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I had written and revised my Will three times by the age of 25

by Shaun Kober
October 12th 2020

In today's episode, I reflect on my time in Afghanistan, and some of the lessons I took from writing and revising my Will three times by the age of 25.

I also go into a little detail ... More

your what is up guys, Welcome to today's episode of the live train performed podcast. I'm your host, Sean koba During today's episode. It's going to be a 10-15 minute conversation where I reflect on significant events and circumstances in my life that have shaped the person that I am today. Now. I'm recording this on the 9th of October when this drops, it will be 12 October and the day after being Tuesday is a significant, it's the anniversary of a significant event in my life and that was my four man sniper team being ambushed in Afghanistan. So it's crazy to think that that was coming up to 10 years ago, that that event happened because um those events and that circumstance in that whole day and everything leading up to it still so fresh in my mind and I don't think it's something that will um be leaving my memories very soon. So um in today's episode, I'm going to be talking about a number of things that I faced, including writing and revising my will for the third time.

By the time I was 25, I'm going to be talking about managing expectations and the conversation that our sniper team had before we went to Afghanistan. Um I'm going to be talking about what happened the day that we landed at our combat outpost. I'll talk about a number of other factors that happened throughout that deployment and how that significantly impacted my life moving forward. So let's get started. I deployed in 2010 and it was the third time that I'd been deployed, I went to Iraq in 2007, I went to east timor in 2008, and then deployed to Afghanistan 2010, And This was the third time that I'd written and revised my will by the time I was 25. Um so this is something to ponder and this is something that I think is missed in these current generations is, you know, people just take life for granted and when You're 25 years old and you're writing and revising your will for the third time in your life, it sinks in that, you know, life can be taken away from you and you're being deployed to do a job, You're being deployed to bring stability to a country and provide protection and safety and security to the local populace and you know, to do that, you're heading into danger.

You're putting yourself in harm's way. So, um this has always been, you know, a big point for me, it's a big part of my life, understanding that life can be taken so very quickly and I've had numerous people um you know, pass away be killed in tragic circumstances. Um you know, I've had some of my own mates take their own lives and things like that over the years and it never gets any easier. But this was something that we, as soldiers had to confront, we had to understand that life is short and it could be taken away at any moment. So um I just wanted to touch on that for a moment because when you start thinking about that, I know it's a morbid issue, but I think it's also powerful to understand that you know, life can be taken away at any moment and sometimes you will be putting yourself in danger and in harm's way and to be grateful for the time that you do have and make the most of that time that you do have.

Um luckily nothing happened to me. Um physically or mentally, I actually came out of that deployment uh quite good and quite strong and a lot of those lessons that I learned on all of those deployments have carried me through the rest of my life and shape the man that I am today. So I'm grateful for all of those moments and I mean some of those moments fucking sucked. Um but you know, it is what it is and I can't change any of that. The only thing that I can change is my perception and how I look at those circumstances and whether or not, you know, I become a victim of them or whether I learned from them, I grow from them and I appreciate the lessons that those circumstances provide. Now that's the other thing I want to talk about managing expectations About three months before we went to Afghanistan. I've spoken about this on a previous podcast, I think it was episode 11, the effect of your 13, the effect of your environment. But basically before we went to Afghanistan, we went and did a two week fairly intensive first aid training.

And that training was really realistic and it was, it was probably one of the best training um packages that I did whilst I was in the army. Um but what actually happened whilst we were doing that training was two of the combat engineers that were on the deployment before us were killed and the whole entire team came together on a slower day. Like they paused the exercise, everyone came together and they discussed it and we're only a couple of months out from going to Afghanistan. So, um once that conversation happened, we were informed that those lads were killed. Then my foreman sniper team sat down and had a truthful conversation and we talked about, you know, the fact that we're going overseas, we're going to be doing a job and we knew that we were going to be going to a fucking dodgy area. So we managed our expectations. We talked about the fact that, you know, some of us might not be coming back or if we did come back, we might not be the same again. And that was an honest conversation that had to be had because that conversation then ensure that every action that we talk, every training exercise that we under talk was to the best of our ability and we're always striving to perform better, We're always striving for excellence, We're always striving to improve our skills and our drills knowing that we're going into a dodgy area and shit is going to happen.

We needed to fucking be prepared, we needed to be in a good mindset and in a good physical state to be able to carry out everything that we wanted to do at any point in time when the shit hit the fan. Now when we actually got into Afghanistan, the day that we landed at our combat outpost which was cop marshall, we were in TK which was the main base for a couple of days, kind of getting briefed up and um getting the final stores issued and things like that. We got on a chin hook and we headed out to court martial and when we landed there was a fucking firefight and the boys that were there before us six are er they rolled back in and one of the boys had been shot in the body armor and like took off a couple of pieces of his kid and he had holes in his equipment and things like that, you know? And they were laughing about it and they were like oh man that was fucking close blah blah blah and I was just like holy shit all right, what are we walking into? So that was the that was the introduction that I got to that combat outpost and you know, that was a sobering moment because I was like, all right, well this is obviously dodgy area.

We fucking heard that we knew about that before we came over here. But now that we're here, this is what's actually happening. So for the next couple of weeks we went out on partner patrol with those guys. They basically took us out um and showed us the lay of the land and they showed us the terrain. They showed us all the you know, where the good people were and whether dodgy areas were. And they were basically like if you go past this line here, it's fucking dodgy, you're gonna be lit up. There's gonna be people fighting you. So that gave us an understanding of what we're walking into. Uh and then they actually got on the channel. They flew out and the very next patrol that we went out on was a solo patrol. It was just our team and uh we got lit up our fucking four man sniper team got ambushed. Um But before that we'd actually had a lot of intelligence suggesting that There was 20 Pakistani Taliban who had been um moved into the area to take back some of the ground that had been taken. So the boys before us had done a really good job.

They had unfortunately lost a couple of lads on that trip. Um which again made it very real for us. Um but We have this intelligence saying that there was 20 Pakistanis in the area and the Morning that we stepped off on 13 October, we actually confronted them. We've seen these 20 Pakistani Taliban come out of the mosque as we were walking past it and I've got to say that's a really strange feeling, knowing that these are the fucking dudes that we've heard about. These are the dudes that we knew had been brought in to fight us to take back control of that particular area and you know, we look them in the eyes and we fucking shook their hand. Obviously we search them and we tried to find any incriminating evidence so that we could, you know, basically lock them up or take them back to our base for processing or whatever, but they know the fucking rules, they know what we can and can't do, they didn't have anything on them. So we literally fucking shook their hands, look them in the eyes.

And then when our separate ways, knowing that we're going to be meeting up later on in the day and that fuck, I can't even put into words what that does to your head, what that does your mindset, knowing that these dudes are there to fucking fight you and you're going to be meeting up later in the day and you've just look them in the eyes. That is a fucking bizarre feeling. That is such a strange feeling. Anyway, that meeting occurred later on that day, um our main team was conducting a search and my sniper team was conducting a satellite patrol. So we're basically trying to interdict anyone that was trying to target them, trying to ambush them, trying to lay IEDs and things like that. And my foreman sniper team continue their patrol and we tried to interdict a number of people and you know, we miss them. At the time we started patrolling, we end up getting to a certain area and you know, atmospherics deteriorated and um some dude comes out and starts gathering up his goats and taking them inside and calling these Children things like that and you know, atmospherics just went to shit basically.

Everyone cleared out all the locals like got out of that area as they knew something was about to happen and we're like right, we need to get out of here, we need to continue on with the task. And as we were about to leave, this was just my foreman sniper team. So the main team was about 800 m to a kilometer away at this stage, so we didn't really have any support at the time. Um and just as we're about to leave, we saw this one random dude walking down the foot pad. Um and we kind of pushed into a little bit of cover, we let him get a little bit closer and then I came out with my weapon shoulder pointing at him and I told him to stop in pashtun and he saw me and he turned around about to run already had one in the chamber but I ended up cocking the weapon to let him know that you know the next one is going to be fucking pointed at him and he stopped, I called him over, he walked over, he wouldn't get to us, he wouldn't get past a certain point because he knew that there was obviously something dodgy going on there. Um So anyway I walked over to him, asked him what was happening um where the taliban was, et cetera and all of a sudden my team leader goes okay Pakistani taliban talib and the guy goes oh and turns around and points in a different direction as soon as he did that the fucking world lit up um you know the rounds kicking off all around us, I hit the deck, packed up everything that I could have my X ray kid out to check him for explosives and things like that and the fucking dirt was just kicking up all around us.

Um Anyway got up, sprinted um jumped over a small wall and then ended up turning around and and you know lobbying fucking high explosive grenades because I couldn't see the enemy, they were well concealed. So um you know obviously firing firing rounds at them. Yeah I couldn't see what, I couldn't, I couldn't fucking hit what I couldn't see but I knew the direction they were in. I knew the area that that they were in and I knew the vicinity that they were firing from. So I just started lobbying high explosive grenades at them and you know that stopped the firing fairly quickly. But I looked over and my teammate was on his ass um firing single handedly trying to drag his tourniquet out. My man rob as we lay down covering fire tamps and I lay down cover fire rob, pushed over and put shame asses tourniquet on once the firing died down then I pushed over and drag shamus in the cover and then started patching him up by this stage the main body had arrived and um we got the medic on to shame us and he started doing his thing patching him up and I administered I.

V. Fluids and then we um cleared an area to take him to for helicopter evacuation. So as the main team rolled over and the medic came over to help us administer first aid. Um The rest of the team ended up pushing through and following up the fight and chasing down these taliban and getting into a firefight with them for an extended period. Um Whilst this was happening we took shameless to the LZ landing zone um for casualty evacuation. The helicopter flew in, we put him on the helicopter and then the rest of my sniper team there was three of us left myself tamps and rob. We ended up pushing up onto some high ground so that we could provide Um direct fires and battlefield commentary to the main team. And we were sitting there for about 2030 minutes observing, calling in information, looking for targets etc. And then rob ended up pushing aside a little bit of dirt and he looked at us with his fucking eyes wide and he's like holy fuck boys we are sitting on top of an ID and we obviously didn't search that area because they're around still kicking off and we needed to get into a little bit of cover and that was the only cover that we had.

So um we basically ended up sitting on top of an I. D. For about 20 to 30 minutes and luckily enough it didn't go off and we're like all right well if it hasn't gone off yet we can't really move from here because this is the only cover that we've got. So we ended up staying there and we sat on top of the fucking I. D. For about an hour. Um And again very grateful, very lucky that that didn't go off but you know you can imagine the ramifications and the things that occurred with our mindsets and things like that. So um once the firefight ended and the main team followed through and hit a couple of dudes and ended up patching up a couple of dudes as well. Um we ended up pushing back to base and um obviously that was my first big firefight that I've been in and the adrenaline dump that had occurred was fucking massive and from there I was absolutely fatigued, I was so strung out and I was so fucking tired because that adrenaline dump had been so massive, that 4th old dump had been so huge that you know, my body had to go back the other way and I ended up like sleeping for about four hours after that um which was obviously hard to get to sleep, but once I got to sleep, it was like, you know, it was very unbroken, but you know, that was something that I dealt with for the next couple of weeks knowing that that was going to happen and knowing that, you know, every time we went out on patrol, we, there was things that we could not control.

There were things that were not within our powers. And you know, the very next day I went out on patrol and we got shot at again, there was a burst of machine gun fire went right between my mate and I and you know, it was again, that was a fucking reminder that everything could end in an instant, You know, we could be maimed, we could lose a leg, we could, you know, be shot, we could be killed and that was a constant reminder that, you know everything could be taken away and that we needed to do whatever we could to put ourselves in the right mindset and have ourselves physically prepared to be able to fucking undertake any actions that needed to be taken to take control of any situation. Now I just want to finish off with a couple of points here because uh that Was the start of a nine-month trip for two weeks in. Now. I've spoken extensively about you know, some of the ramifications for that and what actually happened during that that um deployment again, episode 13. The effect of your environment.

But when we were rotating out of Afghanistan we went back to T. K which was the main base, Tarin kowt. And once we were there we had about five days to decompress and hand back all of our weapons and ammunition and um all of our body armor and stores and everything like that back to the q store ready for the next team that we're rotating in. But whilst we're also in TK we had to do medical. So when I saw the medical doctor I went and saw the psychologist, et cetera. And I remember vividly walking into the psych office and I was like get a man how you doing? And she goes corporal koba, take a seat, I know who you are, I know what you've done, I know that you've treated your mate. I know you've pulled the trigger. I know X. Y. Zed. Is there anything you know you want to talk about? Is there anything you regret? And I looked at her And I sat with it for about 30 seconds. I said yes ma'am. Actually there is something I regret, I regret not pulling the trigger more.

And she kind of looked at me, she took a couple of notes and then she goes, do you mind elaborating? I said absolutely. There was times where I had somebody's head in my crosshairs and you know it couldn't identify a weapon, couldn't identify um communications equipment, couldn't identify you know anything that was saying that they are a threat that they were working against us. But my gut instinct told me that there was something about this person that was not quite right. And I trusted my gut instinct because it got me out of the ship many many times. But I gave a couple of examples and one of those examples was I had this guy's head in my sight picture in my crosshairs. And the reason I had him in my crosshairs was because we were in a clandestine position where we couldn't be observed out in the dash in the desert and we're observing what was happening as our main body was moving through the green zone.

And there was a couple of guys that were on motor bikes that were kind of following them. They were on the outside of the green zone between the green zone and the desert and they were following our guys and they jump off their motorbikes, they kind of pushed into the green zone that observe, we couldn't see what they were doing there. But I assumed that they had icons where they were talking to you know the rest of the bad dudes in the area and then they come back out on their motorbikes, they drive another couple of 100 m and then they do the same thing and they were doing this for you know extended periods about 15 20 minutes and we're like oh man if we could see these guys communicating passing on this information then we'll take their fucking head off. But unfortunately that was not our rules of engagement, we couldn't positively identify that they were doing anything dodgy. We knew they were but we couldn't positively identify that unfortunately. And what actually happened was a couple of days later one of our interpreters stood on an i. d. which basically took his leg off and ended up killing him unfortunately.

And you know a couple of our other boys got hit with some shrapnel and stuff. And the guy whose head I had in my cross hair, he was the I. D. Facilitator, he was the one that basically put that I. E. D. Together and fucking planted it. So there was times like that was like I wish I had have done that but you know that's hindsight and I didn't have that information at the time. Um But yeah, and there was a number of times that those types of circumstances happened where we had people in our sites and you know, couldn't positively identify weapons or communications equipment or anything like that, but we just fucking knew that there were dodgy dudes and again, you know, things would happen a couple of days later and then we'd get intelligence that the people that we've seen, um the people that we were observing were definitely involved in what was going on and we could have prevented those attacks from happening. We could have prevented, you know, the deaths and loss of limbs and um injuries and things like that that occurred to our allied forces, not only our mates, but the afghanis that we were training the Afghani soldiers we were training and the interpreters that were, you know, dedicating their lives to helping us try and bring safety and security to the local population.

So something to think about guys is that life is short and don't take everything for granted and do the best you can to live life to the fullest train to your potential and perform at your best. That's it for me today guys, hopefully enjoy today's session. I will see you all on Thursday for my five minute fitness tips piece

I had written and revised my Will three times by the age of 25
I had written and revised my Will three times by the age of 25
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