Iraq Stories

Anonymous Sender anonymous at
Sat Nov 12 19:05:05 PST 2005

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 cant 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 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

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.

8) 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

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 Jordans
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 Jordans NCOs
lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage inside the wire.
Jordans 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.

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). Jordans
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 were seeing less and less infantry attacks
and more IED, suicide bomber ****. The new strategy is simple:

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 cant 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 Zarqawis 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 cant stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of
course, permanent US bases there).

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