Prioritise And Execute

The lights turn on ..


Time to get up ..


It’s on.


The mission.


Another one of many I’ve conducted ..


At night ..


In Afghanistan.


It was 2300 hrs.


My sniper team stirred.


We all rose from our slumber ..


A shitty slumber ..


The slumber before a mission.


It was the worst ..


Not really a sleep.


More a snooze ..


A bad one.


Tossing and turning ..


Thinking ..


Pondering ..




A snooze none-the-less.


Uniform on ..


Boots ..


Pack ..


Radio ..


Frozen water and powerade.


Camouflage cream applied ..


GPS ..


Sniper rifle ..


Assault rifle ..


Ammunition ..


Morale patch.

(I wore “Major League Sniper” this round ..)


Last minute briefs ..


Team confirmatory orders ..


Final weapons check ..


Radio test ..


Time to go.


Ready to go?




On the bus to the flight line ..


UH-1 Huey’s are waiting ..


Turning and burning ..


Ready for action ..


So are we.


Secured in the chopper ..


Strop on.


We take off ..


Into the night sky ..


On our mission.


It’s dark ..


Low ambient light ..


That’s good.


For us ..


Not the enemy.


The world is green through our NVG’s ..

(Night vision goggles ..)


Dark green ..


No moon.


The chopper rises and falls ..


We go over the mountains ..


It looks close ..


Too close ..


The dust rises off the top ..


Did we barely miss it ..?


Who knows ..


Hard to tell.


Focus ..


Control your mind ..


Rein in your thoughts ..




Feel the fear ..


Utilise the energy ..


Channel it.


Team commander holds up six fingers ..


“6 mins out.”


That’s the call ..


Delivered via hand signals.


Check weapon ..


Pack ..




Suddenly ..


A massive flash from the right hand side of the chopper ..


The counter measure flares have fired ..


Something’s locked on ..


A missile ..?


RPG ..?


The door gunners mini-gun ..


It’s firing ..


Fast ..


Loud ..




At something ..




What to do ..?




Sit ..


Relax ..


Let it happen.


Can’t do a thing anyway ..


Out of my control ..


Just one of those times.


Move on ..


Control what I can ..


Mind ..


Breathing ..




3 fingers are held up ..


“3 mins out.”


Check weapon ..


Helmet ..


Pack ..


Strop off.


1 finger ..


“1 min out.”


Stirring ..


Moving ..




2 fingers crossed ..


“30 second call.”


We come into land ..


Dust envelopes the chopper ..


Brown out.


We rise ..


Hover ..




Many a chopper crash in this scenario ..


Crew can’t see ..


Gets disorientated ..


Pilot’s lose control.




Relax ..


It’s out of your control.


Focus again ..


Let the crew do their job.


Control what you can ..


Let go of what you can’t.


Simple, but not easy.


What’s your next action ..?


Prioritise ..




The chopper moves down ..


Hovers in the dust ..


Down again ..






We don’t wait ..


We’re off ..


Gone ..


On the mission ..




  • Control what you can.
  • Let go of what you can't.
  • Prioritise and execute.
  • Pivot on the move.


Rhys Dowden

Operator Edge

Mindset is a choice

About the Author

Rhys Dowden is the owner of Operator Edge, a company through which he provides to his clients extensive mental conditioning along with military, self-defense, and physical training.

Growing up in Queensland, Rhys enlisted in the Army as soon as he was 18 and then served a little more than four years in the Royal Australian Armored Corps. Later in his career, he served on Steve Irwin’s personal security detail at the Australia Zoo for six months and then worked as a private security contractor in Iraq between 2004 and 2006 before re-enlisting in the Army and going through the Commando Selection and Training Course in 2008.