When one thinks of Switzerland, thoughts of a quaint neutral nation filled with mountains, banks, cheese, chocolate, clocks, knives, fountains, and halberd-bearing guardsmen come to mind. That identity, famous worldwide, has been preserved very deliberately. Switzerland has maintained its autonomy and neutrality through two world wars. The nation kept its cool in the Cold War, and has continued protecting the uniquely Swiss identity from the bureaucratic conundrums of the European Union.

Switzerland is no accident; the geographic barriers of the Alps have drawn its borders and influenced the individualized concepts of what it means to be Swiss. The cultural topography of Switzerland encompasses a convergence of French, German, Italian, and Romansh cultures to produce the Swiss identity. Swiss acculturation continues to define social constructs, defense strategy, and governmental policy, as Switzerland remains the lone wolf and holdout of the European subcontinent, declining membership in the European Union and avoiding the adoption of Euros as their national currency.

It is through landscape and ideology that the preservation of the Swiss identity has kept relevance as a paramount matter. The Swiss ideological system grinds in opposition to the diffused cultural concepts of Europe; globalization, migration, and the spatial interaction of mobility, territory, and trade slowly decay as the tyranny of time passes. This is a concern for Switzerland and the theme of our exercise, as SOFREP has been invited to return and suit-up with the Swiss militia, Asso Sion—the Association of Sion.

The Swiss militia

In Switzerland, the militia is not made up of the kind of people who recently occupied the Oregon Wildlife Reserve. The Swiss militia organizational structure is government mandated, and is an association of the Swiss military system. The detailed arrangements and the concepts behind the Swiss militia are best described as an active reserve force of citizen soldiers. The Swiss militia is based on the democratic concepts of Switzerland, the nation’s unique neutral status, political apparatus, defense concerns, and a series of dynamic internal complications of which books are written.

Jack Murphy ran this gambit last year, and provided me with the rundown. I was fired-up and ready to go. I’ve made an effort to not repeat Jack in this article; you can learn about his experience and to get further information on Asso Sion by reading his article.

My Swiss adventure started on a flight via Germany from Ukraine. I descended into a landscape like no other. If you have never flown into Switzerland, the flight itself is stunning. A long descent cascades you along the cloud line where the mountains seem as if you could touch them—if the airline was cool enough to let you walk on the wing.  Once on the ground, from the surreal to the reality of the tarmac, a smiling Quentin greeted me at the airport in Geneva. He took my rucksack and I via train, then bus, to the quintessential European old-meets-new city of Lausanne. There, we covered greetings, the overview, and talked out how things were going to go down in Switzerland.

Quentin had a plan: We were to hit the road before the exercise and take in a complete overview of Switzerland. This seemed doable at the time, as the nation is smaller than the state of Ohio. That is, until I realized that I am poor, and by Swiss standards, I’m dirt-farmer poor. The cost of living in Switzerland puts New York City on the affordable list. My best example would be the adjusted price of a McDonald’s value meal: $25.00 USD. Even so, we tried, and I was able to procure some great video and photos for a few upcoming stories on the Swiss Infantry Officer Course, and an examination of landscape modification for defensive purposes, where I’ll walk you through some evolutionary principles of defensive fortifications.

Despite our best budgeting efforts, things were just not adding up, and in Zurich, I parted ways. Via train, I returned to Lausanne and hung out in Quentin’s apartment. Once there, I was able to catch up on uploads and material from Ukraine for SOFREP—and test my skills via Tinder in Switzerland. A few days later, we again rallied and geared up for the big show in the mountains.

SOFREP exclusive: Back on the ground with the Swiss militia
Welcome to scenic Switzerland. Image courtesy of the author.

The next day we made a pogey-bait run at the local grocery store before hitting the road for a 90-minute ride along Lake Geneva and through the mountains to the assembly area for Asso Sion. My excitement was obvious; I was still taken by the natural beauty of Switzerland, and I was now about to be on exercise with the Swiss. In my head, I just kept going over how cool this was, an opportunity that would never have been afforded to me while I was a soldier. Although, sure, we shared a range exercise in Kosovo with the Swiss, but this was me, in Switzerland, with the Swiss militia. And no shit, there I was, gearing up as a lone American. I thought to myself, “How fucking cool is this?”

Quentin and I pulled in just before dark and placed our kit in formation to be inspected. The scene, aside from French being spoken as the primary language, was no different than when any other unit is gearing up to go on exercise. As time passed, more soldiers rolled in, and so did the special equipment. Darkness then fell upon us with little warning, the Sun’s path cut short by the domineering mountain ranges that surrounded us. Vehicle headlights and a few flashlights pierced the veil of night, and I made myself as useful as possible in the midst of French-speaking strangers. Quentin did the best he could of short introductions and overviews, but he had his own duties to attend to. As soon as I prepped my kit, I made my way into the international order of soldiers. There, I became a link in the chain to download equipment.

And what wonderful equipment we had, at first glance. I found myself fascinated by the variations of equipment known to me; essentially all of their kit was the same at the core principle, it was just a little different. The first item to catch my eye was their take on the military laser engagement system or MILES II, which is called SimFass. Their system is well-constructed, better camouflaged, and sound in its ability to be secured to an individual and not become a complete hindrance. The laser-blanks firing system is an integrated component, meaning no separate blank adapters are necessary and the adjustments for the zero procedure are simplified in comparison to the MILES system. These were attached to SIG 550s and 553s, the primary weapon system for the exercise. Additionally, we unpacked demolition simulators (DES), smoke, and flares as pyro; as well as some night vision goggles (NVG) that should have been in a museum.

After the equipment was laid out, we went through our issue period. Surprisingly, if you wanted more than 20 rounds, you had to pay extra—you could buy each round at about a dollar apiece. This is due the budgetary allocations for training set by the Swiss Federal Department of Defense to the militias. Quinten squared me away with some extra rounds. I processed through issue, signing for equipment, and was eventually assigned to a commando team where we painted our faces and went through a few personnel rotations.

When we settled, the operations order was read. In summary:

The European Union has economically collapsed, and the security apparatus of Europe has imploded. The resulting chaos has placed Switzerland in a precarious geographical location, and a heavy influx of migrants and refugees have destabilized the border of Switzerland. An overarching (unnamed) villain-nation is seizing upon this opportunity to exploit Swiss resources and territory. In the Asso Sion area of responsibility (AOR), an influx of mercenary agents and fighters who are acting on behalf of the (unnamed) villain nation have compromised all radio and telecommunications, executed acts of sabotage, and are conducting aggressive reconnaissance in support of what is believed to be a follow-on invasion by a conventional force.

Asso Sion is to locate and disrupt enemy activity in their AOR, and to capture or kill any aggressive forces acting against Switzerland. Until change of mission, Asso Sion is to conduct reconnaissance on three suspected sites under enemy control, make an on-the-scene assessment, and choose the best course of action on objective with the material and personnel on hand. Movement is to be conducted in vehicles until a reasonable and uncompromising distance to each site is reached. The units will then move on foot to their objectives at the discretion of the unit commander.

Objective one: Snatch-and-grab at the quarry

SOFREP exclusive: Back on the ground with the Swiss militia
A commando team soldier reflects on training. Image courtesy of author.

After pre-combat checks and inspections, and a 45-minute ride, we emerged from the back of our vehicles and descended into the darkness of the night to rally by teams in a security perimeter. We were in the tree line, on the slope of the hill, our weapons out. We estimated our location in proximity to the two teams on our left and right as we faded into the shadows. I had the team’s NVGs, but I wasn’t quite ready to place that anchor on my head and the evening twilight was well enough to make out a silhouette. Around me were whispers in French as the plan was sorted out among the unit’s key leaders. I then slipped into acute paranoia—something similar to this exercise had gone down for real just a short time ago in Ukraine. I was very alert to say the least.

The adrenaline flowed through me. Quentin, the boss-man for our team, returned with the game plan. We were to proceed down the western approach of the mountain and to the quarry to support the other two teams advancing from the north. Once there, we were to capture a high-value target (HVT) from a known vehicle, or if possible, capture the target before he arrived at the quarry. The intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) that we were given was broad and shoddy at best. Enemy foot and vehicular patrols were said to be active in the area. Additionally, our route had not been cleared or scouted by any means. We were to move forward through the fastest and most convenient route and be on target in two hours. Ruck up, and good luck.

We worked our way down a logging road in staggered columns by teams, with each team breaking off at their checkpoints as we provided overwatch. Our team was last to move into the shadowy terrain. Around 20 minutes in, we set to break right to our next waypoint when my gracious host and fearless leader, Quentin, motioned me forward from rear security. He said to me in a whisper, “Hey, you’re an engineer. Go first.”

This is a theme for most of my adventures. Damned engineers. At first, the foliage was unforgiving and the noise of the brush seemed to echo our location, making it easy for any Joe Commie to lay an ambush just ahead of us. Yet I pushed through, often peering over my shoulder, past the rocks and vegetation on that midnight mountainside. I could hear and somewhat see my team at my back as I made my way in search of a clearing.

The clearing found me first, and gave me a little kiss when my feet gave way to my old, cruel mistress, gravity. My head went first as I plummeted down a small cliff that was obscured in the tangle of old growth and night. Luckily, I was still on my adrenaline buzz, recovered, climbed back up, and said, “Hey, there is a fucking cliff here, for fuck’s sake. Watch your fucking step. This goddamned thing almost fucking killed me. Fuck.”

I heard them stop and someone said, “OK.”

I replied, “We need to check this shit out. I got this fucking trail, and this shit’s fucking clear at glance. I’m going to move ahead.”

Again I heard in response, “OK.”

I conducted a stop, look, listen, and smell (SLLS) check and then scouted ahead, counting my pace as I moved along what appeared to be an abandoned logging road. The surface was covered in a heavy blanket of squishy moss, much like a shag carpet on the set of a porno.

This was a good trail, as nothing appeared to be disturbed, and my path was only sporadically shifted by overgrown shrubbery and the occasional fallen tree. The whole scene was surreal, like something out of that movie, “The Labyrinth.” I expected to find David Bowie’s Muppet-filled lair just beyond the path. Over my head, the forest appeared to have grown into a near perfect tunnel of branches, and in the distance I could make out the moonlight reflecting off of the rock face of an adjacent mountain that marked the end of this trail. In that expanse, I heard running water just past that trailhead and decided that would be my target. I may have been too captivated by the landscape, as I noticed that the team had not followed me down. Still, I hadn’t heard them moving along the cliff. I paused and looked back, but I decided that my separation, although lacking in line of sight, was only linear in a notional direction, and they should be pulling overwatch.

Only as I began to move up the final slope to reach the end of this trail did I really hug the wood line and look back. There, in the distance, about 600 meters to the rear, near the point of my fall, was a lone silhouette. I got low, took aim, and dug out my NVGs. Through the green screen of enhanced light, I could make out exactly how it was—it was Quinten. I made my way back as non-threateningly as possible and said, “Sup, brah?”

Quentin replied, “We lost you for a minute. Are we clear?”

I assured him that we were good up to the clearing. We then assembled and moved out, reaching the next clearing in no time, and with no gravity-related incidents. From this new vantage point, we could make out our final objective through the valley, but we needed a route to flank around the western approach and, in theory, block and secure the southern approach from a piece of high ground overlooking the quarry. I was back on another woodland escapade. From point to point, we bounded our way through the woods and to a T intersection at the base of the mountain.

We reached the intersection in the military art form of pure, dumb luck, because as soon as we hit the last bit of cover before crossing, the drone of a vehicle’s engine filled the air, shortly followed by the glare of headlights. We were forced to take immediate cover and prepare for contact. The vehicle blew right past us and we could not positively identify (PID) if it was the target vehicle. The thought to ambush it arose, but it would have been for naught, and would have only resulted in us being compromised with the beams of the lasers on our weapons hitting the target. That’s if this wasn’t just a farmer; we were, after all, about 300 meters from the objective and in the middle of a sheep farm.

Everyone was operating without a radio as briefed, and throughout the entirety of this exercise, all telecommunications had been compromised. In case you missed it, there would be no radios. For that reason, we paused, waited a few moments to regain our night vision, and listened to what was happening down the road. In the distance, an engine disengaged, followed by car doors. We began to move, but were forced directly back down. At 50 meters to our 12 o’clock, a dismounted enemy patrol, using white-light flashlights, was tooling around in the woods on the other side of the road. We waited to light them up if they provided us with the opportunity, but they did not. They seemed to be professionally fucking off just beyond the trees and out of our engagement range.

A new plan was formed. I was to cut across the road, go under the electric sheep fence, bound through the field adjacent to a river, and then establish far-side security near the objective or return if the approach was a no-go. I was to be reinforced in five minutes or raise hell and die trying. That’s one hell of a five-point contingency plan (GOTWA). If successful, this approach would lead us onto the high ground at the south side of our objective.

With the three rifles of my team providing overwatch, I dipped across the road and took a sheep-shit slip-and-slide through the field to the river. The sheep scattered along the field, and I made a stealthy yet deliberate approach, where I eventually rested in a nest where I could see and hear the enemy. Now all I had to do was wait.

I waited five, then 10 minutes, and of course thought the worst. I then returned to the last place I saw my team, but they were not there. Fear came over me. I believed they’d been captured, and I would have to complete this mission alone, equipped with only a few profanities and a simple listening understanding of French. Merde. On that, I returned via the sheep-shit slip-and-slide, and as I was closing on my last hide, I heard vehicle doors close. The engine started, but then it left. Now, I rushed forward to the high ground. There was nothing to be seen.

From my pouch, I pulled out my NVGs and saw what appeared to be Bob and Jacko from my team on top of a large mound of dirt. They were overwatching the center of the quarry, and I scrolled my way over to them. As I approached from their six, I said, “What the fuck?”

A voice said, “Clay? Is that you?”

“Um, yeah. Are there any other fucking Americans around here? Where-the-what-fuck is going down?”

I climbed up, and it was Jacko. I could make out his beard through the darkness.

He said, “It should happen soon.”

“What, and who was that?”

Bob spoke up. “Oh, just an OC.”

So I settled in, and not a moment later, on the far side of the quarry, there was an exchange of fire that pierced the night. We swiftly descended from the mound and made our way toward the sounds of the guns, picking up Quentin, who was on another mound just ahead of ours. Together again, our four-man commando team rounded the muddy bends of the quarry, all darting toward the music of the guns ahead. Suddenly, the lights of our transport truck and a flare suddenly illuminated us, and “index”—end of scenario—was called.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em. I had three or four as we talked through an after-action review (AAR) of the mission. The teams, the opposing force (OPFOR), and the observer/controllers (OC), reviewed the mission from all sides. On my side, I had to ask my team what happened. They said they had to move; it was now or never. I suspect that I was bait. Nonetheless, we received a warning order, and then prepped charges with the DES for our next mission. We were fixing to blow something up.

Objective two: Truck stop

SOFREP exclusive: Back on the ground with the Swiss militia
There is always time for a nap while riding in the back of a transport truck. Image courtesy of author.

Back on the truck, we moved to a point farther up the river. The mission was to raid an enemy staging area and destroy their vehicles. The organizational layout was the same, but on flat, yet marshy, terrain. We broke back into our teams as soon as we dismounted and moved out. Our team scrolled a footpath; this was clearly some kind of park, but the time was about 02:00, and it was unlikely that we would scare the locals.

The area and objective were easily identifiable via the marked trails on the map, but these avenues of approach were most like being observed by the OPFOR in waiting. Our team hung a far flank along the river, staying just off the trail until we were near the objective. We tried to find a covert path that would avoid a bottleneck. This was a dilemma, because all of the paths frequently intersected with pedestrian bridges, which would silhouette us and make us easy prey for any waiting ambush.

When we believed we were nearing our target area, we began to put on our A-game as we hit the dense woods. I was called up from rear security to be the point engineer through the forest again. The terrain was a shit-show, hindered by vines and muck on nearly every step. We then decided to head out onto a dirt pathway. The path worked in our favor as a fog greeted us from the river. Even in my state of heightened excitement, the mud and water in my boots brought a chill as the temperatures dropped sharply in those early morning hours. I knew the others felt that same discomfort, but we maintained a steady, slow pace to avoid creating much noise as we crossed the danger zones with NVGs scanning and bounding security.

Then, as suddenly as we started, we were there. At least we thought we were, but the enemy wasn’t there. On our bellies, we looked out, waiting for something to pop off. A flare, a machine gun, someone running up and screaming “Allahu Akbar,” but there was nothing in the soup except for the sound of a few frogs. Quentin checked the map, and there was an alternate target area. We raised ourselves back up, saving our bitching and moaning for later. There was still the chance that we could endure a surprise attack by someone lying in wait at this alleged primary objective.

Upon exiting that danger zone, we were funneled into a single route out. The areas to our left and right were covered in a thick growth that appeared to be honeysuckle bushes surrounded by trees. We were forced onto the trail. I was placed back on point as we inched forward through the darkness toward an X intersection of trails. The fog had not yet breached this far inland.

As I approached the intersection, I thought that I heard something, I’m wasn’t sure what. We halted and conducted SLLS. There was nothing else—no sounds, not anything. From there, we made it across the intersection without incident and ended up around the garden homes of the public. There was an unbeaten path ahead. Our plan was to take it in hopes of avoiding a collect call to Kenny Loggins. Using the trails of the intersection was clearly the highway to the danger zone.

Quentin steered us down this path. It was like walking into a haunted house. I was in the back of our column formation, on rear security, and looking back at the intersection as my team descended into a corridor of tangled branches that blacked out all light. A minute later, the horizon broke from the intersection and I turned around into nothingness. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I couldn’t hear anyone—only my own breathing. I wondered for a moment if I had somehow died. Maybe a live round had been mistaken for a blank, or the DES I was carrying went off. For a few moments, I grasped through the woods blindly. Suddenly, I found a new appreciation for the Grimm Brothers fairy tales, because this was most likely the woods they wrote about. I don’t mean that lame Disney bullshit, I’m talking about the original stories, and where pretty much everyone dies or is tortured horribly.

After a few more moments of contemplating my mortality and reality, I got a rifle barrel to the gut. It was Jacko, and it seemed that I was not the only one with misgivings about our current path. We were turning around. Ahead, I was welcomed by the moonlight and the promise of life. Wait, I thought, is it go into or stay away from the light? Apparently, it was go into the light, because we all escaped with our lives and then edged forward to the corner of the last garden house. Quentin motioned for us to stay put, and that he was going to scout ahead.

It took only a fraction of a second for our glorious leader to be gunned down by the OPFOR in the middle of that intersection. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. In immediate retaliation, the remaining team laid down a justifiable bout of hate on Quentin’s murderers, until the OC called the contact finished. Quentin was not happy; he had to sit out the remainder of the mission with the dead OPFOR, who almost immediately explained that the noise we had halted on was, indeed, them, and that we caught them completely off guard—we just didn’t see them. The OPFOR had taken the time we spent in the dark forest to lay an ambush. Luckily for the rest of us, they failed to wait until all of us were in the kill zone. The OC then had those of us still in the land of living conduct medical checks and enemy prisoner of war (EPW) searches for intel. There was nothing to be done or to be had, so we moved on.

We followed the danger-zone trail through the remains of the contact, past additional garden homes, where we negligently tripped a set of security lights. Fortunately, it went unchecked due to the traffic on the path by the OCs and OPFOR. Still, we did not take any chances, and moved off-route and in between the garden homes to the objective, and coincidentally, right on top of the bad guys. “Our route could not have been planned better,” I thought to myself as we approached the far side of their camp, which they designated for relaxation. The OPFOR clearly assumed that any attack would come from the road, or along the far side of the lake, which protected a third of their perimeter. But their one open flank was ours for the taking.

There was a downside to not having comms, because we did not know if the other teams were even alive, let alone on the objective. So we waited and fanned out alongside their unsuspecting flank and we stayed put, lingering not five meters away from them. At the low-ready, we stalked them as we conducted ourselves like a silent orchestra, positioning ourselves right on top of them, and without a word between us. The target area was teeming with OPFOR. From my point of view, I counted seven people in that encampment, but there was no indication if they were in or out of play, or even if they were all OPFOR. From within the camp, the headlights of several trucks beamed out, obstructing our vision and obscuring what laid beyond the trucks.

I was crouching and fingering my weapon as I peered into the camp and could hear my heartbeat in my ears. I knew it wasn’t a real raid, but there is still a certain rush about it. If I could have seen myself, I know that I looked impatient. We lingered there for 10 minutes, but there was no sign of the other teams. I could see that my impatience had spread. Jacko had managed to work his way over to the road and take up a firing position in the ditch, facing right up the OPFOR sweet spot—that is, except for whoever else was behind those lights. And then, the inevitable happened: A small detachment of OPFOR walked down the road and saw Jacko.

That was it, game on. Bob and I popped up and started taking them down. We were squirrelly for it. In quarter-cheetah flips, we rolled up and down with our rucksacks on, capping bad guys like hunchbacked assassins freshly escaped from the looney bin. Still, it was over as soon as it started. Outgunned, we died only minutes into the engagement. I was killed thanks to the headlights of one of the trucks, blinded on a corner as I assaulted through, shot dead by the OPFOR.

We waited about an hour before the other teams mopped up, and we were able to hold the AAR and reset for the next mission.

Objective three: Assault on Chateau Suisse

SOFREP exclusive: Back on the ground with the Swiss militia
Commando teams assault the MOUT village. Image courtesy of the author.

On the road again. The teams all caught a nap in the back of the truck as we drove to the start point for our final objective. Here, we held a tactical pause for breakfast, and enjoyed that packed-in pogey bait and some desperately needed coffee. Morning had officially arrived; it was a good time to catch up on what had been happening with the other teams and pose for a group photo of commando teams—Alfa, Bravo, and Charlie.

Our final mission was to capture an HVT from a local village. The outlook projected it to be a legendary Swiss firefight, the likes of which may never again be seen. We ran through the numbers again with a full operations order, then checked our kit and moved out in teams. Our team was to move to the western edge of the village from the south on a long “L” and establish a support-by-fire position to cover the other teams as they extracted the HVT.

This was set to be the longest movement of the exercise, and a map recon suggested a 10- to 15-kilometer stretch that depended on enemy activity in the area. Contact was expected and ISR suggested that there was substantial enemy activity in the area, with a heavy use of mounted patrols around the village. The village itself could also have been entirely populated by enemy combatants, as per the latest in ISR. We were alerted that OPFOR was not going to screw around at all on this one.

The walk itself was kind of a mixed bag, in that I admit that I was tired and my rucksack decided to stop being my friend. In retrospect, I can recall crossing through a wide variety of terrain as we held to trails, through a deciduous forest, scrolled a street, passed through a park, and made our way up a logging route. That is where we got sloppy. Even though we moved in pairs, providing cover, we were still moving in the open and on a road—susceptible to the largest known threat. Of course that threat then emerged at the worst possible time.

We were bounding along the road and up a hill when it happened. A truck approached from the rear and, by the time we heard it, it was already too late. As we made a mad dash for the trees, they were upon us—a loaded troop truck with every barrel pointed out the side and barking at us. Yet we were gaining distance through the trees, and getting organized on the move. When we eventually reached some elevated ground, we returned fire and began an appropriate withdraw, but there wasn’t anywhere to go. The terrain pushed us toward an ugly slope and we bunched up. Then Quentin got shot.

At first I simply dismissed him for dead, as his SimFass system was emitting a steady beep, but then the OC made it known that he was only injured. My reaction, in classic big dummy form was to go after him; thinking that the cover fire provided by two rifles could hold off a now dismounted truckload of OPFOR that was closing on our position. This may have been a slight miscalculation on my behalf. Even so, I ran back and grabbed onto Quentin to extract him, but just like that – I was now dead. This was a screw-up, as I should have left Quentin and bugged out with the team, to carry out our mission. Because soon after we were all dead…or so we thought. This is when Jackco went to the wilds, as a man on his own mission.

The rest of us loaded up on OPFOR’s truck to be deposited at the village for casualty collection, and to await the first iteration of the assault to complete. The first hit, and with assaulting commando numbers reduced across the board, it did not go well. The commando teams were slaughtered on their first go. But with a quick AAR, and official reset, we game-planned a direct and tri-axis assault, coupled with some interesting and impromptu aggressive tactics, such as slides and run-up and get your rifles through the windows. We eventually took the village, but with heavy casualties. Of course, if anyone is off to take a village with just some rifles, via only two possible concealed routes, with a 100-meter dash from concealment to your first piece of cover, against an enemy who is waiting in anticipation for you, you’re going to have a bad time, unless you have superpowers.

Despite the odds, the commando teams got in there and struck deep. Then we turned it around and defended against an OPFOR attack. For the defense, our team took up a reserve position in the northern woods to counterattack. We found a nice spot and took up positions about 75 meters into the woods behind some fallen trees. But as we settled in, there was a noise to our rear, then abruptly from out of the woods came Jacko, draped in a poncho like Darkwing Duck gone desperado. He emerged alone and with little explanation as to his whereabouts, although he seemed ready and took up a similar firing position.

It had seemed like we were going to wrap up our final iteration without incident, until the attack. OPFOR outnumbered us two to one, and the rifle fire from the commando teams in the buildings was not enough to cut them down. By the time we rushed from cover, OPFOR had taken the corner structure in the village. As we tilted our heads to set a quick game plan, Jacko had again vanished into the wilderness. We were not surprised by that point, and didn’t skip a beat. My teammate, Bob, was to run long to the back, and I was to buttonhook around the front.

This plan worked to a certain degree. That is, until Bob took a nosedive about halfway to his target. Somehow, around the time that I reached the front, Bob had recovered and opened fire. I then led my weapon in through the front door, taking a few with me before an unidentified OPFOR shot me, and then Bob. But our sacrifice disrupted their assault and we achieved a victory, for the sake of victory…and Switzerland.

End of exercise index was called, and we had a great AAR led by the exercise OIC, Major Flurry. The AAR was one of the better that I’ve seen, as there were no corners cut, a legitimate desire for feedback, and a willingness to learn and to improve. I was asked for my input throughout the exercise and at the AAR on a range of topics, and of course contributed as requested and offered insight. Even so, a critique only goes so far, and I know for a fact that I saw motivated soldiers with a willingness to learn who were training hard.

Jacko magically reappeared at the AAR; he can now be found posting pictures from different places throughout the world with Carmen Sandiego on social media.

SOFREP exclusive: Back on the ground with the Swiss militia
BOLO: Jacko. Image courtesy of the author.