In the weeks before the initial push into the city, it seemed like the sky was falling, and everyone around me was chicken little. Nobody knew for sure what was about to happen, or when it was going to happen. We were told simply to pack enough for a few weeks away from the FOB, and be ready to go at the drop of a hat.
The feints began in these weeks. It was then that we first heard the words 'Operation Phantom Fury.' The feints were meant to confuse the insurgents; we would attack them from one direction, then pull out and leave them alone for a few days, and attack again from a different direction, leaving them wondering where and when we would strike next. The first feint we took part in seemed massive at the time; there were countless vehicles - including AAVs, Abrams and Bradley tanks, HMMWVs, 7-tons, and LAVs - all lined in a funeral precession of cold steel and raw destructive power.
At this time, we were instructed simply to be ready to jump in to action only if needed. We were in the rear of the line, and a good distance from the city when the first shots were fired. We had kept the top hatch open to allow the immense heat from the AAV's exhaust to escape, and now we were fighting for a view of the fighting. There wasn't much to see from our distance; a few stray tracer rounds here and there, but not nearly the show we would be in for in the days to come.
The second feint promised to be more eventful. We were going south where there were reports of a mine field, and it was our job to clear the mines and create a lane, or a marking system for safe passage through the mine field. We practiced this for several days before going in - Edwards and Jordan on one side of the lane, McFaden and me on the other. McFaden and Jordan would place stakes with chem-lights in the ground, then Edwards and I would follow behind with stake drivers to pound them in. This would, of course, mean we had to subject ourselves to being blown up by mines that had escaped the blased of the Line Charge, which Cannon was in charge of launching ahead of us. Needless to say, though we were all excited to do our jobs, there was an unspoken nervousness that we all felt - what if one of us went down in the middle of a minefield?
On a somewhat unrelated note - it was on one of these training days that G2 and I had a friendly competition to see who was a better fly killer. Neither of us were particularly declaired the winner, but I should like to think that I totaled a few more kills than he did that day.
The day of the second feint, only a few uneasy words were spoken among us.
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