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E-mail From Iraq
e-mail ^ | 11-15-05 | soldier's dad

Posted on 11/15/2005 9:02:53 PM PST by wardaddy

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

bird's eye view opinion:

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

it's 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 shit. 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 around 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 .45's 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 700's.

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 Hathcock's 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 shit 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 bullshit about the "old" body

armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's 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. We've all seen the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefire's, 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, it's 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 AK47's . 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 shit. 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. Let's just say

they know better now.

2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogshit.

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 IED's are supplied by Iran,

who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train

the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's 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 NCO's 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 "rat 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.'s, the police forces and the

Army. They have had a massive spy and agitator network

there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. 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

Ak's and RPG's 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 that's the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeo's

(Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast mover's, mostly Marine F-18's, 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 shit. 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 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 shit 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 Iraqi's are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a shit. 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 Iraqi's 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 Iraqi's 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 shit 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).

Anyway guys, that's it, hope you found it interesting, I sure did.

Name and Address withheld.....

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: banglist; iraq; waronterror; wot
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I got this today. My apologies to the mods in advance if this is a repeat.

It seems genuine and interesting but I do not personally know the source.

I believe it started with a Larry Johnson of Booman Tribune online


1 posted on 11/15/2005 9:02:55 PM PST by wardaddy
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To: wardaddy
Confirms my own biases.

Check out the last paragraph of this article published today from "Weapons of the World."

"A decision on the army’s new assault rifle will probably come sooner, rather than later, because the troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are making a lot of Internet noise over the issue."

2 posted on 11/15/2005 9:06:05 PM PST by Mr. Mojo
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To: wardaddy

Good post!

3 posted on 11/15/2005 9:08:53 PM PST by The_Media_never_lie
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To: The_Media_never_lie; Mr. Mojo

I sure found it interesting.

We have plenty of freepers who have been there. Would like to hear their comments.

4 posted on 11/15/2005 9:11:10 PM PST by wardaddy (Captain Spaulding .....the perfect dinner guest)
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To: wardaddy
My dad sent this exact email to me early today; I have no idea how long it's been floating around on the web, but as you said it sure is interesting.

The old M14 and 1911 just keep on keepin' on.

5 posted on 11/15/2005 9:13:47 PM PST by Mr. Mojo
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To: wardaddy

It's been pretty much debunked as a cut and paste from many months back. Many of the opinions may be correct, but the provenance of the piece is highly suspect.

6 posted on 11/15/2005 9:23:52 PM PST by Travis McGee (--- ---)
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To: wardaddy

That is a wholly different perspective from mine. I was over as a UXO (unexploded ordnance) contractor. We didn't do anything too terribly exciting. What we did do was catalog Saddam's arsenal and blow it on site. We weren't allowed to carry weapons (unlike the Red Cross reps that went over with us).

Jordanians provided security. That sure gives all kinda warm fuzzies doesn't it?

7 posted on 11/15/2005 9:25:02 PM PST by Triggerhippie (Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.)
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To: Travis McGee

I'm always the last to

8 posted on 11/15/2005 9:27:17 PM PST by wardaddy (Captain Spaulding .....the perfect dinner guest)
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To: Admin Moderator

Old News, my Bad

Please kill at your leisure

9 posted on 11/15/2005 9:28:28 PM PST by wardaddy (Captain Spaulding .....the perfect dinner guest)
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To: wardaddy

Higher-tolerance machining in more modern weapons will be prone to fouling and jams.

If you want something reliable in the desert, get an Uzi (the grooves on the sides, I'm told, are for collecting dirt/dust/crud).

10 posted on 11/15/2005 9:30:43 PM PST by Triggerhippie (Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.)
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To: wardaddy

Great report! M14's for all!

11 posted on 11/15/2005 9:37:30 PM PST by WKUHilltopper
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To: wardaddy
I was there all spring (as a civvie) and this caught my attention:

base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire

So true. We went on alert nearly every day, sometimes three times a day, and the worst of it was having to put on the insufferably hot kevlar. Toward the end of my time there, the mortar attacks decreased in frequency to maybe a few times a week, but became more carefully targeted and with salvos of 5 to 10 rounds at a time.

They use handheld GPS units for navigation and "Google earth" for overhead views of our positions.

Yep. Some of the mortar attacks were just too-well aimed at specific targets to be coincidence.

I downloaded Google Earth when it was first released, and the material there sent shivers down my spine. I could put a grid right on top of the 10x18 trailer where I worked every day.

12 posted on 11/15/2005 9:46:25 PM PST by angkor
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To: WKUHilltopper

Nothing like room clearing with an M14.
No freaking way.

The ONLY rule: Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement.

Oh, and it's an M249 SAW.
If he couldn't get that right, then the rest is suspect BS.

13 posted on 11/15/2005 10:32:06 PM PST by SJSAMPLE
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14 posted on 11/15/2005 11:15:18 PM PST by WKUHilltopper
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To: WKUHilltopper

I know what an M240 is.
I've fired most of the models (coax and M240B infantry versions).

The post specifically refers to the "M243" which does not exist. It is the 5.56mm M249 SAW that is the "Squad Automatic Weapon" of the US Armed Forces.

And the M14 is not nearly as reliable, accurate or durable as people think. It just happens to be our only general-issue semi-automatic rifle in 7.62mm. Even now, the services are moving to the Knights SR25 platform for semi-auto long range work. I have my own M1A, and it's OK. But just OK.

When you're kicking down doors, the 14.5" barrel of the M4 carbine (and the collapsable stock) is much more maneuverable. And the controllability of a 5.56mm in automatic is preferred.

15 posted on 11/15/2005 11:54:24 PM PST by SJSAMPLE
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I've considered getting an M1A. What don't you like about it?

16 posted on 11/16/2005 6:19:50 AM PST by WKUHilltopper
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To: wardaddy
soldier's dad

Marine's dad

Weapons Evaluations From A Marine Iraqi Vet

On the Ground in Iraq-a Marine’s eye view of the good, the bad, and the ugly in Iraq

17 posted on 11/16/2005 7:26:26 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: WKUHilltopper

I've got an AR carbine that's served me well for over 16 years, so I'm pretty biased.

1. The M1A is pretty cool, but it lacks the ergonomics for more modern rifles.
2. It's accurate, out of the box. However, I've had problems with the Springfield Armory Gen III scope mount. Others have had good luck with the ARMS mount for the M1A.
3. Magazines are expensive compared to some others. You can get FAL magazines for $5.

I think my next .308 will be a DSL FAL.
Mags are cheap and the ergonomics are better, but I'm not sure about scope mounting on the receiver cover.

I don't hate the M1A/M14-series, but it's an old platform.

Then again, FN will be offering the PS90 and FN2000 soon ;)

18 posted on 11/20/2005 11:09:55 AM PST by SJSAMPLE
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Thanks for the info. I shoot an A/R 15, but been thinking I need a bigger slug--hence the M1A.

19 posted on 11/20/2005 7:23:16 PM PST by WKUHilltopper
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To: WKUHilltopper

Definitely check out the FAL.

DSA is making a variety of really decent models, full length and carbine. Unfortunately, the BATF just ruled that barrels and part kits cannot be imported for "new" rifles (US made receivers to make them compliant with the 89 import ban). This is a new interpretation of the old rule, but screws people who want new FALs when the already parts kits run out. That means people will have to pay for new, American-made parts.

"Right Arm of the Free World"

20 posted on 11/21/2005 7:05:25 AM PST by SJSAMPLE
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