The Spear is a podcast from the Modern War Institute at West Point. It aims to explore the combat experience, with each episode featuring a guest who tells a detailed and personal story, describing the events and exploring topics like decision-making under stress and what it feels like to be in combat.
Get the Puma in the Air
This episode features a conversation with Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dylan Ferguson. In 2012, he served as part of the brigade aviation element of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That's mainly a staff job, but part of his responsibility dealt with the use of small unmanned aircraft systems like the RQ-11 Raven and the RQ-20 Puma, and he sometimes accompanied the brigade's platoons and companies on patrol. He shares a story of a firefight that erupted during one of those patrols, describes the capabilities the Puma brought to it, and relays what happened when the the aircraft went down in the middle of a field just when it was needed most.
In 2003, Dave Rittgers was in command of a Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan. Partway through its tour, the team moved to a firebase in Orgun-E to undertake a new mission: helping to mitigate the threat of Taliban ambushes in an area where they were so frequent it earned the nickname "ambush alley." Lt. Col. Rittgers joins this episode to share the story of one of those ambushes.
Apaches into the Fight
This episode of The Spear features a conversation with Capt. Lindsay Heisler. An aviation officer and Apache pilot, in December 2015 she was part of a mission in Afghanistan supporting a ground force. Just as Chinook helicopters arrived to pick up that force, they came under fire from 360 degrees around them. The two Apaches overhead, including Capt. Heisler's, immediately took action to protect the ground force, and she tells the story in this episode.
A Sniper Section's Fight in Ghazni
In 2012, Master Sgt. Brody Hall was a sniper section leader in a scout platoon in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, deployed in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province. Tasked with providing overwatch during a mission to establish a joint security station, the mission quickly changed after enemy fighters attacked. Listen as he tells the story in this episode.
Coming in Low
During a deployment in Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dylan Ferguson was flying an Apache, providing close air support to a special operations ground force below. When his aircraft's 30-millimeter cannon failed and there wasn't space to get the standoff distance required to fire Hellfire missiles, he and his copilot changed tactics—flying in low over enemy fighters to bait them into opening fire on their helicopter, so the other Apache flying with them could identify the enemy location and target it.
Combat in the Kunar River Valley
In this episode Maj. John A. Meyer shares a story from his first deployment, in 2007, to Afghanistan. On July 27, his platoon and a group of Afghan National Army soldiers were moving along the road next to the Kunar River during a squadron mission to secure the valley. The Afghan soldiers began to cross a bridge when they looked down and saw a group of enemy fighters. The massive fight that ensued would involve the other platoons of Meyer's B Troop, as well—matched up against an enemy force three times the size of their own.
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Spear is great PME
The Spear is a great means of generating conversation in the team rooms/hangars/mess halls.
US focused, but still good leader/soldier lessons in here. Good work guys.
@frank_o_dwyer from the NZ Army