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Friday, July 31, 2009

The Tank Company That Was Not There

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

A little story from my days in the Army.

While I was attending the Infantry Officer's Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, one of the training events was a large "wargame". As part of this, the various officer students were divided into headquarters, with the various students being given different roles. In my particular case, I was assigned the job of being the Brigade Intelligence Officer. Not a good job to have in such a game (seriously), as you are pretty much just "making reports" and everyone otherwise pretty much ignores you. But since I was there I tried to do the best I could.

At one point in "the battle" an enemy tank company was reported to be moving more or less across our front (going from our right to our left as we were looking at the board). This unit then "disappeared" (none of our "units" could see it). Some time later an attack helicopter unit arrived on station to support our operations. The "Brigade Commander" and the "Brigade Operations Officer" had no idea what to do with it, and querying the various "Battalion Commanders" drew general comments that they could not use the unit at that point. The Brigade Commander was about to release the asset (since it would run out of fuel and have to leave in a little bit in any case) when I intervened and requested that the unit be sent to a cross roads just to the left of center of our front line. The Brigade Commander decided to humor me, the result being that the Helicopters found and destroyed an enemy tank company that "no one knew was there".

Most of my contemporaries seemed to take an attitude that if they could not see it, it was not there and was not their problem. I had been watching the whole battle, and was concerned the moment that Tank Company had vanished, and had worked out that it was probably going to follow a particular road to our left and join in an attack there, and had kept a mental note of about how far it had probably moved. That paid off.