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Posted on Nov 19, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Interactive Combat Story: Korea: The Next War, Part III

By John Antal

1 a.m., the day after tomorrow, near the Demilitarized Zone in the Republic of Korea

Second Lieutenant Robert Stone is the platoon leader of 2d Platoon, C Company, 72d Armor Regiment. Yesterday, forces from the North Korean army launched a surprise attack across the DMZ, which has separated North and South Korea since the armistice was signed in 1953. During that nightmare day, Stone’s four M-1A1 Abrams tanks fought off two determined enemy attacks. The combat was intense, but his platoon successfully defended the valley, a critical invasion route the enemy was eager to capture. Despite the two costly setbacks, Stone suspects the North Koreans will be back – the worst is far from over.

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Image Credit: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
A machine-gunner fires at a target from an M-1A1 Abrams main battle tank during a training exercise.

Suddenly, Stone’s radio crackles to life. Captain Braddock, the company commander, announces, “Charlie Two-One, this is Charlie Six-Six. Your orders are to secure the Route 51 bridge and block the enemy from crossing. When I arrive with the rest of the company team, my engineers will blow the bridge.”

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“Wilco, but I sure could use some artillery support,” Stone replies. He then checks the time – nearly 1 a.m. Nothing good ever happens at one in the morning, he thinks to himself.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Braddock responds. “There’s a Republic of Korea artillery unit whose fires can reach the bridge. I’ll have my fire support team contact the ROKs and see if they can give you a hand.”

“Much appreciated, sir. Over.”

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Image Credit: DEPARTMENT OF DEFESNE
Two M-1A1 Abrams tanks move to a new location during Exercise Reforger 85. By placing their tanks in an advantageous position, tank commanders can quickly gain the upper hand in battle.

“I estimate I’ll arrive at your position around first light,” Braddock continues. “You must hold back the North Koreans until then. … Good luck. I’ll get there as fast as I can. Charlie Six-Six out.”

Stone closes his eyes for a moment. He wishes he could sleep, but neither he nor his men have the luxury of resting tonight. But at least the platoon is in relatively good shape. All four M-1A1 tanks are operational. Tank 3 has a damaged fire control system, but it can fire with manual sights and machine guns. Each tank only has about five hours of fuel left and the platoon is down to half its basic load of cannon and machine-gun ammunition, but it will do. It will have to.

It’s been an amazing night and there’s more excitement yet to come.

“Sir, how many times can we fight up and down this valley all by ourselves?” Sergeant Koslowsky, Stone’s gunner, asks.

“As many times as it takes,” Stone replies. “The Captain won’t let us down. He’ll be here soon.”

[continued on next page]

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