Thursday, November 10, 2005

Getting back in action

I copied this from a thread
at posted by RVN
Airplane Driver that was subesquently pulled due to "
Concerns over public disclosure"

I found it facinating and hope some of you might like it as well.

When the Iraqi Army comes to full strenght and training this spring,
it is going to become very unsafe for the "foriegn fighters".
I see the US Army becoming the de-facto Border Police where
our superior Technology and Weapons allow us to see anything that moves
while the Iraqi Army moves into the cities and towns where the fight
now turns into an "us versus them" struggle where the loyalties of the
locals will be tested when it isnt Americans being killed, it is their
own countrymen.

2006 is going to be a whole new fight in Iraq.

Meanwhile, in Syria, the boy dentist Assad twists slowly in the wind.

tick tick tick

observations from a grunt in Iraq

Got this from a former Marine
first sergeant - thought you might
be interested in his son's assessment of weapons and enemy tactics in
Iraq (the boy is home from his first tour, going back in early 2006,
and early re-enlisted for another 4 years.)

Hello to all my
fellow gunners, military buffs, veterans and interested guys. A couple
of weekends ago I got to spend time with my son Jordan, who was on his
first leave since returning from Iraq. He is well (a little thin), and
already bored. He will be returning to Iraq for a second tour in early
'06 and has already re-enlisted early for 4 more years. He loves the
Marine Corps and is actually looking forward to returning to Iraq.

spent 7 months at "Camp Blue Diamond" in Ramadi. Aka: Fort Apache. He
saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about weapons,
equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of
interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here,
just a Marine with a bird's eye view's opinions:

1) The M-16
rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder
like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel
filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine
version is more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but it has
jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various
optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the
weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the
5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure
common over there and even torso hits cant be reliably counted on to
put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows
a high level of opiate use.

2) The M243 SAW (squad assault
weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down.
Universally considered a piece of shit. Chronic jamming problems, most
of which require partial disassembly. (that's fun in the middle of a

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed
bag. Good gun,
performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm
cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly
common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and
still in the fight.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military
shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good

The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun,
developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!).
Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down.
Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are
being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round
chews up the structure over there.

6) The M2 .50 cal heavy
machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. "Ma deuce" is still worth her
considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their
dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there.
Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on
one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with
a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol
work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old
government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.

8) The
M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified
version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar
stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy
environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

9) The Barrett .50
cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and
hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide
bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy.
Definitely here to stay.

10) The M24 sniper rifle:
Thumbs up.
Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington
700's. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great
effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar
province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed
kills with OVER 100.

11) The new body armor: Thumbs
Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak
up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot
as shit to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages
over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever
possible. All the bullshit about the "old" body armor making our guys
vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter. The IED explosions are
enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most

12) Night Vision and Infrared
Equipment: Thumbs way up.
Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night,
period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more
enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer
teams. We've all seen the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most
of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefire's, and the
troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban operations. Jordan carried
a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.

I cant help
but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50
or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology, it's the WWII and
Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry fighting is
frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

Bad guy weapons:

Mostly AK47's The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the
desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt
fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the
enemy mostly shoots like shit. Undisciplined "spray and pray" type
fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons,
especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again) Fun fact: Captured enemy have
apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they
fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely
solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat
for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.

The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple,
reliable and as common as dogshit. The enemy responded to our
up-armored humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank
range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

3) The IED: The biggest
killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury
rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Jordan's area were in abandoned
cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm artillery shells and wire them
together. Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are
enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is
by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they
are much more sophisticated "shape charges" (Iranian) specifically
designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are
supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to
train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks
have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious,
the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray painted to
look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about
40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes
of this war.

4) Mortars and rockets: Very
prevalent. The soviet
era 122mm rockets (with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One
of Jordan's NCO's lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of
damage "inside the wire". Jordan's base was hit almost daily his entire
time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep
patterns and cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon
than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles,
fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.

Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell
and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld
GPS units for navigation and "Google earth" for overhead views of our
positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their
explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is
rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS
units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

Who are the bad guys?:

of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate
mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly
"foreigners", non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim
world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the
knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.) , and then travel down
the "rat line" which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River
that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are
virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide
bombers or in "sacrifice squads". Most, however, are hard core
terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas
etc.) These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse
and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are
supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. (they have been
fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most
of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The
Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local
govt.'s, the police forces and the Army. The have had a massive spy and
agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most
of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics:

they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every
time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common
earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10
man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing Ak's
and RPG's directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get
mowed down like grass every time. ( see the M2 and M240 above).
Jordan's base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a
tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think
will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the
end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as
Alpha Whiskey Romeo's (Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided
ground-air thing down to a science. The fast mover's, mostly Marine
F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught
out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships
cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night.
Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all. Fun fact: The enemy
death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we're
seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber
shit. The new strategy is simple: attrition.

The insurgent
tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as
cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and
therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are locations
where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to
when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian
casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation
anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi
govt. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to
influence people they are trying to influence but cant reach, such as
local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.).

first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured". They know that
if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet. Zarqawi
openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American
serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't
give a shit about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually
kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our
guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.

Iraqi's are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a shit.
Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they
are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide
bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious
tactical mistake. Many Iraqi's were galvanized and the caliber of
recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their
motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel
because the Iraqi's are sick of the insurgent attacks against
civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe
they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are
stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they
almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are
despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of
20-1 and then see shit like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print
media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food
and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are
not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the
insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to
shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians
just cant stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of
course, permanent US bases there).