Comments from the Front

dwarven1

Appleseed Instructor
Rating - 100%
33   0   0
Joined
Mar 13, 2005
Messages
27,699
Likes
1,998
Location
Starksboro, VT
Got this from a friend of a friend of a friend, etc.

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.

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 shit.
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 dicks 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 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 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 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.

2) 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.

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 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.).

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 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.

The 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.

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 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).

That's it, hope you found it interesting, I sure did.
 
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Joined
May 2, 2005
Messages
9,150
Likes
98
Great read Ross..

May god keep Jordan, and fellow servicemen safe. Bring them home when the job is done, and know that we truly appreciate what they are doing for us. We don't all believe the liberal media, and seeing letters like this helps to confirm this.

Adam
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
10,994
Likes
418
Location
Vermont, a Free State
Just so everybody knows, Hathcock didn't have the highest confirmed kills for Vietnam.

An Army NCO (Waldron?) had the highest, followed by at least one or two Marines (one is Chuck Mawhinney sp?), then Hathcock.
 
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Joined
Sep 11, 2005
Messages
8,985
Likes
3,532
Location
Leoburg/Fitchminster area
That was an excellent debrief. I was haunted by the fact that the comments made about the M16 echo those of a generation ago. My information about the M9 is a little different from that reported, but the ineffectiveness of the 9mm NATO hardball round seems universal as does any .35 caliber round in hardball or round nose configuration. I would hate to think that a soldier or marine died because his 9mm round failed to stop an enemy, especially in light of the fact that we learned this once before in the Phillipines about a century ago.

I respect that young marine very much. He is a finite resource and hence very precious. On the tactical level we are winning that war, but I am not so sure about the strategic level. High body counts do not necessarily equate with victory. The American people were promised a swift and decisive victory, that is the premise that permitted the war. This has not been forthcoming. I do not trust our National Command Authority to sucessfully prosecute this war. Anyone above battalion command is suspect in my opinion. It is not the fault of the soldier or marine on the ground, but horrific miscaculation by the leadership. A prolonged conflict against a non-linear threat is something that the United States does not do well.

To keep this gun related, I will mention that for a while it looked like the HK XM8 was going to be America's new battle rifle, and tests confirmed that it was superior to the M16 in any of its variations. Well, what could have been a simple procurement issue got caught in the Bermuda Triangle of the material acquisition process. Methinks that politics once again raised its ugly head.

If you can't trust Washington with your gun, how can you trust Washington with your son ?

Regards,

Mark
 
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Joined
Sep 11, 2005
Messages
8,985
Likes
3,532
Location
Leoburg/Fitchminster area
"It's a special ops board, so tread lightly over there." Mrs WW

What does that mean "tread lightly over there" ? I hope that you are not caught up in the mystique :)

BTW...I did peruse that thread, seems some doubt the authenticity of the post and there was a big debate about the effectiveness of the SAW.

It seems to me that once again, if you want an effective squad automatic weapon, the BAR would do just fine. Some authorities used to knock the M60 saying it was inferior to its German father, but in retrospect, it was probably a pretty good weapon.

Regards,

Mark
 

MrsWildweasel

Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Messages
15,389
Likes
348
Location
Western MA
No I am not caught up in the mystique. I respect that it is their playground. Their rules.
Alan was issued a brand new saw and he absolutely loves it along with the 240B. Alan's unit bought all brand new weapons before they went over. So they should have fewer problems.
It is a site that I go to when I want straight answers and no BS,and they have been very good about it.
 
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Joined
Sep 11, 2005
Messages
8,985
Likes
3,532
Location
Leoburg/Fitchminster area
I am sure that it is an excellent source of information at the grunt level, but what is happening at the grunt level is not what is happening with the war.

Did you ever have the opportunity (or misfortune, depending on your view) of working at a headquarters ? Spend a few days at any headquaters above the battalion level and you will see that there is absolutely no coorelation between what is going on there and the reality of combat.

You said that your son's unit BOUGHT new weapons before going overseas. Now what exactly does that mean ?

In my last issue of the Army Times, there was an article on how soldiers could get reimbursed for their body armor. Pretty f**ing sad that a GI has to buy his own body armor to begin with, then there is the issue of the hardening of humvees.

I'll tell you what, my opinion of this war will change when the Bush girls enlist and when half of the United States Congress has a son or daughter in uniform....until then I remain very, very skeptical. We no longer have great men in and out of uniform leading us in my opinion, and that is the problem, not the folks on the ground.

Respectfully,

Mark
 

Admin

Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 100%
18   0   0
Joined
Feb 25, 2005
Messages
39,920
Likes
18,771
Location
Monadnock area, NH
The only issue with the 249 is keeping it lubed up enough and free of debris for it to function properly. It's a bit of a PM hog, but when it's kept clean and lubed it is an effective weapon.
 

MrsWildweasel

Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Messages
15,389
Likes
348
Location
Western MA
Basically Alan's unit was given an open checkbook. They bought new M-4's, 9mm,Saw's and 240's. All brans spankin new still have cosmoline on them. They were issued all the new body armour,etc. I worked Headquarters for our unit,for awhile. Hated every minute of it. Prefered the hill.(T-berg) Alan's unit knew from the get go who they were replacing, and were in constant contact with them a took with them the things the other unit wished they'd had.
Hate to tell you they are not all grunts on that site. I know you are very pessimistic on this war and you are entitled to your opinion.
We also had the displeasure of dealing with Berlin Brigade who had no clue as to what we actually did,and that we had an actual live mission,while they always wanted us to play their stupid little games. Actually was fun arguing with them sometimes.
What you are saying about the humvees and the body armour was at the begining of the war. Yes we weren't ready for this one,but they have gotten their act together and are issuing the things the guys need. Alan left with 6 duffle bags of gear.
 
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Joined
Sep 11, 2005
Messages
8,985
Likes
3,532
Location
Leoburg/Fitchminster area
"What you are saying about the humvees and the body armour was at the begining of the war."

My understanding that body armor is in the pipeline, but that doesn't negate the fact that GIs had to buy it and are only now getting reimbursed and I reasonably confident that reimbursement will probably be a pain in the ass, and that some GIs never will get their money.

After some delay, I am also told the new hardened humvees are also rollling out.

It sounds as if your sons commander had some common sense and listened

If we weren't ready to go to war, then why did we go to war ? Iraq was not the pressing issue that Afghanistan was.

The point is we got caught with our pants down in Iraq because some politicians, in and out of uniform didn't do their homework and didn't confuse themselves with the facts. Wrong lesson from history: France, 1944....historical lesson should have been: Occupation of Germany and Japan 1945.

History is rife with examples of poor planning and successful armies have the ability to adapt and overcome, as armies usually plan and are some degree equipped to fight the last war not the war they are currently in. I fully understand that some of the response is going to be reactive because it is impossible to plan for every contingency. The truth of the matter is that the American people were not psychologically prepared for a prolonged non-linear conflict in Iraq, and I do not think that they will continue to tolerate it. The senior leadership did not really plan for this, and they should have, but they were so confident that everything would be hunky dory after we whipped Saddam's army, and the synchopantic strap-hangers that advised went right along with the leadership's assessment or rather mirror-imaged it. There was probably some major or lt. col somewhere who said "Hey wait a minute...what if" and probably got his career ruined or at least a bad OER (Officer Efficiency Report) for his trouble.

Now this is speculative..of course, but I have yet to see otherwise. Like I say, when I see the Bush girls in uniform, maybe my opinion will change.

Regards,

Mark
 
Rating - 100%
49   0   0
Joined
Jun 7, 2005
Messages
23,187
Likes
999
Location
The Land of Confusion and Pissed off!
mark056 said:
It sounds as if your sons commander had some common sense and listened

Well, my brother-in-law is in the same Company.

I think that the reason that they got to get all new gear was the job they were going over to do. They are Engineers, and this bunch have been trained and sent to do MP duty. So they needed to get the equipment that they didn't have because they are working a job not common to thier Company.

At least that was my understanding.
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
May 5, 2005
Messages
10,994
Likes
418
Location
Vermont, a Free State
The National Guard is grossly underfunded, UNTIL they get depoyment orders. Then the units get some major money to procure shortage items.

Authorizations for the M16 series rifles are essentially gone, the authorizations are now usually for the M4 series. Both are acceptable substitutes for the other, other than comat vehicle crewmembers, who are specifically authorized M4 series.

The XM8 was not adopted because of the cost, and the fact that it's not a whole lot better than the M16/M4 series.
 

MrsWildweasel

Moderator
NES Member
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Messages
15,389
Likes
348
Location
Western MA
Their Commander is also on his 2nd tour, along with most of their head shed. Alot of the guys in Alan's unit are Combat Vets. So they also have the experience too.
Any one with half a brain should have been able to understand that when we went into Iraq it was going to have to be for the long haul. We will have somewhat of a presence for along time to come. Now if the politicians didn't realise it now would be the time for them to get their heads out of their asses and understand that we will be there for 10-20 years or more.
 
Top Bottom