Paul Grahame: Fire Strike 7/9

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Paul Grahame Fire Strike 7/9
  • Название:
    Fire Strike 7/9
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Ebury Press
  • Жанр:
    nonf_military / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2010
  • Город:
    London
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    9780091938062
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    3 / 5
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‘Being a JTAC is the closest a soldier on the ground in the midst of battle can get to feeling like one of the gods — unleashing pure hellfire, death and destruction.’ — Duncan Falconer Meet Sergeant ‘Bommer’ Grahame, one of the deadliest soldiers on the battlefield. He’s an elite army JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller — pronounced ‘jay-tack’) — a specially trained warrior responsible for directing Allied air power with high-tech precision. Commanding Apache gunships, A-10 tank-busters, F-15s and Harrier jets, he brings down devastating fire strikes against the attacking Taliban, often danger close to his own side. Due to his specialist role, Sergeant Grahame usually operates in the thick of the action, where it’s at its most fearsome and deadly. Conjuring the seemingly impossible from apparently hopeless situations, soldiers in battle rely on the skill and bravery of their JTAC to enable them to win through in the heat of the danger zone. Fire Strike 7/9

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Sergeant Paul ‘Bommer’ Grahame and Damien Lewis

FIRE STRIKE 7/9

For

Corporal Paul ‘Sandy’ Sandford and Guardsman Daryl Hickey,

gone but not forgotten


And for all the British and Allied soldiers who have lost their lives

in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan


Honour the fallen

Merebimur — We shall be worthy’

Viret in Aeternum — It flourishes for ever’

Regimental mottos of The Light Dragoons

‘Stand Firm and Strike Hard’

Regimental motto of 2 MERCIAN

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Very special thanks to my then commanding officer at The Light Dragoons, Colonel Angus Watson MBE, for his invaluable support during the conception and writing of this book. Thanks to Captain James Kayll, also of The Light Dragoons, for his commitment and help in bringing this book to fruition, and to Major Antony Pearce, for all his friendship and support. My gratitude to all at my regiment, The Light Dragoons, for the comradeship and unstinting support over the years, and especially Sergeant Grant Cuthbertson, for getting me combat-ready in time for my Afghan deployment. All the staff at JFACTSU (Joint Forward Air Control Training and Standards Unit) deserve a very special mention, for their hard work in training me and others for the Afghan theatre. Very special thanks are due to Captain Chris Lane, Lance Bombardier Martin Hemmingfield, Lance Bombardier Ben Stickland and Bombardier Karl Jessop, my teammates in my Fire Support Team during our Helmand deployment. Without your help and enthusiastic support this book would not have been possible. Very special thanks also to Lieutenant Colonel Simon Butt, of 2 MERCIAN, the Officer Commanding (OC) of the unit in which I was embedded in Afghanistan. Your single-minded support and determination to help see this book through to fruition has been a battle winner in every sense. Very special thanks also to Major Stewart Hill, also of 2 MERCIAN, Commanding Officer during the last weeks of our Helmand tour, for your invaluable support and help. My gratitude also to Warrant Officer 2 Jason Peach of 2 MERCIAN, who was a tough and inspirational soldier to all, Sergeant Danny Fitzgerald of 2 MERCIAN, who did his utmost to make my job easier during the worst contacts imaginable and to all the soldiers of 2 MERCIAN whose commitment to win is exceptional. A note of thanks is also due to The Light Dragoons JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) presently in training and deployment, including Nick, Stu, Aldo and Wardy, for all your support. Further thanks are due to the JTACs who were deployed alongside me in Afghanistan, including Spunky, Dave, Reg, Chris, Si, Jamie, Stu, Bradders and Damo, who all had a hard and testing tour.

Special thanks also to our agent, Annabel Merullo, and to Tom Williams who works alongside her, for a guiding hand during the publishing process. Special thanks to our publisher, Andrew Goodfellow, and to all who worked on the lightning-fast production of this book — including Liz Marvin, Sarah Bennie, Caroline Craig and Alex Young. Thanks again to Alan Trafford, for his early reading of the manuscript. Sincere thanks also to David Beamont and Paula Edwards at the Ministry of Defence, and to Tim David, at HQ Land Forces, for your deft touch in helping to bring this book through to publication.

I would also like to thank my family, for all your support over the years — and for looking after me from the start (I know it wasn’t always easy). Finally, my very special love and gratitude as always to Nicola, Harry and Ella for your support and patience during the process of making this book happen. I could not have done it without you.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

During my six-month deployment to Afghanistan I was part of a Fire Support Team that included four fellow soldiers. Our team call sign was Opal Five Eight. As the Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) within Opal Five Eight, my baby was the air power — calling in the ground attack aircraft, fast jets, helicopter gunships and unmanned aerial vehicles that perform such a vital role in modern warfare. My story as told in this book concerns my tour as I fought it. Doubtless, calling in and controlling the fire of the field guns — the sister role of Opal Five Eight — played an equally important part in the battles we fought, but this is the story of my war, the lightning-fast air-to-ground battle.

I could not have done what I did as a JTAC without the support of my fellow warriors in Opal Five Eight, and I hope that is clear from the pages that follow. I have done my very best to ensure that all the events portrayed herein are factually accurate, and to portray the battles we fought realistically and as they happened. No doubt my memory, and that of my fellow soldiers, is fallible, and I will be happy to correct any inadvertent mistakes in future editions.

The high level of ordnance dropped was specific to the battle environment and bound to the threat we encountered during my deployment. Since then battle conditions have altered and new directives on the use of air support, such as the COMISAF directive, have meant that such a high level of ordnance usage is no longer the norm.

In the latter weeks of my Afghan tour, the regiment that I was embedded with, 1 Worcester and Sherwood Foresters (1 WFR), was amalgamated into 2 MERCIAN Regiment. I have used the name 2 MERCIAN throughout this book, for simplicity’s sake, and because that is the name by which the regiment is now known.

We have made every effort to identify the copyright holder of all the photographs used herein, and credit them accordingly. If there are any mistakes or errors in doing so, we will happily correct them in future editions.


A donation will be made by the authors from the proceeds of this book to: Tickets for Troops, Combat Stress, Help for Heroes, The Light Dragoons Charitable Trust and 2 MERCIAN Regimental Benevolent Fund.

‘We fought and died together in Afghanistan. The ethos was look after your mate and your mate will look after you, and we built it up from there. We dropped danger-close dozens of times. That’s not how we trained for it, but that’s how it had to be done on the ground, to win battles. And to say that we did those danger-close drops at night dozens of times and had no casualties — that says how effective the ground-toair relationship was. At the end you’ve all trusted each other with your lives and formed an unbreakable bond — there’s nothing ever that will come close to that’

Major (now Lieutenant Colonel) Simon Butt, Officer Commanding, B Company 1 WFR (now 2 MERCIAN)

Map

One

LIVE TO KILL

There it was again. Movement. A smudge of black amongst the shadows of the woodline. The shape of a male fighter? The flicker of a turban or a robe? Or just an animal?

Sticky nudged me in the ribs. ‘You see it? Black flash between two trees. Wood strip, two hundred metres due east on the demarcation line.’

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