Wednesday, February 2, 2011

War Scenario. Part XXI

Part XX

Subhranjan took the radio again and inquired about ammunition status. As he had guessed, there were only 2 mortar rounds left. He ordered all except one mortar crew to abandon their positions and take up defensive positions with rifles around the perimeter.

“What are we going to do sir ?” Joginder asked tentatively. He was impressed by the intelligence and bravery shown by the young, inexperienced Lt and his respect for him had grown manifold in the last hour.

“Well, we wait here as long it's needed.” Subhranjan replied scanning the slope in front of him.
“I wonder how long that'll be.” Joginder thought to himself but kept quiet.

As if guessing his question, Subhranjan added, “As soon as our reinforcements arrive or it becomes too dangerous for us to stay here.”

Lying prone on their stomachs, they waited for enemy to come again. By this time, artillery fire from Paki side had reduced considerably. Indian counter-artillery fire had crippled many of their guns and the surviving guns had to be moved around to prevent them from meeting the same fate. Still an odd shell continued to streak in, but without much accuracy.

Both men waiting on the slope prayed to be spared of a lucky strike. They were both lying almost in open with little to protect them if a shell landed anywhere near them. So far they had been lucky. They had been waiting for 20 minutes when Joginder thought that he saw some movement. He zoomed in as much as the sights allowed and sure enough there was a large formation of Paki soldiers moving towards their position. They had learnt from their mistakes and were spread over a large distance. He cursed them under his breath and handed over the night vision goggles to Subhranjan.
Although the enemy was out of range of Indian mortars, they could still be targeted by 155mm guns. He contacted Base 1 and asked for artillery fire. He knew he had to use up as much as support as possible before Paki soldiers came too close to be targeted by the big guns. Artillery crew took 2 minutes to adjust their targets and fired air-burst shells over coordinates provided by Subhranjan. Instead of taking cover or retreating, paki soldiers this time ran towards source of fire.
"I guess they know for sure that our big guns can't fire if they come closer." Joginder remarked .

"Yes. I hope that our artillery takes out most of them before they pass that point."

"Me too. Though fat chance of that happening"

Although they took some causalities, Paki soldiers sprinted fast enough to pass the kill zone with 5 minutes. Now defence of peak lay solely on shoulders of Indians manning the peak.

"What now sir ? Mortars ?" Joginder asked in a worried voice as he observed Pakis running up the slope from both faces. This time they were using cover much more effectively, dodging and sprinting between rocks and ledges making them a difficult target

"We don't have any other option left. I'll direct those last mortars on Pakis coming from east. Take positions towards towards left of this group and pick off as many of them as you can with your rifle. I'll do the same from here. Retreat to our post if they come too close or if they have a fix on your position."

“What about the other group on the north ?”

“I guess we'll have to deal with them later. Now hurry.”

Joginder nodded and crawled towards the place pointed out by Subhranjan. He took cover behind a group of rocks and waited. Subhranjan ordered his mortar crew to standby and be ready to fire on his mark. He too took up a firing position and waited till the Paki group came right where he wanted. When they reached there, he carefully took aim and fired. Although he missed hitting anyone, sound of the shot caused everyone in the group to duck and take cover. As soon as it happened he ordered his mortar crew to fire off last of their mortars which they did with deadly accuracy. Even with most of them hiding behind rocks and ledges, 2 high explosive mortar rounds killed 2 and injured another 3. Realising their folly, Pakis immediately got up and resumed their ascent again. Both Subharanjan and Joginder opened fire as soon as they got up causing much confusion in Paki ranks. At first no one realised where the fire was coming from and they started firing blindly but they soon got a fix on the position and started to return fire. But it was not before before they had lost another 3 men. At this time, Joginder noted another group of Paki soldiers moving coming towards their direction and he relayed the information to Subhranjan.

Both men stopped firing and started running back towards the relative safety of their post followed by Paki invaders almost snapping at their heels. They took cover inside a trench lined by sandbags and started updating rest of the defenders with whatever intelligence they had gathered about the attackers. Subhranjan ordered every man to take good cover and put his eyes on the gun sights. Nobody was to fire until the enemy was well within the range and devoid of any benefit of cover. Indian soldiers checked their weapons for one last time and braced for the attack.

Machine gun post on the east was first one to report a visual on approaching Pakis, but they were still too far to be targeted accurately. Just a minute later, another soldier who had taken cover besides the damaged bunker in north reported visual contact on his side. Pakistanis were trying to sneak up by hiding their approach with smoke grenades and were almost successful except for the fact that there were fair number of night vision devices with the defenders. Another proof of how close the enemy was came when one of the Paki soldiers fired a rifle grenade in general direction of the Indian post. The projectile fell well short of Indian position and exploded harmlessly. Although jittery and highly strung, Indian soldiers kept their nerve and held fire.

“Sneaky bas***** want a fix on our positions and arc of fire before committing to an attack. Pretty clever for a bunch of Pakis.” Joginder instructed rest of soldiers through the comm radio, “let them come closer. Hit them with all you've got when you can see their eyes. Don't Pakis bringing up the rear escape either.”

Another rifle grenade was fired which again failed to reach anywhere near the post. “Steady. Steady. Don't let these monkeys bother you like that.” he hissed again, waiting for Pakis to come closer. Fingers on triggers twitched nervously as the soldiers on both sides waited. Indian defenders had the advantage of higher positions and better cover while Pakistanis had numerical superiority. Both sides were trying to make the best of what they had and neither wanted to reveal it's cards too early. For Pakis, firing rifle grenades was a way to get a fix on Indian positions and once found then find a path to either bypass those positions or to neutralise them. But Indians had refused to oblige and now Pakistanis had no choice except an all out frontal attack.Causalities will be high but that was unavoidable anyway.

Indians defenders watched nervously as attackers rapidly started converging within their sights. Though owing to distance and low light they were nothing more than dark ghost like figures approaching silently. Within minutes they had moved in so close that their eyeballs would've been visible if there was light. Subhranjan decided it was time and he ordered his men to open fire. Within a moment the almost silent peak was covered with flashes and explosions of the gun fire. Pakistani soldiers in the lead had no chance to either duck or take cover and were cut down without even firing a single shot. Survivors immediately dropped to the ground and started firing back. Quite a lot of them who had neglected to take cover behind a rock or ledge were killed in the next volley. Even those defenders without night vision devices had no difficulty in getting a fix on position of the attackers due to their muzzle flashes and they were showing no mercy. They were firing on exposed attackers and lobbing grenades on those who had taken cover. But there were too many Pakis and too large an area for handful of defenders to cover.Even as the defenders concentrated on the east and northern ingress routes, a party of attackers started advancing through the middle.


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