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Operation North Star 07-17-2008

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  • Operation North Star 07-17-2008

    On July, 17th, 2008 a platoon size force of nearly 30 soldiers sprang to activity from their Forward Operating Base, Stinger in the far northern reaches of the obscure Atlantic island of Sahrani. The units stationed at Stinger had been offensively dormant for weeks due to supply shortages and the constant threat of SLA attack outside the wire. However, in the pre-dawn hours of a warm July day a single platoon, complimented by three armed Strykers and three UH-60L armed with M260 rocket pads, which due to supply troubles remained empty of their lethal ordinance crossed into the dense forest and intimidating mountains of the remote island.
    Among their multitude of objectives was to re-secure a platoon of M-1A1 Abrams tanks which were ambushed and captured a week earlier on patrol in between the tiny hamlets of Ixel and Benoma
    At 0200 hours the air assault began as a skilled UH-60 pilot inserted a reconnaissance squad in the heights east of Mastbete. For months Mastbete has been an SLA stronghold with intelligence estimates of several mobile anti-aircraft artillery pieces, most likely the feared Russian Shikia, numerous fixed artillery pieces, a company of mechanized infantry and fuel storage of up to 14,000 gallons.
    The reconnaissance team quickly came under heavy fire from entrenched enemy and sporadic artillery rounds, they sustained numerous killed and wounded. An early attempt to reinforce the position failed when a Stryker drove off the road in the darkness and became disabled on a jagged rock formation.
    Quick work by the base's helicopter crews positioned an entire platoon in a supporting position, dominating the coastal urban hub. As the platoon moved into the city they encountered only light resistance, and quickly secured and destroyed the SLA's fuel storage facility. Among the neutralized SLA equipment was at least one Shikia anti-aircraft platform, a battery of D-30 cannons and at least ten SLA regular army personnel. It was clear the majority of SLA forces had already retreated to Pita, or their military installation near Ixel.
    After securing the SLA's petrol supply, the entire platoon turned southward down Colonial Route 11. In the past months the road has seen numerous dramatic SLA ambushes, including rapid infantry attacks and improvised explosive devices. As the platoon moved down the winding mountain pass to definitively assault the SLA's Ixel base and rescue captured Abrams the platoon encountered occasional machine gun fire from fixed positions, and sustained a few causalities. However, with the exception of a lone sentry the Ixel base was deserted and all friendly equipment was recovered.
    Despite these initial successes the night was still young for the platoon, their next target would be the political hub for Northern Sahrani, Pita. Aside from being home to the oppressive Northern regime, Pita also sports an improvised airfield making aerial defense possible.
    By 0500 the platoon had taken up offensive positions in the woods to the east of Pita, and a special forces group led by Beta had encircled a SLA barracks south of the town. By 0510 the assault commenced as the special forces unit moved to neutralize the SLA's reserve capacity, however, the initial attack was repelled by machine gun fire from a number of guard towers. Throughout the battle the platoon has supported by constant aerial resupply from courageous Blackhawk pilots, which despite receiving numerous hits, continued flying.
    Within twenty minutes the airfield had been secured, and the government offices had been cleared, despite the high causality rate the symbolic home of the SLA had been liberated. But, offensive maneuvers were not finished.
    The platoon, with the attached special forces group were flown outside of Eponia to make a push against armor units positioned there. The elite special forces group, consisting of Beta, Ben, Jorge, Jeepo and Sam Hoy began clearing Route Zulu into the city, while the rest of the platoon pushed directly into town. Within minutes the platoon's loose formation was fractured by incoming tank fire. And as the disorganized unit attempted to secure a stronghold on the city they were repulsed multiple times before finally securing buildings on the far west side to increase their incursion from.
    The special forces unit, however, pushed SLA perimeter units into a final stand at Hill 66 north of Eponia. As the commando force was mounting their final assault up the hill, the fortress's defender's desperate pleas for reinforcements were answered when a lone BMP-2 breached the main US line and began firing on the Beta's team on the foot of the hill. Quickly the special force's deployed M136 anti-tank missiles against the armor, disabling it and paving the way for the hill to finally be captured.
    A great tragedy occurred next when a Blackhawk carrying sorely needed anti-tank ammunition was ambushed by a singular anti aircraft unit near a landing zone north of Eponia killing all on board, there were five US crewmen killed.
    After securing Hill 66, the special forces unit moved swiftly along a ridge line into a massive estate overlooking Eponia. From this position the commandos brought automatic weapons fire and anti-tank fire with devastating effect on the remaining SLA. At least one T-72 was destroyed.
    Once Eponia was methodically secured the platoon and special forces group rendezvoused at an abandoned factory complex in southern Eponia. From here the platoon commander Bricks ordered patrols sent to Mercailio and Obregan where intelligence reported as many as three additional T-72 tanks were stationed.
    Mercailio was secured by a detachment without a fight, however as the special forces approached Obregan they visually identified a T-72 and attempted to engage it with multiple M136 rockets. However, the first rocket malfunctioned, and in the commotion, an element approached the tank and were subsequently attacked resulting in multiple casualties. A second attempt saw the tank completely destroyed, the third that night for the detachment. The second engagement occurred from the rooftop of a warehouse where Javelin gunner Jeepo engaged a T-72 at 600 meters and destroyed it.
    As the bright morning sun began to peak over the eastern mountains, the towns of Mercailio and Obregan had been secured by US forces establishing a firm defensive presence in Northern Sahrani. By mid morning the lone US platoon which suffered nearly 30% causalities would be relieved by a recently trained RACS company flown in from Somato. Despite the high physical and emotional cost the unit's objectives had been accomplished, and they would get a few hours of rest at FOB Stinger before they would be deployed again to patrol the coast near the capital city, Corazol.



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