Pat Tillman Essay
Situation Analysis of Tillman Story Stephen Stone Black Sheep, Tillman’s platoon, had to make it to Mana on time. However, they had an inoperable vehicle with them that had to bring back to the FOB, forward operating base. Black Sheep could not abandon the vehicle. There only viable option was to bring it to a nearby paved highway for a wrecker to pick it up. Luckily, they came across a local who could tow it to the highway. However, they ran into an another problem.
Whether to split the group or not; Either have the whole platoon escort the local to the highway, split the platoon and have one half escort the local while the other half continued on with the mission, or let the local tow it alone. Black Sheep’s leaders agreed that splitting the platoon would be inviting unnecessary danger and allowing the local to tow the vehicle alone was not even possible. However, the order came down from higher that the platoon would be split in order to stay on schedule. Black Sheep was split into two groups, Serial 1 and Serial 2.
Serial 2 will escort the local while Serial 1 continues on with the mission. During this time, there were several miscommunications between headquarters and the platoon. Serial 2’s original path was a difficult and harsh terrain. The local offered an easier and quick path that Serial 2’s leader agreed upon. The local took the front of the convoy and led Serial 2 along the newly decided path. However, they came upon indirect fire, which was later, identify as mortar fire. The local stopped and took cover, which resulted in blocking the convoy on the narrow strip of pass.
Serial 2’s members had to force the driver to drive in order to the convoy out of the danger zone. Serial 1 heard the firefight near Serial 2 and went towards it to provide fire. However, communications between Serial 1 and Serial 2 was never established during the incumbent firefight. As Serial 1’s members got into position, Serial 2 mistakenly Serial 1 as hostiles. During the firefight, Serial 1 was engaged with the PID, positive identification, of the enemy while calling out ceasefire towards Serial 2.
While all along, Serial 2 was engaged with who they believed was the enemy. Attached to Serial 1 was a AMF, afghan military force, soldier, who wasn’t properly briefed upon to the platoon. Serial 2 mistaken the AMF soldier as an enemy and Serial 1 members near him as hostiles, even though, neither Serial 1 member or AMF soldier were wearing the traditional uniform of the enemy and wearing US Army uniform. Tillman’s group was fire upon and hit. Most of the platoon was deafen by the firefight.
It took a few minute before Serial 2 recognized the ceasefire and the aftermath, in which they called for help. Black Sheep had two killed in action, KIA, and few injured from the firefight mainly due to the friendly fires. One of the contributing factors to the deaths in Black Sheep was the leaderships’ devotion to staying on schedule. Leadership continuously sacrifice ranger’s advantages in battle to make up lose time and get back on schedule. The leadership didn’t provide their men enough time to prepare for the mission or at least properly brief their squad.
For example, the AMF soldier was supposed to be introduce to the platoon, so friendly fire would not fall upon him like it did. The one of rangers’ standards of operation, SOP, is to operate at night in order to provide them the advantage over the enemy. At night, ranger has a huge advantage over the enemy through technology means and night takes away most of the control from enemy with roadside bombs. However, during the daytime, the enemy has an easy observation of US armed forces and optimal control of their use of roadside bombs and improvises explosive devices, IEDs.
I would have further delay the platoon to give the platoon time to brief. I would have stuck to the SOP and used the guises of night to move out. One of the main contributing factors for the outcome was communication. Communication between the platoon and headquarters, communication between squads, and communications inside the squads had several flaws. Headquarters didn’t establish properly with the platoon. Headquarters didn’t take any of the suggestion or opinions from the platoon leaders into account and stuck to their schedule.
Also, headquarters didn’t clarify on certain items nor didn’t the platoon make sure the intention of commander with items such as the route to the highway. Communications between squads were made hasty or were never established. During the firefight, the radio was crowded with Serial 2 taking to understand the situation so communication between Serial 1 and 2 was never established. Due to the noise from the firefight and time of day, verbal and visual communication for ceasefire and signs of friendly was not established in time. Communication within squads was never properly established.
If there was proper channels established, the radio might had been less crowded allowing room for Serial 1 to establish communication. Also, PIDs might have been properly established if communication was established with the squads. Due to the lack communication with Serial 2, there was no PID on the enemy, where Tillman was at, but Serial 2 continued to fire. I would’ve again allowed for more time to the platoon to establish and/or go over the protocols to use the radios, if the radio goes down, reminders of rules of engagement, to ask questions, and such.
The lack time and hasty movement contribute to the breakdown of communication which enflame the disarray that surrounded the firefight. I would have sacrifice the time in order to not send my platoon into unnecessary danger. Army doesn’t want to engage an enemy if we don’t not have an overwhelm advantage. We do not want to set up ourselves for failure. However, when the leadership of Black Sheep didn’t provide enough time to platoon to prepare and took away various advantages of the rangers in order to stay on schedule. The leadership was setting up the rangers for failure.