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Mission 20 -Tactical Considerations
Freedom's Heroes: Rangers Lead the Way

The attack happened at 7:30pm. That's a pretty important element when you're looking at this mission, and it's one that clues you in to the fact that the ambush was probably planned. Dawn and dusk are the ideal times for an ambush. The type of light you experience at those times really conceals the enemy's muzzle flashes. During the day you have a full range of sight, and at night you have the advantage of nightvision and the direct flashes of fire to guide you. But you lose those abilities at dusk and dawn, making them the optimal times to assault.

Once the rear was attacked, there are certain convoy patrol tactics that the Rangers would have employed. Because this didn't appear to be a flanking force, they were probably counting on speed to get them across the terrain. But once he heard the attack, The lead element turned back. And that's the appropriate response. That's what you're trained to do. You always attack the ambush. You run right into it because it's the beginning of a kill sack when they've ambushed the tail end of your convoy. Your guys are surrounded, and they can't move the vehicle. So the whole platoon gets out and charges the ambush. And the unit leaders knew if he didn't turn back, that those guys were probably going to die.

It might sound a little counterintuitive, but the Rangers do exactly what they're taught. They turn back, take the high ground, and assault the ambush. Your speed of reaction is everything here. There is no strategy. There's no pause. You've got to get there and put fire to it. It's such a quick response and everything happens so fast because the soldiers are instantly reacting as they've been trained over and over. Everyone is jumpy, waiting for the next ambush. The low light is confusing, and it compounds the chaos. As you can imagine, it's pretty ugly.

Being a Special Operations team, the Rangers might have the advantage of reacting more quickly to the situation because, mentally, they're trained so well. But they aren't equipped with the best ambush weapons. Rangers use close assault guns, not the heavier weaponry conventional troops might be armed with. And maybe that's a factor as to why they got in the line of fire. They had to close the range in, to choke up a bit more to accurately and aggressively counter the assault.

As scary as it is to run into an ambush - where there's always the assumption of casualty - it's really the only way to effectively handle the situation. If you tried to maneuver your way out, you'll only react according to their script, in a fashion the enemy is predicting you will, and it will land you in a worse place. We learned in Vietnam that you've got to cause the ambush to fall apart. It was their duty - as it was every other Ranger's duty - to assault the ambush.