1/ I guess most of the people will never truly understand what it’s like being in constant mortal peril. Being in an invariable state of danger and alertness takes its toll on you and you pay the price every moment of everyday your miserable self is alive even long after it’s
2/ all over and you’re “safe”. What the fuck does being safe even mean?
Being a soldier, I’m constantly expected to be a tough guy and suck it up but fuck, we are all a little scared and constantly anxious now - courtesy COVID-19. I was really disappointed when I read some of
3/ the responses to my story last time I had shared my personal experiences. Some keyboard jihadis tweeted back calling me a coward merely because I mustered the courage to share my actual feelings every time a bullet had passed me by and every time, I had found myself in
4/ unbelievable situations. To be fair sometimes, I didn’t even believe them myself, so I guess there’s that. It was surreal part of my life. Every one of those 918 days in FATA.
And now as I’m sitting in my cozy studio, sipping on an expensive Shiraz – listening to Chopin (I
5/ know, so very posh) and oceans away from that godforsaken place, I guess I should be glad it’s all over. It’s anything but.
I vividly remember every hour of every day I had spent there even though I was stoned most of the times. But you have to understand, you ought to be
6/ stoned there in order to survive and witness what you see. Therefore, every single person from the officers to the jawans, FC, Levies and most of all the fucking Taleban, is always high. Difference is, some are high on Charas, some on Wardi and some on Religion.
Anyway, I
7/ shall now be sharing my firsthand account of the early stages of deployment *cracks knuckles*.
 It was the beginning of the summer of 2011 when my unit was earmarked for FATA. When the news broke, it was as if kingdom come. Everyone was in a state of hypnosis. We had
8/ recently received an NLI regiment which had just come back to the cantonment after a couple of years in FATA and had lost a lot of soldiers even though they are considered one of the most ruthless regiments in the army hence we were petrified. Just before the news had
9/ broken, there was this “Langar Gup” about our unit being selected for a UN mission and everyone was so sure and excited that people had started preparing and getting their affairs in order. The unit is yet to be selected for a UN mission LOL!
Now, instead of preparing for
10/ the UN mission, we were preparing for war. That also included many trips to the Karkhano market and purchasing some ahem, NATO supplies and whatnot. Our unit comprised of quite a few young officers – Lieutenants and Captains and we borrowed a few more from other units.
11/ That was the only silver lining during this whole debacle. That “Band of Brothers” feeling and pledging to give our lives for each other -Later of course, a few of them turned out to be dickheads who left their men and fellow officers in the line of fire, we don’t like
12/ them but there were also some very brave men who actually put their lives on the line for me and I for them. Goes without saying that I love them and the bond goes deep - There were jokes about who was going to die first and we would laugh at the time but deep down,
13/ everyone was scared shitless. Being the youngest officer in the unit and having just won the assault course competition in the division at the time, I was given the Alpha team and was given the “privilege” to choose anyone from our unit. I chose a known group of
14/ delinquents from the unit who would always be on punishment.
Besides the fact that this type of soldiers don’t really give a fuck about their careers, I was also more sympathetic towards them having received the same treatment back in my PMA days. Some of them had not gone
15/ to their villages in a couple of years due to pending murder charges, some had not been promoted due to their candour and some had run away with a girl from a different clan. On the risk of sounding sexist, It takes balls to run away with a girl from an outside clan. For
16/ some of you who may not know, your nikahnama becomes a sure shot death warrant.
Anyhoo, our convoy left the eastern border and reached the western border in about 5-7 days, stop-staying and receiving “bara khana” on the way from different brigades. It was like we were
17/ being fed badly prepared large meals just before the ultimate sacrifice. It was all very – morbid.
Fast track to having spent a month in Mohmand agency and our unit experiencing walkovers in different valleys, we started being complacent. There was news about patrols from
18/ different units being attacked and a few casualties here and there but nothing very serious *eye roll*. We thought we were being extra vigilant and were well prepared therefore we were always two steps ahead of the enemy (no shit). Little did we know that the game hasn’t
19/ even begun yet. We had no idea what awaited us ahead and we were not prepared. But then I guess no one ever really is - you sort of learn everything on the go.
In one of the valleys in Mohmand agency, there was this plateau, let’s call it Top X. This top was given as a
20/ task to another battalion to be cleared off terrorists and it was right on the Afghan border. That battalion would always try and climb halfway through, get fired upon heavily, lose men and retreat (repeat 5-6 times). SSG was then tasked to clear Top X but the SSG unit
21/ that was in the area, had already overstayed their tenure therefore would always make excuses and blame the fucken moonlight. Our brigade then suggested that our CO takes up this task to which he was hesitant at first but then shared this ordeal with the company commanders
22/ who straightaway refused, as it was not our area of responsibility. He then called me and one of the other officers who was a diehard SSG fan. He actually dropped out off the SSG in the last week of training due to a spine issue (What a fucken KKG). But, in his head, he
23/ had still joined a commando battalion and would treat everyone as if he was an SSG officer. You really have to be in the army or would have had at least seen the movie Jarhead or Full metal Jacket to really understand what kind of figure I’m talking about here. Nobody in
24/ our unit gave a shit and he was made fun of all the time but overall he was a really good bloke and we did become friends. Anway, (pardon my ADHD) our CO asked us if we could do it and we were like, “kiun nahi sir, ham to bc paida hi isi din k liay huay thay”. The D day
25/ was then set.
We did some aerial recce for a few days and planned our operation. Took the most difficult approach and I shit you not, it was like mountain climbing with all the military gear and heavy weapons in the face of sure shot death.
I developed severe diarrhoea and
26/ fever on D – 1day (the day before) and was at my lowest during my whole stay in the Ops area but I couldn’t tell anyone for obvious reasons. Took a few Panadols and Flagyl and soldiered on. I gave the worst motivational speech in the history of motivational speeches and
27/ after that I didn’t talk to anyone the whole way up. On the way up, my section of men was cursing me “Sir bhenchod yehi rasta lena tha?”  The SSG officer was climbing parallel to my section with another section of a dozen troops, give or take. We started climbing an hour
28/ before the sunset and to be honest, it was a beautiful evening of June. The vegetation on the mountain was lush green the fucking birds were chirping; I could hear a distant waterfall but all I could think about was my diarrhoea. I kept on praying lord please don’t make me
29/ shit my pants – that would be embarrassing. We kept on climbing the steep climb and suddenly a couple of Cobra helos approached the top to soften the target, their 35 mm shells started falling on our helmets. Everything was in slow motion and the sound of brass hitting our
30/ helmets was just like toccata and fugue in D minor. This gave us a bit of hope and we kept on climbing. Around midnight, we were about half an hour away from the top.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the mountain, we had the battalion that was originally tasked to do this
31/ operation, do a similar climb only this time not climb ahead of where the Taleban had fixed their heavy weapons. We had requested them to do some fake activity for the place we intended to fight must not be known to the enemy. That’s some deep Sun Tzu type shit so please
32/ appreciate my master plan.
Back to my location, we were about 15 minutes away from the top. Our Base of Fire from the ground were pounding the top. I found a spot where I could comfortably put one leg and tie my hand with a rifle sling on a branch and take a nap for ten
33/ minutes. I had almost dozed off when I heard my radio and the SSG officer said that he’s going to go and attack the Taliban with two of his men. I was like WHAT THE FUCK! Knowing him, I knew he was going to get himself killed, compromise our location while we were sitting
34/ ducks. So, I convinced him to just go and observe the location from a distance. I also got up and went ahead with him because fuck me. After climbing for a further five minutes, we reached a place where we were actually able to walk. We thought it was some levelled ground
35/ right underneath the top, but the top is yet to come. We had a comms guy and an RPG guy who were from the other section with us. Rest of the force was still deployed downhill. We were standing on top of what felt like a raised ground still thinking there is a long way to
36/ reach the top. It was pitch black darkness and there was a very mild breeze. I could hear a few crickets chirping in the distance and nothing else. We took out our night vision goggles out and started observing the area. I was observing straight ahead and could see some
37/ activity about 250 – 300 meters away from where I was standing. As I was observing the area, the SSG officer nudged me and pointed down. I looked down with the NVG on and lo and behold! about 10 – 12 men just chilling with their backs against the raised ground we were
38/ standing on, just about 7 – 10 meters away. I was absolutely gobsmacked. Now the next few sentences are happening in just seconds. 1st second: As I was trying to tip toe back and devise a strategy on how to tackle them, 2nd second: the SSG officer pointed to the RPG guy
39/ and told him to fire the fucking RPG. 3rd second: Before I could tell him that we are also in the blast range and not to mention the fucking back blast, the RPG guy ACTUALLY FIRED! BUT THE WEAPON MISFIRED!!! 4th second: There was a loud click and the Taleban who were lying
40/ down all got up at once. 6th second: Out of habit, I had my finger on the safety, I made the weapon unsafe and stared firing on burst mode, so did the SSG officer. I could see the Taleban falling down on the ground. 9th second: There was a loud bang and then complete white
41/ out and feedback ringing in my ears. That’s when I lost track of time. All I heard from what felt like miles away was the SSG officer and his men moaning Lailaha illallah. I was like I am absolutely fucked. This officer and his men are dying, I could see, hear or feel
42/ anything in my right arm. All the men were at least 10 minutes away. And I was alone. I was sure in that moment that the Taleban are going to come and cut off my bloody head. My right arm was stinging very bad and I thought I had actually lost it (spoiler alert, I didn’t).
43/ I was on my back deaf and blind and could only smell gun powder, dirt, blood and tikkay. That was the first time I smelled what a burning body smells like -fucking tikkay boti. It’s bizarre.
I got on what I though was all threes left, reluctant to even feel my lost arm
44/ with the other hand and started crawling back after mapping the way back in my head. After what felt like an eternity, I slowly started to regain my eyesight and hearing, and before anything, I let my team know what had just happened and ordered them to climb ASAP. My 2ic,
45/ who is now dead (God rest his soul) climbed up with the team in a couple of minutes. I then touched my arm and suddenly felt adrenaline like I had never before when I found that it was still attached to my body. Fuck, I’m getting goose bumps as I’m reliving those moments.
46/ Anyway, I took charge of the area, and the SSG officer’s section, still thinking he’s dead. Turned out, he and the two of his men had just become unconscious. I ordered my runner to get their sitrep without letting anyone else know for loss of morale. Upon learning they
47/ are alive, I got them moved to a destroyed bunker that the Cobras had earlier smoked. I encircled the enemy and divided the two sections in 4 smaller sections kept moving ahead with leapfrog method and reached the terrorists’ bunkers.
By this time, I had communicated that
48/ we are undergoing intense combat at the top and it would be beneficial to actually send the original battalion to the top as the Taleban had focused all their attention on me and my outfit. But before they could arrive, we had already captured all the bunkers. There was
49/ intense close quarter battle and killed as many terrorists as we could, and the rest ran away back to Afghanistan.
Turned out there was a battalion sized strength of Taleban in defensive position on that plateau, which is a huge deal guys because I captured the top with a
50/ section plus strength. Normally an attack has to be 3 up. But who gives a shit - I got a piece of metal for “courage beyond the call of duty” for that.
The end.
Think this was too long
You can follow @TheGutterfly.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: