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Forum: SC General
Thread: ACCOUNT OF THE MARINE'S COMBAT DUTY in IRAQ (attention hillbilly)
Post by: jddegraff(43958)
2005-11-15 05:54:10
sent to a base C.O. thur official channels.


This was pass on to be and I though it might be of interest to our group.

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.
Jordan 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 blip. Chronic
jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (that's fun in
the middle of a firefight).

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 effect.

5) 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 blip in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

7) 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 up. 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 blip 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 blip 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 cases.

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:

1) 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 blip 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.

2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple,
reliable and as common as blip 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

5) 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?:

Most 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:

When 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 blip 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.).

The 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 blip 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.

The Iraqi's are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a blip.
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.

According 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 blip 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).

Anyway guys, that's it, hope you found it interesting, I sure did.

Post by: mael(88584)
2005-11-17 04:23:34
Thanks Sentires
Post by: jddegraff(43958)
2005-11-18 15:01:26
now where is hillbilly.... i wanna start some shiznit.
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