Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Are the troops properly equipped?

I noticed something today that I hope is not typical. In an Army Times photo a Marine from A 1/3rd Marine Regt is using an AK instead of a US weapon.


Despite redneck talk of how great the AK is, compared to the M16A2 or M4 it is a piece of shit. Inaccurate, too loud, and not able to take scopes and NVGs. Most importantly - inaccurate. And it is NOT more reliable than an A2 or M4, despite myths of firing thousands of rounds after being buried in mud. And when it does malfunction it has a nasty habit of blowing apart in the user's hands (well, not that nasty if the enemy is using it at the time.) It also, depending on the quality of the ammo, tends to overfeed and jam (and my guess is the enemy in Iraq has some old-ass ammo). And did I mention less accurate?

So while armchair commandos think it is normal for US troops to use AKs, to me it shows something wrong. Did his weapon malfunction, and the supply chain couldn't get him a replacement fast enough? Are they low on ammo so that he is burning up enemy stuff and conserving US rounds? Is he so poorly trained that he prefers looking "cool" with an AK instead of using his own, better, weapon? Does he have an outstripped weapon that hasn't been replaced, so the AK is actually better than his worn-out rifle? What the F? None of these scenarios are good.

Then I noticed something else.

None of the Marines in A 1/3 Marine Regt. had scopes. They didn't have day scopes, NVDs, AN-PAQ-4 designators, nothing. Just iron sights. All they had were plain vanilla M16A2s, with no "goodies." And those "goodies" help, especially at night. A designator, for instance, sends out a beam, like a laser sight, that you can put on the enemy and, if you are properly zeroed, that is where the round will go. So you put the "dot" on the enemy's forehead or center mass and send him to Paradise. The enemy, unless he is wearing NVGs, can't see the beam. And if he isn't wearing NVGs then he can't even see you, and that is why the US Army owns the night. Plus, in well-trained units, the use of designators helps you to stay in your sector of fire and avoid two soldiers engaging the same target. And day scopes are handy even when not firing - you can see farther and pick your next position, or see what is going on, and communicate farther with hand and arm signals.

So why doesn't A 1/3 have them? Are they standard in the USMC, or do the Marines do without? The US Army has them. The M4 has the rail system designed to take the "goodies," and most pictures of US soldiers show them equipped with sights and night vision and designators. Pictures of Marines aren't showing this. If you are a Marine don't give me the "we are better trained and don't need them" line of bullshit. The Marines are awesome, but not better than the US Army. And you don't go to combat without ALL the advantages you can get. So I want to know why some American kids are over there without the proper equipment, especially since other American kids have it.

They also don't show the helmet-mounts for NVDs. Soldiers operate at night almost as well as in the daytime because of our huge investment in night vision. Not that night vision doesn't suck to use - it is like walking looking through a paper towel tube. But it is better than being blind. And with the helmet mounts you can use them even when flares are constantly going off and illuminating the scene bright as day. Pop - flare goes off, you flip up the NVD. Flare burns out and you flip them down. You are never blind.

So where are the NODs for the Marines? And why the F is one of them shown using a piece of crap AK? They have the rest of the equipment they need, from what I can see. I've seen them with shotguns, and with lots of frags, and I saw some use a pre-prepared demo charge to blow a hole in a wall. So why not NODS and scopes?

This bothers me. Can somebody tell me why the Marines aren't as well-equipped as the Army? And are they as well supplied as they should be?

A quick explanation for civilians, but veterans and those already familiar with the US military can skip this:

NOD- night observation device, a "night scope." The green picture you sometimes see when news networks are showing night battles is taken with a NOD.
NVD - night vision device, same as a NOD.
M4- the shorter version of the M16A2 that the US Army has adopted, with adjustable stock and a rail above the barrel and reciever to take NODS and other things, like flashlights, etc.
Designator - a "laser sight" kind of device that shoots a beam visible only to those wearing NODS. The beam is aligned with the sights. You put the beam on the target. You know why.
Zeroing: adjusting your sights so that when your sight is center mass on a target the round is too.
AK - most will already know this. The standard assault rifle of the former Soviet Union, and pretty much the entire third world, with a distinctive very-curved magazine. Usually fires 7.62mm rounds in the AK-47 version. It has been updated to fire 5.54mm ammo in the AK-74 version, which is very common nowadays. The 5.54 mm high-velocity round is even smaller than the 5.56 NATO round of the US military. Smaller is not necessarily less effective: since force = mass times acceleration, the round is smaller but moves much, much faster, causing more impact and damage than a larger, slower bullet. It is cheaply made, fairly reliable, and not very accurate. It is cheap and simple to use and maintain, which makes it the weapon of choice for conscript armies that don't have the time or money or motivation to train their soldiers to a high standard. The M16-series in the US military is actually a much, much better assault rifle, but more expensive and more complicated to use. It is thus preferred by professionals, but not by mass conscription armies. The AK fires in the semi-automatic mode (single-shot each time you pull the trigger) or full automatic mode (empties out when you hold down the trigger). The M16-A2 and M4 fire on semi or 3-round burst mode. Full auto is usually the equivalent of saying "I can't shoot accurately, watch me waste up all my ammo before a well-trained enemy ends my misery." US troops like it when they face enemies that use full auto - it means the enemy can't shoot straight and is very poorly trained.)


fbg46 said...

The answer to the question is "Yes, the Marines do not have all the gear they need to accomplish their mission while keeping down casualties." But then it's been that way since Day One in Iraq.

For that matter, neither does the National Guard or Reserve units who are in Iraq.

For that matter, neither do many of the Army units which are in Iraq.

Item: Several months ago, there was a story about an Army armor company in Iraq which was being used for foot patrolling. The company CO had his soldiers out on a range "qualifying" with captured AKs which they would be using on patrols. Why? For anyone who's ever been in the arms room of an armor unit, the answer is obvious -- it's full of crew - served weapons and things that go on tanks, but not alot of individual weapons. So this company CO did the only thing he could to protect his soldiers -- got them trained as best he could on AKs which they used on patrol.

Item: There have been a raft of stories about the NG and Reserve units which were sent to Iraq with un -armored (and ancient) Humvees as well as the Vietnam -era "flak jacket" type body armor vs. the new stuff. Little reporting on whether those problems have been fixed, but smart money says not.

Item: I have personal knowledge (via speaking at length with a couple of the company COs)of a Marine battalion stationed in Iraq from Feb '04 to September '04 that never had nearly enough uparmored Humvees; not the day they arrived and not the day they left in spite of numerous requests for same.

All the above are anecdotes to be sure, but somebody once said that if you've got enough anecdotes, you've got yourself some statistics.

This was a war that was one of choice in every way, but especially as to timing, i.e., as to when it would begin. Given that we decided the date on which the war would begin, one would have thought we would have waited until we were sure we had enough gear on hand to get us through the war and its aftermath (all of the aftermath by the way, which was predicted before the war began.)

The 51% of the people who voted for Dear Leader should think long and hard about, among other things, the fact that he could have run this war in a manner which would ensured that our GIs and Marines had the equipment they needed to accomplish their mission with a minimum loss of life on both sides -- but chose not to.

vrangel said...

"Full auto is usually the equivalent of saying "I can't shoot accurately, watch me waste up all my ammo before a well-trained enemy ends my misery."

Being in Soviet Army bootcamp I was taught how to cut off 2 round burst with my AKM. In the end I had 2 rounds out 90% of the time, 3 rounds 10%. I could hit anything up to 200-250 meters.
Before marksmanship exam all company AKMs were taken to the range and snipers would calibrate their sights. After that hitting targets was not a problem at all.

Jamming was something literally unheard of in all my years in the army. If our well maintained AKMs ever jammed I would hear about it. It just never happened. (Of course such thing as rusty AKM never happened either.)

I think poorly made chinese rifles and ammo give AK a bad name.

Now about the photo.From the look of it I guess that major combat was over and marines were clearing buildings. Notice brand new red lock cutter marine with AK carries. In this circumstances AK makes perfect sense, because heavier bullet better penetrates doors and furniture and is more likely to kill enemy hiding there.

Also notice that its broad daylight (again major combat is over, its clearing phase), so there's little chance unit will get pinned down for the rest of the day without night gear. You dont want to carry unnecessary add-ons on your rifle when clearing buildings.(Enemy is hiding in the closet and I forgot my scope, oh horror ! )

Take it easy, TWD. :)

mr_nimbus said...

I doubt that any of the neocon paintball commandoes and cheerleaders will be able to answer this, so let me throw in some responses that they can use. Feel free to cut and paste, boys and girls.

1. It's Kerry's fault - He voted AGAINST outfitting the troops.

2. It's Clinton's fault - he should have spent some of that alleged surplus money on better weapons.

3. It's the liberal media's fault. They are only photographing and reporting the bad stuff.

4. Whine, whine, whine...all you liberals do is whine. Why don't you just shut the hell up and support the troops.

5. You complain that we are spending too much money in Iraq. Then, when a patriotic marine chooses to save the government cash by using an inferior weapon you complain. Flip/flop, flip/flop, flip/flop.

6. You're helping the enemy.

7. The picture was bogus, it never happened.

8. If they are using an AK 47 then Wolfowicz and Rummy must have carefully thought it out and decided that this was the best plan.

9. What the hell do you know? Even though I never put on a uniform, I've read enough blogs to know that the AK47 smokes the M-16.

10. The Army Times is just a front for Dan Rather and Michael Moore.

redleg said...


If it was a Marine the rifle you saw was the M16A4. An improved version the Marines bought after a balanced decision (?) instead of the M4. Most units except line infantry don't have CCOs, Peq2 or Paq4s no matter what anyone says. Units in combat strip them away from those back here. Fact of life. My unit is getting filled now with them in prep for our deployment. We are not infantry, but an ALO-1 airborne unit. The bottom line is that unit marksmanship programs work and if you have not trained with advanced optics or cool toys they are worse than useless and should not even put them on your weapons. If you have trained with them they work wonders when your troops are trained in all the proper techniques.

Don't base all our analysis on one picture. I do think the Marines wanted a long musket versus the shorter Sof style M4. (It might also have something to do with the Army- their old nemesis- adopting it first) I do think that 30+ years of modifications to the M16 series rifle has developed a basically decent infantry weapon. To say more than that would be lying. Compare that to the M1 rifle which had no significant improvements after it was accepted into service. Or the M1911A1 or the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. Or the AK for that matter. To say more than that would be lying. The AK is functionally a better weapon, simpler and easier to train and fire. The sights suck, but hey you can't have everything. Our White Devils equipped drivers with paratroop AKs and AKMDs for breaking contact during ambushes because the US Army does not have a good SMG anymore. I can't tell you why that Marine was using an AK vice his M16A4.

But I would rather have a Marine who can hit what he aims at with his M16A4 and no optics than a terrorist with his functionally reliable AK who can't hit a thing. 1-2K dead terrorists in Fallujah versus 30 US Kia. You do the math. The training is doing the work. Could it be better? hell yeah. Except it never is. From first hand experience, combat is not what you expected it to be and not what you trained for. Sometimes it is better, sometimes it is worse, much worse than you can dare to dream. The shortages we are experiencing now are nothing to what they have been in the past. I know that does not comfort you and it should be better, but it isn't. Combat isn't about what happened in the past or will happen in the future. It is about what you have right now. I have seen guys refuse optics that they received right before patrol because they had not trained on them. And they relied on their training.

And I've seen plenty of pictures about these insurgents without body armor or optics? What's fair about that?

Your kvetching about a picture belies the good work these men are doing. We owe them the best. What are you doing to fix it? Stop telling me what Kerry woulda, shoulda, coulda done. Tell me what you are doing about it right now. I know what I'm doing. The high priority gear goes to the guys who allegedly need it the most. That usually means the rifleman. Sometimes the drivers don't get what they would most like. It isn't perfect by any means. I can't speak for the Marines, but the ones I've worked with had their NVGs and the right equipment, if a little older than mine.

free0352 said...


The Marine might have had the AK for a number of reasons. He might have had his weapon shot from his hands, and picked up an AK to stay in the fight. Or he could have lost his M-16…shame on him but it happens in battle sometimes. Your rifle is not worth dieing for. He could be a SMAW or machine gunner who temporarily picked up a rifle in Lou of his pistol. Or most likely, he picked up the AK for a little extra penetration. The 5.56mm round has poor penetration, especially for things like cinder block as us military guys well know. You just can’t shoot through most Iraqi walls with it. Now the cut down 7.62 of an AK goes right through, so some Jarheads pack along an AK along with their 16 to shoot hajjis through walls. Are you sure he didn’t have his service rifle?

Marines are issued the ACOG rifle scope for their M-16 A3’s. If the unit is still using the A2 model, they are issued nothing in the way of optics, only a peq-4 or peq-10 laser aiming device. The A3 you get the whole shebang, ACOG, Peq-10, broom handle, and the flashlight. Until VERY recently (post invasion) the Marine Corps didn’t want an infantry optical sight. They still aren’t crazy about them.

As all snipers know, a scope does not improve your shooting ability one bit. If that were the case the military would just issue all personnel Unertl 10 x’s and the whole DOD would be snipers. Unfortunately the fundamentals of marksmanship still apply with a scope the same as they do with iron sights. All a scope does is cause the target to “Appear bigger.” And that’s it. It isn’t actually any larger and therefore easier to hit. The scope is a tool of observation and acquisition, not marksmanship. Instead of trying to improve marksmanship by purchasing wiz-bang toys for their service carbines, the Marines focus on marksmanship training and fundamentals with their full size rifles. Therefore the Jarheads are more comfortable with iron sights than Army soldiers, and in many cases prefer them. TWD—you can begin formulating your screed now, whipe that foam off your mouth.

Basically the Marines don’t need scopes and don’t care if they have them or not. What they really want is a much lighter pack and more comfortable body armor. There are still a lot of PVS 7b’s around, and these need to go now. The PVS 14 is far, far, far, far better. There are enough PEQ-10’s around.

So in some regards the AGOG is useful as it allows Marines to acquire targets they normally could not at ranges of 500 plus meters. As it amplifies vision, it slows down target acquisition in a CQB environment, where a reflex or holo sight is FAR superior. Only the SF gets these awesome toys (WHY?!). I’ve seen the regular Army use AIMPOINTS and ACOGs but rarely the HOLO or the REFLEX. So in close in situations, Marines remove their ACOGS (the new ACOGS can be used at the same time as iron sights, and in that case they are of course left on) as to better engage targets, especially multiple targets, at ranges under 20 meters. Most combat in Iraq occurs in conditions under 50 meters. The contrast is this, it’s either under 50 or over 400. It’s either CQB or a sniper taking pot shots (Or aimed shots, damn Syrian military). As most combat is CQB (I’d say 75%) this means a scope is a hindrance and not a help, unless you pack a HOLO sight or a REFLEX. If you have one of those you’re just a deadly bastard. Once again well trained killers beat out technology any day.

One nifty idea the Marines are warming up to and not so much implementing as ignoring is just letting the Jarheads buy whatever the fuck they want with their own money. This has many advantages, as lost or broken gear costs nothing and there are no contracts to negotiate or stubborn senators trying to get the company from their state rammed through. They just buy the sight that best suits them or their mission, and if they can’t or won’t afford it they get the ACOG witch is all good except in CQB.

If you ask a jarhead, he’ll tell you what he really wants is a rifle in caliber 7.62 NATO that is recoil operated, and has no gas tube to spray carbon all up in the chamber and jam his weapon. Think H&K G-36 in 7.62mm Nato. M-16’s in the desert = at least 2-3 hours a day scrubbing carbon out of the chamber and off the bolt, especially after a nine hour long fire fight where you might expend around 3000 rounds, and then there’s the sand. The AK is superior to the m-16 family in this one regard, it’s easier to clean and more reliable, and shoots through walls. Other than that it sucks at life and in all circumstances I’d carry a 16 any day over it. But I’d carry a G-36 over an m-16.

free0352 said...

The marine's helmet mounts are removeable. When not in use, they live in the green bag your NVG's live in.(Night Vision Goggles, the Marine-ism for NOD)

I find that superior to the screw on mount, just cause I like the option of taking the mount off quickly, and the mount can get in the way of goggles in the day time. I just dig options. I've never had the mount fall off, which is suprizing with military gear that is "Quick Release"

Gear is a lot better now...since you got out. Marines deal with a lot of shortages and often do without comparied to the Army, I have no idea why. Mostly this is in "Quality of Life" areas such as housing and benifits. Weapons and gear wise we are often superior. For example the Army is stuck with the PIECE OF ABSALUTE SHIT MOLLE PACK while the Jarheads are getting an off the shelf inframe that does NOT suck.

this we'll defend said...

Thanks all. I feel much better.

Vrangel, I don't know what unit you were with in the Soviet Army, but it sounds like you got more training than most. And AKM Soviet weapons are better made than most export or locally produced AKs, not to mention the difference in ammo quality. I carried a wide variety of AKs when I was OPFOR, and most of them sucked - often jamming. Yes I cleaned them. The AKM and AKMS were decent though. But still not very accurate compared to the M16.

Carrying it for greater penetration makes sense.

As for not carrying their night vision scopes and designators because it is daytime, I guess I am dating myself, but in my day (waaaay back in '97) the scopes had to be zeroed, and removing them could mess up your zero, so once they were zeroed you left them on the weapon. I guess the new technology allows them to be removed and re-attached without losing the zero.

Is that right free?

redleg, I agree that if you have not trained with advanced optics you shouldn't use them in combat. And I also agree that front-line riflemen have the gear more often than other units. But this unit was a front-line rifle unit, so I would expect it to have the gear and to have trained with it.

Your quote about Kerry (stop telling me what Kerry woulda shoulda coulda done) and your saying "Your kvetching about a picture belies the good work these men are doing" was, I feel, out of place. This wasn't a political rant (the election is over and the lies about democrats not being patriotic or supporting the military can stop now). And I am not under the impression these men aren't doing good work - I am wondering if they have the gear that I know exists, and that I know other units have. Good gear that would make them more effective. I am not comparing them to the terrorists, but to how they are now and how they could be. I want the Marines to be as well-equipped as the Army, and I know that sometimes they aren't because of budget issues (Marine units are more expensive because it costs money to float).

Free, your comments are great. It is true that scopes don't improve accuracy without training, but they do help improve already good marksmen. Target acquisition at long distances is easier too - you use both eyes, and use the scope to "zoom in" when you see something, therefore you aren't losing your wider field of view except when you see something you want to look at closer. And of course everybody should be comfortable with iron sights, but they should also be trained on advanced optics after that. To say that the Marines are focusing on the fundamentals and don't want or need "whiz-bang toys" sounds like BS to me. You can't hit shit with advanced optics unless you master the fundamentals first, and "whiz-bang toys" that help you acquire targets better and see at night and designate targets are certainly not something the Marines should sneer at.

When I was trained in CQB we didn't use scopes, but they were still mounted on the weapon. In quick-fire drills it was just as easy to use a weapon with a scope versus one without, and of course you don't engage close targets using the scope. But it helps to have the thing on there when you need it, and in urban fighting the engagements can vary from less than 50m to 400m in a matter of seconds.

I disagree that the AK is superior to the M16 in reliability, but then again it depends on the AK type. Chinese stuff sucks, but I had a Rumanian one that was pretty good, with a "broom handle" as part of the wooden receiver.

Glad to hear that the Marines do have helmet mounted NVGs, and the removable mount sounds better. Not glad to hear about PVS-7s - in front line infantry units they still have PVS-7s? Geez.

yes, we could have a better rifle than the M16 series, such as your H&K dream rifle. Could we afford to buy them in the hundreds of thousands, though?

I never carried a MOLLE pack. I'll take your word for it. I had an old-ass Alice pack with an external frame. I always was amazed to see that civilian backpacking gear was far superior to my military ruck.

I'm just glad to hear that the Marines do have the gear (apparently) and that the reason this guy had an AK made sense - 7.62mm has greater penetration than 5.56mm, so he was shooting through doors and walls with it, while his buddies had their US weapons for other tasks. And the Marines do have helmet mounts for their NVGs. I don't agree with Free that the Marines don't want or need advanced optics. It helps, and every little bit helps.

free0352 said...


Yeah, you're a little dated I think. A lot's changed in just my past 6 years. It isn't even the same Corps.

Taking the peq's off is simple. All new wiz-bang weapons use the "rail" for quickly mounting and dismounting optics and other doo-dads. Just take a sharpe marker and note exactly where to screw the sight back on along the rail. Mostly, the Peq's stay on as they don't interfear with anything, but the ACOGs have to come off in certain situations. With a little practice, you can only change your zero by a click or two, if you use a similar method to the PEQ 10. At 1000 yards that's a big deal but at 500, it's like 3-6 inches tops. The trade off is worth it. Marines can hit with iron sights out to 500 meters no problem...all of them. Thats' how we're trained, so optics are for engagements only 400 plus meters out. which is boo-koo far for a knucke dragging grunt, especially when the targets are humans who will fucking run. With the ACOG there are commonplace acounts of knuckle draggers hitting targets (insurgents) 750-800 mteres out. So far out in fact that the muzzel velocity on the 5.56 is so degraded the round doesn't do shit but piss off the target, hence my wish for 7.62 NATO. The Army is testing the x-m8 which is based on the g-36 (in shitty 5.56!) and it is a more advanced weapon...and costs LESS! You can see for yourself on HK's websight. You can check for your self here at


What I don't think you realise is that with the issued m-4 carbines and m-16a4's and 3's, the carring handle comes right off to mount optics-whcih leaves one with no iron sights. They issue what they call "backup" Iron sights which suck so bad it defies logic and reason. So, when you're in your fighting hole sitting defense, mount the ACOG to pick off hajji's 600 meteres out. And when you hit fallujah or a raid or a structure, throw your carrying handle back on with the good iron sights...or buy a holo sight out of pocket and get the best of both worlds. The Mollie pack is a miserable failure...the frame constantly breaks, it rides on the shoulders like shit, and carves a nice bleeding scrape in the small of your back after every hike. I dumped mine and sported a mountain ruck with a lot of culstom features from tactical tailor. ALICE packs suck, but while we had the Mollie we got nolstalgic for em'. The new pack is what crazy people use to climb mt everest, so it's good shit. I still just carry my EAGLE assault pack most of the time, and absorb the ass chewings about uniformity...which are fewer and far between now-a-days because the commands are starting to realise that if you give grunts the tools THEY want they can fucking do anything...and they'll even pay for it. Fuck, my last unit would let you use anything you wanted to as long as it was tactical, boots that wern't authorised, back packs, cammel baks, vests, body armor, lbv's and harnesses, GPS, holsters and slings, you name it as long as it came in desert cammo. Most of us even snuk our personal WEAPONS over seas which we all know is illegal but nobody 0-4 and below was asking questions. I had my glock in a drop holster from Nasiyria untill I got back on the Bataan. One ssgt had his own personal SNIPER RIFE he ran around with that didn't even begin to look issue...nobody gave a shit. Ain't war grand?

Note to firearm companies: There is a gold mine in finding a nice comprimise round somewhere in between 5.56 and 7.62 Nato. 6.something mm round perhaps?

redleg said...


sorry. The Kerry comments were aimed at Mr Nimbus. Must differentiate.

The AK is a good functional weapon. I have great respect for it. It is better by design than the M16 series and has needed less revamping. It is is not finicky and it takes a lot to break them. They have, unfortunately, been knocked off by so many companies and not maintained which may explain your problems with reliability. I still see M4s jam all the damn time. I too want a 7.62 that can reach out and touch you, plus blow through walls. The 5.56 is a decent intermediate round but there are not too many buildings a 7.62 won't go through. With an M14 where you shot is where you hit, and we used them all the time in Afghanistan, puytting one with each rifle squad. The anology I like is take a 5.56 SS109 round and place it by the 7.62 x 39mm AK round. What do you see, the fashion model who gives good performance but is tempermental or the peasant woman who ain't much to look at but gets the job done. That sums up the argument between M4s and AKs for me. I like the toys but I would rather train my troopers to shoot first. Then we can have the toys.

I echo most of free's comments except for the personal weapons BS. I guess the Army and USMC will never agree on uniformity. We let the SF take different weapons...saw some SF guys rotating back with Glock 21s as demo models from Glock and and an old Remington-Rand M1911A1. Had nice pachmayr grips though. They still like the .45 ACP. Heck, so do I.

Optics are great if you have trained with them, but what matters most is having enough ammo to train with your rifle until you are comfortable with it. 50 rounds a year doesn't cut it and we need more ammo for both training and for combat. I also just saw 3/3 RIPing in the 'Stan and they had what they needed.

Infantry Battalions here are using a mix of 7Ds and 14s for NVGs. Artillery Battalions and Fisters are using 7Bs and some 7Ds with optics only rarely. Change comes slowly but in combat it comes faster. C'est la Guerre.

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

What I remember doing in the slight disagreements we've had with various coca growers over the past couple of decades, was confiscating AKs and 7.62 ammo off of the fallen enemy to supplement our own basic loads, and in close-in combat, revert to the AKs and the plundered ammo, and save the A2s and SOPMOD M4s for situations requiring longer range. It was mainly about ammo management.

One could say that a presidential administration is a singular failure and full of blundering idiots any time at all a rifle squad runs out of ammo, but let's be honest here. It's happened in every conflict ever engaged in since the advent of firearms, period.

The individuals I've kept in touch with in OIF did confirm some equipment issues early on in their deployments, and the problems had since been (mostly) resolved. Improvements have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary, which doesn't make for sexy news broadcasts, but, I wondered if I might share this tid-bit of Army Times propaganda here.

vrangel said...

First hand account on Falouja operation :

"We crossed the train station just before midnight and led the way for the Marines by killing everything we could in our way. It took our tanks and brads until 10 am the next day to get 2 miles into the city. They killed about 200 insurgents in the process and softened the enemy for the Marines. 5 of our soldiers were wounded in this first 10 hours, but we accomplished our part of the plan.

The Marines' mission was to follow TF 2-7 and fight the enemy by clearing from building to building. A lot of the insurgents saw the armored vehicles and hid. They waited for the Marines to come and took their chances by fighting them since the Marines weren't protected by armor like we were. In that first day of fighting, the Marines took 5 x KIA and many more wounded, but they also did their job very well. Along the way, they found HUGE caches of weapons, suicide vests, and many foreign fighters. They also found unbelievable amounts of drugs, mostly heroin, speed, and cocaine. It turns out, the enemy drugged themselves up to give them the "courage" and stupidity to stay and fight....
....Our guys would open up on the house with 120 mm main gun or .50 cal. After 5 minutes of suppressive fire, the Marines would go into the building and clear it. There was rarely anyone left alive by that point. The problem is that we couldn't be there to do that for all the Marines- and when we couldn't and they had to clear the building without our help, they took heavy casualties because the insurgents didn't stop firing until the Marines got into the building and killed them."

It looks like a shortage of Combat Infantry was a problem.

Read the whole thing.


redleg said...

Shortage of infantry is always the problem

It is upon their backs and through their rifles that engagements are engagements and campaigns are won.

We are in an infantry-centric war again and we must make sure they are properly equipped after a couple of decades of focusing on the wrong kind of war (air power) despite all signs to the contrary. That is the issue.

Any commander will tell you you needs more infantry. What you do with what you have is the issue.

free0352 said...

Damn redleg, you and I tend to think alike more than not. I've said for a long time that the Corps could use another DIVISION full of grunts. Can't comment on the Army...not my service and as far as Army manpower issues go, I'd be talking out of my ass.

Uniformity as in where the mission esential gear lives is good. Uniformity as in everything is exactly the same to the point of stupidity sucks. As far as pistols went, if they issued enough for everyone, i'm sure we'd use em and it would solve ammo issues. But untill they do it's b-y-o-gun and my .40 sig p22 will continue to "get some"

fbg46 said...

Redleg and free 0352 have identified a problem at the micro level which Eric Shinseki identified at the macro level (and got cashiered for his efforts): there are not nearly enough boots (or tracks or wheels) on the ground to secure Iraq.

Thus the unedifying spectacle of an armor unit CO "qualifying" his soldiers on captured AKs so they could pull (foot) patrols in Baghdad. That kind of patrolling is light infantry work and should be left to the professionals. Armor units are supposed to provide moving cover for those patrols and to send 120 mm calling cards down range or close in, depending on which is needed.

A year ago a senior Army officer at a closed - to - the - public meeting stated that if deployments continued at the present rate the Army would be broken in two years and the USMC about six months after that. Nothing of course has changed -- the deployments are continuing at the same (if not an accelerated) pace with no end in sight. (In today's NYT, an anonymous official in the Iraqi security ministry said that American troops would be needed in Iraq for "a decade".)

This bleak picture assumes a steady state. Suppose we invade some other member of the Axis of Evil (remember that phrase?): Will that be run in the same half - assed way that Iraq has been, with the skill and courage of GIs and Marines being used to make up for their lack of numbers? How long can that continue?

No one in the Five Sided Building seems to know or care about the answers to these questions.

free0352 said...

I think your assessment of troop strength is shallow and politically motivated. Where in an all volunteer military do you suggest we get more grunts? NO-BODY wants to serve with a draftee, least of all me. More have to be recruited, and while during war time recruitment numbers for the active duty service have actually gone UP, especially for the Marine Corps, you can only snag so many without lowering standards. There are never enough infantry… in WW2 there weren’t enough infantry. Last, I agree we were not fully prepared for war with Iraq. So? We weren’t prepared for Pearl Harbor or Germany either were we? Us service guys are adapting and overcoming just like always.

free0352 said...

Also, my guess the tanker unit was fan fireing and not qualing. They are all issued either M-4's or M-9's and it's rutien for them to secure thier bivoac area. This statement demonstraits your lack of tactical knowledge about the theater.

Infantry and Tank units are often intermingled in the Iraqi war. Living in the same strong point and FIRM bases. FIRM bases are satilite positions holding a reinforced company (like with tanks)

When the grunts come in from a fire fight or a patroll and are wiped out, you better belive the tankers are gonna pull some security missions to let them sleep.

this we'll defend said...

Free, I think you are way out of line.

Fbg's assessment that we don't have enough troops doesn't seem politically motivated to me at all - facts are facts. While some think facts are unwelcome annonyances or politically motivated, that doesn't change the truth on the ground. Fact is, the military leadership was pretty united on the subject of troop strength, and ignored by Rumsfeld & co.

You ask where we would get more grunts, and launch into a tirade against the draft. Regardless of where the troops would come from, the fact is that they are needed.

And we don't need a draft. We don't need to resort to slave labor. If we need more troops and we aren't getting enough qualified volunteers, we can either lower standards, which you and I are both against, or draft, which you and I are both against - OR, do something else. For instance, raise pay. If we don't get enough qualified volunteers why don't we increase the pay for combat troops (NOT all troops - if we aren't short of sonar techs or crew chiefs we don't need to spend tax dollars on raising their pay). Revamp the pay system and pay the most to the jobs most difficult to fill - just like in the civilian market. If $25K a year isn't enough to attract quality recruits for the infantry then pay $35K, or $45K - it is still cheaper than a draft and much, much cheaper than lowering standards. Each failed recruit that washes out of training costs thousands of dollars, and even worse are those who somehow squeak through but are not proficient - they cost much more in both $$$ and lives. And each dead warrior costs hundreds of thousands, while the permanently disabled will cost at least as much over the course of their lives - not to mention the human cost in pain and suffering. So instead of buying the unneeded and unnecessary joint strike fighter at a cost of billions and billions of dollars, raise the pay of front-line grunts. No draft, no lowering standards, and we get the numbers we need on the ground.

Your analogy to us being unprepared for WWII is very weak. This was a war of choice, and in any case just because we have made terrible mistakes in the past that cost lives and harmed our chances of victory doesn't mean we should simply shrug our shoulders and say "so what?" We should hold people accountable. The problems we are experiencing in Iraq were avoidable, and to make it worse, were predicted. The senior leadership of the US Army warned the administration, repeatedly, and were so concerned that Gen. Shinseki took the unprecedented step of speaking out publicly about his concerns. For this he was humiliated and sent packing - and now that he has been shown to have been incredibly accurate, and those that ignored him to have been terribly wrong, you say "so what?" I don't.

Finally, your attack on fbg over his "lack of tactical knowledge" was incorrect as well. While you might be proficient in the use of the rifle, that doesn't mean you are trained for foot patrols. And even if you are, that doesn't mean the armored units training with AKs so that they can go on foot patrols is a good thing. It isn't. If we had the right numbers on the ground we wouldn't be using field artillery and armor for infantry tasks. That we are suggests exactly what fbg says it suggests - we don't have enough infantrymen in theater (or in the force structure for that matter).

Similarly, when people point out that 40% of the troops in Iraq are reservists, some attack them and say things like "the reserves knew what they signed up for" or "that is part of being a reservist." True, but it doesn't change the fact that if your reserve is used regularly, it isn't a reserve any more.

What I say next is NOT politically motivated. The election is over. The truth is this: the administration refuses to deal with reality. What can't go on forever simply won't. Our military is being wrecked with no steps being taken to correct the problems. Pointing out the problems and accepting that they exist is the first step in fixing them, but even that results in accusations of politics. Facts are annoying inconveniences. And we will pay dearly for this deliberate ignorance.

fbg46 said...

Assessment of troop strength "shallow and politically motivated"? Don't look at me, look at Gen. Shinseki -- it's his analysis not mine (plus the RAND analysis done on the number of troops necessary to maintain security in Bosnia extrapolates to something on the order of 500,000 soldiers for Iraq. Probably has a significant error factor, but it doesn't get you down to 130,000.)

"Nobody wants to serve with draftees"? Really? I served along side them (and had the privilege of commanding them) for 3 1/2 years and found them to damn good soldiers by and large -- and men who did alot of dying when others, (in the words of our VP) had other priorities. And your observation begs the question -- where are the GIs and Marines going to be coming from in the near - term, and then the long - term? The Army already isn't meeting its quota, don't know about the Corps.

Comparing Iran to Germany and Japan? A difference -- those were Come As You Are wars; we were attacked. Iran (like Iraq) will be a war of choice. We'll pick the start date. Seems a little silly to me, particularly based on the fiasco that Iraq is, to start a war of choice without having everything we need to see it through, but that looks like where we're heading.

"Tanker unit fan firing and not qualifying": Could be; but the article said they were qualifying on the AKs so they could carry them on patrols.

Re: my "lack of tactical knowledge about the theatre"; you're probably right there, I haven't served in Iraq. But I do know a little about the TO&E of armor and armored cav units (or at least what they used to be) and can tell you that your typical armor company doesn't carry enough M-16s, M-4s or their equivalents to make like light infantry and do lots of foot patrolling (this seems to be borne out by the article noted above which stated they were qualifying with AKs).
Tankers are great with crew-served weapons, but not so hot (and they'll usually be the first ones to tell you) with individual weapons.

As for tankers pulling security missions in fire bases, right, that goes with the territory.

The bottom line is that we agree on one point -- as you put it: "Us service guys are adapting and overcoming just like always"; as I put it: "the skill and courage of GIs and Marines being used to make up for their lack of numbers". Where we differ is that I think that's a bad idea, you apparently don't.

free0352 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vrangel said...

I found a final answer raised here by TWD. We need more unmanned armed (!) robots :


Attention: plenty of cool pics there !!!

Imagine a face of jihadi confronted with 3 foot robotic infidel armed with 50 cal.

free0352 said...

LOL! VRangel, what a great link! Oh sweet, I want imperial stormtrooper aromor next damn it!

free0352 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
free0352 said...


I disagree with your statement that militay leadership wanted more troop stregth across the board. Shinski and top army brass did. That’s like five people. Qualified people…maybe. Shinski had an awful lot of foul ups during his time as Army chief of staff, so it shouldn’t be suprising that he was ignored. Shinski and Zinni, and who else was worried again?

I already said we need more grunts, and it sound like you and I agree largely on how to get them. Funny thing though, try this out. Spin on down to the local Marine recruiter’s. Say to him you want to join the Marines and you want to go infantry. Guess what he’ll tell you. MOS is closed out, that’s what. We need fucking truckdrivers in you’re just going off the TO&E. Military doctrine needs to change to become more infantry centric. Also, the Army could use a bid dose of the “Every Soldier a Rifleman” ideal that the Marines have. ALL our people are competent to conduct foot patrolls and train on this. From legal clerks to fucking cooks. The Army should adopt this policy because…it works. Everyone overthere has the weapons they need (at least the 5.56mm ones, lets not start that again) If a unit dosen’t have the required shit, they steal it from a unit rotating home, or a non deploying unit. Belive me! My unit is deploying in the future, and I’m going through that pain in the ass right now!

I will never, never, complain about servicemen pay raises, because our service men and women are under paid. You are absalutely right about how much DOR’s cost. When I recruited we ran the Poolies 15-20 miles a week and thrashed them besides. They were ready for recruit training and our attrition rate was much lower. Again where the army might learn from the corps. I’m not trying to harp on the army…you know I don’t have much of a rivalry. It’s just things we do that work and things they don’t do and should. We could learn a thing or two ourselves (Note to Corps…AAV’s suck) Benefits before and after service should be increasing at a faster rate I agree.

While some of the problems in Iraq were predicted (By free 0352, over and over…many times, amoung others) it wasn’t the administration who ignored them. It was the military. Or at least the Marines and the Department of the Navy. Bush did his damndest to give what was asked of him. I don’t know how you missed how bad shit got during the Clinton years…but I did not miss it. We were fucking broke. My barraks had fucking rats in it. Half of camp Lejeune was condemed. Pendelton and 29 stumps sucked. Brag wasn’t much better. He had to spend the cash just to get the hummvees running again, let alone up armor them. And that’s just one example. We can’t expect the poor guy to understand what the generals seldom grasp. We all know how long it takes to change thinking in the military, let alone the role of infantry in a war policy makers weren’t prepared for and didn’t correctly anticipate. Regardless of what political party was in charge at the moment. No body saw the GWOT coming. Far as I’m concerned Bush and his staff were fucking miracle workers.

As far as my WW2 argument, you and others would suggest that we rushed to war in Iraq, I would argue that we were 12 years late and made it just in time, not a moment too soon. You would not argree with my argument, so I’m not holding out for a meeting of the minds. Here’s something we can agree on, in an insurgent war with no front lines and no rear area, everbody should be trained and competent to conduct basic infantry tactics. Lack of this gets some units into trouble out on the battle field, because they were aloud to ignore this glaring fact. The arty pogs and the tankers better know how to patroll, stand security, land nav in MOUT, and conduct immediate action drills…or they’re gonna fucking die. That’s the war we’re fighting. Everybody’s a grunt in this war. While more grunts would be nice, I’d rather see pogs who can fight their way out of a wet paper bag as opposed to what I’ve also seen. Units like the 507th maintenance company who made a bad situation worse due to bad leadership and decision making, and worse weapons skills. They quit shooting because their weapons jammed for christ sake. That tells me they were either cowards or no one showed them how to clear a fucking rifle. WTF? I hope they weren’t chicken shit. Doesn’t matter though, because NOW the tankers and pogs are doing grunt work, and doing it well.

TWD said
”Similarly, when people point out that 40% of the troops in Iraq are reservists, some attack them and say things like "the reserves knew what they signed up for" or "that is part of being a reservist." True, but it doesn't change the fact that if your reserve is used regularly, it isn't a reserve any more.”

That is correct. Both point and counter point. Reserves are just that…to be used when there aren’t enough active duty…like now. And that is, in fact, what they inlisted for. And to tell you the truth I don’t see very much crying about it out in reserve land either. I do see numerous Democratic Senators balling incoherrantly though. And maybe some military wives. Now the Guard situation needs to change, that I whole heartedly agree. They make a decent interm measure, but long term we flat need a larger military.

Last, I would disagree that our military is being wrecked. I’d say it’s being fixed. Not really anybodys fault it wasn’t 100% either. Not Bush or Clinton, no one saw this war coming, me included. But it must be faught. And like in all past historical conflicts you have to fill some body bags to know what is exactly needed and where the defects lie. I think the DOD and the Administration moved mountains and did a swell job, I watched them do it. Our service men are far deadlyer killers today, we have new and more effective equipment, training is tougher and more realistic, and tactically we’re doing awsome at staying ahead of the enemy. Compared to past conflicts of this duration, we’re WAY ahead of the game casualty wise. Dispite what I hear on the news, on the ground from my buddies who are THERE I’m told we are WINNING and winning big. Have there been setbacks and mistakes? Absalutely. That fucking happens, no matter who’s president. I’m protective of the guy…what can I say, he’s my commander in chief…and he acts like it in my opinion. I feel led by the dude, and I love him because he doesn’t take shit off murderers. I like the guy because he has a fucking backbone, which for about 12 years prior to his presedency I felt was missing in the white house. Now you will go on and on about how much he sucks and where he went wrong. So? I’m looking at where he went right, and from what I’ve seen it’s been largely, demonstratevely fucking excellent.

So TWD, would you have fired Roosevelt for the blundering failure of Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944? Would you have called for Esenhour’s resognation? Who ever the Secretary of War was, should he have been fired? I don’t think so, and if you had history would have called you a moron, clearly. We turned that setback into ultilmate, unconditional, victory. It’s happening again and I think you are on the wrong side of the historical table buddy.

this we'll defend said...

Free, you make some good points, but we disagree about some things.

For one, the controversy over troop numbers seems to have been forgotten - by you. Not me. It was controversial from before the first invasion, and the micromanagment and interference with the military professionals is well documented. It wasn't just Shinseki and Zinni and a minority of others - it was widespread and common knowledge among the Army and Marine leadership. If the Navy and the Air Force didn't think troop numbers were that big a deal - so what? They aren't the troops on the ground. We had (and have) enough sailors and airmen. We don't have enough infantry, either from the USMC or the Army. See http://buggieboy.blogspot.com/2004/10/if-you-love-your-country-read-this.html for more details.

That old canard about "the Army needs to adopt the Marine ideal of 'everybody is a rifleman'" is an old wives' tale that gets repeated constantly by those who don't understand the force structure or what it takes to run a military. For instance, 2/3rds of the USMC combat service support (CSS) comes from sailors in the US Navy. Are the tens of thousands of sailors that provide support to the Marines all trained as riflemen? Other than medics, I don't know of ANY sailors that train for ground combat in order to support the Marines. But you don't think about them as combat support because they don't wear Marine cammies. The CSS for the Army comes 100% from the Army, and all soldiers are trained in the basics of self defense - they all have to qualify with the rifle, for instance, and learn to throw hand grenades. Most of your support troops have not. So before you think the Army should adopt the Marine way of training support troops, you should realize this would mean LESS combat training for support soldiers, not more. Few, if any, of the combat service support personnel that your regiment and division rely upon have ever qualified with anything larger than a service pistol (and that rarely).

When you don't have enough infantry and MPs to secure your LOCs then the support troops end up in situations where they engage the enemy (or, in the case of the US Navy, they don't deploy to those areas at all and rely upon - you guessed it, the US Army to do it.) Instead of attempting to make infantry out of support troops (a very expensive proposition) why not make more infantry so that the support troops can peform their jobs?

The Marines are justly proud that every Marine is trained as a rifleman, but as a consequence the Marines don't have enough support troops to function properly. The Marines don't allocate enough positions to support because they have historically found them incredibly difficult to fill. It is hard to train a rifleman, harder to train a rifleman who also does support, and incredibly hard to find somebody who wants to train as a rifleman and then do combat service support. In every major campaign the Marines just rely on Army support and combat service support. Instead of telling the Army to train their troops better, you should realize you don't train yours at all - they don't exist. The USMC simply doesn't do it, and depends on the Army and Navy to pick up the combat support and combat service support tasks the Marine Corps can't (or won't) perform. Which is fine, and the Army has no problem doing it, and it probably makes more sense to have the Army do it, but when a Marine starts advising the Army to do better with support troops "like the Marines do it" I just think he should at least be fully informed.

The attrition rate for the Army infantry school, the most physically and mentally demanding initial entry training course the Army has, is quite low. That is because those that aren't ready aren't sent. The attrition rate for regular Army basic ("Camp Snoopy" to infantrymen who went through infantry OSUT) is much higher, even though it is much easier. Why? Because while gung-ho young men want to be GI Joe, they don't make war movies about mechanics, forklift operators, or fuel handlers. That the Army churns out so many professional, proud, well-trained, competent combat service support and combat support troops is a testament to the skill of the Army training system. But, no, they don't fight well as infantry. Making the recruits go through mini-basic would probably hurt readiness, not help it. Instead, what needs to happen is for combat support and service support AIT courses to incorporate the lessons learned from Iraq, for instance convoy firing courses. Guess what? They are. But that doesn't mean they should be forced to perform infantry missions because there aren't enough trained rifle units available.

As far as the lean Clinton years versus the "miracle worker" Bush, again I don't buy it. You don't create a professional military overnight, or in four years. Bush inherited a competent, well-equipped military. That wouldn't be possible if Clinton had neglected the military. Sure we didn't have everything we wanted, but we had what we needed. My barracks didn't have rats - but we fielded the SAWE system, the Miles II system, conducted two AWE exercises, and the 4th ID turned into the powerhouse it is today, plus the Stryker program went from concept to combat-ready deployability in record time - and this all began under Clinton. Oh, and military pay increased under Clinton faster than the rate of inflation.

As for Bush being a "miracle worker" - I agree. On 9/12 we had a small deficit, the support of the entire world, and the best military the world had ever seen. In just four years we have moved to the largest deficit in history, the entire world fears us (which is NOT a good thing if you want to remain the sole superpower) or outright hates us, our over-stretched military is suffering while our many enemies are emboldened to see how we can no longer deter them, and China and Japan sense a power vacuum in Asia due to our full committment in Iraq. It would be incredibly difficult to screw up that badly in eight years, much less four, but somehow your miracle worker did it.

And, once again, the GWOT and Iraq are NOT the same thing. Nobody foresaw 9/11, but if that is true why do you relate it to Iraq by claiming it is part of the GWOT and at the same time claim we should have deposed Saddam in '91? Either Iraq is part of the GWOT, or Iraq is unfinished business from '91 before the GWOT began. Fact is, we were smart in '91 and avoided the many problems that level-headed realists foresaw would occur if we occupied Iraq (in short, who the fuck wanted it?) while at the same time fully securing our oil supply. Now we pay dearly in Iraq while oil is at a record high, and for what? Not for GWOT - Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism and did not have terrorist links - it was an enemy state, not a supporter of stateless terrorists. And NOT for freedom - because there are many more deserving places where it would be easier to install democracy, for more people, at less cost, and we don't seem to care. We invaded Iraq because Bush and his cabal thought it would be easy and would 'send a message' that you don't mess with Texans. In short - HUBRIS.

Your analogy to the "blunder" of Market-Garden or WWII in general ignores several things: 1) market-garden was always risky, the risks were assesed up front, and the failure would have resulted in Monty's relief except for politics. He was Britian's hero and we couldn't touch him. Fire FDR for this? Not likely, he hadn't made the decisions, the military had. 2) In WWII many commanders were relieved of duty, including after Kasserine Pass and after Pearl Harbor. Your analogy suggest that FDR should have been held responsible, but in fact he did hold his military commanders responsible, and commanders were fired when necessary. And Lincoln fired McClellan, and the Union was saved. And Bush called Rumsfeld a "great" secretary of defense, and we are sucking in Iraq because of his criminal stupidity and arrogance. That's your analogy.

But, hey, Bush "has a backbone" and you "feel led." Well, the cult of personality usually trumps. Germans worshipped Hitler while Germany was destroyed. The Russians cheered Stalin while the purges took place (many Russians still revere him today as a "man of strength" - not surprising since his name (not his real one) of Joseph Stalin translates into English as "Joe Steel"), many Iraqis are still loyal to Saddam, and subjects throughout history have cheered kings that despised them. So you "feel led" and like having a man of action in the white house. That doesn't mean your "decisive" commander in chief is making the right decisions. In fact, it is pretty clear when you analyze what he has done and the reasons he has done it, he has usually been wrong. And our nation has been harmed by him, and that doesn't mean crowds don't cheer him, it means he is wrong and they don't know or don't care.

vrangel said...

TWD said:
...it is pretty clear when you analyze ...

Problem is you can't analyze clearly. (Nader 2.5%, yeah right)

Bush was right and plenty of smart people think so. Arguments about the need to fix ME by introducing democracy were presented before the war has begun and all the time ever since. I posted plenty about it on this blog.

But you are blinded by left-wing ideology in this case. (Lack of vision and understanding is the reason dems lost this election by the way.)
Sadly you will persist in your blindness until the war is won and Bush/neocon vision proves to be true.
Thanks for supporting our troops anyway. It would be better if you supported the mission too, but something is better than nothing.

Off topic.
Met a plumber today who leaves for Iraq tomorrow. One of those IRR guys who forgot about it long time ago.
He says Falouja beats plumbing any day. :^)

this we'll defend said...

Ahhh, yes, Vrangel, whenever a realist portrays facts the reaction of the radical right is to proclaim that they are "blinded by ideology."

Methinks thou doth protest too much.

The truth is that reforming the Middle East by installing democracy at the point of a gun might work. I hope it does. But whether the cost is worth it to our nation is certainly debatable, yet those in charge of this immense long-term incredibly costly effort thought it would be cheap and easy, and also presented false rationales (the non-existent threat of WMDs, and the GWOT) to justify it. That doesn't lead me to hold much confidence in their judgment.

Next is the complete lack of competence when it came to the political consolidation of our initial military success. As I predicted in my Nov. '02 essay, military victory against Saddam's decrepit army was assured, but the problem would be after that. While Bush & co were declaring victory and pointing out how wrong the critics were who urged more troops (proving that Bush & co. didn't understand the principles of war because the critics never said the larger numbers were needed for the conventional military engagement) the experts were urgently cautioning wiser courses of action than were taken - for instance, if we had portrayed the Iraqi military as the primary force in Saddam's downfall, and used our extensive propaganda resources to convince the Iraqi people that our military victory was only due to the Iraqi army abandoning Saddam "for the greater glory of Iraq" we 1) would not have been seen by Iraqis as humiliating Iraq, and 2) could have used the existing and incredibly effective already-existing security force to maintain order. Instead we declared the Iraqi army no longer existed, and sent tens of thousands of trained and armed and now humiliated and angry soldiers home with no hope of employment and little hope of a brighter future. Then the billions allocated for Iraqi reconstruction were used to employ foreign contractors while Iraqi men, already seen by themselves as militarily impotent, remained unemployed. Then, when the attacks on US forces (as predicted by the Army all along) began to mount, we conduct raids where Iraqis are rousted and their homes are searched, the men are detained, and the women are inspected - in front of their men. Add the Abu Ghraib scandal on to that, and yet the Bush administration still continued to deny for months that a guerrilla war was occuring, continued to insist that only "baathist diehards" and "foreign terrorists" were conducting the attacks, and were surprised when events on the ground began to spin out of control.

And for pointing this out I am "blinded by leftist ideology."

"Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?"

Matthew 7:4

vrangel said...

Mistakes were made, but disbanding Iraqi Army was not one of them.
Do you know that 80% of its officer core were sunni arabs (Saddam's power base, 20% of population) ? And the rest were mostly shia conscripts, who hated it but were too poor to bribe their way out.

Decision to disband it was pretty far-sighted and wise. We needed a new army that would fight on our side, not just a source of employment.

Old police force was not disbanded and as you can see they either run away before the enemy or worse, cooperate with the other side. They are also pretty corrupt, just the way they were before.

Following your logic we shouldn't disband any part of Saddam's repressive apparatus. Bring them back and order will be restored in no time, just like in the old days.

That's not why we are there. New army is coming along and is fighting on our side. Fighting against remnants of old apparatus that needed to be disbanded if we were to have any chance to build democracy.

Your point about the cost is a valid one. Whether its too high or not depends on what long term payoff will be. If Iraq becomes a success and democratic ideas spread throughout ME and compete successfully with islamic fundamentalism then it was worth it.
We won't know it for another few years. Lets have a little patience and stay the course for now.

redleg said...

I happen to agree with free (except for the scurilous point about POWs in a combat zone, but getting the USMC and Army to agree on uniformity is wasteful of bandwidth. But I do like my Marines...those sailors have to have dates...).

If Iraq was a war of choice, it was about when we were going to choose to invade a hostile nation that had been thumbing it's nose at us for over 12 years. Unrelated to the GWOT? Horse-puckey. I have been to the "stan and we are winning there. There are problems and that country could swallow the whole US Military and still need more troop to task analysis. 21k is getting it done and the ANA and GOA is doing the job. Iraq is much the same way. Germany never attacked us. That was a war of choice too. You going to wait for the attack or try to stop it?

I talk to the people and soldiers and leaders who are over there right now, and yeah we need more riflemen over there, but we don't need more units or more people. I don't need artillery batteries over in Iraq...this is why our 2BDE is going over there to support the elections with 2 rifle battalion and their firing batteries configured as infantrymen. Hell, some of my artillerymen are going over to the 'Stan as riflemen, and my spoons and mechanics too. It is the nature of war that it is so. President Bush has made it all happen and I completely concur with Free's support of the President. Shinseki made that analysis and he, as a tanker, did not make sure his units had the weapons, tactics or training to do the job he predicted. Pretty sorry, yes. But we have it now.

Does the military need to be bigger? Yes, but not with draftees. They may have fought well and long in wars past, but this is not your daddy's (or grand-pappy's) Army anymore. You cannot sustain the excellence we have in the field right now with draftees upon whom you cannot force to pass a PT test or height and weight standards. I want to serve with and command volunteers. And I recognize the fact that my redlegs might have to serve as rifleman. My ranger qualified mess sergeant is fully prepared to do that mission if assigned. Are we doing that role as well as 11B rifle platoons?, I would say a definative no. But my presence on the battlefield allows those rifle platoons to be used for the hard infantry tasks by taking the less sexy missions away from them. That mission I can do, and they are being done like that right now in theater.

Leaders are important. But comparing my admiration for President Bush's leadership to a Stalin's cult of personality is hyperbole at best. I have free will, not the NKVD with a Makarov at the base of my neck. Still bitter about the election aren't you. It sucks when the electorate doesn't go your way. I felt a bit of that in '92 and '96. And like him or not, President Bush has led and made powerful important strides in the world that will not be understood for decades. It is time to get off the "I hate America and the world power this represents" kick and get on with life. Can there be no good purpose towards which American power can be weilded? Or should we cower before the world afraid to offend? Power is responsibility, and responsibility means cleaning up the messes, even if someone else left them there.

free0352 said...

I echo vrangel's thoughts. Why are we debating the war again? I liked VRA's point about the Democrats not realising why they lost the ellection, you guys STILL persist it was about gay marriage? It wasn't. Of all the people who said it right, Michael Moore hit the nail on the head on Lenno earlier this week. Bush made America feel safter, and they didn't trust Kerry. Simple as that. We can argue till the cows come home weather or not thats true, but that IS why he was reelected.

fbg46 said...

redleg -- I like a Straw Man (Straw Person?) argument as much as anybody, but maybe we can beyond that re: what we're talking about. The alternative to being in Iraq is not "or should we cower before the world afraid to offend?" nor has anyone in this string of posts suggested that.

What HAS been suggested is that we fight the people who attacked us and not fight the people who didn't attack us.

If some of us had our 'druthers, there would be 130,000 straightlegs/SF types in and around the Afghanistan/Pakistan border doing two things: 1) affixing OBL's head to a pike in a conspicuous place, and; 2) making clear to the Pakis that we are indeed the Biggest Kids On The Block and therefore they had better be turning over to us all the Al Qaida types they are letting hide out in their cities and maybe, just maybe, we'll let them keep their nukes (my vote is to take the nukes away from them no matter what, but that's just me. An Iraq under Sadam is a luxury we can afford, an Islamic Bomb is not).

Re: the "we should have done this twelve years ago" talk -- that's funny, the guys in charge then after GWI were unanimous in saying we shouldn't go to Baghdad (even though at the time the 24th Mech was about 150 klicks away) because IT WOULD BE A QUAGMIRE. And who was leading the "it would be a quagmire" camp? -- why our then - SecDef and now-VP, one Dick Cheney. So what's changed between '91 and '03? One thing -- 9/11. And the one thing we now know for sure (and alot of us in '02 were pretty sure was the case) is that Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11 and that it didn't have ANY WMDs (and by the bye, the only "WMD" worthy of the name is nukes).

Some readers of this blog saw first - hand what the last little foreign adventure did to the military in general and the Army in particular (in addition to having 58,250 names put on a wall) and foolishly assumed that we'd never do that again. Shows how wrong we were -- this has all the earmarks of the last slow motion train wreck and, I fear, will end the same way -- with the politicians walking away from the mess they've created, leaving once again, the military in general and the Army in particular holding the bag.

Oh, and before there's alot of "Vietnam's not Iraq" gets posted -- you're right, it's not, it's worse; it's Vietnam on Speed. Forget comparing body counts between the two wars -- that will just be making the same mistake McNamara made by focusing on the wrong statistic (or, as we say these days, metric). Rather, worry about the fact that, unlike the VC and the NVA, the insurgents in Iraq think nothing about BLOWING THEMSELVES UP to get to us. In Vietnam we couldn't at an acceptable cost defeat an enemy that wanted to live as much as we did; what makes us think we'll defeat one with the forces we have at hand who think nothing about killing themselves if they can take a couple of GIs or Marines with them?

No, guys: Your clear - eyed, tough - talking Fearless Leader has led us into a swamp the depth of which he can't fathom if he ever bothered to think about it.

And just so my bias is clear -- redleg and free 0352: you guys sound like you're active duty guys and that you're heading back over. Thanks from this citizen for doing what you're doing, look after yourselves (it goes without saying that you'll look after your troops) and all of you come home SAFE.

free0352 said...

One thing I like about TWD's blog, is that while we all don't always agree, no one here is a moron. Unlike some other blogs, where it seems the stupid congregate like sewage at a Phish concert.

9/11 did change things. The dynamic of the GWOT is a simple premice. At no time in history, has Norway ever bombed the united states. Never, has Holland utilized suicide attacks. In the last 60 years, Germany, a country with a history of violent expansion, has been a force of pacifism. Japan no longer trains it's citizens in suicide kamikazi bombings.

What I'm saying is free countrys don't attack the US or anyone else really. The mission of the GWOT is to spread freedom to a pocket of the planet that REALLY needs it due to it's perpencity towards false martyredom. Thats the Bush doctrine, which I buy into. Why Iraq? It was as good a place to start as any.

Osama? We'll get him. He's hard to find, I know, I helped look.

Vietnam? You would have been begging for the casualty figures we have today back in 68'. Frankly, we arn't dieing as much, while the enemy is dieing much faster. Same infantry, basically the same m-16's. Better tactics, better motivation, better training. That's a fact. It's the individual soldier and marine that are winning this war as spectacularly as they are. Quagmire, so? You don't back down from what could at its end ERADICATE radicall islamic terrorism and Pan Arab aggression just because it'll be a pain in the ass. You suck it up and win. And you back your leaders play. It was right then and right now. Fuck WMD, what about the 4000 instances of Iraqi aggression during a failed containment stratagy. The only wrong disision made was made in 1990.

And while we will disagree from time to time, thanks for at least not calling my a baby killing, imperialist, invading murderer for doing my fucking job. I wish you'd back the mission more...but hay, it's your right, and at least you're not a bastard about it.

free0352 said...

and one more thing. I WAS active duty for a four year hitch. Now I'm an IRR guy with the Marine Reserve. Just to clarify for everyone.

this we'll defend said...

Thanks Free.

Just a few things:

1) Yes, 80% of the officer corps were Sunni. So what? It was a force that guaranteed stability, and it could have been used while transforming Iraqi society and changing the officer corps so that it wasn't baathist. It was a powerful symbol of Iraqi identity, and even the Shia felt humiliated when it was dissolved - because they see themselves as IRAQI Shia, not just Shiites. And in any case, if the Iraqi military was kept in organized units with pay and with discipline they would be easier to monitor, unlike now.

2) The new army is not coming along and fighting on our side. It is useless, regardless of the propaganda you hear. I would rather patrol without them than with them. "Want to by an ARVN rifle? Never been fired and only dropped once."

3) If Iraq becomes a success that will certainly be better than failure, but the benefit will be for the Iraqis, not for Americans. AND - the debate over the war is not something that suggests we should "stay the course." Attacks are growing worse, not better. This administration is the one that has been wrong all along - and saying "why continue to debate the war" at the same time as "stay the course" suggests we should not learn from our mistakes. And, apparently, we aren't. All we have to do is "stay the course" and "tough it out" and the same people who have been consistently wrong - about WMDs, 9/11-Iraqi links, troop numbers, the nature of the insurgency, the same people who fucked up the occupation, they will be proven right? if we don't change tactics? Forgive me for not agreeing with you.

4) Redleg says that Iraq is "Unrelated to the GWOT? Horse-puckey." Well, that certainly is a valid argument. I point out Army war college studies, and his reply is "horse-puckey" with no facts, or even anecdotes, to support his contention. The only reason Bush was even able to sell Iraq as part of the war on terror was because Iraq is arab and muslim. It had as much to do with Islamic terrorism as North Korea. Yes, it was an enemy (so is North Korea) but if we invaded North Korea (something that we are now incabable of in any case) would you buy it if it was sold as part of the war against stateless terrorism? Well, maybe you would. In any case it NOW is part of the GWOT because, as predicted, the invasion helped our terrorist enemies, both in recruiting and funding and in finding Americans to kill without having to bother coming all the way to the US. What a boon for them.

4) To say the analogy to a cult of personality is wrong because "NKVD with a Makarov at the base of my neck" was responsible for Stalin's power ignores my premise. Stalin, while purging and killing his enemies, was nevertheless actually popular, even loved, by many Russians. Yes Saddam is a bastard, but even now that he is out of power there are Iraqis who revere him and are still loyal to him. Not because they are afraid of what happens if they don't, but because they feel loyalty and reverence to a strong leader. And human history shows this is usually the case - otherwise most of humanity throughout history would not have been under the sway of kings and dictators. Your tendency to support Bush because you "feel led" and because he is strong and makes you feel strong and good as well is simply human nature - but it doesn't make him a good or competent leader, only a strong one. Which is why you blame Clinton for a weak military despite the facts showing the military was not neglected - you seek anecdotal evidence to support your beliefs and ignore facts, while excusing Bush for the massive mistakes and misjudgments he has consistently made - you seek anecdotal evidence to support your beliefs and ignore facts. It is normal, but not right.

5) Free's analogies to Holland, Germany, Japan, etc. ignores a basic and immutable fact: our true enemy is STATELESS terrorism, and any analogies to the defeat of states is thus flawed. The GWOT is not a war against states, because states, even states as mad as North Korea or Iraq in Saddam's day, are deterrable. The nature of stateless terrorism is completely different. Thus the invasion of Iraq had as much to do with the GWOT as fish has to do with bicyles.

Sorry to all for not creating a new post to further this great discussion, but I have been busy. I guess this thread will just grow until I get around to a new post.

vrangel said...

There was one instance when 1000 strong unit of old Iraqi Army was recreated. It was called Falouja Brigade.

In the beginning they were simply useless, never detained a single bad guy. Then they started to provide intelligence and cover for the enemy and in the end started shooting at our marine patrols.
Eventually they had to be disbanded and individual officers and soldiers disappeared with their uniforms and equipment, probably joined the enemy.

Two days before decision to disband it was made there was a payday. Everybody showed up , even those who were in the hospital at the time were brought by comrades in armes on stretchers ! That payday ended in a riot and our marines had to shoot in the air to restore order.

Had we not disbanded 80% sunni Iraqi Army we would be in real trouble today, militarily. And politically we would never have won over shia majority.
Wise decision, nevermind what clueless media says.

this we'll defend said...

to use a unit created AFTER the Iraqi army had been humiliatingly disbanded, AFTER the insurgency had caught fire and was in full swing, in the MOST hostile region of the entire country, a unit fielded AFTER the US military had been involved in heavy urban fighting, and use it as an example of why we were right to disband that army in the first place, well, no, I don't buy it. The damage had already been done, and recreating the Iraqi army after the fact would not undo that damage.

vrangel said...

In Iraq this army was a reflection of the country itself: 20% sunni controlled 60% shia in a brutal fashion. You don't want this thing lingering around,
because you do want majority shia in your corner.

And we do have them on our side. Any headlines from shia areas lately ? Karbala, Najaf, Sadr-city ? Nothing from media, because no bombs, no shooting there, all quiet and election campaign is on.

All this talk about humiliation comes from sunni minority. They lost total power they used to have and canning old army is only a part of it. They just don't want to accept their new status of a minority in a democracy.

I've read a lot about iraqi conscript army written by iraqis themselves. It was horrible and corrupt institution, broken beyond repair. Same as Soviet conscript army .

free0352 said...

Once again TWD you miss the point. Even if every Al’Queda member was pushing up daises there would still be Islamo Faciest terrorism. Al’Q is not the soul terrorist organization on planet earth as you well know. The goal of Islamo fascism is to use terror to establish Taliban like regimes. While Saddam was not directly part of this process, he still aided terror groups. Not Al’Queda terror groups…but terror groups none the less. Famous and more sophisticated ones like Islamic Jihad and Hammas, which he had an indisputable connection to. Saddam paid off the suicide bombers families for fucks sake. He was an ally in terror and therefore a VERY valid target. The idea behind war in Iraq was to stop Saddam from giving his terror allies WMD. I’ll leave alone the very probable fact that all the serin is in Syria, and adopt your allegation that there were no WMD in Iraq. Fine, no mustard gas.

This means Saddam who was on record threatening to supply anti-Israel terror forces with WMD will never do so. Ever. A man who swore to push every Jew into the sea and destroy America…will never even get the chance…ever.

I quote-
“We will chase [Americans] to every corner at all times. No high tower of steel will protect them against the fire of truth."
Saddam Hussein, Baghdad Radio, February 8, 1991

"[America] will not be excluded from the operations and explosions of the Arab and Muslim mujahidin and all the honest strugglers in the world."
Iraq News Agency, January 30, 1991

“What remains for Bush and his accomplices in crime is to understand that they are personally responsible for their crime. The Iraqi people will pursue them for this crime, even if they leave office and disappear into oblivion. There is no doubt they will understand what we mean if they know what revenge means to the Arabs."
Baghdad Radio, February 6, 1991

"Does [America] realize the meaning of every Iraqi becoming a missile that can cross to countries and cities?" Saddam Hussein, September 29, 1994

Now ask yourself this question TWD. What would Israel do if a Palestinian organization detonated an NBC/CBRN device in Tel Aviv? Answer: Kill every Palestinian in Gaza and the Golan heights, that’s what. Question, how would this effect stability in the Middle East and Middle Eastern alliances and oil production related to the United States? Starting to see the picture? Last question, where would a Palestinian or Al’Q organization acquire an NBC device?

Saddam was working to destabilize the ME for his own evil gain. Now he will never, ever do that. While you bemoan casualties in Iraq, the figures for that type of warfare are excellent, casualties, progress of Iraq, Iraqi security, etc. I remember reading that the ol’ continental army back in 1776 didn’t stand up and fight very well either…even against comparative loyalist militias. So cut the Iraqis’ some slack, they’ve only had about 7 months to master modern warfare…all without an experienced NCO or junior officer corps. Building that takes time, and you know damn well that’s what an army needs to not run screaming in the other direction.

this we'll defend said...

I think we are talking in circles. Free, I don't think I missed the point at all, and here is why:

1) Israel is NOT the United States. The interests of Israel and the US are not the same. Thus a terrorist organization that attacks Israel regularly is not necessarily a threat to the US, and US blood and treasure should not be spent for the benefit of Israel, but only for the benefit of the US. Thus the "terrorist" organizations you cite, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, are NOT the targets in our GWOT. We can not attack a tactic (terrorism) but must fight an enemy (the terrorists who threaten us). We also don't need to fight the IRA, or the Basque separatist ETA in Spain (which set off 7 bombs there today, killing five), or FARC in Columbia, or Filipino Muslim terrorists, or Chechens, or any other terrorist group that doesn't threaten us. And "terrorist" is a matter of perception sometimes. I know. I trained the "freedom fighters" of the Nicaraguan Contra movement in the 1980s, and they were NOT the good guys - and all of us training them could see it. While Reagan considered the Sandinista govt a threat because they were communist, we trained and equipped fascists, thugs, and drug traffickers. And called them "freedom fighters" while most of the rest of world saw that they were terrorists who did things like attack police stations and plant land mines and booby traps. And this Sandinista "threat" stepped down when it lost the first democratic election, in a peaceful transfer of power, something that the Contras would never have done since they were mostly ex-military from the evil dictator Somoza's era, and were enemies of democracy. What does this have to do with Hamas? Well, not all of the world considers Hamas a terrorist group, and Hamas has never attacked the US - and in fact condemned strongly the 9/11 attacks and every beheading of an American as "un-Islamic" and "barbaric." Do they use terror tactics? Yes. Does that mean they are our enemy? No. We aren't fighting a method (terrorism), that would make as much sense as a war on "ambushing." If Iraq's support of Hamas justifies invasion why are we not invading the other countries that support them, such as: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, the UAE (and all other gulf states), and most of all, Iran. In fact, the two biggest donors to both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are (and have been) Saudia Arabia and Iran. In 1998 the Saudi government welcomed Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin as an official guest and presented him with a gift of $25 million given by a member of the royal family, who was reported to be Crown Prince Abdallah, heir to the Saudi throne. So we invade Iraq for supporting Hamas? no. You were lied to and you believed it. Your use of the term "Islamo-fascist" (common in extremist sites like Free Republic) is one that fails to discern threats to us versus groups that don't threaten us. We are at war against Islamic fundamentalism, but groups like Hamas are not that, they are nationalist, and dedicated to a Palestinian state, not the destruction of the western world.

Next is the WMD threat. It didn't exist even if we had found tons of mustard gas. The fact that you believe Sarin was moved from Iraq to Syria yet you still believe we were right to invade in order to lessen the threat shows incredible inconsistency. As in the case of the high explosive that disappeared after the invasion, the overthrow of Saddam makes it MORE likely that such weapons will be used against us, not less likely - not to mention the warned against boon to terrorist recruiting and support caused by our invasion. But in any case the term "WMD" is a false one that creates images in the mind of enormous destruction along the lines of a nuclear weaponry, but chemical weapons are WWI technology that every nation who has used them has found ineffective. Hitler had them and didn't use them, and it certainly wasn't because he was a nice guy. Same with the Empire of Japan. The one Sarin attack on record, in the Tokyo subways, killed 19 people, but the Aum Shiriko terrorist group spent ten years and $100 million preparing it - and killed 19 people. Had they spend $10,000 on C-4 and planted conventional explosives on the subway the death toll could have been in the hundreds, and in the Madrid railway attacks conventional explosives did MUCH more damage, not to mention the damage caused on 9/11 by 19 guys with boxcutters. The use of biological weapons is even more difficult - after decades and hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the US and the Soviet Union, we never created a biological threat that could be weaponized effectively. The one biological attack on record here in the US (ignoring attacks through food poisoning - no way to prevent e. coli attacks) was the anthrax attacks. Four died. Four. Oh, and the strain of antrax used? From a US Army-developed strain, not from overseas. Thus if Saddam "might" have given "WMD" to terrorists - pretending that Saddam ever gave weaponry to terrorists, which he never did, and pretending that the WMDs he had were something terrorists would want, which it wasn't - the threat to us would actually be lessened. I would much rather have terrorists trying to employ chemical weapons against us instead of conventional high explosive. Just as in the Tokyo attacks, fewer Americans will die, and there is a much greater chance of the terrorists killing themselves before they can attack at all. And all of this was known to national security professionals well before the build-up to invasion. You were (America was) misled and lied to about the threat of WMDs. Oh - and any nation capable of making chlorine for use in pools has a chemical weapons program. Turning chlorine into mustard gas can be done in a high school lab. The reason we don't freak out is that mustard gas sucks as a weapon, whether in the hands of an army or in the hands of terrorists. And nerve gas? Raid is a nerve agent, and any nation that can make insecticide can make VX and/or DN easily. Why don't we freak out about them? Because, again, nerve agent sucks as a weapon. For instance, when Saddam used it in the well-known attack against the Kurdish villagers, it turned out he had to rain shells on them for some time. Had he used conventional HE, not to mention incendiary devices, he would have killed at least as many. Which is one reason that after the first couple of times he used it against Iranian troops he stopped using it - because it sucks as a weapon.

What is truly worthy of fear is the only weapon that can truly be called "WMD" - nuclear. No, not a "dirty bomb." THere is enough radioactive medical waste to create one of those right here at home, and if the govt truly wanted to neutralize the threat then the administration would educate the public on how little a threat dirty bombs actually present - but they aren't, and when one eventually is used the nation will freak out. For instance, if one is used in a subway that subway will be closed and not used - costing billions - when in fact it can be cleaned and made safe fairly quickly - but the public won't believe it unless they are educated about it beforehand. The only true WMD is an atomic bomb. Which we knew Iraq did not have, could not have, and was nowhere near to getting. Meanwhile Pakistan has the bomb, sells it to the highest bidder, and we ignore it. Iran continues its program, and we are helpless (because of our full military committment in Iraq) to prevent it. And I don't even want to get started on North Korea.

The truth is, your scheming Saddam, that was trying to destabilize the ME just as you say, was weaker every year, and presented less of a threat in 2002 than in 1998, and less of a threat in 1998 than in 1994, and so on. Containment worked better than we expected - in 1991 the plan was to destroy his military so that he couldn't present a viable threat for ten years. In fact he hever presented a viable threat again, even 13 years later when we invaded. You, and America, were lied to and misled.

And if the possibility of Israel killing every Palestinian, and the effect it would have on stability and oil production, concerns you, the invasion of Iraq had a negative effect as well, and meanwhile prior to 9/11 Bush simply ignored the ME peace process, while post-9/11 he has clearly sided with Israel in the conflict, destroying the chances of America being an aribitor and mediator in the conflict. Clinton was cheered when he visited the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians waved US flags, and kissed his limo, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad toned down their rhetoric for the visit in a very positive sign for the future. Shortly thereafter Bush took office and let the process fall to pieces, and then became a cheerleader for Israel, siding with Sharon. The invasion of Iraq was never justifible on the grounds of stabilizing the ME.

yes, it takes time to create a viable military and police force. That the administration failed to see this beforehand doesn't fill me with confidence that they will make good decisions now. The Bush administration predicted that the invasion and creation of a viable Iraqi govt would be cheap, quick, and easy. And yes, you are right, it isn't. but why let them off the hook for being wrong in the first place, or, amazingly, use the fact that it is hard to create stability as a reason to DEFEND the idiots that unknowingly blundered along to this point in the first place?

free0352 said...


To adress some other comments you stated I think are inacurate.

The Marines Have 4 count em' four force service support groups and 4 count em' four air wings. The army has zero airforce type pukes, we have eight DIVISIONS worth of them. These units contain the most Non grunt un-combat arms jobs in the service. Things like aircraft mechanics, cooks, truckdrivers, ordinance techs, people other than 0300s. All this, and they are also riflemen. Not infantrymen like an 0300, but they can ALL hold their own in a firefight. They know the bare bones basics of patrolling, combat formation, assault, defense, fire and movement, room clearing, MOUT, and weapons handling/employment. Our mechanics fix hummvees and then take a turn standing security out on the line or take a post. And the army could do that too, if the soldiers would bother to train the poor bastards. Now, it sounds like REDLEG (WTF is a redleg anyway?) is doing this, and his point about the un-sexy jobs is right on. We jarheads don't put the comm s-6 platoon into the assault, they gaurd the FOB while we do that shit. But they could do it, if they had to.

Redlegs' point about Shinski was right on!

I never suggested we should have fired Roosevelt, your logic did. The risks in Iraq were up front too, in fact we expected to get gased which in my humble mind is A LOT FUCKING WORSE than what actually hapened. So, from what I expected...we did better than the expectations. We've come in ruiteenly under expected casualties...and we've killed fucking tons of terrorists. Who by the way were terrorists long before they were killing Americans, we just took the fight to them instead of the fight coming to us at home. And after we did better than any learned person thought we'd do, the whole team, from the pres down to PVT shmuckateli, we get told what a quagmire it is and how we screwed it up. Thanks. Not reality though.

free0352 said...


Oh shit you bastard! :) you posted your last comment just as I was posting the one following it. I'll read yours and have the responses...I'm at work and am moving slow. Look for my next argument.

this we'll defend said...

TWD - :) Great timing, huh? You crack me up.

As for your air wing points - all true, but it misses the point. The USMC does a great job of training Marines. And likewise anybody in an Army FARP can do the same, as they are well-trained for it, even if a crew chief or an Apache mechanic. I've conducted live fire exercises where my infantry unit trained forward support battalions and aviation companies - the cooks, the logistic techs, the fuel handlers, everybody. AND - aviation is a combat arms branch in the Army. Combat support and service support MOS's are different. You don't think your logpacs that your divisional supply units move just magically appear packed and organzied forward of the divisional rear boundary? No. Sailors do it and hand it off to Marine supply units. How did your supplies arrive? Did a Marine drive a truck from San Diego to Iraq? No, the Navy moved it. And the USMC has no EAC (echelons above corps) signal units, or supply/logistics nodes, etc. You rarely need it so that makes sense - they exist in the fleet, with commo and supply elements on Navy ships. The Marines don't even have combat engineers, relying on the Navy (which points out something I was wrong about - it isn't just corpsmen that are trained to fight in the Navy in support of the USMC - Seabees can defend themselves and fight as infantry if the need arises, and they are all sailors). The Marines have no independent logistics or support companies, like the one Jessica Lynch belonged to. But when an extended land campaign occurs those elements have to be on land, and the Army is designed for such campaigns. Thus the Army has them, the USMC does not. And that means that the Army must train and equip those units. It just isn't worth the cost to train units to proficiency in infantry tasks if they rarely, if ever, need them. It doesn't even save lives - the cost of getting a EAC signal corps unit to the combat proficiency of an Army forward support battalion, for instance, would mean increased training and recruiting costs, which would mean greater staffing shortages, and at the same time the unit, once staffed, would need to maintain proficiency, leaving them less time to master their own MOSs - as a result the front-line units relying on such support troops would have less support, and they (the front-line troops) would pay the cost in blood - not the support troops who would be able to fight as infantry and never would. And the USMC feels the same, which is why sailors who support Navy aviation that might give you CAS aren't trained to fight while Marines who work in aviation units are - because the Marines who are firefighters, ordnance techs, etc. will be stationed in areas where the threat of direct engagement exists, while the sailors performing those same tasks for the Navy will not. And the USMC isn't raising hell to get those sailors trained for land combat - because it wouldn't be worth the cost. Similarly, the Army will train support units who fight forward of the brigade rear boundary to a high level, units behind that but forward of a divisional rear boundary to a lesser extent, and units behind that will recieve even less combat training - but more than the sailors or air force personnel ever get. Even the sailors your regiment relies upon in order to function.

When you go to the dentist, the sailor examining your teeth will never have qualified on a rifle, thrown a hand grenade, or done any FTXs. If you are on an Army base the dental technician will have done all of these things. Before you lecture the Army on better training for their support troops, have your dental technicians learn to load and fire a rifle first - because your support troops aren't recieving any combat training at all.

fbg46 said...

Re: the discussion of the differences between the Corps and the Army, TWD's last post went to the right place.

Some famous architect said that "Form follows function"; this applies to the two branches.

The Army and the Marines have different strategic missions; their different structures are simply a reflection of that fact.

Yes, there's alot of overlap between the two structures, i.e., they look alike in various areas, but that follows from the fact that there is overlap between their two missions.

But the overlap is by no means complete -- the Corps is designed to hit fast from the sea, hold a position for around 30 days (so I'm told by the Marines I know who have been in MEUs) and then be relieved by someone, usually the Army.

The Army's mission is to basically be the heavy follow - on force (while having a quick striking capabilty) that's going to engage a like -structured force and fight it out for as long as it takes.

Hence the logistical differences -- the Army has to have a long log tail; no telling how long it's going to be staying somewhere. Also, the Army's center of gravity is (still) Armor/Armored Cav. And NOTHING sucks up logistics like those kind of units (particularly with loads of choppers). (The fact that without a Soviet threat the Army's structure could/should change is another debate.)

On the other hand, the Corps' center of gravity is light infantry; which, comparatively speaking, does not require anywhere near the logistical support that the Army does. Plus, it makes sense that most of that support should come from the Navy; after all, the Corps is often re-supplied from the sea, and it's usually back to the sea that it goes once its land mission has been completed.

The issue is of course more complicated than the above, and appears to be changing over time. But the point is, that while missions may change and exceptions may exist, it's awfully hard to change the organization and the equipment which the organization uses in increments of time less than decades.

Example: What should the replacement for the M-1 be? Depends on what the strategic mission of the Army is going to be in 2010 and beyond. Lots of debate about that right now, but it's certainly something we don't want to guess wrong about, because we could have a real problem then -- we go, say Stryker - light, but find ourselves confronting Russian T-80s/90s in Taiwan or on the DMZ in Korea, say in 2015 or 2020 -- but the crystal balls of the planners are no clearer than anyone else's.

The point is, the Army has to be prepared for two basic types of missions -- heavy and light, whereas the Corps focuses on one -- light. Those different requirements go a long way to explaining why the organizations have the differences they have.

free0352 said...

TWD- Dude, I think you just made my point for me, the parts of your post that had that thing…oh what was it? Oh yea…logic 

You said
“As for your air wing points - all true, but it misses the point. The USMC does a great job of training Marines. And likewise anybody in an Army FARP can do the same, as they are well-trained for it, even if a crew chief or an Apache mechanic.”

Free says:
GREAT! That’s what I wanted! What are we arguing for then? Though I would disagree with you that air crew aside, air wing is NOT a combat arms. The crew chief, pilot, copilot, load master etc maybe…but pogo fucko who hands out tools back at the hanger is NOT combat arms!

You said
“Combat support and service support MOS's are different. You don't think your logpacs that your divisional supply units move just magically appear packed and organzied forward of the divisional rear boundary? No. Sailors do it and hand it off to Marine supply units.”

Free says:
This is just patently inacurate. Marine Units embark ALL our own gear unit by unit, and the embark guys with each unit supervise and work with the Navy and LOAD it abourd ship themselves. When the ship arrives off coast we unload it and hand it over to fellow Marines who get it where it’s gotta go. Yes the Navy “Moved” it, but we did everything else. The Airforce “Moves” the Army’s stuff. And clearly we DO have service support units; such as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Combat Service Support Groups. Division sized units that do all that not so sexy, boaring ass non-grunt crap. When Marine Expiditionary units deploy, needed service support is un-plugged from the corisponding FSSG and plugged into the deploying reinforced regiment, to handle all those not so fun tasks such as water purification, supply, building and maintaining bases, and setting up the port-o-jons.

You said
“The Marines don't even have combat engineers”

Free rolls eyes and ghasps
Oh yeah we do! We sure do! A whole battalion of them per division! Now I understand it isn' the Corps of Engineers, but we don't need that! If the helo FARP dudes can fire a rifle competently, why can't the patriot missile people? You are mistaken to think that only corpsman and Seabees get combat trained. Our organic division Navy people do to. Now the non-organic ones...

We don’t have above corps echelons because it is organic to the Divison or Regement. It’s there, but it’s a small number for a comperitively small unit. Well, compared to the army, we’re just a lil’ service any ol’ way. My point follows you’re next quote-

You said:
“And that means that the Army must train and equip those units. It just isn't worth the cost to train units to proficiency in infantry tasks if they rarely, if ever, need them. It doesn't even save lives - the cost of getting a EAC signal corps unit to the combat proficiency of an Army forward support battalion, for instance, would mean increased training and recruiting costs, which would mean greater staffing shortages, and at the same time the unit, once staffed, would need to maintain proficiency, leaving them less time to master their own MOSs - as a result the front-line units relying on such support troops would have less support, and they (the front-line troops) would pay the cost in blood - not the support troops who would be able to fight as infantry and never would.”

Free says:

Clearly they need the training, as they cannont complete there rear-rear tasks in a body bag. In an insurgent war with no front line, there will never be enough grunts to baby sit every pog, hence the need to teach them to fight there way out of a wet paper sack. I’m not saying the Army should go crazy with it. How about a basic training that is… you know, challenging? You’ve said yourself that non-infantry army basic is camp fucking snoopy. Well, there’s a start huh? And four weeks of follow up fun before MOS school to learn some basic combined arms and advanced weapon skills. Follow up field opps once or twice a year wouldn’t hurt either. Are you saying the Army can’t spare 3 weeks out of 52? I’m not talking about creating SF commando’s or anything, just having them secure their own fucking area and it’s perimiter would be a swell start. Maybe they’d learn to clear rifle stopages in that time? You can lecture me about our navy support, but come the fuck on now? Who cares? It’s not that hard and it needs to get done, to free up grunts to pull triggers. Hell, Haliburton does have the rear-rear shit now-a-days anyway (and a fine job too might I add, airconditioned tents and hot chow that-tastes-somewhat-good) So my final point is, IF the army isn’t training the 4th echelon to fight…the should for their own damn good.

this we'll defend said...

Thanks fbg (btw, is that an allusion to fire base gloria?)

Being light is easier than being heavy AND light, but deploying from fixed and secure bases on land is easier than staying prepared and ready while conducting extended floats. Thus as you say the USMC and Army are different, and both have challenging missions. And both are the best in the world.

The Army does need to and is changing from the cold-war era heavy force. Not because there is no more Soviet Union - our military has to be prepared for everything from high-intensity to low-intensity warfare even if the Russians aren't coming through the Fulda Gap. Both times we fought the Iraqi military it was high-intensity with heavy forces winning the day. No, the reason it must change is technology. In a very short time tanks will no longer be the powerful forces they are now, because light forces will be able to engage and destroy a similar-sized heavy force. This is due to advances in missile technology. Javelin missiles (for example) are man-portable (even though the poor bastards who have to hump them might disagree) and can defeat any tank in the world. The Javelin can penetrate the front slope of an M1 (or any other armor in the world), and a gunner can pop up, fire, and run away, while the missile tracks and destroys the target. As a result light infantry will be more of a threat to heavy armor forces than enemy tanks. Enemy tanks can be seen and destroyed. A single rifle company can have 100 guys running around, 20 or so with Javelins, and simply overwhelm and wipe out a company of tanks. Thus while tanks aren't obsolete, they will play much, much less of a role. We won't have "tank" divisions any more, but infantry divisions (or, even better, smaller self-contained fighting units like the UofA brigades that we are now experimenting with) that are light and mobile. That is why there need be no replacement for the M1. We should have kept working on an AGS, and a vehicle like the Stryker is the wave of the future. Our enemies will shortly have Javelin equivalents, and tanks such as the M1 will be just as vulnerable as an armored humvee. Possibly even more since they are bigger, have a larger heat signature, and are much slower. We will still need tanks because they are able to destroy other vehicles more quickly than even Javelins, but they will be quite vulnerable. Fast-moving light infantry is the future - as light as the 82nd or 101st, but able to move quickly even after a vertical insertion. The 3rd ACR was an early prototype unit, and while it was not succesful (my motorized rifle company rolled over an entire squadron of the TOW Humvee equipped 3rd ACR at the NTC) it taught us great lessons. The Stryker is a step better. And it was always considered a stop-gap solution that would fill the need only as long as it took us to figure out the new force structure and develop the best platforms for the future. Shinseki started the ball rolling, and even though Scumsfeld has done his best to derail it and make the Army all special ops, the Army as an institution is now on board. Even the armor community is looking toward the future by seeking to prove that tanks can engage infantry and play a great role in urban combat (which the infantry community always knew, but the armor community tried best to avoid).

Thus, the best replacement for the M1 is the LPC - leather personnel carrier. A boot. Because foot-mobile infantry, combined with transportation that can quickly move them around the battlefield but that places very small demands on the logistics system, will soon once again be the most powerful force on the battlefield, even if facing modern Chinese tanks or heavy armor in Korea. As when the armored knight was defeated by pike-carrying infantry, or when infantry formed in a square learned to defeat horse-cavalry charges, the nature of warfare has moved forward by moving back - to infantry combat.

Which, as an infantryman, I am not thrilled about. Because it creates more of a level playing field, and I liked it when the US was invincible. Hopefully by using technology and good combinations of air power and land power, as well as accurate stand-off technology, we can keep our overwhelming advantage when facing a determined enemy in any level of battle, from low to high intensity.

this we'll defend said...

Free, Damn you, you just did the same thing, posting while I'm composing.

Ok, on to your points:

The pogue who "hands out tools back at the hanger" is in fact combat arms if he is actually forward of FLOT - which is often the case with a FARP. Thus he needs combat training too.

I think we are in "violent agreement" on most things. We agree that troops who engage the enemy should be trained to do so. My point is that simplistically saying the Army should train their support troops "like the Marines" is conventional wisdom - and wrong.

Soldiers in units forward of the divisional rear boundary are trained for basic combat. But would you expect a naval hospital to fight as infantry? Of course not. And neither can an Army hospital, but in fact the Army hospital will have more and better combat training than an equivalent naval hospital. And it will have deployed into a field environment much more often.

I should have defined "logpac." It isn't your gear. The Army also embarks its own gear unit by unit most of the time. When it doesn't it is heavy units deploying hundreds of tanks and other heavy forces, and we don't expect the merchant marine to fight as infantry either. But "logpac" is a logistics package. Your MREs are not under Marine control the entire time - they are stored on a ship until needed. The Marines don't provide the cooked food you eat when afloat. Your POL (petroleum, oil, and lubricants) must be transferred from naval tenders to blivets before the Marines pick it up and move it ashore. All of these tasks are done by sailors who aren't able to fight as infantry. It is combat service support. And it is done by soldiers in the Army, but we don't train all of our units to fight as infantry any more than the Marines train all sailors in their supply chain to do so. For the same reasons - it doesn't make sense and would be too costly.

Your combat service support groups are the equivalent of army direct support battalions, and our DSBs are also trained to defend themselves, and conduct FTXs and participate in force-on-force exercises at the NTC and JRTC. Our FSBs recieve even more training because they are closer to the line units they support.

The USAF does move a lot of the Army's stuff, true. And I don't need a C-130 crew chief to be trained as a rifleman, and I would consider it a criminal waste of my taxpayer dollars were he trained to do it. BTW, while the Marines depend upon the Navy for support, the Army also depends upon the Navy for support. A majority of the supplies Army units consume are not transported by air at enormous cost, but moved by the Navy. The Army could not exist without the Navy any more than the Marine Corps. But I don't think the Army should demand that a shipfitter or a sonar tech be trained as a rifleman either.

I was wrong about the Marines not having combat engineers, they do, the 1371 MOS. I don't know what I was thinking, because I have worked with them. I was confusing engineer and "combat" engineer. My bad. Marine CE's provide limited general engineering support, and anything more is provided by Seabees (or local civilian contractors) while in the Army the CEs don't provide any more than limited general engineering as well. There are engineers in the Army that provide more engineering support, but they aren't "combat" engineers. I was simply way off base.

You don't have echelons above corps because they are organic to divisions and below? No. You don't have them because the Marines are not designed for extended land campaigns but for the littorals or short land campaigns. If you are called to perform long land duty away from naval support you simply use Army EAC assets, and I have no beef about that, it makes perfect sense. But that does not mean you should think the Army has failed in preparing troops when tasks done by untrained-for-combat sailors are performed by soldiers given only basic combat training and no more. For instance, Jessica Lynch's company should NEVER have been on its own, and that it was ambushed was simply due to a huge chain of errors. Even then, the soldiers had been provided basic combat training, were equipped with and knew how to use their weapons and radios, and the tragic loss of life still would not justify the enormous cost it would take to prepare such units to fight as riflemen. And you may disagree, but if a marine finance unit had been in a similar engagement they would have suffered the same fate.

Your point about no front line is true but doesn't apply. Yes, it is true that "there will never be enough grunts to baby sit every pog, hence the need to teach them to fight there way out of a wet paper sack." But in fact the "pogues" who do the combat service support in Iraq are in fact trained. They don't need babysitting. Signal units and supply units often provide their own convoy security, and those that don't are usually units that don't move in convoys. They thus don't need the training. The Air Force doesn't provide such training to their personnel either, and likewise don't need to do so.

It kind of breaks down like this: There are three "levels" of military specialities.

1) combat
2) combat support
3) combat service support

The Marines, like any other force, needs all three, but the Marines are mostly combat, with some combat support (CS), and very few Marines in combat service support (CSS) jobs (Marines in JAG, finance, etc but very few). The Navy has few combat jobs (pilots, seals, etc.), many more combat support jobs (Seabees, corpsmen, any sailor assigned to a marine division, LCAC crews, etc.) and most of the navy is CSS. Thus the marines give their combat troops combat training, and most of their CS and CSS troops (who are mostly Navy personnel) recieve correspondgly less combat training, with CSS troops getting the least amount (or in the case of the Navy, none at all much of the time).

The Army has Combat, CS, and CSS, all 100% Army, all soldiers. Just like a Marine fighting force that consists of the visible combat Marines and the Naval CS and CSS that you don't think about, the Army provides excellent combat training for combat units, less for CS, and even less for CSS. But unlike the Marines, Army CSS personnel have ALL been through basic combat training. Every dental command unit, every Army hospital, every EAC signal corps unit, they have ALL been through basic combat training, must maintain their proficiency in their assigned weapon, and must meet PT standards.

Thus it is conventional wisdom that the Army should train all soldiers to be riflemen "like the marines" but in fact the Marines don't do that either. They just designate some of their CS and CSS as Marine positions, and others are Navy positions. The marines then train all of their selected positions as riflemen, but it is just word games. If you look at it like the Army does - above divisional level - then the "Department of the Navy" is the comparison, and the Marines are the combat arms of the Navy. You err, as most do, in comparing the Marines to the Army. Compare the Navy, including the subset Marine Corps which is part of the Deparment of the Navy, to the Army. The Navy does a great job in training its combat arms troops (Marines), but does not train its CS and CSS troops as much as the Army does. And it would be wrong for the Army to say "The Navy Department should train all of its troops to our higher standard of combat training" because there is no need. And it is just as wrong for a Marine to say "the Army should train all of it's CS and CSS personnel to be combat arms troops" when the Marines don't do that either. As I've pointed out, the Marine CS and CSS troops (sailors) get less trianing than their Army equivalents.

Again, to wrap this all up, when you go to the dentist on post, ask your dental tech when the last time he or she road marched, or went to the field, or threw a hand grenade, or fired a rifle. They will look at you like you are nuts. Go to an Army dental office and ask the soldier who is your dental tech the same question. They will answer you, and the answer will be a date within 365 days, because they have to qualify annually. Then tell me the Army should do like the Naval forces and train their CS and CSS troops "more."

free0352 said...


I agree with everything you just posted 100%

except being a javilin section leader I'd argue about the warhead penatraiting the glacius plate

But other than that I agree 100%

free0352 said...

Oh fuck you posted at the same time I did again!


I agree with everything you said one post ago, this new one I'll answer tomorro, I got class

Later! :)

this we'll defend said...

I know you meant the post above my last - more composing while posting. Thanks for agreeing about the demise of the tank as the most potent land weapon.

And in the interests of OPSEC, I will agree with you about the penetration of the "currently fielded" javelin. In the future fire-and-forget man-portable weapons will be able to defeat any vehicle, even one with twice the armor protection of an M1. If it can't right now it is just a matter of time.

And I didn't know you were a javelin section leader. I can tell you this. At the NTC during regimental attacks (movements to contact with all the forces in the "box" playing) we usually ignored light infantry as simply irrelevant, other than to be more careful with our local security and change our scout pushes to avoid ambush. The use of a light infantry battalion, even a Ranger battalion, meant nothing to us because we would simply roll over them. We cared only about the heavy forces. When we defended or conducted other kinds of missions we worried about light forces, but in force-on-force manuever warfare the light forces were worse than useless - we often tried and succeeded in using them against their own side by, for instance, causing an earlier committment of heavy forces than they preferred because we were wiping out their light forces, or getting them to advance into an area where we wanted to slow heavy forces, and then committing our forces while the enemy would find their quickest route blocked by dismounted infantry - thus they had to slow down or take another route to avoid running over them. No more. The first unit to deploy with the Javelin (the 82nd) caused the entire regiment to stop and turn onto another axis of advance because the light forces were hammering our forward elements. They denied a critical route to us - which had never happened before. We still won (the OPFOR is AWESOME) but from then on we simply tried to avoid contact with the light forces, because we couldn't defeat them in a timely manner. If we began to mix it up with the formerly irrelevant light forces the heavy forces would manuever against us and we would lose. Thus light infantry, due to the Javelin, is just as important on a manuever battlefield as any other force. Their only (exploitable) weakness is that they are foot-bound, so we learned to find where they are and just avoid them. They in fact became impenetrable mine fields, denying us any access to the areas where they were when we attacked. If light forces can become as mobile as heavy forces without sacrificing stealth then they will be the key player, the most powerful force on the battlefield, and the only effective way to defeat enemy infantry is to commit your own.

free0352 said...

Sorry I’m so late in getting back to you. Finals are coming up.

As far as the pogue who "hands out tools back at the hanger" , I’d say he’s not combat arms since he isn’t designed to fight, but hand out tools. The difference in definition must be a Marine/Army thing. Am I wrong here? We very well might be in “violent agreement.” My point is the Marines train all personell they field in a combat zone (100% of Marines) relatively thouroughly. If the army isn’t, they should be. There is no “rear” in this war. When I say the Army should “train soldiers as Marines” I think I’m being misunderstood. They should be trained like Soldiers, not Airmen is the point I’m trying to make. The 507th did abismally in a firefight, they had trouble clearing rifle stopages for the love of mike. That doesn’t take very long to teach. The Marine Finace unit would do a better job, at the very least because they can clear a jammed rifle. Hey, that’s what the 507th after action report said, they couldn’t un-jam their weapons so they were forced to surrender…sad. Why didn’t they know what to do? I’m not suggesting we teach the sailors on ship or the airmen on the c-130 how to survive a firefight, but I am demanding we teach it to all personell stationed on the ground in theater in the GWOT. Because they are the target of choice.

Every Soldier should have a firm grasp of basic field and combat skills and train on it regardless of the time constraints. “Every Soldier a rifleman.” Even if they work in a hospital, I don’t care where they work…because in this war hospitals, fuel depots, and other rear-rear areas get hit every day and there will never be enough 11-B’s or 0311’s even with a draft to babysit them all.

The Marines may not be designed for extended campains, but we certainly take part in them. A battle here and a battle there, and meanwhile we’re not living on a ship, at least when it comes to Iraq. We’re living in a camp, that is gaureded by the pouge when he’s not busy handing out tools. This frees up the grunts to kill people full time, instead of standing post…a waste of a grunt.

You said-
”Your point about no front line is true but doesn't apply. Yes, it is true that "there will never be enough grunts to baby sit every pog, hence the need to teach them to fight there way out of a wet paper sack." But in fact the "pogues" who do the combat service support in Iraq are in fact trained. They don't need babysitting. Signal units and supply units often provide their own convoy security, and those that don't are usually units that don't move in convoys. They thus don't need the training. The Air Force doesn't provide such training to their personnel either, and likewise don't need to do so.”

If the Army is getting them trained…sweet. I’m happy. I bet they are because it’s common fucking sense…something the military lacks until the shooting starts. But belive me, every swinger needs to be tipity top when it comes to convoy tactics. The old school way was when a mobile convoy took fire, the SOP was to shoot your way out and drive on. You weren’t there to fight, but get the supplies dilivered. Not today. The only time you’ll get contact half the time is on these supply convoys. When the enemy sees the CAAT plt and LAR coming the enemy just lies low…cause hello it’s stupid for them to fight those units. So in Iraq, if your convoy full of 7 tons and LVS’s takes fire or is hit with an IED, you stop, dismount, and clear the area. If that means clearing rooms, cqb, whatever…so be it. You’re gonna search all the Hajjis around, make entry to structures, fire and movement, and gennerally do grunt type shit, because it’s your only chance to shoot the enemy the military’s going to get for a while. Even if you’re day job is fixing transmissions or doing pay orders, everybodys a rifleman, because otherwise you get hit with impunity and the 0300’s will show up an hour later with guess what…nothing to do. The enemy left after the explosion.

There are grunts with the convoys, but try dividing up your infantry equally amoung all those convoys. Now try harder, you’ll still never have enough. There are just way more pogs than there are grunts. The ratio is too much. And as you know, the more grunts, the more pogs are needed to support them. What is the ratio, the minimum ratio, like 8 pogs for every grunt? You see my point now? More infantry is not the only answer. The big ass supply train HAS to not only defend it’s self, but be capable of taking the fight to the enemy, because the law of 8 pogs for every grunt which must exist to take care of those grunts, are the ones getting shot at the majority of the time. The convoy’s can’t just drive on, we need to kill the bad guys to win. These remf’s are in the best position to do that. Train them to do so. For the crusty old (for a fighting man 25 IS old) sgt, there are only 2 levels of military specialities. The ones that fight, and the ones that don’t. What we NEED are ones that fight. Everything else can be done by Brown/Root Haliburton, because they are the poor bastards in the convoy that need protecting, not the goddamn soldiers.

Maybe the nessessary training is occuring “NOW”, I know it wasn’t from what I saw in Iraq in 2003. I’m also willing to bet you didn’t see it either back in 97’. But who knows, maybe they’re compitent now, I’ll see for myself this spring.

On the Jav:

Opsec shmopsec. I agree that one day there will me a MAW that can punch through the glacius plate of an Abrams, but that day ain’t today. My career is funny. I started out in a Weapons Company in the CAAT plt, as a Tow gunner. I then went on to H and S company with the STA platoon and was a scout/sniper until my enlistment was up. When I joined the IRR and started drilling, it was with a line company who didn’t have Tows or snipers-remember Marine snipers are with the battalion H and S company, so there was no home for me. But, beacause all 0300’s of my day went through all the same training the 0311s did, I ended up a team leader in a line squad, and later was a squad leader. After promotion to SGT, I was moved to the assault section of the weapons platoon, where I learned about the SMAW and demo. Since Javlins are attatched to line squads/platoons anyway, there is no point in having them drill with the hummvee borne CAAT plt and the mortarmen in weapons company, so our reserve unit broke them up and sent them to the weapons platoons as an experiment. Hence I ended up with 8 jarheads and 4 javlins. You’d laugh at all my MOS’s

0311, 0352, 8541, 0351 and that doesn’t even count the secondarys of ammo driver, chaser, and rifle coach.


fbg46 said...

Well it's about time the Wall Street Journal got on board this discussion -- today's WSJ features a front page story on several of the topics we've been discussing.

It's starts with the belated recognition by Donald "Failure Is Its Own Reward" Rumsfeld that, gee, maybe more and heavier follow on forces are needed in Iraq - like campaigns.

The article deals with what the Army will look like in the future, especially based on the lessons being learned the hard way (ain't that always the way?) in Iraq.

A couple of quotes -- "Earlier plans had called for all of the [Army's] combat units to be built around the light, quick armored vehicle. The Army now thinks it will need a mix of slower-to-deploy, heavy tanks as well as lightfighting vehicles. . . . Commanders in Iraq have found that 70-ton tanks, which literally shake the ground as they move, can help ward off guerrilla attacks simply through intimidation."

The article goes on to describe the 2003 war game run out of the Army War College in which the Opfor responded just as the Iraqis have, with the result looking almost exactly like what we have now: "The game ended with U.S. forces scattered piecemeal throughout the country, controlling only the small bases on which they sat. 'The game looked alot like Iraq right now. And I say that with great pain as someone who has two sons over there.' "

The above mirrors the on - the - ground experience of the Marine battalion who I've written about before which came back this Sept. They started out doing "hearts and minds" thing and ended up doing aggressive patrolling out of heavily -fortified fire bases.

Two points:
1. Setting aside the moral dimension, Iraq is a disaster in military and geopolitical terms. That fact has finally registered on the cortex of The Donald, who is now figuring out that perhaps a military made up of SF - types driving around in Humvees may not be such a great idea after all;

2. The Army is doing the smart thing; recognizing that, in the immortal words of Lenin, "Quantity has a quality all its own.", that a big punch and staying power is going to be needed to deal with the array of threats we will be facing in the future.

I commend the article to everyone, if you can stand reading something out of that commie rag the WSJ.

Side note to TWD: Article also features someone who may be a mutual acquaintance of ours -- HR McMaster. You may know H from your NTC days; he was a Sqdn XO and Reigmental S-3 for the 11th ACR in the mid-90's. He let a couple of us old Cav types (and even a couple of Marines)come out a time or two and ride over hill and dale with him. I don't know if he enjoyed it, but we certainly did.

Note to everybody: HR McMaster wrote a book entitled "Dereliction of Duty" about how the senior military types Went Along With The Program in '64 and '65 when someone speaking up might have altered the course of events in Vietnam a little (or alot, we'll never know). Should be required reading these days.

fbg46 said...

A quick follow on to the above WSJ article from something just off the wire services.

Reality's big ugly head being raised in The Donald's face may have come in the form of the following question he was asked by an Army Reserve Spec 4 in Iraq yesterday:
" 'Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?' Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense."

There is a special place in Hell reserved for The Donald where one day he will be able to ponder the answer to this and other questions at his leisure.

1138 said...


"I’m not suggesting we teach the sailors on ship or the airmen on the c-130 how to survive a firefight, but I am demanding we teach it to all personell stationed on the ground in theater in the GWOT."

As one Airman that was trained (and my afsc was nowhere near the front lines), I have to wonder what you knowledge of other branches of the service are.
Sure it wasn't our primary jab but I knew how to handle a weapon, clear & clean and take orders.
I could back or cover anyone in any branch of the service with an M16, pistol, anti tank gun.
I could save your ass with a trach, a tourniquet or an epi injection.
The point being that we all had tasks that were primary and others that were secondary none of better than the other in general, but definately more able in the specifics.
Not having enough trained personel in the right specialties and trying to generalize too many folks leads to disaster.
We still don't have enough troops of the right types in theater and are doing too much OJT in the trenches.

free0352 said...


The one service I don't know much about is the AF, I've never meaningfully worked with them. They were always pretty cool guys...who had nothing to do with us. If you had that basic training...great. That's what I like to see. Aparently the Army can't even train it's 4th echelon troops as well as the airforce does. Or Paul is full of shit. Tell you the truth, I don't know which is true. I whole heartledly agree there is too much ojt going on in the trenches...except for the jarheads. I'm seriously not trying to tout my own service here. I'm just telling you folks what I've seen, and thats the remf types in other services no up to speed on the 11-b/0311 area of military life, which can get them killed in war. If the training is hapening, great. If not, that needs to change. That's all I'm saying.

this we'll defend said...


Apparently nothing I say (or others say) will dissuade you from your opinion that the Army is not training its troops as well as the Department of the Navy, but I will give it one more try.

"Aparently the Army can't even train it's 4th echelon troops as well as the airforce does." No, Free, wrong on two counts. 1) My C-130 crew chief was C-130 crew chief specific, trying (and failing) to point out to you that some military personnel have no need for the training you claim all should get, and that you are wrong to point out that all Marines get the training, so the other services should do the same. In fact, in the USAF the troops deployed with Army units (FACs or the very impressive AF combat medics) recieve excellent combat training. They often go through Ranger school. Do cargo plane crew chiefs? No. Paul was right. And the USAF is right to train that way. I have met some incredible stud-puppet warriors who wear Air Force blue. 2) The Army does an excellent job of training its "4th echelon troops" but could always improve. As I pointed out in my dental tech example, the Army does a great job of training its 4th echelon personnel, while your branch of service gives no combat training at all to most of your CSS troops. The difference is that Marines think that the Army is similiar to the Marines, when in fact the Army is more like the entire Department of the Navy, including the Marines. And all Army personnel go through basic combat training, while most of the Department of the Navy do not, even when you include the USMC.

The Jessica Lynch "saga" was not an institutional failure, but a local leadership failure. The unit was simply fucked up. And while you feel no Marine units are ever like that, I have seen USMC rifle units that were poorly led, undisciplined, and weak. I have also seen Marine rifle companies that were awesome. Everybody has their 10% of dirtbags.

If you saw poorly disciplined units in Iraq there are several reasons for it: 1) 40% of the troops in Iraq are reserve/Natl. Guard. While every reservist and NG soldier deserves our gratitude, the truth is that of course the active-duty units that have career-minded NCOs and EMs with an average age of 22 and that train 300 days a year are better and more disciplined than reserve units that have part-time NCOs, have SGTs in their 40s and 50s, and train 36 days a year (supposedly - they drill 36 days a year but probably train less than 14 in most units). Even a six-month train-up will not make a reserve unit into a highly disciplined, motivated regular Army unit. And that is usually ok because they are supposed to be a RESERVE, not a full-time force pulling year-long tours in Iraq. The Marine reserve is better trained and better prepared, but much, much smaller. More than half of all infantry units in the "total" Army are in the reserves. If the Marines had to do that they would be hard pressed to keep their high rates of readiness. Not to mention the incredible politics that the Natl Guard suffers from - the NG is pretty much immune from sensible decisions because all NG troops vote in the same state, meaning the Army is often powerless to do things like relieve idiots of command or demand higher levels of physical fitness. Just the way it is, and before reservists out there flood this blog with accounts of how awesome their units are, I believe you - and stand by my statement that the reserves as a whole are an entirely different kind of animal from the Regular Army. 2) Again, you are also probably comparing Army CSS and CS troops to your combat units. If I compared your female finance and accounting Marines to an Army Ranger unit would you think that an accurate comparison? Or compared your typical rifle company to a Ranger company? In fact, the typical individual fitness and fighting skills in an Army infantry unit are very different depending on if it is a light or mech unit, so even comparing rifle companies is inaccurate. I've seen people do it, though. I saw a Marine unit at the NTC feel superior to a Bradley company they were training with because the Marines were much more physically fit and moved better when fighting on foot. Of course the Marine unit could not fight as a mechanized force and the Army Bradley company was in fact much more combat effective when engaging in manuever warfare (precisely the mission they were designed and trained to carry out) but the Marines still felt superior, because they could run faster and carry heavier rucks. In short, they couldn't see the point was combat effectiveness on the battlefield, not how many push-ups you can do. In Army light infantry units such as the 101st or 82nd, upper body strength is a critical skill, as well as cardiovascular fitness. As a result any rifle company in the 101st can run any mechanized company into the dirt, just as this Marine company could run faster and farther than the Bradley unit. Does that mean the 101 is filled with "better" soldiers, or more effective soldiers? No. Speaking as a soldier who has served in mech and light units, the different missions require different skills. Soldiers PCS from mech to light units, but when they do they must train-up and learn new skills to be effective - whether they are moving from light to mech or vice versa. Similarly, to feel the Army is not as well trained as the Marines is to compare apples and oranges. I have worked with all branches of the service, and speaking honestly, I would much rather have a Marine rifle company in an urban fight than an Army mech company, and I would much rather have a rifle company from the 101st Air Assault in an urban environment than a Marine company. And that same 101st company would pretty much be combat ineffective (and probably overweight and out of shape) if it floated for 3 months or so, while the Marine unit would be at pretty much the same level of effectiveness.

Again, when your dental tech has trained in basic combat skills like Army dental techs you can feel free to say things like "Aparently the Army can't even train it's 4th echelon troops as well as the airforce does" - or the Marines. Especially since your dental tech has never fired a rifle in his or her life, and probably has never worn a ruck, much less humped one.

free0352 said...


"Aparently the Army can't even train it's 4th echelon troops as well as the airforce does." No, Free, wrong on two counts.”

What I meant was, I don’t know if they did or not. I hope the army does a better job, for obvious reasons. I have worked with PJ’s, and they were bad ass.

Lets just forget the Marines example. Throw that out. Sorry I used it. My point is traditional rear echelon jobs in modern war have to conduct certain combat actions from time to time, due to the nature of the conflict and things beyond anyones controll. During my service in Iraq I whitnessed rear echelon REMF units not prepaired for these missions/responsibilites. My soul point is that they should be trained for these actions. If they are, great, if not, they should be. That’s my point, who cares if the Army is “like” the marines or not. Of course the Jarheads are more blessed, better looking, talented, wonderful, better sexed, and generally superior to the sad, mud bound, weaker service….just kidding, now wipe that frown off your face sir, and hug the sergeant. :)

“The Jessica Lynch "saga" was not an institutional failure, but a local leadership failure. The unit was simply fucked up. And while you feel no Marine units are ever like that, I have seen USMC rifle units that were poorly led, undisciplined, and weak. I have also seen Marine rifle companies that were awesome. Everybody has their 10% of dirtbags.”

That could very well be true, I’ll stipulate to that. I’ve had both good and bad experiances with the army same as you have with the Marines and we’ve both gone over it a billion times. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Marine unit THAT spectacularly bad though. You know of the other army unit I can’t stand…the 10th mountain. But the 82nd AB is all good and the Rangers and SF are sweet, and that completes my list of army units I’ve worked with, so for all other’s I can’t judge. I’m not going to touch the Reserve/NG argument other than to say those units have advantages active side does not (Brains) and the active side has advantages the reserve side does not (brawn and disipline) and be mindful that’s only my experience.

What I will comment on is that mech units NEED to train more like the light side of the Army house…or they will die expediently in Iraq. The Iraqi war is one of urban patrolling and convoy operations. If you cruise around in a brad or an LAV you will only see the enemy on CNN or in Fallujah or when cornered by the light units like in Najaf. While their heavy Mech skills are needed, they need to be the jacks of both trades, or all they’ll see is that IED right before the lights go out. Like someone else said, we’ve taken a step back to move forward. Versitile is the word of this war.

free0352 said...

And. I just caaannn't resist tooting my Marine Corps horn every once in a while (Okay, all the time. I'm a jarhead, what do you expect?)

I feel the Marines really took the lead in CQB, MOUT and now BUST systems of urban warfare. We worked with the pros at SOCOM, FBI hurt and our own wargames to develop sop's that are really effective. Further, the NCO's of the corps have taken thier war experiances and put them with those sop's to make them much more effective. Further, the training we are all reciveing in the corps has been outstanding, better than anything I've seen since...and I'm a reservist now.

this we'll defend said...


I agree, all troops should be trained to survive the situations they are likely to encounter. And the Army is upgrading the training of CSS units to reflect the unexpected (but clearly predicted) insurgency. The Army wanted to do so earlier to prepare for the predicted insurgency, but Mr. Scumsfeld would not authorize more training dollars - and now he has. Duh. In addition if we weren't incredibly short-handed in Iraq we wouldn't have so many CSS troops encountering combat situations. We can of course train them better, but it is an example of treating the symptoms instead of the disease. CSS units should be secured and protected by CS and combat arms units, and if they are not then something is wrong. And something is, in fact, wrong.

It isn't that the Army doesn't WANT to train everybody more, but simply a matter of time and money. If we had unlimited budgets and 365 training days a year we could of course do better. We don't, so the decision is to do the best we can. As I said, the Army trains ALL soldiers in basic combat skills, a feat of which I am justly proud. You are proud that all Marines are trained as riflemen, and should be - but you rely on the Army to perform CSS jobs, and the reason is that the Marines and the Navy could not create and maintain those positions.

If you saw a unit from the 10th MTN that was F'd up I would believe it, but I have also seen 10th MTN battalions that were outstanding. One thing the Army does better than the Marines (IMHO) is unit esprit de corps - if you are a private in the 101st you will think your division is the best in the world and see yourself as a "Screaming Eagle" first, but unfortunately the Army is not half as good as the Marines in building service-wide esprit, so that the private thinks it ok to denigrate other units ("the 10th sucks compares to us") - and this is especially prevalent in SOC. Rangers who have never served anywhere but the 75th often feel the rest of the Army is poorly disciplined and untrained. And SF looks down on the "conventional" Army as well. As a result you might have heard negative things about Army units when working with Rangers or SF. In fact, as anyone who has spent time at the JRTC or NTC can tell you, the Army has excellent "conventional" units that kick ass, including the 10th. One things Marines do well is see themselves as Marines first, not as "5th Marine Regt" first. As a result if a Marine denigrates another Marine unit when talking with a soldier others will see an act of betrayal (even if he is telling the truth). In short - don't believe everything you hear. The 10th performed quite well in AF, and also in Somalia in '93.

Mech units DO need more light training. Much like the difficulties encountered in a float, the mech units have "motor pool" distractions that are hard to get around. Imagine not just training up for a float, but training up while on a float. Pretty difficult. Mech units are 1) short-handed on dismounts. Unfortunately the emphasis in mech units is (improperly) often on the vehicle instead of the dismounts, which ignores that a Bradley is just support for the dismounts. For instance, at the NTC a unit that deploys with less than 100% strength (usually all of them in peacetime) will have to decide which jobs go unfilled. Almost without exception they "steal" from the dismounts to fully staff the Brad crews. BIG MISTAKE. And I won't excuse the Army for it - your criticism is exactly correct. I have seen, entirely too often, 4 M2s roar into the battle, drop ramp... and 5 or 6 guys move forward, usually the lowest-ranking and least experienced. I have seen instances where there was 1 M2 per dismount, and the dismount was an E1 or E2. I would have relieved the commander on the spot if I were God for a day, but the armor officers who are often BDE commanders usually don't see a problem. As a result the M2 becomes nothing more than a shitty tank. I saw one genius BN CMDR who actually left 6 M2s behind so that he could fully staff his dismount squads, and his M2 crews were mostly driver and gunner, with the ranking NCOs serving as dismount leaders, not bradley commanders. And that unit was one of the toughest mech units the OPFOR ever faced, and their infantry removed obstacles, set up anti-armor ambushes, and cleared our augmentee dismounts (A Marine unit from Pendleton) from every hill we wanted to keep. At the AAR this incredibly smart and capable leader was asked by his (tanker) BDE commander "how many of your vehicles didn't cross the LD?" When told "six" the AAR pretty much ended. It became a lecture on how important it was to get every vehicle across the LD, how such "poor performance" was "unacceptable," and this guy's career was pretty much over - even though he was actually one of the best we ever saw, and his decision to leave 6 M2s behind so that he could perform as mech infantry instead of shitty tankers was entirely correct. (To be fair, our OPS GRP CO took the unprecedented step of making sure the DIV CO knew how awesome this guy was, so I don't know if his career was really over).

Some units get it right - ask the Marines in Fallujah who were supported by the Army heavy units. You will be hard pressed to get them to say anything negative about the Army.

Hopefully the very good performance of the Stryker units will show the way to the future.

As far as Marines and urban fighting, the Marines were actually tasked to take the lead with their Urban Warfighting Laboratory. It is a joint Marine-Army project, with much of the work done at the Army's infantry school, but the Marines are leading it and in charge of the project, and have done a GREAT job at it.

I learned CQB back in '92, but it was actually something we weren't "supposed" to be doing because it was very different from Army doctrine. It was also harder to stay proficient at than just shooting at 50 meter and 400 meter pop-up targets center mass, or tossing in a grenade after cook-off. But after Somalia the infantry community jumped on it and it became the standard even before it really was the official standard. The Army still hasn't released the new FM, we are using a TC from the 75th. Or at least we still were last I heard. Wow, I said "we." I mean "they," even though I will always feel a part of the Army. The Marines are well-versed in MOUT, which is why they were sent to Fallujah.

As far as the NCOs of the Corps changing SOPs to reflect lessons learned, toot your horn, you deserve it as the USMC has done excellent work, but allow me to do the same. The Army pioneered the lessons learned system, and the awesome Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) ensures that the entire Army learns from those under fire. The CTCs (which the Marines should really replicate or help fund so that they can rotate as often as Army units) reinforce those lessons while at the same time providing an excellent way to learn new lessons, change doctrine, and experiment with different techniques. With CALL and the CTCs our Army is spreading knowledge throughout the force faster than ever before. The Stryker units went from drawing board to combat ready in record time, and have proven effective. They wrote their doctrine DURING CTC rotations, as they incorporated what worked and eliminated what didn't. That way lies the future.

free0352 said...

Well TWD, at least we agree on something. I’m sure the Army wanted more training, I’m also sure they spent their money elsewhere, on other things they deemed more emportant. I don’t know what they were, or if they were in fact more emportant. I would need to know more facts, but I can’t think of anything more important to a soldier than combat. That could be just an un-argueable difference of opinion you and I are bound to have, Sergeant to officer. Scumsfeld? Ah comeon now ;) Look, he has a budget and manpower issue same as the army. Personally, I think saving 0300/11-B’s for offensive ops and training the pouges to defend themselves better is treating the desease. More trigger pullers to attack. The reality on the ground is you can’t cover all your support with 11-Bs, because as you well know, when the number of 11-Bs grows, the number of support pesonell grow perportionately. Bottom line, the pouges need to defend themselves. That’s the reality of this conflict regardless of who’s acountable for it. It’s a non-partisan issue. Some things with the war were wrong. More things in my opinion were right. You don’t fire a guy for being 20% wrong when he was also 80% right. I just dout I’ll change you mind TWD, as a lot of your opinions are rooting in hatred for the Bush Admin as opposed to slack you’d cut anyone else. Scumsfeld?

Hey, I’ll be the first to say that the DOD is underfunded. We should at least get a piddely 15% of the budget in war time! Of course Rumsfeld doesn’t controll what bills are passed by congress, and the pres can only campaign for them so much. His influence is not infinite. There will alwayss be some shortfalls in an administration, and unfortuneatlely in war the costs are hard to bear. I’ll forgo any bad mouthing of Kerry as “Whats the point.” The choice was easy to make. Had there been a better candidate, I’d have picked him/her over Bush.

I’d strongly disagree with the espirit de corps statement. I’m still proud as hell to have been a Batio Bastard with 3/2, and I haven’t been in that unit since 2000. That said, our espirit is more on a battalion level, not a division one. When your battalion goes from divison to division with the UDP program, its hard to form a loyalty. But our battalions are fearcely loyal. And like you’ve said, on a service level, we are clearly in a leauge of our own with how full of our selves we are

“One things Marines do well is see themselves as Marines first, not as "5th Marine Regt" first. As a result if a Marine denigrates another Marine unit when talking with a soldier others will see an act of betrayal (even if he is telling the truth). “

That’s a very true statement. I see the point you made with the SF and Rangers, as I’ve worked with them predominately during my time with the army. I guess it’s an easy misunderstanding to make when I’m from a service well discribed by your quote above, and then to hear someone knock they’re own service sort of makes one wonder. My opinions on the 10th were formulated from personal experience though. They’re never gonna be off my shit list. That battalion just sucked. I wasn’t very impressed with a 101st MP company I’ve worked with, but they were only slightly less efective than our own MP’s, and they had been deployed a long time. I thought the 82nd ABD was really good, though some of their soldiers were gullable when it came to the young Lcpl free 0352 (funny story, tell ya later.)

I’d disagree about the float thing, we stayed in shape and trained well, but we’ve had centuries of practice at it. Thanks for recognizing a Brad without dismounts is a shitty tank, I’m going to use that.

I’ll also say, when it comes to armor, you call the army. Same for helicopters.

”Hopefully the very good performance of the Stryker units will show the way to the future.”

Am I incorrect that the Stryker units are big, giant, versions of LAR? My only question about the Stryker was “Where’s the Bushmaster 25mm?” Those stryker dudes probably wish they had those big guns. If an LAV-25 and a Stryker could mate the child would be the perfect vehicle. Especially if it could swim. Was it the weight consideration that caused the Army to put a dinky .50 cal on that thing? You know, a deployment issue?

”As far as Marines and urban fighting, the Marines were actually tasked to take the lead with their Urban Warfighting Laboratory. It is a joint Marine-Army project, with much of the work done at the Army's infantry school, but the Marines are leading it and in charge of the project, and have done a GREAT job at it.”

And I took part in THAT! Mad thanks to the Army Operators who helped us figure that stuff out.

I really must say we’ve become the leaders in the field. Nature of a small service. What’s funny is my Reserve unit is even better! So many of us are SWAT or DEA or prior service or law enforcement of some nature, not to mention prior active duty, that when we train, it’s as good as trianing can be. The sim rounds (rechambered upper reciver that fires .9mm rounds, with the ball replaced with chalk) add a whole knew realism (and pain) to training. Removes the Rambo factor of the miles gear or blanks. That stuff is more fun than live fire, if you don’t mind a few huge welts.

The Corps has an informal thing like the CALL, called the NCO underground, LOL. I think it probably gets the info out there much faster than any military program :) It would be sweet to share info with the army. You guys do good stuff too. I’ve always said that. Training with the 82nd was very rewarding when it came to CAAT plt. More joint training is needed.

I’ve got most of my info on the Stryker from CB on his old blog. He liked it. Beats an m113 any day, and big brad tracks aren’t always a good thing. I just wish it had a 25 or 30mm autocannon bushmaster style. And the armor on both the LAV and the Stryker requieres those fucking stupid looking cage things welded on the sides. Could’t they just bolt on reactive armor???? Or better yet, plate those things enough? I guess I could get it if the weight was such an issue. But ship the reactive armour separate and bolt it on at the dump sight??! I just don’t know enough, enlighten me please on this issue.

You will always be a soldier TWD, and I’ll always be a jarhead. So I shall salute your Democrat ass sir. But I want my hug.

this we'll defend said...

THanks Free, here is your hug. :)

About the decision to "spend money elsewhere" instead of on combat training - please try and understand my point: of COURSE there is nothing more important, but there are levels of proficiency. A combat engineer unit is "almost" infantry, but is NOT as capable as an infantry unit at infantry tasks, while the infantry unit might have lots of cross-training, but the combat engineers will still be better at reducing obstacles, demo, etc. Why? NOT because the marines or the Army just decided to slack in one area or the other, but because there are 24 hours in a day and spending 6 years of training just for basic doesn't make any sense. Limits of time and money mean that every decision to make one MOS different from another requires a decision to train in one area and not another, and different levels of proficiency even when they have individual tasks in common. The Army AND the Navy choose to give limited training to their CSS folks because they rarely if ever need it, and the investment in making them proficient like you feel they should be would hurt us more than help us. It would cost enormous amounts of money, and it would mean that there would be less training in other areas - areas where the CSS troops might have more critical and needed tasks to perform. For every day of live-fire exercises a CSS unit conducts there is one less day of MOS-specific training. It takes you most of your training cycle to stay proficient. Most of the time (if you are in a unit as good as you say you are) you will be doing the relatively boring common task training - you will be practicing the basics over and over and over again. Even though you were a sniper you will (and should) go through the crawl-walk-run training before you qualify with your rifle. Even though you are a combat veteran you will still go through the CS chamber, qualify with hand grenades, practice the wedge formation, and practice immediate action drills over and over until it is instinctive. You will destroy any idiot who thinks it is ok to walk around with his dust cover open. You will also try to impart the skills you have learned to the newbies just arriving in from boot. I haven't even touched on training above the squad level yet, but your unit will train on the platoon and company and battalion level as well (IMHO, any training above battalion level can and should be simulated in command post exercises/computer games with the exception of combined arms exercises where the air and slice elements get to play).

So if you had to also master the skills required to be a troposcatter company, or operate a full-time dental clinic, or hospital, or depot-level maintenance.

Generating combat power requires the conversion of a force's potential, resources, and tactical opportunity into actual capability. Sustainment must support violent and coordinated action, allowing manuever forces to concentrate at the decisive time and place. The basic mission of CSS is to sustain the battle, not to fight it. The CSS system's sole purpose is to maintain and support soldiers and their weapons systems. CSS operations must focus on sustaining the force as it executes the commander's intent while conducting deep, close, and rear operations. The measurement of sustainment success is the generation of combat power at the right place and time, not the ability of CSS troops to conduct infantry operations. Nothing more than basic defensive skills are needed for rear operations. And, even in Operation Iraqi Freedom, there are rear operations. Close CSS units recieve more training, and deep obviously get the most, but there are very few CSS units forward of a BDE rear boundary. Other than basic convoy security techniques, CSS units need nothing more than basic soldier skills, and anything more is a waste of training time for their MOS specific tasks, as well as taxpayer dollars. And the USMC agrees. In a Marine Expeditionary Force level the highest CSS is a Force Combat Service Support Area (FCSSA), and that is a far cry from full support. It can sustain the force for only a limited period of time, and it can't even do that if the Navy isn't there to provide CSS support from the fleet. The Army never plans on deploying into a theater with CSS assets offshore and afloat. It can and must provide all of the CSS support it will need from the manufacterer/supplier to the point of the spear, relying on the USAF and the Navy for transportation only, and then mostly only inter-theater, while intra-theater the Army is again doing most of the heavy lifting (literally). Just as the Marines don't require shipfitters or dental techs to attend Marine boot camp, the Army doesn't require anything more than basic combat training - and despite the Jessica Lynch tragedy, the Army was and is right to do that. If there are soldiers encountering enemy and are untrained to respond there is an obvious problem, but what you probably saw were units that didn't look as ready to fight as your rifle company. You noticed the relatively fat guys, the people who appeared to treat their rifles as useless deadweight, the units where discipline was not as strict as in your front-line unit, you noticed soldiers who probably needed a haircut, or didn't wear their headgear properly, or who just looked F'ed up. But I will bet you a dollar to a donut you didn't see them engaging the enemy. You saw them only in areas where you felt relaxed - because that is where they stay. Were the Army to train all soldiers as riflemen, like the Marines train all Marines, you would find the Army budget would suck up billions upon billions more. The Army would end up spending twice as much on every soldier as the Marines do on Marines. Units like Jessica Lynch's would be readier to engage the enemy, but (like the Marine Corps) the front-line manuever forces would find they didn't have the CSS support they needed - instead of running full-time dental clinics, for instance, the clinics would either have to repeatedly shut down for about 25% of the time, or the Army would have to increase the number of dental techs by 25%. Firing ranges and live fire complexes would be either rarely used, even by infantry units, because they would be booked solid 365 days a year, and the taxpayer would have to spend untold billions creating and maintaining new ranges. The overall end-strength of the force would have to rise by tens of thousands because the soldiers would spend longer in the training pipeline, meaning more soldiers would be needed so that the CSS units in the field could remain filled. All of this so that the Army could avoid an incident like what happened to Jessica Lynch's unit. I honestly don't think that would be the right decision. Lynch's unit was f'ed up, and that happens, but the Army should not strive to make every soldier, or even every soldier in Iraq, a rifleman. The Marines don't either, but they think they do because they pretend the Navy doesn't provide most of their CSS support. They only see the Marines, and feel proud that all Marines are riflemen, and wonder why the Army, which does not have a Navy to provide CSS support, can't do the same - and never notice the dental tech that never fired a rifle is the one supporting them.

And, this may be heresy- the DOD budget is plenty big enough. It just isn't being spent properly. We don't need the JSF, we need troops. We don't need NMD, we need more troops. But troops don't have lobbyists like defense contractors do.

1138 said...


I don't know what the AF is doing for training these days. I left it in 82 because too many things were begining to be done wrong.
GEDs instead of diplomas, Civilian contractors holding mission critical positions, McD's Wendy's ETC ON BASE, Civilians running the BX from top to bottom.
The poor airmen were starting to have a hard time understanding what made them different from civilians, and the civilians started having a hard time seeing the difference as well. I grew up in a SAC family and I served a good part of my time with SAC and the perception was that SAC was the hardline part of the AF. But like I said, by 82 even SAC was subcuming to the civilianization/commercialization of the military.
I believe in a strong permanent standing force, the world is too small and things happen too fast to rely as heavely as we have on citizen soldiers. No disrespect to the guard or reserve, they are valuable professional group - but not a viable first force for the 21st century.
BTW You might be full of shit or not yourself, but more and more I'm begining to see you as being more opinionated than simply being a fight picking loudmouth.

free0352 said...


You are in fact, a heritic. I agree the money could be better allocated though. Do we really need B-2 stealth's? All of that you wrote might be true, but I'll stick to my original point which is the CSS troops do need the training regardless of the consequenses because due to modern conflicts; they're gonna see combat because the enemy will go out of their way to target them. All forces would, but terrorists will succeed much more often than a NK armored brigade. When a CSS unit is hit, it needs to be able to kick ass and take names.


Clearly I'm a loud mouth, because I'm 6' tall and 215 pounds and fuck anybody who doesn't realise that. Or at least that's my attitude. With some people I get a lot of laughs pissig them off and causing them to bark like a moon bat. Those type of folks are often the more radical left than the traditional democrat. Democrats are fine, its the Answer protester socialist student activist who I can't resist inflaming. Its so damn fun, I just can't help myself. There are some out there like TWD who I enjoy having a real debate with...because the possess things like "logic" and "reason" and don't simply regurgitate their lit professors talking points.

That said TWD, you arn't totally off the hook you flaming liberal communist.... LOL ;) (just kidding)

thanks for the hug :)

free0352 said...


You are in fact, a heritic. I agree the money could be better allocated though. Do we really need B-2 stealth's? All of that you wrote might be true, but I'll stick to my original point which is the CSS troops do need the training regardless of the consequenses because due to modern conflicts; they're gonna see combat because the enemy will go out of their way to target them. All forces would, but terrorists will succeed much more often than a NK armored brigade. When a CSS unit is hit, it needs to be able to kick ass and take names.


Clearly I'm a loud mouth, because I'm 6' tall and 215 pounds and fuck anybody who doesn't realise that. Or at least that's my attitude. With some people I get a lot of laughs pissig them off and causing them to bark like a moon bat. Those type of folks are often the more radical left than the traditional democrat. Democrats are fine, its the Answer protester socialist student activist who I can't resist inflaming. Its so damn fun, I just can't help myself. There are some out there like TWD who I enjoy having a real debate with...because the possess things like "logic" and "reason" and don't simply regurgitate their lit professors talking points.

That said TWD, you arn't totally off the hook you flaming liberal communist.... LOL ;) (just kidding)

thanks for the hug :)

1138 said...


I'd love to be there the day that you mistake a 'small' 5ft 6 145lb guy for one of your liberal wimps and they leave you on the floor crying for mommy, God, 911 anybody to stop the punishment.

I'm not threatening you - I have no reason to do so, I'm just cautioning you that the smaller guy has a whole other set of attack options that you have to expose your weak spots to even try to attempt.
It only takes 3 inches of free movement to throw a lethal punch, so even someone the size of Herve Villechaize could take out someone as big as Andrè Roussimoff.

Don't let your size be your confidence, and don't assess your opponent based on simple appearance. But since your a cop I expect in truth you already know that and just enjoy making loud noises.

free0352 said...


I don't want you to think I go around picking fist fights, just verbal ones. The point was I'm rarely intimidated. I'm also the oposite of PC and could give a crap about a person's feelings or their inherrant right to spew stupid crap out of their mouths. They might have the right to do it, but I ALSO have the right to say whatever the fuck I want on my own time.

I'm not a bully, I'm opinionated. Of course, I wouln't recommend punching me in the nose to anyone, who'd like to live to see their next birth day.