The company assault on the poor little ambulance started as all others do – with a Warning Order, or WARNO. The company gathered in the Tactical Operation Center (TOC) to receive a heads up that we would be going out, the basic flow of the mission, which squads would have which tasks, and when the full Operation Order (OPORD) would be issued.
As a squad leader, it was my job to write an extract for the execution portion of the OPORD. This would detail my squad’s place in the operation, showing everyone what route we would take, what we would do along the way
and what units would be on either side of us.
You can see my notes for the OPORD in the photo at right. The page on top contains my notes from the WARNO we received, and the page below was my plan that I briefed back to the company.
During the OPORD briefing, the command staff gave us any updates to the current situation and each squad presented their extract. Through this process, each squad learns what the tasks of the other units will be and where they will be during each phase of the operation. Last, the command staff provided each of the code words for the operation and closed with some last minute logistical information. We were released to make last minute preparations and given our step off time.
Roughly 30 minutes before step off, our squad lined up in our M151 Mutts, ready for the rest of the company to fall in. We would be driving with NODs and convoy lights. For those who don’t know, convoy lights are small lights (very small) that help vehicles keep proper spacing while driving without headlights. If you get too close to the vehicle in front of you, you’ll see 4 distinct bulbs in the lights ahead of you. If you drift too far back, you’ll only see 1. The trick is to stay in that pocket where you see 2 bulbs. It’s a simple solution to convoy driving at night and it’s actually quite ingenious.
So there we sat, slowly more and more vehicles lining up behind us. We went over our mission details, callsign and password and all the radio code words. I was nervous, but I wasn’t about to let my squad know that. The pressure was on, if any one squad failed their part of the mission or even got off schedule, the entire operation would get out of sync, leaving units without necessary security or assistance. Time would tell if this would be a big success or just another successful WARPAC ambush.
Thanks to Arbee for the use of his photos!