It was now day five for our Sniper/Recon team, which consisted of me (sniper), “P” as my spotter, and four reconnaissance Rangers.  We had been gathering intelligence and tracking a high-value target behind enemy lines in southern Afghanistan for the past four days.  With the intel we had gathered, we sent up our reports to an assault force consisting of 30 Rangers, and chose to conduct an operation to capture or kill the H.V.T located in a small compound near our location.

My team met up with the assault force early in the afternoon on the fifth day.  After a quick operations order, we decided to make our movement under the cover of darkness to the targeted location.  As the sun fell beneath the Afghanistan horizon, our element set out on a foot movement that would total 10 kilometers over rough terrain and through small villages.  The movement seemed to my team a lot further – we had been awake for 4 and a half days carrying 70-100 pounds of gear and only managing to take 15 to 30 minute cat naps every now and then.   Thanks to the training we had stateside, we knew what our bodies were capable of, even in the worst of conditions.

The assault force would conduct the actual raid, and capture or kill the target, while my team of six would break off one kilometer short of the target and provide an over watch/blocking position.  The position we were set in was surrounded by one-foot tall vegetation and small two-foot deep depressions scattered throughout a large field, not an ideal place, to be but it was the best that we could do.  Noticing the depressions in the area, I signaled to the rest of the men that it would be a fallback position if things went sour.

As we lay in the prone, concealing ourselves to the best of our ability beneath the vegetation, the remaining assault force set up in positions around the target building preparing to conduct a breach.  Observing the environment around our position, I noticed a group of men gathering around a small hut less than two hundred yards away.  It seemed like they were in what appeared to be a football style huddle discussing their next play on an offensive drive.

I called up what I was observing to the Recon Team Leader and kept eyes on the men.  Looking back at my spotter and shaking my head side to side, he took the safety off of his .300 Winchester Magnum and put an infrared laser on one of the men’s chest.  There was an eerie feeling settling over the area, almost like a thick wool blanket. We just knew something was about to happen, this type of activity was something I had not seen before in the area.

As the assault team prepared to make a final approach on the target building, the sun had begun to crest over the horizon. The operation was taking longer than expected.  Not only did we have to traverse over rough terrain, but we had to remain unseen and quiet moving through through and over villagers sleeping outside, which took us some time.  The men that “P” and I had been observing had now left, dispersing in all directions.  A call came through my ear piece radio from the Recon TL, stating, “I think we should hunker down, I think we’re about to get into a fight.”

No less than 30 seconds after him stating this, we heard loud snaps pass through the air over our heads and impacting a few feet from us.  Without hesitation, my team crawled over to a nearby depression I had pointed out earlier and crammed our bodies into it.  The intensity of the fire was overwhelming and somewhat hard to believe.  “SNAP, SNAP, SNAP, SNAP.”  Bullets impacted only a few inches from us, cutting the vegetation in half and sending dirt flying into the air.

We were being engaged from all sides with RPK machine guns, AK-47s, AK-74s, and occasionally rockets.  I managed to climb on top of one of the Recon members to try and get accurate fire on the individuals engaging us.  With “P’s” body crammed next to mine, we oriented our scopes in the direction of a small village 400 yards away, from where most of the fire was coming. Only able to extend my suppressed SR-25 sniper barrel out through vegetation, my optics were partially obscured, but I was able to see three men running on a rooftop.  I saw what appeared to be one of the men carrying an RPK machine gun and preparing to set it up to fire on us.