You are here
Home > Perspective > Insurgents, prairie dogs and Laser Tag

Insurgents, prairie dogs and Laser Tag

I remember discovering the difference between target shooting and Laser Tag. At a firing range you could look calmly down your gun sight and concentrate without distraction. Same with hunting. But Laser Tag, Paintball, or the doubtlessly misnomered Airsoft, let you experience what it’s like to be shot at. Who would believe aiming a gun is so different under fire?

In Laser Tag, you had to wear an infrared sensor to make yourself a target to your opponent’s fire. We used to wrap the sensor belt around our heads because it seemed the most fair vulnerability. Otherwise it was too easy to obscure your sensor between you and the ground or against whatever you were hiding behind. On your forehead, the sensor would become visible whenever you yourself attempted to poke up your head to take a shot.

I learned to cheat by crawling under cars to obscure my forehead in the undercarriage while my line of sight remained unimpeded. Of course I was a sitting duck when spotted. But from no matter what covered position, I found it much harder to take aim when adversaries were directing their fire at me.

If you’d succeeded in concealing your vantage point, you were free to concentrate on your aim. But now you were challenged with a further trembling sensation in your fingers. Now there was a heightened hesitation to pull the trigger, because the moment you did, your position would be revealed and you’d attract fire.

This is the predicament we discount when we think of military snipers. Though it seems quite plainly cowardly to shoot unsuspecting opponents from a concealed position, often snipers have to operate from hiding places deep in enemy territory. When they finally take their shot, snipers become prey themselves.

I think about this immediate blowback consequence when I think of Iraqis or Afghans who contemplate taking aim at the US military machine. Insurgents face technology and firepower to obliterate the very hill from which they might be shooting. It would seem that anyone who would dare to stand armed against US forces would be a suicide bomber. It’s near certain death to fire a Kalashnikov knowing that US electronics can very quickly extrapolate your location and bring ordinance against you like a fly-swatter against a fly.

In WWII against Japan, we held a sad esteem for the suicide pilots of the last desperate Japanese efforts. The Kamikazes would pilot explosive laden aircraft which had no landing gears in case they changed their minds. It seemed like lunacy, and often they were young, and barely trained.

I wondered if our soldiers accord the Iraqi or Afghan insurgents a similar awed respect. To merely raise your head from the rubble, without Kevlar armor, requires a bravery to defy the gods. What a cost to try to defend your homeland against America’s overwhelming might. I couldn’t do it. You draw almost certain overkill coming from unforeseen points, high in the sky, laser-guided by a team of technicians in climate controlled comfort on the other side of the planet, who are not themselves under fire. We’ve rendered all our adversaries into suicide bombers. How dare our behind-the-lines officers call them cowardly?

Leave a Reply

Top