April 3, 2015: Omaha-Lincoln AAR
I feel compelled to document a more factual view of our mission to the cities. Today’s entry will be free of whining, soul-searching and presupposition.
Our mission, as I suggested before we left, was two-fold. The purpose of the primary mission was to gather intelligence on the movements of U.N. troops as well as on the conditions in the cities of Omaha and Lincoln. The secondary mission was a search and rescue (SAR) mission to locate and extract family members assumed to be living in the greater Omaha-Lincoln metropolitan area.
Our primary operational objective was to traverse the distance between the Union Creek area and Lincoln, then proceed from Lincoln to Omaha and, finally, return to the Union Creek area without injury, loss of life or significant loss of material.
Our secondary operational objective was to maintain a low profile, while accomplishing the two-fold mission, in order to avoid detection and targeting by unfriendly forces such as United Nations troops or organized civilian or para-military groups.
Our tertiary operational objective was to ensure that we did not lead any unfriendly forces or needy individuals back to the Union Creek area.
Participating in the mission were Ariela, Joseph, Laura, Levi, Miriam, Sam, Terry and me.
We traveled in convoy with the armored HMMWV’s in the lead and tail positions and the deuce-and-a-half in the middle, protected position. In order to achieve our operational objectives, nearly all of our travel was on unpaved roads.
Analysis & Observations
In general, our missions and operational objectives were achieved. We were, however, unable to locate one of the families believed to be living in the metropolitan area. As such, they were not retrieved, resulting in a failure of a portion of our secondary mission.
Additionally, we were forced to engage with a number of unfriendly forces along our route. Engagements were as follows:
We encountered four hostile groups of survivors as we made our way over unpaved roads to the Lincoln area of operations (AO). In each instance, we attempted to avoid engagement but were forced to defend ourselves. All engagements were brief as the survivors succumbed to our superior firepower. All engagements ended with apparent 100% casualty rates for the attacking forces and no casualties or injuries on the part of the Union Creek squad. We did incur minor damage to our vehicles but all vehicles remained in operable condition.
These engagements were exclusively in rural areas and did not compromise our missions or operational objectives.
We encountered a group of apparent looters, numbering approximately twenty individuals, in our attempt to rescue our family members living in the Lincoln AO. The unfriendly force was engaged in an ongoing firefight with our family members upon our arrival in the AO. Upon ascertaining that the individuals were an unfriendly force and were firing upon the members of our family’s household, we engaged briefly with primary fire from the M2 machine guns and secondary small arms fire. The engagement lasted approximately five minutes resulting in nineteen dead subversives and no injuries or casualties among the Union Creek squad. Unfortunately, one male member of a neighboring household died as a result of wounds received prior to our arrival.
This engagement doubtless compromised our secondary operational objective. However, we were not followed upon exfil.
Prior to our engagement with the unfriendly forces outside our family’s home, we were able to gather considerable intelligence relative to the local community and conditions.
Numerous homes and buildings have been burned to the ground. We did not observe any of these fires first-hand. Based on discussions with Mike, Jenny and Mandy, it seems that looters may be burning buildings once they have stripped them to destroy anything of value that remains.
A number of large public facilities such as schools and retail centers have been converted into communal shelters. Each shelter is surrounded by tall chain-link/concertina wire fence and concrete barriers. Entry is typically limited to a gate guarded by U.N. soldiers. Each facility appears to have a ratio of approximately ten residents to each U.N. soldier. U.N. troops appear to be armed with automatic rifles in NATO 7.62 caliber. These troops all appear to be in relatively good health.
Few shelter residents leave their facilities. The risk is significant. Outside the fence, lawlessness is commonplace. We observed numerous – more than twenty – armed groups numbering between two and twenty in our four hours of observation. These groups seemed primarily intent on ransacking homes, occupied or not. One such group was the one engaged outside Mike and Jenny’s home. These groups are generally not well-armed – typically bolt-action rifles and pistols. A few groups appeared to be armed with automatic or semi-automatic rifles in NATO calibers. The group that we engaged had attacked Mike and Jenny’s home with some sort of rocket-propelled grenade or light anti-tank weapon. We saw no evidence of any such armament among the other groups that we observed.
Food, water and supplies were delivered to the shelters by U.N.-labeled vehicles. We were unable to ascertain the origin of these supplies. We did note, however, that package markings appeared to be in Chinese. Upon departure, the U.N. vehicles proceeded to the east on Interstate 80 from both Lincoln and Omaha.
Each shelter also appeared to have a market, possibly unsanctioned by the U.N. or FEMA, where residents of the shelter trade a variety of goods. The sources of these goods were not immediately apparent. We did, however, observe a small group of individuals driving two four-wheel drive pickups that appeared to be delivering goods from outside the wire. Apparently, gasoline and/or diesel fuel is/are still available. This was somewhat unexpected. We were unable to identify the source of the fuel.
We observed that U.N. troops gathering at what had previously been Offutt Air Force base were in far worse condition than those guarding the various shelters. Based upon our observations, we all agree that the troops recently arrived at Offutt have arrived largely on foot from significant distances.
We were unable to successfully retrieve Terry’s son Steve and his family.
We were unable to achieve Operational Objective #2.
We believe we were able to achieve Operational Objective #3. However, it is possible that we were followed at a distance after making contact with the hostiles in the Lincoln AO.
We were able to achieve two of our three missions. No discussion has taken place regarding any further attempts to locate Steve and his family. We believe we were able to exfil the areas without leading anyone to our location. However, this cannot be validated to absolute certainty. Consequently, we need to maintain a higher level of alertness and preparedness.
A considerable number of U.N. troops are gathering at Offutt AFB but we were unable to determine the reason or establish a time line for coming events. This is an additional reason to maintain a higher level of alertness and preparedness.