Iraqi Ambush: bad Tactics, Techniques, Procedures and Equipment

UPDATED: 04/03/2005

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Analysis of this ambush


U.S. Army CALL Report admits Stryker trucks are failures!

The REBELLION: Fueled by American Oppressive Occupation of Iraq and "faction-ocracy" same mistake we made in South Vietnam with Diem, Belgans in Ruwanda Iraqi Guerrilla Cadre M-14 the brains behind roadside and suicide bomb attacks

I'm hard pressed to see how this changes things. They are completely decentralized, which we already knew, and they've planned it from the beginning, which has always been suspected.

Emery Nelson, 1st TSG (A) S3

April 29, 2004

Hussein's Agents Are Behind Attacks in Iraq, Pentagon Finds


ASHINGTON, April 28 ­ A Pentagon intelligence report has concluded that many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Falluja, are organized and often carried out by members of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad.

The report states that Iraqi officers of the "Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch," known within Mr. Hussein's government as M-14, are responsible for planning roadway improvised explosive devices and some of the larger car bombs that have killed Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners. The attacks have sown chaos and fear across Iraq.

In addition, suicide bombers have worn explosives-laden vests made before the war under the direction of of M-14 officers, according to the report, prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency. The report also cites evidence that one such suicide attack last April, which killed three Americans, was carried out by a pregnant woman who was an M-14 colonel.

Its findings were based on interrogations with high-ranking M-14 members who are now in American custody, as well as on documents uncovered and translated by the Iraq Survey Group. While the report cites specific evidence, other important assessments of American intelligence on Iraq have been challenged and even proven wrong.

The contents of the report were either quoted directly or summarized by five United States government officials and military officers who had read it. It provides a more detailed portrait of the insurgency. In the past, American officials have typically described the insurgents as a rudderless guerrilla movement of foreign fighters, Islamic jihadists, former Baathists, and common criminals. The report does not address the question of how broad-based support for the insurgency is.

The seven-page "Special Analysis" was written under Defense Intelligence Agency guidance by the Joint Intelligence Task Force, which includes officers and analysts from across the civilian and military espionage community. It is not known whether it represents a fully formed consensus or whether there might be dissenting assessments.

Officials who have read the study said it concludes that in Falluja, which is currently encircled by the marines, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 hard-core insurgents, including members of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard who melted away under the American-led offensive, are receiving tactical guidance and inspiration from these former intelligence operatives. "We know the M-14 is operating in Falluja and Ramadi," said one senior administration official, speaking about another rebellious Sunni Muslim city nearby.

The report does not imply that every guerrilla taking up arms against the Americans is under the command of the M-14, nor that every Iraqi who dances atop a charred Humvee is inspired by a former Iraqi intelligence agent. But the assessment helps explain how only a few thousand insurgents, with professional leadership from small numbers of Mr. Hussein's intelligence services and seasoned military officer corps, could prove to be such a challenge to the American occupation. "They carefully laid plans to occupy the occupiers," said one United States government official who has read the report. "They were prepared to try and hijack the country. The goal was to complicate the stabilization mission, and democratization."

The report, completed March 26, was commissioned to answer a simple but provocative question: in Iraq, who is the adversary?

As the American-led forces approached Baghdad last spring, the M-14 put into place "The Challenge Project," in which Mr. Hussein's intelligence officers scattered to lead a guerrilla insurgency and plan bombings and other attacks, the report states. The M-14 officers, according to the report, were sent "to key cities to assist local authorities in defending those cities and to carry out attacks."

The operation was designed with little central control, so community cells could continue to attack American forces and allies even if Mr. Hussein was toppled, and in the event that local commanders were then captured or killed.

The intelligence report was first mentioned publicly last week, during testimony before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, in appearances by Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The classified study was sent to Capitol Hill for scrutiny by lawmakers, and is being distributed to commanders in Iraq to help focus their planning to quell the insurgency.

The report also illustrates how Hussein loyalists are manipulating dissatisfaction with the occupation and cultivating a climate of fear that did not vanish with Mr. Hussein's capture. Policy makers who have read the document say it underscores their concerns that a pervasive fear that allowed Mr. Hussein to rule his nation is, even today, deterring millions of Iraqis from supporting the American-led occupation. The pacification of Iraq cannot succeed without the consent and participation of a larger number of Iraqis, according to officials on Capitol Hill and within the administration.

The document says that "cells of former M-14 personnel are organizing and conducting a terrorist I.E.D. campaign against coalition forces throughout Iraq. The explosives section of M-14 prepared for the invasion by constructing hundreds of suicide vests and belts for use by Saddam Fedayeen against coalition forces." The fedayeen are former government paramilitary forces that attacked American forces on the initial offensive toward Baghdad, and are said to be among the insurgents still fighting today.

The report says that under Mr. Hussein, M-14 was responsible for "hijackings, assassinations and explosives," and that its officers are responsible for "the majority of attacks" today. In one detailed section, it describes how M-14 organized "Tiger Groups" of 15 to 20 volunteers trained in explosives and small-arms who would organize and carry out bombings, including suicide attacks.

It cites an attack in the first week of April 2003, when a suicide bomber killed three American special operations soldiers near the Haditha Dam. The dam had been captured to prevent Iraqi forces from blowing it up A civilian vehicle approached a checkpoint, and a pregnant woman stepped out and began screaming, the military said in a statement issued after the attack. When the Soldiers approached, the woman and the vehicle detonated. The new intelligence report quotes captured M-14 officers as saying that the woman who carried out the suicide attack was a colonel in their organization.

The Targets: Stupid Americans who use excessive fuel requiring lots of wheeled truck resupply columns who will neither leave predictable smooth road paths using tracked AFVs or secure the main supply routes by picketing combat troops along them so roadside bombs cannot be placed there

We've argued for a long time that the M1 and the Tiger heavy tanks were/are both strategic disaster posing as tactical successes. A good article that lays out our concerns.

The Atlantic Monthly | May 2005

The Agenda

The Military

Gas Pains

One of the U.S. military's greatest vulnerabilities in Iraq is its enormous appetite for fuel. The insurgents have figured this out

by Robert Bryce

The Department of Defense now has about 27,000 vehicles in Iraq­and every one of them gets lousy gas mileage. To power that fleet the Defense Logistics Agency must move huge quantities of fuel into the country in truck convoys from Kuwait, Turkey, and Jordan. All that fuel gives American Soldiers a tremendous battlefield advantage (in communications, mobility, and firepower, among other things). But overseeing and carrying out this process requires the work of some 20,000 American Soldiers and private contractors. Every day some 2,000 trucks leave Kuwait alone for various locales in Iraq.

In addition to the challenges posed by the volume of fuel needed, the Army's logisticians must deal with the sheer variety of fuels. Although the Pentagon has tried to reduce the number of fuels it consumes, and now relies primarily on a jet-fuel-like substance called JP-8, the Defense Energy Support Center is currently supplying fourteen kinds of fuel to U.S. troops in Iraq.

In short, the American GI is the most energy-consuming soldier ever seen on the field of war. For computers and GPS units, Humvees and helicopters, the modern Soldier is in constant need of energy: battery power, electric power, and petroleum. The U.S. military now uses about 1.7 million gallons of fuel a day in Iraq. Some of that fuel goes to naval vessels and aircraft, but even factoring out JP-5 fuel (which is what the Navy primarily uses), each of the 150,000 Soldiers on the ground consumes roughly nine gallons of fuel a day. And that figure has been rising.

Some of the rise in consumption is due to the insurgents' use of improvised explosive devices, which account for about 30 percent of all American combat deaths since the occupation began. As John Pike, the executive director of, told me, "This is a war of convoy ambushes and car bombs. There is no front line." Perhaps hundreds of American vehicles have been destroyed by IEDs (the exact number is classified), and hundreds of Soldiers ­many of them guarding convoys­have been killed or injured by them. (And more than sixty-five private contractors are known to have been killed by convoy attacks or IEDs since July of 2003.) Cheap, easy to use, and highly effective, IEDs have forced the Americans to add armor to their fleet of Humvees in Iraq. A fully armored Humvee weighs more than five tons­and requires a larger engine and heavier suspension than the non-armored model. The Army also recently allocated more than $500 million to add armor to its utility trucks.

The added armor will help protect U.S. Soldiers from IEDs and snipers ­but it also means higher fuel consumption for their vehicles. Which means, in turn, that more tanker trucks will have to be driven into Iraq­and those trucks will provide more targets for the insurgents, who have become skilled at attacking them. It's difficult to guard them all. When insurgents see that American patrols are increasing in one region, they can quickly and easily shift their attacks­ on fueling stations, pipelines, truck convoys, refineries ­to another region.

It's a vicious cycle: attacks on convoys produce a need for more armor, which produces a need for more fuel, which produces larger convoys, which produce more targets for attack. Over the past six months the Army and the Air Force have had to specially train more than 1,000 additional Soldiers to perform convoy security. One tank commander, who returned from Iraq last spring, told me that he had been so concerned about his supply lines that he had stationed sentries at one-mile intervals along the highway in his sector.

Logistics is an old and critically important issue in war. During World War II the German general Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps was stymied in North Africa by a shortage of fuel for its tanks. A lack of gasoline also halted the gallop across France of General George Patton's Third Army in the summer of 1944. The Third Army had about 400,000 men and used about 400,000 gallons of gasoline a day. Today the Pentagon has about a third that number of troops in Iraq­yet they use more than four times as much fuel.

Given that the longer the fuel supply lines, the greater the vulnerability for our military, logic would suggest we try to reduce our fuel requirements. But over the past several decades the Pentagon has bought billions of dollars' worth of tanks, trucks, and other vehicles with little or no consideration to their fuel efficiency. In decades past, U.S. Army logisticians assumed that 50 percent of the tonnage moved onto a battlefield was ammunition, 30 percent was fuel, and the rest was food, water, and supplies. Today the fuel component may be as high as 70 percent, according to a study done in 2001 by the Defense Science Board.

The insurgents' tactics may not stop the flow of motor fuel to American troops, but they are part of the broader war that is forcing the United States and its allies in Iraq to defend every pipeline, every refinery, every tanker truck, and every fuel depot. Even in peacetime that's a difficult task.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military in Iraq is in a bind. It has no choice but to continue fortifying its vehicles with armor and pumping imported fuel into, for example, the Bradley fighting vehicle (which gets less than two miles per gallon) and the M1 Abrams tank (less than one mile per gallon). But all the fuel demanded by those armaments and vehicles creates logistical and military headaches. The tank commander I spoke to told me that Soldiers on the ground are beginning to see that "the more fuel-efficient we are, the more tactically sound we are."

But U.S. military commanders seem not to see that connection. At the conclusion of its study the DSB recommended that the Pentagon make fuel efficiency a key consideration when buying new weapons systems. The Joint Chiefs of Staff dismissed the proposal in August of that year.

Richard Truly, a former astronaut who recently retired as the head of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, chaired the DSB study. "The thing we were trying to get across was that this doesn't have anything to do with moral values," Truly told me. "It has to do with running the goddamn military with as little fuel as possible and showing the advantages to the warfighter himself ­so that instead of having ten fuel trucks, you can have five." Unfortunately, Truly says, the prevailing wisdom at the Pentagon is that "fuel efficiency is for sissies."

Please look at this slide show carefully; particularly the TERRAIN ADJACENT TO THE ROAD.

1. M113 Gavin light tracked AFV infantry security forces as an advance guard could travel up both sides of the shoulders adjacent to the roads 1000m ahead of convoy main body with dismount infantry AND thermal sights to spoil command-detonated mine ambushers before they can spring ambush on road-bound wheeled resupply trucks. Wires to command-detonated mines/IEDs can often be seen. Look at slide #10.

This cannot be done in Stryker wheeled armored cars (or even lighter HMMWVs) because they will not be able to with certainty traverse this terrain, light track AFVs can.

2. Incinerated HMMWV shown was NOT SANDBAGGED.

This is criminal negligence and institutional incompetence.

ALL vehicles should be sandbagged; including the Driver's side which may be first to run over a land mine. Even sandbag the M113 Gavin's driver side since units have not ordered the front hull undedrarmor kit.

3. The lead vehicle should be the heaviest vehicle, i.e. a tank or a dump truck filled with sand, etc. in event of contact with pressure or trip-wire activated mines or IEDs. Engineers should lead way with mine/explosives detecting equipment/dogs, mine rollers/plows.

4. Troop-transport FMTV series vehicles should have the tailgate removed for rapid dismount.

5. We used to know how to do this, re: FM 90-5 Jungle Operations. We need a revised SOP for modern vehicles from 3/4 ton HMMWV series up to 5T FMTV series.


The Jessica Lynch 507th Maintenance Company debacle revealed the unit had vehicles with machine gun mounts that were RUSTED and inoperable. They are not alone. Every FMTV truck can have a 360 degree rotating turret kit fitted to mount heavy, medium and light machine guns. Units with these mounts need to insure they work, taking them apart, cleaning them of rust/dirt if need be. Those without the MG mounts need to obtain them immediately.

Despite popular myths that only hard-top HMMWV trucks can be armed, there is a M197 pedestal mount that can be fitted to ANY soft-top HMMWV. Details:

Every Vehicle Combat-Ready NOW

7. Remove HMMWV doors and have Soldiers in hard body armor facing out, weapons ready-to-fire

8. Order every available armor kit possible for your vehicles; M113 Gavins have gunshields and front hull under mine armor kits.

Be resourceful!

9. Red River Arsenal has some old TOW CAP armor kevlar 8' x 10' blankets that can be used to line vehicle floors and sides in a lighter form than sandbags:

NSN 1440-01-031-7397 Ballistic Blankets part# 11567425

10. We need Air Cover from reliable, fixed-wing manned observation/attack aircraft over our convoys to thwart roadside ambushes

8. WE need to start being driven by external realities created by the enemy not our internal non-sense and procedures

Why is the soft-skin Army getting clobbered in Iraq?, part 1: the HMMWV truck

With now over 200 dead American Soldiers, its time we face the truth that our Army and marines are poorly organized and equipped for 21st century non-linear conflicts. Our current land forces are designed for non-existent linear conflicts where huge land forces march on an enemy capital and thoroughly clear out all enemy pockets of resistance as in WWII. While this took place "safe rear areas" were created where Soldiers could shuttle supplies back and forth inside unarmored, rubber-tired trucks manifesting itself today in the ever-present and extremely vulnerable 5-9,000 pound HMMWV and 22,000 pound FMTV type trucks. This is not WWII with 100 Divisions of U.S. Army troops, this is 2003 and the enemy's center-of-gravity can be knocked out with concentrated maneuver forces, but the stability afterwards has to be won with an enemy coming from ANY direction. There are no "safe" rear areas in 4th Generation warfare (4GW).

The central idea that the Army's utility vehicle be an unarmored HMMWV truck is incorrect and Soldiers are now dead from repeated ambushes. The idea that general tasks can be done with a mass-produced, unarmored truck is one driven by economy and cheapness with a subtle idea that the other option a tracked vehicle will wear out if tasked to do this. The myth that a rubber-tired vehicle can scoot around large areas without break down to have "operational mobility" comes from ignorance of basic laws of physics and experience with what light tracked armored vehicles can do. The Army is now "losing its shirt" replacing rubber tires that are busting in Iraq.

The U.S. Army at one time was much smarter and better equipped for non-linear combats when it was a M113 Gavin AFV Army til the early 1980s with the advent of the HMMWV and the too-heavy for general use M1/M2 family of heavy AFVs. Now we have light units in HMMWVs getting clobbered in combat without ANY armored vehicles and heavy AFV units that cannot roam around as needed without wearing their tracks out. In stark contrast, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) right now at the bare minimum moves its troops around non-linear battlefields in light tracked M113 Gavins with armor protection against small arms and with appliqué armor RPGs. The IDF is not losing a man a day like we are in Iraq.

Its high time the U.S. Army relearn that a light tracked AFV should be the primary troop carrier for ALL its units in combat situations not the horrible HMMWV. A light tracked M113 Gavin AFV (under 11 tons) with current steel tracks can go anywhere, swim, be airlifted to include helicopters, and with a light 8.63 PSI ground pressure get 10,000 miles on its tracks which will not bust daily as rubber tires do. The maneuverists who lust for the rubber-tired LAV/Stryker armored cars need to go back through their notes to their favorite 1940 fall of France battle and realize that "operational mobility" they are so quick to praise as necessary to knock out enemy centers of gravity was done by TRACKED light tanks that could go cross country through the "impassable" Ardennes forest not road-bound, fragile armored cars. Study the ACRs in Vietnam, their combat experiences with M113 Gavin operational mobility saved the day during the Tet offensive and saved Saigon.

The quickest way to get M113 Gavins in Army light infantry units is to re-equip their Delta Companies with 30+ light tracked AFVs so they can now give A, B and Charlie companies armored mobility as needed. When not used for troop transports the M113 Gavin's armored mobility renders better firing positions for Delta companies during anti-tank missions.

If we have folks who cannot accept the M113 Gavin because its not new, they need to go take a look at the B-52. Planet earth doesn't care about fashion, all that matters is what works. The unarmored HMMWV truck and rubber-tired armored car do not work in combat against violent humans. The light tracked AFV, the M113 Gavin does and it needs to become the prime troop carrier in the U.S. Army via modest upgrades other smarter armies have done to keep its men alive and get the job done in a violent world.

Getting clobbered in Iraq part 2: where are the gunshields?

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer."

Proverbs 6:6, 30:24-25

One summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; "we have plenty of food now."

The Ant went on its way. When winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.

--Aesop's Fable: The Ant and The Grasshopper


Our Soldiers are dying in Iraq today because we squandered billions of dollars and 4 years of preparation time on defective Canadian-made Stryker wheeled armored cars sitting idle at Fort Lewis like fad-conscious "grasshoppers" when our men could have been better protected had we diligently economized and upgraded like "ants" our existing and superior M113 Gavin tracked armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) at half the cost and time that are actually in combat in Iraq; thereby insuring we had enough money to buy the body armor our troops need for the Afghanistan/Iraq wars. We chatted about "transformation" instead of making actual war capability improvements until the enemy struck on 9/11/01. We could whine about the difficult geo-political situation our Soldiers are in, but that's evading the truth that the supposedly "world's best military" needs to better anticipate the future and diligently use its resources to prevail regardless. For the first-time since Somalia, U.S. Soldiers are occupying a country that is not fully glad to see them there. In the past, after a brief war to overthrow a bad government, U.S. forces could switch into a docile peacekeeping mode, not right now in Iraq. So let's face the problem, head-on shall we?

The U.S. military is populated by weak, co-dependant "sheeple" (people who act like naive sheep) and often led by egotistical types of mini-tyrants. Like "grasshoppers" these people in peacetime make decisions based on feel-good style and not substance; to be reality-centric requires HUMILITY and HONESTY, things that egomaniacs cannot face and sheeple are not willing to confront anyone over. The Army can be seen as divided into two sub-camps; light and heavy. The light people think they can walk free of having to care for motor vehicles anywhere on the battlefield and not need any armor protection; they look down on the heavy people who fight from armored vehicles. If the wars are in closed terrain, don't last too long, the enemy is not difficult, light infantry can prevail with light casualties. However, lo and behold you have to cross hundreds of miles of open desert, you can't walk far with only the water you can carry on your back. We discover we "need" the heavy forces we disparaged with words like "legacy" because they toil in a motor pool more than they do sports PT to look sexy for the opposite sex. The heavy people are to blame for not wanting to take risks in anything less than very heavy vehicles too hard to fly to a fight so the light M113 Gavin AFVs our Army needs to move the light infantry and resupply ourselves on the non-linear battlefield are neglected. Then came Iraq. In open terrain without cover and closed terrain of cities full of lurking gunmen, we discover we can't mouse-click steer firepower (Tofflerian RMA mentality) to hold the ground and the peace, either. Holding this contested ground with light infantry without ANY armored vehicles, we are losing our men to gunmen, snipers, RPGs, and grenades. In the years leading up to the second Iraq war, light infantrymen refused to wear body armor in training saying they were overloaded (they are more on this later). Then came Somalia and the Ranger Regiment was rescued from soft-skin vehicle annihilation by armored vehicles and hard body armor that could stop rifle bullets, called "Ranger Body Armor" to make it acceptable. The full post-Somalia response should have been requesting war-stock M113 Gavin light tracked armored vehicles instead of continuing to drive around in easily destroyed rubber-tired HMMWV and LandRover trucks--but Ranger egotism will not allow this, to admit you need armor protection means you are less of a man. However, the current rifle-caliber resistant body armor, "Interceptor Body Armor" (IBA) has saved many lives in Afghanistan and now Iraq and the other troops of our Army unashamedly want IBA even though there is not enough to go around.

Why is there not enough IBA to go around?

There is not enough IBA for all our troops because before the war in our peacetime training fantasy our egotism and lack of professional understanding of the battlefield did not make it a priority (i.e. we squandered our money on defective Stryker armored cars). It should not take getting shot at to make a so-called professional to see the need for armor on the automatic weapons fire-swept battlefield. But the basic problem with arrogance is a lack of RESPECT for others; when you look down on the other half of the Army, is it a surprise you do not respect the enemy? If you do not respect the enemy as a clever human being, though fighting for an evil cause, you don't "what-if" what he can do to you weapons-wise and you don't take counter-measures like armor protecting yourself. As stated in the first article, the force structure of our light infantry that lacks ANY tracked armored mobility that depends on unarmored soft-skin vehicles for re-supply is madness on the current non-linear battlefield. This can be quickly fixed by outfitting our light units with the world's greatest and easiest to maintain light tracked AFV, the M113 Gavin which waits in the wings by the thousands to rescue our Army from its descent into all-or-nothing Light/Heavy madness that took place at the dawn of the '80s. By canceling the overweight, road-bound, thinly armored Stryker "medium" rubber-tired armored car one-size-fits-all delusion, we can save over $9 BILLION dollars and be able to buy every Soldier in harm's way IBA and upgrade their M113 Gavins into "A4" models with RPG applique' armor, chemi-bio-nuclear air filtration systems, digital firepower/situational awareness, a shoot-on-the-move autocannon 1-man turret, band-tracks and hybrid-electric drive for stealth and 60 mph road speeds. We would have the best general purpose troop and supply armored transport possible on planet earth in 2003. 50% of an Army Heavy Division moves by M113 Gavins now, all we have to do is fully exploit their full potential throughout the rest of the Army to make its men and its supplies mobile on tracks with basic armor protection like the IDF wisely does.

Why is our Infantry on foot overloaded?

Once we respect the enemy and the earth itself, we can properly employ and develop future Army ground vehicles, creating the best force mixes possible with what we can do today and in the near future. However, we can't fight successfully only while mounted in armored vehicles because there are simply too many places that are inaccessible to any vehicle in a tactically prudent manner that require foot troops to secure. Here again, the light-itis egotism strikes again; lacking a force-on-force feedback war game system that requires ANSWERS, the light infantry revels in its overloaded weights it carries and its heavy casualties it takes in peacetime MILES "laser tag" training. Now that the bullets are real, they are born-again believers in rifle-caliber bullet resistant IBA. However, due to a lack of intelligent focus on the individual Soldier's load---actual thinking and tinkering to get loads under 40 pounds to get 4-7+mph foot mobility--not hubristic chest beating to be "tough"-----Soldiers really are overloaded more than ever before. If you are a slow moving target you can be more easily aimed in on by the enemy and hit. The ability to be nimble and evade being hit is not a solution to everything, look at how the light infantry without body armor has failed in those unavoidable situations where you don't have cover/concealment to cling to: deserts and urban areas when you are supposedly at "peace". Since we do not weigh our loads and try to trim them and move them creatively (M113 Gavin AFVs, bikes, carts, pack mules, ATVs) to get tactical speed march benefits, its not surprising that we are carrying unnecessary and overly heavy items into the field for comfortable living. Then when actual ammo loads are carried plus IBA Soldier mobility goes to nil. The solution here is to Army-wide change the current sports PT test to a 6 mile 30-pound ruck march in full combat gear for time with dummy ammunition. Whenever ANY Soldiers go to the field they carry their basic dummy load of ammunition. This will force Natick Labs, private industry and leaders to find and use lighter field living means than our current bloated tentage. The majority of the 30 pound weight of the rucksack should be ammunition and water. An Army that trains as it would fight will not be surprised when it has to carry ammo and wear IBA.

Are we a "hard" or "soft" target for the enemy?

While we are reorganizing our Army to use armored tracked vehicles for troop transport/resupply in the new non-linear warfare paradigm, we will be stuck using soft-skin trucks---its way overdue but THE BEST sandbagging procedures for both the HMMWV and FMTV trucks need to be determined and published immediately throughout the Army like the diagram in FM 90-5 Jungle operations. The FMTV truck stands so tall over its rubber tires it needs a ladder for the troops to get out--this is unacceptable---we need to find a way to rope the rear ramp in an open position at an angle so troops can flop down and slide off onto the ground for faster dismounting. The M197 pedestal machine gun mount needs to be on several of EVERY Army unit's HMMWVs so M249 LMGs are employed in a ready-to-fire manner. Sandbagging, anti-mine hardening and weapons mounting, Escape and Recovery training needs to be standard in ALL convoy operations and this should be a CTT task done by every Army unit each year. This should have already been SOP throughout the Army, we are running late and men and women are dead.

Armored MP HMMWVs now are getting gunshields, the officer with the foresight to push this forward should be promoted. Gunners exposed firing machine guns from vehicles are vital to convoy defense--the enemy knows this, fires back and they are killed. The Russians know this and open their AFV hatches FORWARD so they act as shields and have bullet deflectors in front of their driver's hatches. Our AFVs don't have these protective features. The U.S. Army learned the need for gunshields at the 1963 battle of Ap Bac, created gunshield kits for its M113 Gavins but they languish now in supply warehouses because during peacetime the egotistical Soldier doesn't respect the enemy and since it takes more work/red tape to mount gunshields he doesn't. Every M113 Gavin right now in combat in Iraq should immediately be fitted with the TC's gunshield kit. The already too high Bradley AFV with its huge 2-man turret has neither forward opening hatches or gunshield kits:

Yesterday evening, a sniper killed a U.S. Soldier who was standing in the gunner's hatch of a Bradley fighting vehicle while guarding the national museum in Baghdad. Yesterday the museum opened its doors for a few hours - the first time since the war. The Soldier was evacuated to a military hospital, but died of his wounds. Attackers detonated an explosive on a highway in Baghdad's western outskirts yesterday, injuring three passengers in a civilian car and two U.S. Soldiers traveling in a Humvee convoy, according to an Associated Press photographer on the scene. On Thursday, U.S. troops near Baqubah, north-east of the capital, attempted to draw out attackers by luring them into an ambush on a stretch of road known as "RPG Alley" because of its frequent rocket-propelled grenade strikes. One suspect was killed and three captured in the operation, said Lieutenant Kurt Chapman, with the Army's 4th Infantry Division. "We're trying to be a little bit more proactive and find them before they get us," Chapman said.

Compare this to the fact that we have known for YEARS that Chechan snipers have focused in on AFV crewmen and at JRTC OPFOR successfully does the same to U.S. Army troops yet no gunshields for M1 Abrams or M2 Bradley AFVs. The M113 Gavin gunshields are not mounted. Compare this tragic story to the IBA success story described in the "Small Arms and Individual Equipment Lessons Learned" gathered from 5 through 10 May 2003 from Soldiers serving in the Baghdad sector during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Comments came from Brigade Commanders down to riflemen. The following units were interviewed:

HHC/1-187 IN, 101st ABN, 2d BCT, 82d ABN, 3-325 PIR, 2-325 PIR, 3-7 CAV, FSB, 1st BCT, 3 ID, 3-69 AR.

Interceptor Body Armor: Soldiers have great confidence in their body armor. As one battalion commander stated "Soldiers felt comfortable 'trolling for contact' because they felt their body armor provided sufficient protection." There were numerous comments about comfort and weight but, in general, comments were positive. The comfort comments dealt mainly with maneuverability. Soldiers indicated that it was difficult to maintain a good prone firing position while wearing the IBA with plates. Their Kevlar [helmet] interfered with the back of the vest and it was difficult to keep your head up while prone. Also, the plates made it difficult to seat the stock of the weapon into the shoulder as Soldiers are trained. The foam impact pad in the Airborne Soldier's Kevlar [helmet] further exacerbated the problem of contact between Kevlar and vest. Most importantly however, is the performance demonstrated by the IBA during the operation. There were numerous examples of impacts that could have been fatal that resulted in minor or no injury to the Soldier. The A/3-69 AR XO's tank responded to a threat to the field trains of about 60 dismounted enemy. While engaging the enemy with the 7.62 MG, the loader felt an impact to his chest that knocked him back into the turret. He told the XO he had been hit. The XO checked him for a wound, found none and directed him to continue to engage the enemy. After the fight they found the entry hole to the IBA, significant damage to the edge of the SAPI plate and a 7.62 round embedded in the protective liner of the OTV. Other soldiers in A/3-69 AR made fun of the loader above because he wore an IBA inside the turret of an M1 until he was hit in the chest and survived. Vehicle crewman expressed a desire for similar protection. Some of the Soldiers we interviewed said IBA was suitable for the turret. Others said it was not. Due to the nature of the threat, M1 and M2 crews spent a significant amount of time exposed in the hatches, engaging dismounted enemy around their vehicles, as they pushed through. Vehicle crewmen took it upon themselves to modify their issued Spall Vest to increase the protection. One crewman in 3-7 CAV took the protective pads from three different spall vests and put them into one. The Soldiers in 3-69 AR found they could put IBA SAPI plates into the spall vest.

Where is our Soldier face, neck and eye protection?

Jim Dunnigan's Strategypage reports:"

"May 16, 2003: More medical reports indicate that the new Interceptor protective vest was, indeed, bullet proof. Only nine percent of the combat wounds to 118 Army casualties were in the trunk, and these were either by larger caliber weapons or shots that came in at odd angles and got around the Interceptor (like via an armpit.) Autopsies of 154 dead Soldiers showed that the single most common area hit was the head (neck and face, the rest is well protected by the Kevlar helmet.) The next largest category is multiple wounds, including ones that sever major [arteries] in the arms, and most dangerously, in the legs."

Non-linear war requires a paradigm change; another that must change is the current SLA Marshall men-against-fire mentality that units that are pinned down by enemy fire are helpless and can only be rescued others not pinned down. In the days before bullets infantry had SHIELDS. Over the years larger weapons like artillery pieces, machine guns and rocket launchers have had gunshields to protect their Soldiers employing them to get a line of sight to hit their targets. We have the technology today to take an Interceptor Body Armor plate proof against 7.62mm bullets and attach it to the end of our rifles and machine guns to be a man-portable gunshield. The 1st TSG (A) has created a working prototype

We should not have to fight an uphill battle against small minded egotism and can't-do to field small gunshields on our Soldiers in harm's way now in Iraq. Portable gunshields that are separate from the weapon are in use by the IDF and other military/police units. The paradigm change of giving the individual Soldier a portable gunshield on his weapon would give him the ability to defeat bullets/shrapnel away from his body and face, the latter having no protection at all. A rifleman's gunshield would enable him in a firefight to gain LOS to fire his weapon on the enemy and gain fire superiority even if the enemy has "the drop" and has fired first at him abusing the "peace" illusion created by surrounding civilians.

1st TSG (A) intel specialist, Roy Ardillo summarizes:

"1. Improve Soldier indivual equipment, but lighten the load. Make sure the body armor covers all body parts in some fashion.

2. Move to tracked vehicles througout the Army in both light and heavy units. Use gunshields where ever possible, even on wheeled vehicles during the transition.

3. Change tactics to accept that when we use Soviet Tactics, don't worry about your flanks and rear, we run the risk of being ambushed and our supplies cut off.

4. Accept that the non-linear battlefield has risks that technology, without manpower, may not be able to defeat.

In that case, why not convert all of Colonel McGregor's Combat Groups, both light and heavy, to the ACR TO&E with extra infantrymen instead of scouts. These Brigade sized units are mini-divisions. Why not give them the extra infantrymen and go to a Brigades/Combat Groups of between 5,000-8,000 troops. Call it a division if you like.

I think it is high time to quit acting the fool.

We cannot have 34 brigades with 7 brigade types. We need heavy brigades (heavy mech infantry/heavy armor) and light brigades (light mech infantry/light mech airborne). The only difference would be the platforms.

Infantry would again learn dismounted warfare.

All of Shinseki's ideas, about an infantry centric Styker rubber-tired motorized Brigade, are wrong. There is a problem with the squad. Can carry a full squad in an M113, but not a Bradely. That can solved with extra additional platforms until the FCS which should hold a 9-man squad and be tracked, comes out."

Emery Nelson writes:

"Talked to a friend on Friday who has experience with IEDs of the kind used in Iraq. He told me that he's been trying for years to get 'CALL' to publish an article on how Chechens wire up 152mm howitzers rounds for booby traps. They used all kinds of methods and electronic devices like pagers and cell phones for triggering. The Russians have already paid for this knowledg. He's been trying to get the article published since the mid 1990s but FMSO is afraid that it would become another 'Anarchist's Cook Book'. The problem with this belief is as follows: The insurgents already have this knowledge from a Chechen inspired pamphlet. The only ones who don't get this info is our Soldiers."

Part 3: Army Hoping to Get By Slapping Armor onto just the trucks in Iraq, Stryker/FCS wheeled cash cows untouched

The really sad thing is that DoD and the Army refuse to admit their Tofflerian RMA world view that mental gadgetry replaces physical things has failed and will continue to fail on today's non-linear battlefields.

While are troops are dying and being maimed in Iraq, the majority of the Army's money received from the tax payers are going to handfuls of Stryker and FCS trucks.

Table of Contents

Air view

Burned out HMMWV truck

Close-up burned off rubber tires

RPG impact point

Unsandbagged HMMWV driver's side

1st IED

2nd IED

Command detonation battery

View of ambush point

Observation Post

View from OP towards ambush site

Author: 1st Tactical Studies Group (Airborne)


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