Ranger Question of the Day:
It's 2300 -- do you know what your Army is doing?
To put a grenade into a hatch the grenade thrower would have to be within 10-15 feet of the hatch. This is not March Madness, and a grenade is not a basketball.
PFC Ross McGinnis was a 50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. From his MOH citation:
"(H)is platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into the vehicle . . . In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion."
Three of five MOH from the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) are for being violently torn asunder in a horrendous manner. Of these three, two were vehicular or mechanized assets.
Ranger served as a Mechanized Platoon leader, and will draw from that experience and doctrine learned in Infantry Officers Advance Course. Captains fight the battles, so that will be my perspective.
The key to combat success is of course closing with and destroying the enemy through fire and maneuver. But while that is happening, there must be force protection and utilization of assets to protect personnel and equipment, particularly vehicles and specifically, fighting vehicles. Support vehicles are protected by fighting vehicles, fighting vehicles are protected by soldiers. A simple closed loop.
The characteristics of armored/mechanical warfare are speed, shock and firepower, all of which are negated by using these assets as checkpoints and moving barriers. So how do we protect our vehicles? Tactical considerations include:
- Digging them in or placing them in defilade with cover and concealment.
- In-depth defense or offense
- all-around local defense
Why are simple combat principles that Ranger learned 35 years ago being ignored at the peril of our fighting men?
Why are soldiers being employed in scenarios that negate U.S. forces' superiority in technical assets? This superiority is being wasted by unrealistic tactics that expose soldiers to unnecessary and useless close in combat. Our soldiers should be trained to protect their vehicles and themselves. The natural tendency is for soldiers to bunch up, which gives them a sense of false safety. Unfortunately, one grenade can kill or wound several friendlies.
In addition, soldiers must dismount and protect the vehicle while the vehicular-mounted gunner is providing the security of the unit's firepower. The vehicle can be 100's of meters away and still provide covering fire. None of this is new; this is how we fought WW II.
The military's solution to the problem of remaining in the vehicle is up-armoring. But to simply up-armor everything and then utilize these improved assets in restrictive environments in which grenades can be chunked into the vehicle is mindless misapplication of assets.
In every service school we are taught to bypass cities with armor and mech infantry and to clean up these pockets with lighter follow-on forces. It is an accepted military maxim not to get bogged in city fighting with mechanized assets. The Abrams can kill another tank at 4,000+ meters, and we are putting them on street corners guarding intersections.
Is this a joke, or does somebody actually believe they are providing a useful function? Tanks are not a COIN Population and Resource Control asset, so why are they being employed as rolling road blocks?
The confusion is palpable at all levels. Applying heavy combat assets as replacements for street cops is beyond stupid -- it is insane. The result is that soldiers are being forced to jump on grenades to protect their buddies.
Who is defending the USA while our Army is acting as crossing guard on rag-tag Iraqi streets? The U.S. Army is not the Baghdad Police Force. Many streets in our own country are unsafe places; see Lance Corporal Crutchfield's unfortunate story. Meanwhile, our Army plays cops in Iraq.
If our Army leadership places our soldiers in situations in which suicidal actions are the only option, then they are not performing their assigned function, which is to protect assets within mission constraints, which is dereliction of duty. It is time for the Commanders to begin questioning the validity of the mission.
Any policeman will tell you a domestic disturbance call is among the most dangerous he is called to answer. The U.S. Army was not designed to respond to domestic disturbances in Iraqi streets.