Sayed dismissed Manzoor's doubts with a flip of his hand. In a western society it would have been considered foppish or effeminate because of the limp-wristedness of it.
"The Quran demands it" Sayed affirmed.
Manzoor frowned. He could not remember any verses demanding that generals spend their troop's lives like water. "Where does the Quran say that?" he asked.
"The Quran tells us that a successful man should have four wives. Where would they come from except that three-quarters of the army should die?" Sayed argued.
"But they should come from the women of the conquered lands" Manzoor said.
"Ahhh" Sayed said. "captured women are for concubines and slaves. No, it is clear that the Quran signifies that successful men should have four wives. And what the Quran allows is mandated."
The mortar crews went forward to where the previous crews had been shredded by shrapnel and moved the mortars back another two-hundred yards, assured by their leaders that they were beyond the range of the Buffer-Zone counter-battery.
The foot-soldiers were pushed forward by their officers to the West Branch river. There, they were issued ammo. Sometimes the ammo even matched the weapon the soldiers carried. More often it did not. Attackers with AK-47s were issued 9mm ammo. Attackers with AR-15s were issued .22LR and so on. In no case were more than ten rounds issued to any fighter.
“If you kill ten defenders, then come back and we will issue more” is what the officers told the fighters.
The attackers died in droves. The attacker mortars fired into the Buffer-Zone. The crews had no clue on how to set fuses. Many of the rounds buried themselves deeply into the alluvial soils of the West Branch valley before detonating, creating hundreds of craters that filled with ground-water seeping into them...and then blood.
A few of the attackers survived. Then, as they were able to impart hard-won lessons, more of the attackers survived.
It is misleading to say the casualty rate was 100:1 or 10:1 or 1:1. Hours or days would go by without the defenders losing a fighter, and then in short order would lose two full squads and part of a third.
The defenders were pushed back by dint of the shear number of attackers.
The mortar crews of the attackers were massacred by counter-battery, only to move back another 200 yards and try again.
There were not enough defenders. There were not enough signal analysis to stay sharp 24 hours a day. Dot and Tory were sleep-walking.
The forces along I-96 were immobilized by the strategic importance of that route. They could only wait and watch as their comrades were pounded into submission.
The squads defending the southern two-thirds of the Buffer-Zone flowed to the line of conflict. Fighters in untenable positions flowed back and toward the flanks. Fighters more than three miles from the Howell Road corridor flowed toward Howell Road, leaving a token contingent to defend the zones they had vacated.