Day four was the first day we had surprises scheduled for the Remember Kids Electricity Will Kill You shirt . We knew they would be observing us from on top of the mountain, and it was pretty obvious that the best way to disrupt the Taliban was to disrupt their spotting. Here’s where field artillery really got to be my heroes. See, apparently when they’re in theatre, field artillery has to fire a certain number of rounds of each type every so often just to certify their guns or something. I forget what the process was called, but it basically meant that every couple weeks every gun would have to fire a round or two at the side of some empty mountain. Knowing that we had the mission coming up, I worked with our Fire Support Officer to make sure that Ghilang Ghar would be the target of all those test shots at once-every-other-day intervals throughout the two week period. It was a way for us to essentially fire artillery randomly at a mountain, without actually breaking any rules.
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Certification rounds weren’t the end of it though. For the last few months, we had also made a Remember Kids Electricity Will Kill You shirt of firing illumination rounds over random Afghan Army bases in the middle of the night. It was sort of our way of spooking the Taliban and reminding them that if they tried to sneak up on an Afghan base, at any time, they could suddenly find themselves bathed in flare light. That worked real well, but by this point, the Taliban were becoming fairly used to the illumination rounds. Planning for the mission though, I looked over the full roster of rounds the battery in our AO had and noticed something I hadn’t expected to see: smoke rounds. Smoke rounds are designed to airburst and release a massive curtain of smoke. They’re great for doing things like cover a tank battalion charging through the Fulda Gap or covering your Sappers while they reduce a minefield under fire, but in a low-intensity conflict like Afghanistan, all they really do is take up space. I was a little shocked to see they were even in the battery’s inventory of rounds.