Misc. info from Soldier in Iraq. - DFWstangs Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2005, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Misc. info from Soldier in Iraq.

I found this on another site I frequent and thought it was a really good read. Pay particular attention to the last paragraph.


Hello to all my fellow gunners, military buffs, veterans and interested guys. A couple of weekends ago I got to spend time with my son Jordan, who was on his first leave since returning from Iraq . He is well (a little thin), and already bored. He will be returning to Iraq for a second tour in early 06 and has already re-enlisted early for 4 more years. He loves the Marine Corps and is actually looking forward to returning to Iraq .

Jordan spent 7 months at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi. Aka: Fort Apache. He saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here, just a Marine with a birds eye views opinions:

1) The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because its lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They 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. They 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. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.

2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of ****. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. ( that's fun in the middle of a firefight).

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they 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.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

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 their dicks 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 .45s are being re-issued en masse.

Cool The 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.

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 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700s. 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 Hathcocks record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as **** 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 bull**** about the old body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IEDs was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and 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. Weve all seen the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefires, and the troops love em. Invaluable for night urban operations. Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.

I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology, its the WWII 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 AK47s The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like ****. 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. Lets just say they know better now.

2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dog**** . 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 IEDs are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. Thats 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 NCOs 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?:

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 at 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 years). 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., the police forces and the Army. They have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80s. 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 Aks and RPGs 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 thats the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeos (Allahs Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast movers, mostly Marine F-18s, 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 ****. 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 flee 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 **** 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 Iraqis are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a ****. 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 tactical mistake. Many Iraqis 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 Iraqis are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

According to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they 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 **** like Are we losing in Iraq on TV and the print media. For the most part, they 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 guys, that's it, hope you found it interesting, I sure did.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2005, 10:29 AM
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Wow, very good reading there!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-24-2005, 10:30 AM
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Good Read

I initially weighed that long read but am glad I read it. What an interesting perspective and insight into the goings on over there. I'm gonna have to send this link to one of my guys who is Army and just returned to see if he will weigh in. Damn but i wish I weren't old and all familied up sometimes.

Posts like this are what I like to see. Just simple facts. Insight. And more facts. Emotionless. Not one sided and not weighted. Just laid out there for you to draw your own conclusions. Something that you can put your teeth into.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2005, 04:45 AM
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1. I haven't had or seen any MAJ problems with the M-16 or M-4's as far as jamming goes. It's mostly simple tap-rack-bang shit (not cool but defintly not the worst that could happen). The 5.56 does lack any real stopping power, but the rifle is accurate as hell at a decent dist. compared to other small arms I've toy'ed with out here.
2. I won't say I hate our SAW's but we have a lot of barrels that heat up way to quick(after only 200-300 rounds or so) Which is a pain in the ass to deal with.
3. Haven't seen the Pistol used much out here becuase I mainly stand gaurd posts or run convoys.
4. Once agian haven't seen the shotgun in action, but I've heard from friends in 2/2 that everyone likes em.
5. I love the 240Golf it is one of the best crew served weapons we have available out. Its a damn good balance between the rate of fire and size of the round used.
The pig is the shit!
6. The 50 cal is wel theres nothing bad to be said about her period.
7.I know recon and a couple other guys like anglico might otehr than I'm clueless on teh weapon.
8. Like I said I know recon and NSW get special weapons like M-14's and MP-5's but haven't seen teh M-14 in theater/ I got to fire a couple rounds through the MP-5's when we were out on the range with the seals. That gun is fun as hell.
9. PSD takes barret with them they seem to like them, I love firing it at the range it's just plain fun. I've got a few pics and a short vid of the last time we test fired out weapons at the range I'll post when I get back to Camp Lejeune in a few weeks.
10. We don't have any in our unit and I've never touched them so I can't offer up any more info.
11. Only injuries friends have ran into are IED's most of them were exposed in the gunners spot so flak and sapi plates didn't do to much for them. They were packing Suicide Vehichles with homeade napalma nd all sort of other nasty shit to cuase burns for a while but it only last about2-3 weeks wher I am. Statistically(sp) speaking it wasn't effective but 2 good friends of mine spent 4 and half months at a burn unit in a hospital in San Antonio.
12. Only thing I don't like about NVG's is driving is a bitch with no depth perception, but I've already had plenty of practice with that shit back in Texas.

Adding in a little bit closer to what I joined for, the Marine arty out here has been beyond exceptional. I've seen batteries from 10,11,adn 14th Marines out here. And everyone of them can put rounds down range accurately and quick. I know the gun bunnies can't wait to get the new 555's out here they're a hell of lot lighter than the old m198 howizters.

As far as weapons the insurgents use-
1. The AK you really can drop them in a pool of mud for a day and come back and it will fire. It has like 2 or 3 moving parts in the entire weapon. The round they use lacks the powder reach out there and touch someone. And I've heard plenty of stories of teh sapi plates doing their job and stopping AK rd's cold. I work with the ISF alot on gaurd duties and I'd much ratehr have my M-16 than an AK. Have seen a rise in sniper fire there was a corporal with 2/6 a few months back that tooka sniper round to the head and all he suffered was a concussion. Thats a good credit to the helmets we wear out here.
2. RPG is a pretty good weapon for light armor. It's pretty common for them not to detonate if they don't directly strike head on or have delayed explosion times due to their age and what not. We've even seen them pack them in mud to try and make them stick when they hit a vehichle.
3. IED's are a royal pain in the ass. This is where every injury of anyone from my battery has come from. IED's are made out of whatever they find and can use. We have alot of technology out now that is helping alot with radio controlled ied's. But a lot of the little bastard will put presure sensative mines on the back side of speed bumps or any obstacle we might have to roll over. It's about impossible for a gunner to spot.
4. Rockets and mortars haven't been to much of a problem on Camp Fallujah in the last 5 months or so becuase there are multiple Marine Counter Battery Radars in operation around the camp. For those that don;t know what the CBR system is it will track an incoming or outgoing round and use a bunch of hightech math to figure out precicely where it came from or is going. Thats my primary mos in the marines(even though I haven't touched a system in almost a year and half). I won't say anything more on teh subject other than they're well worth their price tag.

I hope I could add some more light for those of you still curious.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2005, 06:47 AM
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If you're still over there, keep a low profile, and Godspeed! A vast majority of us appreciate every thing you're doing for us.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2005, 07:58 AM
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Yeah I've got another 3 weeks of servitude left on this deployment: which have me stuck in the CO's office processing replacements... Now I just have to wait for mine to show up FUCKING LATE
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2005, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by SlowLX
Yeah I've got another 3 weeks of servitude left on this deployment: which have me stuck in the CO's office processing replacements... Now I just have to wait for mine to show up FUCKING LATE
Good replies... and good post.. ya'll are in our prayers everyday.. get home soon and safe...

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2005, 09:13 AM
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Definately a damn good post. As for the Air Force side of things, my best friend is at balad(Anaconda BAS) and they're loadin the jets(F-16's) usually w/ TARS pods(a recon device). They've only actually loaded the jets w/ bombs a few times w/ in the past 4 weeks. As for the mortar rounds, the 122 is relatively new considering how long weve been there. Our intel says the russians are sellin em to whoever wants em, so now the result is were getting hit w/ them. The big deal about them is 1 they're bigger, 2 they have a huuuge range advantage over what the insurgents were using. Previously they were using lil rounds that had to be shot with in 5 miles of the target. One thing i didn't see mentioned yet that the lil pricks are doin thats also pretty slick is icing the mortars and burying them. The ice eventually melts and them boom, and at night they go out and dig up the mortars and relocate them. I definately give props to the battery technology we have set up to shoot back, cause before it was set up they were just sending up the predators with cams looking for the enemy and dropping bombs on them. Not a very efficient method i might add.

07 TBSS mods inc
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2005, 10:00 PM
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A little peice I forgot about the M-16 when the Corps first started giving us the m-16-a4's to replace teh A2's The firing pin was too long and there were an ass load of neglegent discharges, which led to an ass load of NJP's
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-29-2005, 10:12 PM
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fuck the media, everyone i know is behind you guys! Spread the word among your buddies!!
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by SlowLX

you stay small and be safe!

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 02:32 PM
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Damn... Blue Diamond has to be the hardest hit place out there. It's a small base (about 1/4 mile x 1/2 mile) and surrounded by roads. Passing cars can just fire something off while passing by. 1/2 the time, they just fly over, but if anything lands in the base, someone usually ends up getting hurt. I'd still take that base over most of the other bases out there. There's just a comfortable level of security being stationed with Marines (No offense to the other branches).
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