Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SSG Miller MOH, Pt. 3

Pavel Sidorenko (Estonia)

SSG Miller MOH Pt 3:
Things Don't Line Up


As the battle reaches its conclusion, inconsistencies and questions stack up:

"Throughout the engagement, the insurgent fire around Staff Sgt. Miller was so intense that his fellow team members could not see him due to the dust, debris, and RPG and small arms fire impacting around him. During the ensuing 25-minute battle, Staff Sgt. Miller was mortally wounded by a second gunshot to his upper torso under his left arm. Despite suffering a second and fatal wound, Staff Sgt. Miller remained steadfast and continued his selfless acts of heroism. He provided essential disposition and location reports of insurgent actions and he relentlessly fired his SAW until he expended all of his ammunition and threw his final hand grenade."

If there was no visual contact between the ODA element and SSG Miller, how can we be assured that he was not killed by friendly fire? The ANAs carry the same weapons as the enemy. This would not be the first time that friendly data as been twisted to fit the official narrative. Though speculative, it is a valid question. The situation is anomalous and defies logical infantry evaluation.

"At the first opportunity, members of Staff Sgt. Miller’s team bound up to his position to render aid and recover him. Enemy reinforcements overwhelmed the recovery team with direct fire causing the team to seek cover. During the recovery attempt, the enemy’s precision was clearly evident as team members sustained multiple hits from small arms fire to their body armor and equipment."

This still was not effective enemy fire. If it were, the team would have suffered KIA's. SSG Miller was the lone casualty.

"Approximately an hour and 45 minutes later, a quick reaction force arrived, which allowed the ODA to lead a patrol back into the valley to recover Staff Sgt. Miller. As a testament of the enemy’s tenacity, the quick reaction force sent to assist with recovery operations sustained additional casualties from intense direct RPG and small arms fire. Because of the enemy’s dominance of the terrain and potential for loss of additional lives, the patrol was forced to use its second CCP and two MEDVACs."

When it takes a QRF 1 hour 45 minutes to respond to a call for help, there is a remarkable criticism here. A QRF should be dedicated, combat-ready with transportation on-station. Why the delay? Why was the engaged unit so far from mutual support?

Was the planning and execution of this mission realistic and grounded in basic rules of ground combat? Units should not be thrown out piecemeal to be chewed up by concentrated enemy elements.
Why didn't intel know about these enemy dispositions? Where were the visual or photo recons of the route? Was this operation a shot in the dark, or planned and considered in a professional and soldierly manner? Did the ODA Commander have control of the maneuver element? Why would the untested, unknown ANA forces be sent into such reported fire? Why would a Special Forces element? Tactics imply something other than suicidal action.

"Post-battle intelligence reports indicate that in excess of 140 insurgents participated in the ambush, more than 40 were killed and over 60 were wounded. Staff Sgt. Miller is credited with killing more than 16 and wounding over 30 insurgents. His valor under fire from a numerically superior force, complete selflessness and disregard for his own life, combined with his unmatched ability to accurately identify and engage insurgent positions, allowed his patrol to move to the safety of covered positions."

SSG Miller is credited with killing or wounding 46 fighters reportedly in superior fighting positions. Assuming that he carried 300 rounds for his SAW, this means he hit flesh 46 times out of 300 -- a 1:6 ratio. This is astounding accuracy from a squad auto weapon. Especially since the area was reportedly covered by explosions and dust that kept the team from maintaining visual contact.

"Staff Sgt. Miller’s selfless acts saved the lives of his seven of his ODA members and 15 Afghan soldiers. As a result of Staff Sgt. Miller’s heroic actions, the Gowardesh Insurgency was dealt a crippling blow, decimating insurgent forces involved in the battle, and shattering their morale and confidence. Staff Sgt. Miller’s actions exemplify the honored tradition of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, Special Operations Task Force–33, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force–Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and the U.S. Army."

Summary: This was a classic meeting engagement in which friendly forces had every indication this would be an ambush site. A prudent Commander would have developed the situation and made a correct military decision not to conduct a hasty attack, as they unfortunately attempted.

The doctrinal course of action was clearly indicated: Fall back and conduct a planned attack with additional assets. Instead, this became a totally reactive, fragmented hasty reaction, leaving the initiative to the enemy. Due to the combat power of the hostiles, SSG Miller's one-man symbolic attack had no military significance. His U.S. comrades were not in the kill zone. We mourn his death, all the moreso for its needlessness.

Tomorrow: Closing thoughts

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Blogger FDChief said...

The more I read your account of this patrol, jim, the odder it gets.

What was the maneuver commander thinking, dividing his command, placing one element, the weakest, at the point and out of supporting distance, and then diddy-bopping up the road into a known enemy AO?

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but was there something going on here that we're not hearing about? Did, say, ODA331 move into this area to make some sort of contact with someone identified to them as a Chieu Hoi, someone who supposedly wanted to rally to the Kabul government? Were they told "Send one man in with the ANA, we won't deal if you send in a full A-team?"

I end up trying to come up with some bizarre James Bond scenario like that because otherwise the account just reads like a total fuckup. They blunder into a prepared kill zone, the ANA does their best ARVN imitation, poor Miller ends up running around alone trying to shoot up a company-sized element and eventually dies, the only man in the whole patrol who does.


I mean, the guy died hard; he was a pretty ballsy SOB. But I've been reading about this Gowardesh place, and it sounds like its bandit country and always has been. I doubt that 40 or so dead muj had "demoralized" the bloodthirsty hill thieves that run in these mountains, heroism or no.

Sad, really. There's no reason this guy had to die alone out there. His commanders fucked him hard.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 1:28:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I am a dubious dude.
My analysis is just one pov, but i stand behind it, knowing that my position though defensible it is not tenable.
The ohahh crowd will do their usual stuff, but the questions are valid.
For example- SOCOM has lied to us in the Tillman case, so why not here??
We ONLY KNOW WHAT THEY TOLD US OF THIS SCENARIO.This does not make it true or accurate.
My sense, and this is purely subjective as a former Infy and SF officer is that this guy was not responsive to the Commander, and if he was, then why didn't the CDR pull him back in before he got in a pure load of shit.?
If your scenario is to be considered then SSG Miller would've been more lightly armed.
Nodody goes to a jawin' packing a SAW. That's not conducive to trust.
I can't wonder what is so special in Special forces when one stops to think about it.
This was a keystone kops production.
Thanks for staying the course.
I appreciate the dialogue.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 10:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I must clarify my tenable remark.
I wrote this knowing that my view WILL NEVER BE ACCEPTED as a possibility by the majority of people.
It's just to much for people to even ask any questions of the system.
As back up i saw Restrepo and Tillman at a local theater and i/we were the only people in the audience. The screen next door was crowded. Entertainment trumps reality.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 11:09:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, "Restrepo" has generated lots of comments on Col. Lang's blog.

Whenever I hear/see one of our troops singled out as a "hero" I immediately suspect a lie and/or a cover-up by the higher-ups. I think about Jessica Lynch in Iraq and Wanat in Afghanistan along with the Pat Tillman debacle.

Jay in N.C.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 10:25:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I usually stay away from the other military blogs because i do not want to cross fertilize, but thanks for the input. I'm sure our readers may be interested in Col. Langs entries.

Friday, December 17, 2010 at 11:47:00 AM GMT-5  

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