Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bunker Buster

The flash from a distant camera
Reconnecting thoughts and actions
Fragments of our missing dream 
--Distant Camera, Neil Young

Today's entry is an analysis of a bunker of the 1/502/25, a slice of life in today's United States Army. [The bunker was caught incidentally in a photo of the recently returned U.S. Army soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, rt. of photo.]

As background, think of all the wonderful photos of World War II, German, Japanese and U.S. fighting positions: there are always grenades laid out for final defenses. There are no grenades in this photo.

Why is the Light Machine Gun (LMG) not protected from the elements (or at least, the $1,500 sight)?

As for the gun, it is too high of a silhouette, forcing the gunner to expose his body to enemy suppressive fire. The gun needs to be dug into a lower firing platform. The ammunition is open to trash, dirt and the elements, and the gun does not have the belt in the feed tray. This means the gun is not ready to fire.

A military axiom says that Machine Guns are employed in pairs, to provide interlocking fires through coordinated defense. The lay of the land in the photo would seem to make this impossible. Does this fighting position have room for an assistant gunner/loader to service the gun? Does the position have a rear egress and entrance? Must the soldiers enter the bunker from the enemy side?

Now see the roof of the structure: it is weak, unsupported and would not provide any appreciable protection from either direct or indirect fire. An enemy assault could chop this bunker into smithereens with direct rifle fire. An RPG would spell disaster. The bunker's supports are 2 x 4 white pine, like you'd buy at a a home supply store. (Ranger hopes the Army got the military discount.)

Ignoring the troops' casual and non-technical demeanor, we will not ignore the mortar to the left rear seen between the three troops (with hands in their pockets.) The gun is clearly not dug in, meaning that it could not be serviced if this position were attacked. (We have noted this deficiency in several past Afghan battle analysis here at RAW.)

Further: why would a mortar be placed directly on a firing line of a defensive position? This is just wrong, and violates the logical placement of the weapon, which should be protected from direct fire.

If the situation were dire, move the gun forward (in what would be a tactical leadership call), but dig it in and have connective trenches so that friendly movement could ensue, crawling if need be under enemy fire.

Last comment: what were these troops defending, anyway?

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Anonymous Brian said...

Good question.
They are still being taught to do it properly, the way I was (and you too I'm sure): http://www.soldiercombatskills.com/chapter-6-fighting-positions/
No excuse for how badly this position has been built.
I expect they didn't think they would ever need it for more than fragments, and the SGT let them get away with it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 11:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

We have a chain of command in the US Army.
This poorly constructed and tactically inferior bunker is a symbol of the state of the Army.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 12:32:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Brian said...

It's always the NCO corps that seems to suffer the most in these kinds of wars (though the junior officers seem not to be far behind). The Canadian Army has been shedding sergeants for years as they succumb to the burnout of rotation after rotation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 3:12:00 PM GMT-5  

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