RANGER AGAINST WAR: April 7 Marine Reconnaissance Ambush, Pt. II <

Saturday, April 08, 2017

April 7 Marine Reconnaissance Ambush, Pt. II

--Fallujah, June, 2016, after the Iraqis declared victory against ISIS
(looking very much like Fallujah, April 2017, when ISIS launched a
major decapitation mission)

[Pt II of April 7 Marine Reconnaissance Ambush] --

Actions at the objective:

The enemy had RPG's and at least three light machine guns suppressing the friendlies. Marines are taught to dismount attack, which is commendable, but it is not the best course of action.

They must break out of the kill zone and it is better to do so in a hardened vehicle than on foot (as dismounted Infantry.) While the enemy forces were effective, there were holes in their operation.

They did not seal the kill zone, nor did they have a well-conceived exit after the action. The Marine's described this as a near ambush, but the fact that it was not initiated with an explosive device suggests enemy incompetence. Additionally, the enemy's guns were neither dug in nor in hardened bunkers, also demonstrating a questionable level of proficiency.

In short, the enemies were not top-drawer soldiers.

There was nothing stopping the Marine's follow-on vehicles from swinging off the road and rolling the enemy's shoulder. Anything should have been done to break the tempo of the ambush.

Again, a mortar or 40 mm round would have been a literal life-saver: never send a man when you can send a mortar round, instead. The Marines were not carrying grenades, which are most needed when assaulting machine guns.

Now for the hard calls (which is what they pay officers for):

The lead vehicle is in a bad way, but he is still drawing enemy fire, which lessens the fire on the potential maneuver elements. A deep move right and left and a vehicle assault to the middle of the enemy's position would be a possible course of action, and one would expect this to be a normal immediate action call for recon Marines. It was not done, however.

In past battle analyses, we have discussed the need to determine if enemy fire is effective or ineffective, a key combat lesson. If a recon unit lacks air assets to do route recon and clearing, then perhaps the mission should be reconsidered and reconfigured.

That this failed mission was not casts aspersions on the Marine's training and counter-ambush techniques. Remember: if the enemy can see you, then you can see them. If they can hit you, ditto.

Ranger's take is that courage and valor are not substitutes for correct route recons and terrain analysis prior to launching a road-running event. Distance and interval should be enforced between march elements. This rule holds even for elite troops; complacence is not a military virtue.

These prior preparations and adherence to protective postures may seem tedious in the face of Marines willing to dismount and be "kinetic", but such precautions may prevent the grievous injuries and loss of life suffered when they are absent or given short-shrift, as they were on 7 April 2004 outside of Fallujah for an unlucky group of Recon Marines.

Now this is the point where the reader says, "But you weren't there!", which of course is true. But shock action and firepower are linked to keeping your vehicles mobile and to providing effective suppressive fire, and both were deficient on the side of the friendlies in this action.

Had any or all of these offensive-defensive actions been employed, another sad and tragic event in a litany of such events might have either been avoided or at least, ameliorated.

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Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

This documentary actually reminded me of the film adaption of the Battle of La Drang, We Were Soldiers. Widely panned as a propaganda film, it didn't help its categorization by writing the last surviving platoon leader of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment- Lt. Rick Rescorla- and his entire unit, out of the script despite being pictured on the jacket of the original book. Even the scene where an ostensible Rick finds a damaged French bugle on an NVA soldier as he did in the actual battle is depicted with an unnamed "Welsh" officer.

The film was supposed to demonstrate that with superior tactics and technology and All-American elbow grease, Vietnam could of been won. The actual journalists who covered it told a different story as recounted by Harpers Matthew Stevenson; incidentally in this weekends Counterpunch magazine. Stevenson returned to the jungles of Vietnam to revisit the battle of Ap Bac, which became the reason d-etre for the official U.S. intervention. One section is worth quoting in full.

"On the day of the battle, despite having the backing of American helicopters and a senior American advisor, the celebrated Lt. Col. John Paul Vann, the South Vietnamese failed to wipe out a Viet Cong force of 700 men, who had taken up a position in a tree line at the end of a paddy (with a canal at the their backs).

Believing that the Viet Cong force was there to be rolled into the canal, Vann (circling the battlefield in a spotter plane) called in helicopter gunships and even paratroops, to close the trap on the guerrillas.

Instead, the Viet Cong shot down several American helicopters, and armored vehicles sent in support of ground troops bogged down in the rice paddies and were destroyed piecemeal.

Much as the French were always searching for a “set-piece battle” with the North Vietnamese during the First Indochina War, so too were Vann and American advisors in 1963 looking for a situation in which U.S. air and armor superiority could be deployed against the Viet Cong.

As the battle unfolded on January 2, 1963, however, the Viet Cong stood and fought the ARVN, who found all sorts of reasons for not closing with the enemy. Vann became furious at its incompetence (as later did the American command and political system)...

Although Ap Bac was the first battle of the American War (as the Vietnamese call it), it might well have been the last.

Air power, artillery, and armor were supposed to win the day; instead, they became sea anchors in the mud."

Interestingly enough, there was a self-serving reason why the film ended where it did. Just as Colonel Harold Brooks lifted off in his chopper and the credits rolled the leader of the overall operation, Colonel Thomas Brown- largely unmentioned- apparently attempted to evac all the remaining Battalions by air. General Westmoreland refused stating that he didn't want the conclusion of the battle to look like a retreat. Instead, the battered and understrength 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry and 2nd Battalion 7th Cavalry were ordered to march to new landing zones completely unsupported in open terrain. The result was a brutal ambush as the U.S. soldiers unwittingly marched straight into the headquarters of the 3rd and 8th NVA battalions who were supposed to be stationed in reserve. The casualties that were incurred exceeded that of the battle itself.

In light of Rumsfelds infamous aphorism of fighting with the army you have and not the army you want, the greatest strategic failure of these wars was truly the civilians with too much money who were somehow given the authority to wage them. If you bounced or altogether dodged military service (or pulled a few strings and ended up in the Champagne Squadron in the Alabama National Guard) escalating and starting wars is no skin off your nose let alone those of the financial robber barons and corporate thieves who are your only valued constituents.

Those who invested in them sure walk away with a lot of money after the blood has dried and that remains the primary problem it seems.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 7:40:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

The relevant links since its making me post twice anyway.



Dick Cheney sure made a ,errrr, killing in Iraq, he seems to be doing even better with his stake in the Israeli oil company now drilling in the Syrian Golan Heights as the current administration is intentionally prolonging the war and keeping Assad from restoring control over the country.

No coincidence at all.


Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 7:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

NL,and David,
There is a fine point that we always ignore, even in SF.
it's rather simple.
that should be the first words in any COIN theory/manual.
a key question that we always ignore is-why do the ne'r do wells that we back always need more and more in every department and those that we don't support always appear to be combat effective.that's the question.
my simple point is that in Fallujah we could kill every man ,child and dog and we'd still lose. ok we killed 6 to 700 and lost how many in the bargain?
COIN theory used to say that 10 to 1 was/is an effective kill ratio.
i call BS on this . if we kill 100 to 1 we are losing.

lets bring your comments up to date.
at Ia drang the US did little in prepping the battle space.this includes intel, which takes us back to Custer at the Little Big Horn, except that he had a reasonable avenue to escape had he wished to do so.
hubris guided his actions, as it did in Ap bac and Ia drang.
The 7th at ID would have been hard pressed to break contact once engaged. again , back to montana.
i'd like to add a simple point that is often ignored when comparing these fights.
ID was denied territory far from the centers of population and generally under NVA control.
at ap bac the terrain was some what ideal and facilitated maneuver and all the stuff we preached, but we still were teaching the wrong dogma. Vann was trying to fight a ww2 battle in a much different war.he died doing the same years later.
so how does all this apply to Fallujah?

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 9:09:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i'd like to say also, that we don't save cities or win any friends by destroying cities.
or killing people.
But it sure does build a great career.
Mad Dog proves this point.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 9:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

ref your AB comments.
pls bear in mind that ID had 1 function which was direct action to close with and destroy the enemy.
no finesse.
at AB it wwas 2 fold. make contact and destroy/delay/disorganize and deny the hard core/main force VC access to the local population. ergo more of a COINy thing.
In the 7 apr ambush i don't know what or why they were doing this mission.someday maybe history will tell us.
as a infantry trained person i'd really like to see the opord for this action to include higher and adjacent units.
i'd really feel priveleged to see the fire support and /or air assets available.
without this i can only speculate.
jim hruska

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 9:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Jim -

Force Recon was never a division level asset. A Force Recon Company always worked for a MEF (formerly known as a MAF), which is somewhat similar to an Army Corps. Marine divisions have their own leg recon battalion much different than force (Corps) level recon. And since 83 divisions have also had a lightly armored recon battalion using LAV-25s, the forerunner to the Army Stryker ICV.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 10:51:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

NL -

Mad Dog left 1st Marine Division in August 2004. His replacement General Natonski directed 2nd Fallujah, that destroyed the city.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 11:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Jim -- I watched this documentary to understand better what you were talking about. It is part of a series interestingly. I wonder if the same tones are present in the other episodes.

On your COIN point, my own perspective is that a kill ratio is completely irrelevant. The theory behind the Iraq intervention, and others, is that we could take a society, remove their government, and create a new, stable one. A high kill ratio simply means more of you will come home alive relative to the number of enemies killed.

I get why that obviously matters if you're the one risking your life as a soldier or a Marine, but it's totally irrelevant to the supposed objective. If keeping our soldiers from being unnecessarily killed is the goal, then the better way to achieve that would simply be not to start wars in the first place when there's no obvious way to achieve the political objectives through warfare anyways. To take today's example, even if the Marines had applied different doctrine with less costly results to themselves, I'm glad someone would be alive instead of dying, but I'm not sure that it would make the new Iraq regime stabler or more successful.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 11:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Nikolay -- Unfortunately there is a standard plot to these documentaries, it seems. A group of good American boys gets into a terrible situation, applies their sophisticated training, and wins through at tragic cost. Thus there is a "victory."

Notably this happens at a level that civilians really don't have any experience or informed opinions (small unit operations), and the implied lesson is that somehow since our boys got it right at this level, we can somehow get it right at the bigger strategic and political levels. I'm not convinced.

Maybe "propaganda" is the wrong word, but definitely it gives you a nice story at the cost of serious questions. But on the bright side now that I've watched the documentary I'm a History Channel-certified armchair experts on how a recon unit should respond to an ambush, which is obviously what really matters.

Or put another way in the context of Jim's writing here: assuming he is correct, should the Marines have better ways of planning convoys and responding to ambushes? If the goal is to get home alive, sure. If the goal is to turn Iraq or Afghanistan or now Syria into a strong, stable democracy, then I'm not sure it matters one way or the other. There's a complete mismatch there and documentaries like this simply make the problem worse.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 11:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i don't think it correct to call this a convoy.
it seems to have been a combat patrol.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 3:07:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mike 10;51,
i'd really like to see wiring diagrams fopr USMC and Army formations in the pwot.
in the days of old the Army Green Book (yearly) used to provide this service.
i reckon opsec concerns apply.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 3:12:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Convoy? Combat patrol? I thought is was a reconaissance patrol.

Or am I splitting hairs?

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 3:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read another account of this action wherein one of the Marines that was involved told part of the story. The hummers were not the up-armored version and they did not even have doors. Doors were removed to provide a wider field of fire for the occupants. So dismounting makes some sense. The hummers would have been death traps, with all of the men bunched together in them. One RPG hit or one accurate burst of MG fire on an attacking hummer would have spelled disaster.


Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 8:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

Before I do anything else I'll try and decode the lingo here. ID is infantry division, yes? And AB is Ap Bac? Although the military likes their shortened neologisms maybe I'm complicating it more than it needs to be.

I'm sure with the advent of new military technology there emerges a wider range of what ifs pondered in 20/20 retrospect but the point I wanted to get at is if you aren't willing to sacrifice one third of your total population, send the son of your national leader to his death in the ensuing carnage and mobilize the rest of the adult population through tax rises and hard labor; don't even think of fighting a war. This was of course the case of the Great Patriotic War as fought by the Soviet Union. Joseph Stalin famously denounced the cowardice of his own son after he died trying to escape a prisoner of war camp. It was made a crime to be captured in the first place no matter who you were, as punished soldiers rescued from the camps found out. An iron hand he had but to give credit where credit was due, a fairly consistent one it was.

Which country handled war in damn near the same way once upon a time? FDR made sure every single one of his sons saw combat. Even John Roosevelt, who tried applying for conscientious objector status was forced into the Navy. The homefront and the draft were of course self-explanatory.

There was an understanding back then it seemed, if the war was worth it and fought like it was, all assets that could be used were made- at least when fought against interimperial powers. That way there was no question of what support could have been used where, because all means were literally made to make it possible. The professionalization of the military, the constant replacement of even them with contractors (mercenaries) [1:100 Merc-Soldier ratio in Gulf War I, 1:10 at the beginning of Gulf War II] and the pesticide-ridden genetically-modified Taco Bell food and overcooked lobsters that they serve on these deployments seems to show an Empire turning warfare more and more brazenly into the business terminal-stage Empires always make them to be. Watch that ratio. When the Roman Empire (and broadly too the British) closed it enough we all know what happened. No wonder a civil war erupted. The entire Legionary became one giant private military corporation before the concept even existed.

And therein lies the problem I fear. At a certain point fatal to its existence as a powerful state, Empires almost seem to stop fighting their wars to win them. It becomes too profitable to stop them. I don't like the way this looks for ours.

Bush lowered taxes upon beginning the Iraqi invasion, his daughters never picked up a gun of course, he sent an increasingly privatized corporate boondoggle rather than a military and having failed to secure the oil resources for one group of kleptocrats he opted to change the tracks of the taxpayer gravy train to steam towards those running defense "contractors" instead. Obama and now Trump continued the travesty and the latter seems intent on keeping that course.

And that ultimately is the biggest impetus why those Marines were killed and maimed that day and for no good reason. And that never fails to piss me off.

Sorry for any mistakes, I'm writing this too early.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 8:16:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

how in the heck could a Marine split a hair?
it's impossible with a high and tight.
i think that a recon patrol is a combat patrol, even in the Marine Corp.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 8:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

ID usually means infy div , but today it means ia drang.
i was just trying to show how all these events differed, and how we fail to understand what is slapping us in the face.

FWIW Ikes son fought credibly in Korea as an infy officer. he retired as a reserve force General officer.to my memory.
at this point in my life and development i don't believe that any war is just or justifiable.
nor do i believe that there is ever morality in war or relationships between countries.
what i find sad is that we as a society do not and will not accept or acknowledge the criminality of our actions.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 8:57:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i've been thinking about your recon patrol cmt.
i wrote this piece o/a 11 nov 16 and it sat for a while.
until your comment i forgot that it was a recon patrol.
this makes my comments doubly damning.
ok i get it , these Marines were not SOF types. a lick on me.
but they are recon marines.lets wrap our tongues around that.
obviously they were not going to a church social, so they should have been in combat mode.
to be truthful i just don't get it.read Murphy and all the other MOH essays that i've written and most revolve around the word recon.
in the normal world of combat recon usually means just that =to recon.
recon historically is not designed to fight. once they find the en they are reinforced and qrf continue the contact.these troops were heavily armed.
why would this patrol differ from the template?
for gods sake they had a recon leader o3 , and are we to believe they didn't understand or appreciate the threat level of their action?
i don't know what their march interval was, but i sure as heck can guess, and this is no indictment b/c it seems that the whole stupid war danced to this tune.
when the world around you is crazy it's very hard to be sane.this summarizes my thoughts.
when every one is a hero it's hard to say whoaaa, lets think about this.
the captain went with the flow and we see where that went.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 9:18:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

so my point is-this was a combat patrol.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 9:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

No Mike, Jim's point is valid and my language is sloppy. (In my defense, I'm trying to learn.)

However, I think it just reinforces my original concern here. The notion that one can be in the midst of the succession planning to a new, elected regime at the same time that it is necessary to run combat patrols through potentially enemy-held territory is farcical. If the high-level policy guiding the war is that misguided, then people on both sides are going to die because of it.

Jim says the way in which Marine planning and tactics were deployed in the documentary makes his blood boil. What makes my blood boil is what now happens because of pieces like this documentary. I don't know whether the producers could understand what happened with the depth of analysis Jim has provided. I know that most of the History Channel's audience (including myself) couldn't.

There are questions that they could understand, but that get downplayed in the name of celebrating the sacrifices of men in small units like this one. If these Marines had responded in a different way, maybe they would have all come home alive. Maybe better planning and more support could have led to a different outcome, or deterred this particular ambush in the first place.

Would this bring us any closer to achieving the war's objective? I don't think so. Obviously there are a lot of levels of analysis in between, but more and more when I think about these nation-building wars, my conclusion is: you can't get there from here. It's a nice thought, but we don't know how to do it. And there is a longstanding principle in the philosophy of war going back to Augustine if not to pre-Christian times, that a war in pursuit of an unachievable objective is always immoral, by definition.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 11:53:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Jim -

Your larger point is true. Whoever sent these guys in was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. A small motorized patrol of unarmored Humvees with light weapons should never have gone in w/o serious backup. Probably not a lot of up-armored versions available in early 2004. But they should have used these guys elsewhere and instead sent in armored LAVs that have 25mm chain guns to do this recon. Or even tanks.

How force recon expected to rely on stealth in an urban setting with a motorized patrol is beyond my ken. Urban or even suburban patrolling canalizes patrols and limits lateral dispersion and mutual support, especially in the thousand-year-old cities & villages of the middle east. Plus the three dimensional threat and the compartmented nature of urban terrain requires a reaction force as you noted.

So I never argued that point and never intended to. As to the smaller point you could be right that any patrols in a war zone are 'combat patrols'. That particular patrol should have been a combat patrol and not one of the small, lightly armed recon patrols that I remember from my day.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 5:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Although I wasn't there, the simplest answer to Mike's question -- and by extension Jim's critique, I suppose -- is simply that such assets weren't available because forces were spread too thinly and this was standard procedure for those that were available.

If I'm right, and I'm sorry if I'm overstepping my bounds as an observer by saying that much, another of the key points that sticks in my mind throughout every modern intervention is that we occupied Japan (apparently successfully) with about twice as many soldiers as Iraq, notwithstanding the fact that the political objectives there were more limited AND there was no insurgency on the ground.

Such points could readily be communicated to the History Channel's audience and would probably be more important for a largely civilian audience to grasp, although I suppose it would not be the sort of fare the History Channel usually produces.

Monday, April 10, 2017 at 6:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree re; patrolling with some kind of serious armor, up to and including tanks. However, I have talked to enough Iraq/Afghanistan vets to arrive at the understanding that the whole purpose of these combat patrols is to draw fire. If armor was used, the insurgents would stay hidden/hold their fire. So we send in a tempting target that the insurgents think they can inflict damage on. That draws them out so they can be killed or captured. Talk about embracing the suck.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 8:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i write for guys like you. i try to pass info to those interested.
i get your points and do appreciate.
i just spin sometimes.
you call the enemy INSURGENTS, and that's what they were callled, but were they?
what is an insurgent? all of my essays are mobius strips, or snakes swallowing their own tails.

to all,
a well coordinated and planned ambush is an incredible threat to a small unit.
i even doubt in this scenario that the ambush party even had any hope of escaping alive. from the iraqi side this is more than possible. i wonder what the en forces part of the recon patrol order indicated. we're back to the opord.
the fact is that the unit in the beaten zone must break out of the en effective fire.
my guess is that the kill zone had rpg's sealing the kz. to prevent reinforcement and or escape.
so we're back to the old adage that u must assault the kz and directly into the fire.
if the en was trained up then the mg's were employed as a pair and sweeping the kz with interlocking fire with the 3rd gun providing rear security .
i'm assuming they were all Light mg's of 30 cal. if they were 51's the world would have ended for the entire patrol since that gun was designed for killing vehicles and those inside.
so back to assaulting the kz.
the Marines chose to unass in the kz, which is a bridge too far for me.
i think it wise to drive the vehicle until it refuses to move.
i can say that b/c i have time to think and i'm not being fired upon.
at this point the unit would have had immediate action drills that would automatically kicked in, or they should have. this is unit sop and nobody can fault the concept.
i write so that somebody may read this and save a life somewhere in another nasty war.
as i always comment- we soldiers die in nasty little wars of no consequence and seldom do we fight in battles like iwo jima.
thanks for your participation.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 9:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Avedis -

What you describe is a 'reconnaissance in force' or RIF. Yes, it is commonly used. But I do not believe that was the case in this incident as that recon patrol was not backed up by force. An RIF is usually done by any manuever unit and does not require the use of specialized reconnaissance troops.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 11:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike, I understand the RIF concept. Agree that this was not RIF per se, yet, IMO, the purpose was, in function the same. What else were they doing driving down the streets of Fallujah? Surely not merely taking in the sights. Isn't that Jim's point? If it's going to walk like a RIF, quack like a RIF it better be structured like a RIF.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 12:32:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Avedis -

We disagree. The purpose was not the same. From my vantage point, and no I was not there: it neither walked nor quacked like a RIF. It should have been as you & Jim have pointed out, but by a stronger force and not by this small so-called stealthy and lightly armed group.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 1:23:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

phil ochs

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 5:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ghost Dansing,

How nice to know you're still there -- what's shaking?


Your dedication is humbling.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 8:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

P O is one of my favorites.
i even have an old gibson j45 similar to the one that he played.
welcome back.(home?)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 9:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

To all,
maybe i should write another piece on this action,mainly b/c it set a template.or so it seems to me.
i must ask,
-did the leaders do a visual recon?
-what about a simple route analysis?
-why didn't they dismount before the shooting started.?
-don't they have unit level drones for vr?
-what about agent reports?
-did they set a pattern?
-why didn't they get off the roads?
-why wasn't air cover provided.rotary type.
the point is that we'll never know, because it's now entered into history.
it's the death of a thousand cuts.
i guess we all see what we want to see.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 9:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Or maybe a write up a different action. I'm Fallujahed out myself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 7:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

whatever fight that we discuss is just studying a self inflicted wound.
thanks for participating.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 9:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Jim -

Why is this Soldier wearing an EIB instead of a CIB? And what is the difference between those badges anyway?

BTW I notice today's news that the AF just dropped the Mother-Of-All-Bombs on the complex where Staff Sergeant De Alencar was KIA. 21,000 pounds, kind of like the Daisy Cutters from our era in Viet-Nam, but on steroids.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 11:48:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger mike said...

Oooops! Here is the link:


Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 11:48:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

an eib can be googled.it's a proficiency test for infy types,especially valued in peace time when cib's weren't available.
there are different interpretations of the cib reg for sf types.
the cib would be worn in preference rather than a
we used to rag guys with eib's by saying-you need to pull maintenance on your badge,you lost your wreath.
in the past they thought of a master type cib with a gold wreath for those that had both.
this never got approved.
it was common in the 70's time frame for sf types not to wear cib's. theres a picture of Bob Howard in one of Plasters book, and he isn't wearing a cib.
if you notice many of our army top go's don't have cib's or valor awards.
as for the cab i have no comments.

Friday, April 14, 2017 at 10:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

Lisa, I try :).

A Wilco on Ike (my great grasp of military terminology aside). Neither Truman nor LBJ committed their daughters to frontline units when they started and escalated their wars of choice respectively. This is especially unacceptable when more and more MOSs were opening up to women starting at the beginning of the 21st century in time for the wars the U.S. executive involved the country in. I'm of course looking at Bush and Obama's own daughters (I'll leave my commentary on Donny Trump Jr. after the President's illegal military strike in Syria and insane provoking of North Korea as we speak along with the latters notorious draft-dodging for another time.)

Of course, in light of your expression of the obvious; I should have added that those who are looking to fight their pet humanitarian intervention or moral crusade of choice should suit up themselves and leave the taxpayers out of it. And even that would have its immorality as those who do infact have the private wealth to do so probably gained it, if indirectly, on top of the graves of Native Americans and over the backs of imported slaves.

Moving on from musing on the state of the ruling class whose ill-deserved autocracy is well-known and its removal too long a ways away, there is an article that summarizes the whole enterprise well- originally written after former Pfc. Steven Dale Green of the Mahmudiya rape and murders fame committed suicide in his Fort Leavenworth cell.

Blocks of it are worth quoting in full.


"By all accounts, Green was a bottom rung fuck up who dropped out of high school in 2002 (he later earned his high school equivalency in 2003). Days after a January 2005 arrest for alcohol possession, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, which worked out great because he was granted a moral character waiver for prior alcohol and other drug related offenses that might have otherwise disqualified him. At this time, the military wasn’t exactly picky about who they shipped overseas to kill Iraqis because, weirdly, most Americans didn’t want to go fight in violent occupations (in the U.S. only around one percent of the population fights all our wars). Remember, this is when recruiters were so desperate to meet quotas that they were signing up Neo-Nazis and gang members, and Green happened to walk into the recruiting station at the very moment that the Army was increasing by nearly half the rate at which it granted “moral waivers” to potential recruits.

So here we have Steven Green: born in Camp Nowhere, Texas, a lad squeaking by with a GED, who abused drugs and alcohol. Where can such a man find a home in the world? Why, the place with all the guns and bombs, of course!

Maybe if Steven Green had been born somewhere else, to a different family, his life would have turned out differently. According to a 2007 AP analysis, “nearly three-fourths of [U.S. troops] killed in Iraq came from towns where the per capita income was below the national average. More than half came from towns where the percentage of people living in poverty topped the national average.”

All future wars will be fought by Steven Greens because only the Steven Greens of the world are desperate enough to join the military. That’s not to say all troops rape and kill 14-year-old girls, but taking Green’s pre-military situation into account, in addition to his likely PTSD, it’s clear the horrific crime committed against Abeer and her family isn’t an anomaly. If anything, it’s the direct result of unending war fought by soldiers trained to become unfeeling machines of destruction."

Saturday, April 15, 2017 at 1:57:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

Speaking of convoys, later on in the war, this was a supply convoy that ended up following military protocol.


This could be considered an improvement from the previous battle and yet contempt by U.S. Army regulars for the overpaid contractors of KBR-Halliburton, the same company responsible for slowly privatizing what once could be considered a competent fighting force could only allow for so much potential combat effectiveness.

Ultimately, the Generals-including Vietnam vets- who resigned in protest of the war should have the final word here and they all seemed to agree. There was no chance in hell that an insurgency in Iraq could be defeated unless the same number of soldiers- in the half-a-million range- that were deployed in Vietnam were deployed in Iraq.


David is piggybacking on my earlier line of thinking here but I'll give credit that he said it directly first. The war that you fought Jim could never be compared to Iraq. The artillery or close air support that could be counted on a half century ago was simply not there. Even the "surge" introduced a fraction of the manpower available at the peak of military operations in Indochina.

The military-industrial complex has since tried to solve that persistent problem by switching gears to robot terminators and building entire special operations armies both federal and private.

And nuclear weapons apparently if the Korea threats are really that insanely serious. "May you live in interesting times", as the Chinese proverb says. Some have regarded the phrase as a curse.

Saturday, April 15, 2017 at 3:01:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Niko -- On class and the military, I noticed a couple years ago the quixotic tradition in Britain that the royal family, including the present queen and the main living heirs, all served in the military.

We have now moved to the point where the current President argues he should not be required to make such personal sacrifices as divesting his businesses while in office or even merely releasing his tax returns.

I say this not to make a partisan point -- I imagine the Democrats could dredge up a candidate with similar views, and no doubt will, some day -- but simply to illustrate the rapidly expanding gap between the "sacrifices" undertaken by our political class compared with those they order to their deaths.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 at 2:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

2 days ago i heard the POTUS say with his very own mouth, and not a reported point, that he authorized HIS military to carry out the syrian attack.
i've also heard him refer to these military actions as EVENTS.
i'm starting to fear the worst.
if the US and nato push the envelope we could see some real blowback.
same same N.korea.
i'll repeat my oft said comment=when votes are based on campaign lies then elections are lies and democracy is also.
elections are not democracy but rather about capitalism. the election only determines which party gets to screw the once evident middle class.
this may seem a long way from a fight in fallujah, but i think that it's all related.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 at 11:25:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Jim --

Maybe I was reaching there but I thought it was related too. My point was that as the civilian and military spheres grow farther and farther apart, any common idea of what might be an acceptable sacrifice does, too. For the President to have to give up his lifelong business enterprise for the sake of holding his office is, apparently, too much to ask. Yet from that office he orders young men to their deaths.

I don't say that to be melodramatic about it but just to illustrate the difference that irks me. Had Clinton would the point might be more subtle but would be just about as valid.

The media calls it "eventizing," aka, framing political reporting the same way they do sports reporting. I heard one mainstream journalist describe this in the context of political campaigns but probably the same is true for war reporting. I'm afraid we're about to find out.

The gradually escalating Syrian intervention obviously lacks any achievable objective other than entangling us in a deadly civil war. North Korea is probably less complicated but equally rash.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 at 11:01:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

(Word missing from my second paragraph -- "Had Clinton won..."

Sunday, April 16, 2017 at 11:01:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger NaRong said...

I don't say that to be melodramatic about it but just to illustrate the difference that irks me. Had Clinton would the point might be more subtle but would be just about as valid.
gclub online

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 7:49:00 AM GMT-5  

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