Read Combat Alley (2007) Online

Authors: Jack - Seals 06 Terral

Combat Alley (2007)

Combat Alley

Seals 06

Jack Terral

Samroz Leane Awalmir Asked,
Are You Here To Destroy The Poppy Crops?

Brannigan Shook His Head. No. Not Unless The Taliban Becomes Involved.

Awalmir shrugged. We are not friends of the Taliban.

d forward. Is this disregard of our harvests permanent?

I don't know, Brannigan answered truthfully.

What are you going to do about the ones who murdered the Swatis? Awalmir asked.

I'm waiting for orders, Brannigan said. But I know for sure we will be told to hunt them down and capture them for punishment.

What if they won't surrender? the Yousafzai khan asked.

We will kill them.

Russians and Pashtuns too?

All of them, Brannigan stated.

Even if some are Russian?

We will kill all of them, Brannigan repeated.

In that case, you are the enemy of my enemy, Awalmir said. I will help you in the coming battles.

*

NOTE: Enlisted personnel in this book are identified by their ranks (petty officer third class, chief petty officer, master chief petty officer, etc.) rather than their ratings (boatswain's mate, yeoman, etc.) for clarification of status and position within the chain of command. However, when a man's rating is significant in the story, he is identified by that designation.

.

HEADQUARTERS

Lieutenant William Wild Bill Brannigan, (Commanding Officer)

Senior Chief Petty Officer Buford Dawkins, (Detachment Chief )

PO2C Francisco Frank Gomez, (RTO)

PO3C James Doc Bradley, (Hospital Corpsman)

FIRST ASSAULT SECTION

Lieutenant Junior Grade James Jim Cruiser, (Section Commander)

PO3C Earl Tex Benson, (SAW Gunner)

ALPHA FIRE TEAM

Chief Petty Officer Matthew Matt Gunnarson, (Team Leader)

PO2C Dennis Tiny Burke, (Rifleman)

PO2C Peter Pete Dawson, (Rifleman)

PO2C Josef Joe Miskoski, (Grenadier)

BRAVO FIRE TEAM

PO1C Montgomery Monty Sturgis, (Team Leader)

PO2C Andrei Andy Malachenko, (Grenadier)

PO2C Edward Matty Matsuno, (Rifleman)

PO2C Garth Redhawk, (Rifleman)

SECOND ASSAULT SECTION

Ensign Orlando Taylor, (Section Commander)

PO3C Douglas Doug MacTavish, (SAW Gunner)

CHARLIE FIRE TEAM

PO1C Guttorm Gutsy Olson, (Team Leader)

PO2C David Dave Leibowitz, (Rifleman)

PO2C Reynauld Pech Pecheur, (Rifleman)

PO2C Bruno Puglisi, (Grenadier)

DELTA FIRE TEAM

PO1C Michael Connie Concord, (Team Leader)

PO3C Arnold Arnie Bernardi, (Grenadier)

PO3C Guy Devereaux, (Rifleman)

PO3C Chadwick Chad Murchison, (Rifleman)

Excerpt from Sun Tzu's Art of War, as paraphrased by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bruno Puglisi of Brannigan's Brigands:

If you know both yourself and the enemy real good, you don't have to sweat even a hunnerd battles. If you know yourself but you ain't real familiar with the bad guys, you'll end up batting about .500 in combat. But, man, if you don't know either yourself or them rat bastards, you're gonna get your ass kicked ever'time. Now think about that.

PROLOGUE:

NORTHEAST AFGHANISTAN

THE PRANISTAY STEPPES

30 SEPTEMBER

1400 HOURS

TWELVE-YEAR-OLD Reshteen stood on the rooftop with his wool serape-like pukhoor hanging loosely over his shoulders. It was still a couple of months before the onset of winter, yet a rare preliminary coolness was in the air. After the heat of summer, it was a refreshing change. The steppes were much warmer and fifteen hundred meters lower than the Kangal Mountains to the east across the Tajikistan border. Up in that frigid high country, hundreds of glaciers had been carving through the depthless rock beds for eons. These deep slabs of ice, some more than five kilometers wide, eased across the mountaintops in a steady progression that was so slow the human eye could not perceive the movement.

Reshteen, like all boys his age, took his turn on lookout duty, and that's what he was doing on top of old Mohambar's house, which was the tallest in the village. This was a vital necessity in the living routine of the Pashtuns who inhabited the Pranistay Steppes. Fierce bandits roved unchecked through the area, and raids happened once or twice a year. Mostly, however, the attacks by the murdering robbers occurred when people, alone or in small groups, were traveling across the steppes to other settlements.

The boy guards like Reshteen kept part of their attention focused on the distant horizons to the south and west. When they turned to the north and east, they took extra time to study the view. That was where the rugged, boulder-strewn foothills of the Kangals joined the flat country, and it was much more difficult to discern anyone approaching from that direction.

Reshteen took off his puhtee and scratched his head as he gazed out across the steppes in boredom. There was nothing out there but a dancing blur on the horizon that distorted the distant view. During the long hours of guard duty, when he tried very hard, his mind could conjure up phantom donkeys or goats in the haze. This time his eyes could make up nothing to amuse him, and he swung his attention over toward the mountains.

Awrede! he hollered out loud enough for the whole village to hear. Two horsemen to the east!

VALENTIN Surov and Yakob Putnovsky reined in as the village came into view. Both horsemen wore a mixture of native costume and Russian Army uniforms. Their boots were definitely military-issue and the open-collar camouflaged jackets were the type used by the KGB border guards of the Soviet Union. The rest of their clothing was the traditional type found in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The cartridge pouches across their shoulders were the leather type available in the bazaars of the larger towns. These were handmade and exhibited the fine craftsmanship of the saddlers who designed, cut, and stitched them together.

Putnovsky took his binoculars and studied the small community. Is this the place we're looking for?

Just a minute, Surov said. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a map, unfolding it carefully.

Putnovsky glared at him. Fucking officer!

Surov sneered. Both of them were veterans of the Russian Army and the practice of not instructing enlisted men in map reading had been a Soviet tradition that remained in effect with some units of the new Russian Army. The reason behind the practice was to keep any discontented soldier with itchy feet from finding a route to flee from the Peasants' and Workers' Paradise. Surov studied the terrain around them, then traced his finger along an elevation line. Da! This is it. Come on!

THE fact that Reshteen had sighted only two riders did not alarm the villagers, but they fetched their weapons just the same. The pair could be scouting for a larger bandit gang lurking somewhere else nearby. Most of the men stayed inside their huts, ready for trouble. The women and children went about their normal activities whether it was indoors or out, while a half dozen men with their AK-47s concealed under their pukhoors lounged on benches in the village square.

The two Russians rode slowly and warily into the village, their AKS-74 assault rifles slung across their backs to make it obvious they had no bad intentions. Each was aware the locals were armed to the teeth and that suspicious Pashtuns had a disagreeable habit of shooting first and asking questions later, provided there was a survivor or two to converse with. The Russians brought their horses to a halt at the well, nodding to one of the men standing there.

Staray me she! Surov said in his working knowledge of Pashto. Are any of your spinzhire around? He used the Pashtun word for gray-beards, which was the way they referred to their elders.

The Pashtun man called out, and an old fellow named Mohambar appeared in the doorway of the nearest hut. He said nothing, but looked up at the Russian on the horse. These men had been appearing on the steppes from time to time over the past few years. It was said among the Pashtun tribes that they gave competition to the traditional native bandit groups.

I have been sent by Luka Yarkov to give you a message, Surov said. He has been informed that this village made much money selling opium poppies to a fellow called Awalmir Yousafzai.

Old Mohambar nodded.

Awalmir did not give Yarkov's share to him, Surov said. It is a malya a tax. Since you were paid money by Awalmir, you must give a share to Luka Yarkov because he has enough fighting men to control everything that happens on the steppes. Do you understand?

Mohambar stared at him without expression or emotion.

If you do not pay Luka Yarkov what is due him, he will be angry.

There was still no reaction from the elderly Pashtun.

With anyone but Pashtuns, this would have been the beginning of some sort of negotiations, protests, or a discussion. But Surov did not expect any verbal response to his announcement. It was enough that he had made it and that these villagers would pass the word on to their brethren across the steppes.

The Russian turned his eyes from the old man and glanced around at the other villagers who also did no more than gaze at him. He nodded, saying, Khuday pea man good-bye.

The two foreigners rode slowly from the village, their weapons still slung across their backs. The Pashtuns looked at each other, knowing this was the start of big troubles on the Pranistay Steppes.

Chapter 1

USS DAN DALY

THE PERSIAN GULF

1 OCTOBER

BRANNIGAN'S Brigands had seen off one of their own the evening before. Mike Assad, the Arab-American member of the detachment, had received orders transferring him to Station Bravo in Bahrain for an undisclosed assignment. The farewell get-together held in the ready room on that last evening had been a sad occasion. It was a time of quiet conversation punctuated by forced laughter during recollections of episodes concerning Assad's time in the detachment. And of course there was also serious speculation about where the SEAL might be going and what he might be doing during this unexpected change in duty assignment.

Assad was one of the original members of the outfit, and the other Brigands truly felt as if they were losing a member of their family. His best buddy, Dave Leibowitz, had a hard time containing his disappointment and outright grief regarding the transfer. He and Assad had been known as the Odd Couple because of Assad's Arabic ancestry and Leibowitz's Jewish origins. The two American SEALs had ignored their different ethnicities and developed a deep friendship over the many months of serving together. The pair's forte had been reconnaissance, and they shared the vanguard in dozens of incursions into harm's way, being the first to come under enemy fire on most occasions.

Mike Assad had been separated from the group one time before when he was plucked from their midst to be inserted as an operative for the CIA within the al-Mimkhalif terrorist group. This organization operated in Pakistan and Afghanistan, conducting a jihad that had very real possibilities of overtaking even Usama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda. Assad worked smart and had come out of the assignment with enough intelligence data to bring about the destruction of the bad guys. His reappearance in the detachment was one that none of the SEALs would ever forget. He unexpectedly bumped into them in the middle of the Indian Ocean while they were on an operation in an ACV, but that wasn't the kicker. Mike Assad was in a stolen whaler boat with a beautiful German courtesan who had been a member of a radical sheikh's harem of European women. That unscrupulous gentleman happened to be the leader of the al-Mimkhalif, the same terrorist group that Assad was spying on. From that time on, nothing Assad did surprised anybody in the detachment.

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FLIGHT DECK

0815 HOURS

MIKE Assad, dressed in a BDU, stood holding on to a pair of seabags with the rest of the detachment gathered around him. He had turned in his field gear and weapons to Senior Chief Petty Officer Buford Dawkins the evening before and now had only his personal clothing and gear to take to his new assignment. It was an awkward time for everybody. This was the moment of good-bye, not like the night before when the actual parting was still hours away.

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