept and destroy the remnant remnants of the gang.
Even the day after the tragic storming of work in the area was full of it. The scouts took down trophies from the uncovered caches. They were piled on the ground in even rows.
I consider unusual trunks, many samples from the Second World War. British "Walls" with metal wire butts. Chinese-made PCA with a large round disc magazine for seventy-one rounds. Made from forged parts light submachine guns Sudaeva. Sheaves of various modifications of rifles "Lee Enfield", in our opinion "drill". Egyptian-made Kalashnikov assault rifles. Several large-caliber machine guns, anti-aircraft mountain installations. Pipes of recoilless guns of various modifications.
The area of responsibility of our detachment is the counties, the local population of which is extremely hostile to the current government. Kandahar is the center of radical Islam, the local "spirits" are fanatical, irreconcilable in their struggle. When detecting reconnaissance positions, the rebels do not avoid contact. Pulling up reserves, heavy weapons, impose a battle on us. Mortar shelling, when the group is surrounded on all sides and a change of position is impossible, is the most unpleasant thing that I had to experience in positional combat.
Now I have the opportunity to closely examine the captured 82-mm mortar. This weapon combines the effectiveness of shots with the possibility of carrying a calculation. Rapid, accurate, very strong weapon. From the deadly powerful charge you will not hide behind the parapet of the trench, for it there are no dead spaces on the back slopes. Large angles of incidence and contact fuse exclude ricochets. If you are detected and do not resist, then an experienced calculation will need three or four sighting shots. Then he will cover your position.
The central exhibit of this improvised exhibition - the volley fire missile system - is not crowded among the curious. For the first time, a lightweight towed twelve-barrel installation that we captured was developed in China. "Perfume" is often installed in the car body. Disassembled system can be transported by pack animals. For firing it uses 107-mm unguided fragmentation and incendiary projectiles.
The scouts pull down their trunks from the slopes. A cave was found under the summit on the slope. Inside - hundreds of zinc with cartridges, dozens of rockets, anti-tank mines of Italian production. The anti-tank land mine is made of yellow plastic, which makes it difficult to search for it with an induction mine detector. To detect the sappers use mine-searching dogs, their sense of smell has saved the lives of hundreds of soldiers.
The commander of a mining platoon, Lieutenant Mikhailov, is holding an “Italian” for the rope handle and explains to the officers the peculiarities of its work. The fuse has an additional option, it can be adjusted, so that it does not work the first time you press the rod. That is, according to the established charge, a technician can pass several times, you are in full confidence that the road is clear, you do not expect a trick. Such is the "Italian Roulette".
The insurgents make a major bet on a large-scale mine war. Its effectiveness is very high. Twenty percent of the casualties of personnel are caused by the use of mines. Two thirds of the equipment is ditched on land mines. Therefore, in the countries-producers of products, you can study geography. Mine explosive specialists are available in every Mujahideen combat unit. The training of demolition men is conducted exclusively by foreign instructors in specially created centers. Perhaps Vasatichignay is one of them.
On this day, we have a lot of work. All found storage with ammunition must be destroyed. I got a big house, it resembles a fortress. Huge half-meter boulders are laid out on top of each other and form walls. Stones are carefully fitted to each other, it is impossible to find a single gap. Most likely this room is a place for gathering, a classroom. Probably, my “colleagues” were trained here. The only relatively weak point is the roof. On the side of the building there is a large livestock hut, which is packed with sheep.
I'm wondering what to do about it. Mining platoon commander Lieutenant Mikhailov, stepping over the threshold, whistled from surprise. A great specialist in the subversive business, he immediately makes a decision. We brought twenty five kilogram boxes of TNT to the gorge. The crystalline substance is compressed into packs weighing two hundred grams. Michael quickly prepares charge. The full box is set in the center of the "spiritual" club. The lieutenant flips back the locks and lifts the lid. Then in the top row selects a pack. Each piece is packed in a factory seal, specially prepared brick-colored paper, in the center of each pack there is a hole for the detonator. The officer inserts a detonator into the socket.
- All is ready! - the officer happily reports to himself ...
120-mm self-propelled artillery installation of the assault-assault battalion "Nona-S", methodically sending shells on the slope, begins to progressively clean out the clay "mud huts" that stretch along the left canyon.
While the fighters of the mouth are preparing for evacuation, we continue to mine large buildings. Armored vehicles and trucks, filled with trophies, leave the area in the foothills.
Specialists in the village are working demolition men. The realization that only one compartment remains in the huge gorge causes great excitement. I want to quickly get out of this deceptively beautiful place. Today our task is completed, it remains only to give an electrical impulse to the charges. The wires are on one console. All the time.
- Undermining! .. - Commands the company.
Clouds of dust, smoke, crashing. The scattering stones clatter hollowly on the rocks. Quickly, without losing a minute, we approach the site of the explosion. The roof was scattered completely, the upper rows of masonry walls were destroyed, the base withstood the blow, only badly burned. The paddock is littered, the animals convulse under the stones and fragments of boards. War is an immoral matter, it does not tolerate sentiment. The infrastructure of the base area is completely destroyed. To restore it means to build everything anew. Another abandoned kishlak, Vasatichignay, appeared on the map of Afghanistan.
We leave, we leave, we leave, we leave...
Two armored personnel carriers stretched out on an embankment. Seeking the rumble of idle engines makes feverishly rush. The closure tower was deployed one hundred and eighty degrees, the gunner-operator took his place behind the machine guns. I jump on the car after the platoon. We leave. Technique rushed forward. Captain Kochkin hurries, at four o'clock in the afternoon bombing of the gorge will begin. We have twenty minutes to leave it. Cars rush along the road. The driver on a serpentine demonstrates extreme driving. On turns, the speed does not reset. Armored personnel carrier starboard passes close to overhanging rocks. The landing clung to the armor. And here is the passage between the hills. At full speed, jump out into the steppe. We are built in a marching column, without stopping we continue movement.
Planes come to the area at exactly the set time, the air strike began. The planes bombed the former base region and the village, located south of Vasatichignaya. The information gathered by the officers of our detachment says that it contains a reserve gang of field commander Ghulam-Farukh.
It took us only one hour to get back to concrete.
The day ends. A column of our 173-th separate detachment in a kilometer from the Kandahar garrison. A guard battalion tower made of self-made adobe brick appeared here. The flat roof of the three-story fortress is crowned with DShK. The firing position above tightened camouflage net. The batteers dive right down from the concrete slabs onto the dirt road. Through the checkpoint we enter the regime zone. A long mountain range separates our camp from brilliant green. The setting sun repaints its spurs of pastel shades in pink. While painting the contrasting picture, the colors become brighter, before merging in the dark.