Action adventure stories are my favourite, I love reading them, and recently I discovered I love writing them!
From the Author
Okay, I think I need to explain the title somewhat. 'Tabbing' is a very British Military word, and it has nothing to do with a 'Tabby' cat.
Soldiers are used to marching, it's something you tend to do a lot in the Armed forces, and even more so in the Army.
Imagine the proverbial has hit the fan, and you're trying desperately to get from point A to point B in the shortest possible time, but there ain't no vehicles to get you there, you're going to have to walk, and it's a good thirty miles that you've got six hours to cover it in!
Walking pace is three miles an hour, Marching is maybe four (Marching is usually at 130 paces a minute, or if you're in the 'light infantry' 180 which is about four miles an hour) but those are still too slow, and besides you need to tell the others to take 'full kit' so we had a word for it, it's a 'Tab' meaning a damned fast forced march with full kit!
When I was in the Military the 'CFT' (Combat Fitness Test) was an eight-mile 'Tab' in under two hours followed by the base assault course (as a team and all wonder that two hours, failure wasn't an option) and that was just for the regular soldier, Paratroopers and SAS had a much tougher one.
Anyway, now that I've explained that a bit, let's get into the adventure as the team had a 'short tab' in only a few hours, should be a breeze right?
Join a few hopefuls doing 'P' company
As soon as the skids touched terra firma the Lynx's side doors slid back. Joey and Smithy jumped out, ran clear of the rotors and took up defensive positions, Joey at the ten o'clock and Smithy at the two, both scanned the horizon before giving the 'all clear'.
The most dangerous time on any op isn't the assault, but during the insertion, you have no real idea what or who might be waiting for you. All the surveillance in the world can be foiled by the patient soldier or even an alert sentry.
As soon as they were in a position both turned and gave the 'thumbs up' signal for Jacko and Mac, Jacko headed out of Joey's side, Mac out Smithy's. Clear of the rotors Jacko turned, checked each man, each one giving a 'thumbs up' before he signalled all clear to the pilot.
They heard the increase in pitch from the Lynx just before it lifted off. As soon as the skids we're off the ground the nose dipped forward as the aircraft accelerated away, they kept low but used the dipped nose to increase speed before breaking cover.
"Ya wanna tickle that wall, or punch through the sod?" Joey had been adamant when they selected their weapons for the mission. Jacko and Mac had gone for their favourite the Colt Commando, until Joey, backed by Smithy had explained the low muzzle velocity made it pretty useless up against a concrete wall. "The FN will put a bullet clean through the bloody thing, and kill the sod on the other side, then go on and do more damage to the next one in line!"
"What about grenades?" Mac asked.
Ten minutes later three Belgian FN Fals had M203 grenade launchers fitted, perfect for the job. That also meant everyone would be using the same sized ammunition as both the FALs and Smithy's L115A3 sniper rifle took 7.62 mm (NATO pre-1990) rounds.
Sidearms were left to each individual, three of them had Glock 17s, Joey had a Browning, they were all 9mm parabellum rounds.
Uniformity isn't just something that looks nice, it also has practical implications, they were travelling as light as possible, that meant everyone had to have parts that were interchangeable, Smithy would have the smaller magazines, his rifle was a bolt action with a slower rate of fire meant he'd use less ammo, but the greater accuracy meant a higher kill ratio, he could take four magazines of five rounds for his weapon plus a few extra mags 'just in case' and as many five-round clips as he might need.
"Leave the standard twenty round mags" Jacko ordered, "grab a few of these instead" he tossed two of the thirty eight-round Bren gun magazines they had at them, one at Joey and one at Mac, both caught them in mid-air, both gave a nod of approval, they began helping themselves to more, each one took at least four.
"Should give us some serious firepower" Mac observed.
"If this goes pear-shaped" Jacko began, "we're gonna need all the firepower we can get!"
As soon as the chopper disappeared from sight they were moving, "usual order" Jacko whispered into his throat-mike as Smithy began to rise.
As the team sniper, and the keenest eyes in the unit Smithy also got the job of being 'point man' checking the way ahead as they advanced. Next came the unit commander, Jacko was also in charge of comms and if the proverbial hit the fan he'd be the one calling in air support or evac. Mac was the medic, and second, in command, Jacko watching to the right, Mac to the left, they couldn't afford to leave any patch of ground uncovered.
Joey’s job was that of 'tail-end charlie' watching everyone's back, walking backwards most of the time with only the occasional glance around to make sure you're still on the right track.
Carrying out a patrol requires trust, each member needs to know they can trust the others in their patrol with their lives, but each one had three others 'watching their six'
No word was spoken, just a small hand gesture is given by Jacko telling them 'move out'
Even though it was night, they had a three-quarter moon and very little cloud, good visibility meant they needed a decent gap between each, not as big as they would have in the daytime, that would be six or seven yards, but about four yards was sufficient.
The intel reports said there was nothing between them and the objective, but more than once they'd been known to be wrong, so far, this time the intel had been right.
'Stay with the river bed' Smithy thought to himself as he led the team, it was a dried-up bed, one that only got water in it on the rare occasions that it rained, the map had told them it flowed into a tributary of the mighty Tigris River not far from Mosul and passed within a kilometre or just over a thousand yards of the village
"Our target is the compound north of the village" Jacko whispered, they were in a ‘defensive position just south of the village, far enough apart to provide good protection, but close enough that they could hear each other. "we need an observation post" he stopped momentarily knowing Smithy would want to pick his own, from this point on Smithy as the team spotter-sniper would be coordinating them.
The Kurds had been told that the target was Tel Afar, the command centre for ISIS in Iraq, but the real target was a little way away from there. Five miles East of Tel Afar was the little place called Tel Reem, ten miles west of the Tigris, and totally deserted.
“The minaret on the Mosque” Smithy whispered in reply, “in the centre I know, but it’s a good observation point, three sixty vision from there, even into the compound, ” they all glanced in that direction.
"Sounds good" Jacko replied, "the villagers upped and legged it when these clowns showed up, but watch out for stray or wild animals" he didn't really need to tell these men how to do their jobs, but the tension was such that they were all on edge.
"The Dawn prayers will be in about an hour and a half" Jacko went on, "they'll get word of the heliborne assault about then, we can expect a bug out anytime after that" he looked around the team.
"If you had two companies of hairy arsed paras and maniacal Gurkhas coming after you, you'd bloody well run too" Mac chipped in as everyone stifled a nervous laugh, that was the rest of the info MI6 had made sure was passed on so that ISIS would hear about it. No one in their right mind tangles with the British Parachute Regiment and the Gurkhas have a reputation that is the stuff of legend, they don't bother with taking prisoners.
"That'll keep the ragheads busy over there" Joey pointed on the general direction West, "keep 'em off our backs"
“Wait a minute” Joey butted in, he needed to ask a question, “But isn’t the brief to observe and wait for the assault tonight?” that was the briefing they’d been given.
“Yeah” Jacko replied, “that’s what the idiots back in Whitehall think” he paused for a moment, “and that’s what we’ve been told to do, but come on guys, you really think they’re going to wait a bunch of hairy arsed Paras to show up?” he stopped to let that sink in, “I want us to be ready for if they try and bug out”
“You mean we go regardless of what London says then?” Mac was the one asked, “Dinnae think we’ve got a problem with that” it was clear they’d already realised the real situation, that London was trying to ‘look good’ while letting the Swedes pay the price, that wasn’t going to happen.
"That's a general idea" Jacko threw in the reply, "everyone knows what to do, let's get on with it" he turned and started to rise.
The 'Chinese parliament' broke up as each one went to make preparations, it was going to be an interesting night!
The team only had four members, but each one was an expert in their role, and each one knew exactly what the other three would be doing, more importantly, they knew exactly where each of the team would b, that was key, the last thing you needed in this kind of operation was an operator in the wrong place.
Smithy cautiously headed towards the minaret attached to the mosque, 'with any luck there'll be an internal staircase' he thought, tradition had it the muezzin had to climb the stairs to give the prayer call, loudspeakers and the like were invented long after the tradition was started, and it didn't even seem as if the village had any electricity supply, at least none that was working.
The minaret was in the middle of the village, right next to the road that ran from the compound to the north of the village, it went straight through and joined up with the main road just two kilometres or a mile and a half south of where he was.
The top of the minaret had a doorway that led out onto a small balcony that wrapped itself around the structure, there were no loudspeakers attached there, that told Smithy everything here was done without electricity, in other words, the Imam would stand there to give the call to prayer.
He had the perfect vantage point. Pressing the small button on his throat mic transmitter he began his strep. "Scorpion three in position looks like we have six mobiles being prepped, all American made 4x4s, two with heavy hardware, " he started doing a three-sixty search of the surroundings, something, or rather someone was coming in from the East, and it didn't look good, "three, looks like we've got company arriving, six more vehicles, unknown type, range two miles"
From the author
I need to stop there for today folks, sorry about that, but Can't let too much out of the bag at the moment.
By the way, I had originally intended for this to just be a short story, but so far in the first draft I'm over 40k words and I haven't even got to the end of the mission (it's what happens after that's got me amused as I just found out they're actually going to be breaking a few orders, but more on that later)
One thing about Special Forces that the rest of the Military just don't do, in the Special Forces the commander isn't the one makes the major decisions! They have what they call a 'Chinese Parliament' where all the patrol, no matter the rank, are encouraged to have their day and contribute to the plan, it's one of the things that makes them stand out from the rest, everyone has 'buy in' so they make the plan work!
Just a thought for the week, if our bosses did that, would we 'take ownership'?
Anyway, I really have to sign off for now, so please don't forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think so far.
© 2020 Lawrence Hebb