Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chapter 53: Making a move

After breakfast I wondered down to the range, just keeping an eye on things as the training got started.

I wasn’t really surprised by the fact that most of the guys were not very good with hand-guns on the range. They were almost all ex-military and had focused on assault rifles and larger weapons. There were a very few who performed decently, but they were invariably either ex Special Forces or had received post military training, either as part of a sport activity or as a result of the work that they had done. There were a large number who had spent a number of years working in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had heard somewhere that at one stage there were more South Africans working for PMCs in Iraq than the entire official contingent of the British Army; some eight thousand or so.

The skills represented by these guys ranged the spectrum and I knew I was luck to have access to this bunch as a lot of them were at loose ends with the war in the Sandbowl slowing down and the clampdown on the utilisation of PMCs.

We had some nice exercises set up to test, teach and stretch the abilities of all skill levels. In the normal run of things, my first concern was with safety. Teaching it and ensuring that all actions on the range were by the rules so that we could avoid any accidents. I was really pleased to see that I didn’t have to worry about that with these guys. They had a relaxed professionalism about them that could be deceiving. There was a fair amount of horsing around, but it was good natured and generally involved the natural competiveness of any group of men. More often than not, the teasing was aimed at pointing out faults or prompting someone to try harder to improve their performance.

As the morning progressed, I could see a definite improvement in everyone’s performance on the exercises, and some had even moved on to the more involved exercises, primarily the “transition drills” where the aim was to use both a rifle and a handgun. The range was designed to force the participant to make a choice between the weapons depending on the type of target and the drill involved dropping the rifle to hang from its combat sling, draw the hand-gun and shoot, then holster the hand-gun and retrieve the rifle to engage the next target, all within a matter of seconds. I had taken careful mental notes when visiting the Blackwater range in North Carolina as a guest a few years before and, within my limited budget, reproducing some of the best features of the training I had experienced there.

Just before lunch Bird and Johnny approached me and we sat down to discuss their operations.

“I’ve got a preliminary listing of groupings and teams for you Boss,” Bird started, handing me a clip-board. I took a few minutes to look it over and approved what he had put together. I knew we would have some changes as the teams shook themselves down and Bird observed how they worked together. I wasn’t too concerned about the assault teams yet as we would have some time to work on them more before they were needed.

“What about your side Johnny?” I asked him.

“Ok. Gerrie is displaying his usual smug brilliance, but it’s just weird how differently he is behaving now that there is a female hanging around him,” Johnny said with a slightly bemused look.

“I think Katie is doing more than hanging around. From what I can see, she is soaking up everything that Gerrie is doing and it looks like she has the potential to actually be at least his apprentice if not a full partner.”

“Yes, that’s what’s so weird. It seems as if Gerrie is actually teaching someone else… revealing his closely held secrets. I never thought I would see the day …”

“Well, as long as he keeps focused. Something you seem to have trouble with at the moment..” I teased Johnny.

“Sorry. Anyway, I have been going over the ELINT of Gerrie’s and I agree so far with his initial assessments. I have a tentative list of priorities for observation and I sat with Bird to work out who should be allocated where. You can see on his list where he has marked the person from each team for Recce work, he has allocated a number. Each number relates to the list of targets on the next page.”

I paged over on the clip-board, then flipped back and forwards as I considered the choices that the two had made. After going through the lists, I looked up at Johnny and smiled. “Looks great Johnny. Good work the two of you.”

I went on to explain to them what I had arranged as far as kit was concerned and discussed some of the options that I had considered for concealment while the teams were observing the targets. Johnny and I went back and forth for over an hour thrashing out how we wanted to approach it and what we thought would work with the least risk and the greatest benefit. I was surprised when Daise tapped me on the shoulder to remind me that I needed to eat lunch.

1 comment:

mjkj said...

Thanks for the update :)