RANGER AGAINST WAR: Domestic Disturbances <

Monday, June 09, 2008

Domestic Disturbances


Ranger Question of the Day:

It's 2300 -- do you know what your Army is doing?


The fifth Medal of Honor is also the third awarded for jumping on a grenade and sacrificing self to preserve the lives of fellow soldiers. How are hostiles getting close enough to our combat vehicles to put grenades into or through a gunner's hatch, not a large opening?

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.
  • Mobility
  • In-depth defense or offense
  • all-around local defense
Technical defenses included machine guns (50 cal/20 and 30 mm/7.62). In effect, all of our vehicles, including Humvees, have machine guns that can kill people effectively out to 2+ kilometers. Again: How are hostiles getting close enough to our combat vehicles to put grenades into or through a gunner's hatch?

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.

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Blogger FDChief said...

You're right about this, of course, but I suspect that what's showing here is how thin on the ground our guys are.

A foot patrol can cover a klick or two an hour. Put the same guys on wheels and you can tool all over Baghdad with the same number of guys. To the military geniuses that thought up this clusterfuck, a couple of shredded troops are the cost of doing business.

I've talked about how colonial wars in democracies tend to produce these sorts of "falling on a grenade" sorts of citations, because butchering raggedy-ass wogs doesn't make good press for the Army. Take that for what it's worth.

And, selfish bastard that I am, I'd probably have shouted "Grenade! Bail out!!" and boosted my sorry ass out the gunner's hatch. I'm sure that the fine GMC product would have worked perfectly well as a grenade sump.

But that's just me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 12:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 1:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Chief,Utilizing proper dispersion would solve this problem, one grenade should only get one soldier.That's why you never bunch up, but yelling grenade in is the normal procedure and then it's asses and elbows.Also allowing anybody w/i grenade range is not safe, as this scenario shows us.
Nothing that i say or write negates the dedication of these men to their fellow soldiers. jim

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 9:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Chief, Back to you.
The citation states -platoon was conducting combat control operations. Well i don't know what that means since i've never heard the term before.But whatever it was it was at small unit level.As Minstrel Boy calls it maybe they were farking around HOPING to draw fire so they could kill something.On a slow day any target will do.
There are several points to discuss here. While deployed in a hostile arena a unit of any size should always be tactical and ready to engage at the pull of a grenade pin.There are no admin postures in dubious areas.Even in semi-safe areas a unit should be properly arrayed.
Also it's strange that these vehicles are not modified locally with grenade protection, ie wire around the turrent as a stand-off or physical shield. jim

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 9:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem to do the commanders much good to ask questions. I am on a downward spiral here; got word thru the holey pipeline of internet that my youngest son will be in Iraq by August. I will be strait-jacketing my mind and imagination, hence forth.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 10:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

one of the biggest things that make street fighting a bitch is that the environment, especially when you're talking rabbit warren slums like are found in most of asia negates just about every single advantage we have. we got bogged down in hue in a very similar fashion. armor becomes a liability. squad size teams work best for the task. anybody that knows how to hide can get within killing distance of a tank or a bradley. and all the armor in the world won't stop a committed enemy.

anybody out there remember the way the czechs in prague nailed russian tanks? they would hide in the sewers. down there with the shit and the swamp grass. when the russians rolled over them they would pull the pins, crack open the manhole cover and put the grenade right under the tank. close back up, hunker down in the shit while the grenade and the tank went kaboom. they did that over and over. the russians never figured on protecting their tanks from immediately below. i bet our designers have made some of those very same mistakes. i also bet that ever design mistake made will be discovered and exploited by folks who hate seeing our armor in their streets.

that's how i'd fight it anyway. and when that's stopped, i'd figure out something else.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 11:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Labrys, on the tactical level a CDR can't question BUT they can think and implement common sense local SOP's.
I wish the best for your son.Tell him to stay low and shoot low. jim

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 11:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MB, yes this is very similar to your experiences at Hue.
The sewer lids are perfect platter charges. jim

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 11:25:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you guys think of soldiers on active duty who criticize their commanding officers via the internet? This may sound presumptuous coming from one who has never been a soldier, but I'm not sure I like the idea of the internet being used as a medium of overt insubordination. Idon't know if a military can function effectively if the officers always have to worry about their subordinates ripping on them online. Hell, I wouldn't even do that to my supervisor in a civilian job. I was always taught to respect the chain of command.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 2:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

to MB:

Despite being from Cleveland and being an Army man, Jim does know the Queen's English (inasmuch as I'm able to assert it,) and so does know the term "farkling about smartly."

'Tis just that he's a poor typist.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 2:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

as far as i know the orgin of the phrase was from the immortal "40 knots" arliegh burke. along with jimmying the engines on his destroyers to steam far beyond spec, he was very adamant and vocal about the where's and why's of that steaming.

nimitz and halsey were often prone to sending the tin cans out in the pacific to see if they could draw airplane or sub fire, then, once the positions were fixed, clobber them with torpedo planes. burke often protested this assignment loudly, profanely and with great derision.

legend says that he left a meeting with halsey and described his mission as "we're to go out there, farkle about smartly and see if enough of us get killed to justify sparing a plane or two."

it stuck and has been part of the sailor's lexicon ever since.

burke was also famous for being the fleet commmander who plugged the entrance of leyte gulf with a rag tag group of small tin cans, PT boats, and about 400 damned near suicidal frogmen. they stopped a japanese counterattack dead in its tracks, sunk a bunch of ships, many of them troop carriers bearing re-enforcements to the japanese on luzon. he ensured the success of macarthur's retaking of the islands.

black shoe sailors, the guys on the tiny ships, still revere the memory of arliegh burke. if you sailed with him you were going to fight, but fight with good sense and rational purpose.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


Thank you for this wonderful bit of history. I did a very quick search on the term and didn't find the wealth of info you provide re. the Navy usage, but I did find that it was an ancient game of dice, or it could refer to a roll of zero of the dice:

"The English military could not eliminate dice gaming, so rules were established limiting how much could be wagered depending on the rank of the soldier or officer.

"A popular game, similar to those played in the time of Queen Bess, is known as Farkle (or 10,000.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Sorry--didn't chang acct. names--
Etymology by Lisa.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 11:18:00 AM GMT-5  

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