The source of this report is unknown. I found the article interesting, and consistent with comments from my friends who fought in Iraq.
e.g. Comments in blue are from an Australian Officer, son of a fellow Korean War veteran friend of mine, who fought in Iraq with the Aussie battalion.
FROM A US MARINE IN IRAQ
. This is a good read.
A US Marine's opinion:
1) The M-16 rifle: Big Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder-like sand over there. The sand is everywhere, you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but
it has jamming problems also. We like the ability to mount the
various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but
the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. We all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits can't be reliably counted on to put the enemy down.
Bull #^%$! I carried the M-4 and it performed brilliantly whenever required and I rarely heard of folks having trouble once in a firefight. It all comes down to soldier discipline and constantly cleaning a weapon. If you come off a patrol with your weapon filthy, and don't have the self discipline to clean the weapon prior to going to sleep, then how can you expect your weapon to work for you the next day in the fight? Bottomline: Discipline and leaders checking their subordinates.
. On the second issue '5.56'. The size of the round can be argued all day long. The trade off is weight and less ammo. If you need to gain access to a room you can: 1) knock, 2) turn the door knob, 3) kick the door in, 4) fire an AT-4 , 5) fire a few rounds from the M240 MG or .50 cal to create a breach or 6) if their are bad guys inside the building, move back into overwatch and drop a 2,000 lb JDAM on the target and save your soldiers to fight another day. Bottomline: I want the extra ammo. One day my battalion fought for 11 hours...
Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents show a high level of opiate use.
2) The M249 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light
machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of crap.
Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly
(that's fun in the middle of a firefight).
. Ditto my M-4 comments. Keep your weapons clean!
3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but we all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for
self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad
guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.
. The 9mm pistol is only carried by machine gunners and commanders (coy cdr or primary staff officers). I only utilized my 9mm when the threat was diminished and entering a room(s). 9 times out of 10 I would utilize my M-4 when entering a room, especially if I thought there was an opportunity to bump into a bad guy.
4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.
. U.S. Army prefers a more discriminate 5.56. It is good to hit the bad guy, but you don't want to wound the wife and kid(s) at the same time.
5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun,
developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!).
Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down.
Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are
being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round
chews up the structure over there.
6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. "Ma deuce" is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts them in the dirt every time.
The most coveted weapon in-theater.
7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on
one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with
a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol
work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old
government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.
8) The Old M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include
lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very
reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.
The civilian version is the M1A.
The M14/M1A is a modified M1 Garand. The M1 had an internal magazine that the shooter refilled using clips. That meant that the area directly over the magazine had to be clear of obstructions so that you could use the clip, so a scope couldn't be put there, it had to be mounted about 1" on center to the left of the bore. That's fine except, when you zero it, your windage will only be zeroed for one distance since the bore is pointing straight ahead and the scope is zeroed to meet it at some point downrange. An M1 scope zeroed at 200 yds would hit to the right at distances shorter than 200, and to the left at distances further than 200. The M14 detachable mag was the big change allowing the scope to sit directly over the bore.
9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range
and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out
vehicle suicide bombers (we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded
enemy. Definitely here to stay.
10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308/7.62 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700's. Great performance.
Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a
marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded
Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.
11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at 16.4 pounds, with the vest weighing 8.4 pounds, and two plates inserted weighing four pounds each, and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and can even stop an AK-47 round.
The bad news: Hot as hell to wear, almost
unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also,
the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullshit
about the "old" body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a
non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't
make any difference at all in most cases.
. I have seen the new body armor actually stop two armor piercing rounds from 50m on a soldier. An incredible piece of kit and I would never leave the wire without it.
12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance.
Our guys see in the dark and we own the night, period. Very little
enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked
at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the
13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon-mounted and personal lights
are Surefire's, and the troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban
Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it. 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 WW-II and Vietnam era weapons that
everybody wants. The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and
brutal. No quarter is given or shown.
Bad guy weapons:
1) Mostly AK47's . The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16, and the Russian 7.62 mm round kills reliably.
PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly are bad shots. Undisciplined " spray and pray" type
fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons,
especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again) Fun fact: Captured enemy have
apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they
fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely
solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat
for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.
2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys.
Simple, reliable and as very common. The enemy responded to our up-armored Humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank
range. Still killing a lot of our guys.
3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old
Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in
Jordan's area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm
artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell
phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle,
even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do
over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shape charges"
(Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor.
Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are supplied by Iran, who is also
providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their
use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately.
Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges
in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that
litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the
bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.
4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets (with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of Jordan's NCO's
lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage "inside the
wire". Jordan's base was hit almost daily his entire time there by
mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and
cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything
else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few
rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.
5) Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by
cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use
handheld GPS units for navigation and "Google Earth" for overhead views
of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent.
Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision
is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured
GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.
Who are the bad guys (remember that is what the Captain called them!)
Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They
operate mostly in Anbar province & Fallujah and Ramadi. These
are mostly "foreigners", non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over
the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of
course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.), and then
travel down the "rat line" which is the trail of towns along the
Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months.
Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as
suicide bombers or in "sacrifice squads". Most, however, are hard core
terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas
etc.). These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse
and cutting heads off.
The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most
ruthless and the best fighters (they have been fighting the Russians for
In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian
inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very
adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt.'s, the police forces and the
Army. They have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the
Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were
killed, captured or gave up long ago.
Bad Guy Tactics:
When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked
every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very
common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice
8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing
AK's and RPG's directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They
get mowed down like grass every time (see the M2 and M240 above).
Jordan's base was hit like this often.
When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building,
probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we
call in air and that's the end of that more often than not. These
hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeo's (Allah's Waiting
Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The
fast mover's, mostly Marine F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll
on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and
AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire,
especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.
Fun fact: The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand.
That is why we're seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED,
suicide bomber hits. The new strategy is simple: attrition.
The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian
non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian
casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are
locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and
fle e to when engaged.
They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They
will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to
be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt. Kidnapping of
family members (especially children) is common to influence people they
are trying to influence but can't reach, such as local govt. officials,
clerics, tribal leaders, etc.).
The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured". They know
that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet.
Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American
serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't
give a damn about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually
kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our
guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.
The Iraqi's are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a
damn. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but
they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of
suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious
Many Iraqi's were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and
the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to
an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqi's are sick of
the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly
pro-American and fearless fighters.
. TOTALLY CONCUR!!!
According to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only
believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively.
are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom
the US troopers almost universally view as against them.
The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties
at a rate of 20-1 and then see stuff like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV
and the print media.
For the most part our troops are satisfied with their equipment, food
and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are
not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the
insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to
shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians
just can't stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of
course, permanent US bases there).
Anyway, that's it, hope you found it interesting.
More poop from the front later