Fascinating Read from the Front Lines

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Jack Wakeland of TIA Daily points to a fascinating must-read at the Washington Times on the war in Iraq as seen through the eyes of our soldiers, "A Marine Reports from Iraq". Below, I include assorted interesting excerpts, followed by my comments in italics.


I can't help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old. With all our technology, it's the World War II- and Vietnam-era weapons that everybody wants. The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

Things like night vision equipment and light body armor get rave reviews, so we at least haven't been flushing all our money down the toilet since the Vietnam era. Interestingly, the bad guys also have high tech at their disposal.

Bad guy technology is simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones and also by email on laptops. They use handheld Global Positioning System units for navigation and "Google Earth" for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is top of the line. Night vision is rare.

They are very careless with their equipment, however, and the captured GPS units and laptops are intelligence treasure troves when captured.

Remember what I said about the dependence of this anti-Western war on the fruits of Western civilization?

And while our technology keeps them afloat in some respects, their propaganda makes them ill-prepared!

Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.

I wonder how many start wondering what else they were lied to about in jihad school....

Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shape charges" (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready-made IEDs are supplied by Iran, the country which is also providing terrorists, Hezbollah types, to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray-painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40 percent before they detonate. The bomb-disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war. [all bold added]

Iran, which Rep. Murtha et al. are making sure we don't get around to discussing, comes up quite a bit in this article. F'rinstance:

Who are the bad guys? Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province -- Fallujah and Ramadi. These are mostly "foreigners," that is, non-Iraqi Sunni Arab jihadists from all over the Muslim world and Europe. Most enter Iraq through Syria -- with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian government -- and then travel down the "rat line" which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young jihadists who end up as suicide bombers or are used in "sacrifice squads."

Most, however, are hard-core terrorists from all the usual suspects -- al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens, many of whom are Caucasian, are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters. In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired and led Iraqi Shi'ites. The Iranian Shia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local government, police and army. Since the early 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war, they have had a massive spy and agitator network there. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago. [all boid added]

Here's the story the news media could be reporting. Instead, they are calling the Iranian proxies "insurgents" and reporting that they are "winning":

According to [name redacted], morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. [Correctly, I might add. Example: Newsweek.]The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see s*** like "Are we losing in Iraq?" on television and the print media.

For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line, though, and they all say this: There are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency [sic], primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just cannot stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally -- with, of course, permanent U.S. bases there.

Backtracking a bit, I found this very amusing.

When engaged, the enemy has a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that, more often than not.

These hole-ups are referred to as "Alpha Whiskey Romeos" ("Allah's Waiting Room"). We have the laser-guided ground-air thing down to a science.

And here, we can see the effects of a blanket "avoid civilian deaths" policy.

The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties, so therefore schools, hospitals and especially mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi government. Kidnapping of family members, especially children, is common to influence people they are trying to influence but cannot otherwise reach, such as local government officials, clerics or tribal leaders, etc.

The blame for civilian casualties, regardless of who inflicts them in a war like this one (i.e., with a good side and an evil side), lies with the evil side. It is arguable that a willingness to inflict a few civilian casualties from time to time would greatly deter such behavior. As a result, in addition to causing our victory to be quicker, it could, as a beneficial side effect, have the effect of fewer civilian lives lost.

-- CAV

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