Skip to comments.Weapons Evaluations From A Marine Iraqi Vet
Posted on 11/14/2005 2:57:02 PM PST by IonImplantGuru
The note below is from one such friend who did West Point, retired after 23 years as an Army infantry officer (06) and then taught math at the Academy for several years. It's a weapons and tactics assessment note from a Marine Gunnie friend of my friend. I found it interesting and useful and trust you will too. - Dan
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's 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 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 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 .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 can't 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. The 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 air-ground 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 can't stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there).
Yea, and it has been posted a dozen times, too.
Not sub-related, but worth-a-read military post.
I think that some M-79's interspersed throughout the squads would be very helpful. They can lob grenades a long distance as well as use anti-personnal rounds to clear out clusters of bad buys.
Interesting to me - I hadn't seen it before.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I did a search on the title of the post that appeared on the source BBS, with no hits. Probably should have done a keyword search.
I believe this has been posted.
The M1911 is the best sidearm ever fielded.
The AK uses a .310 bullet and not a .308 round.
Of course I'm probably erring on .310, it might be .311 or .312. I know it's not 308 though.
Fascinating read. Thanks for posting.
This seems to be an accurate depiction of what's going on.
Interesting read...thanks for posting. I hadn't seen it before.
I wonder how often our guys run into the 5.45 rather than the 7.62. That's suppose to be one nasty bastard =:-O
This is news.
Thanks so much.
I recall the opiate is a local plant leaf that is chewed for "courage", as in Dutch courage.
Lots of good stuff here. Thanks for the post.
It's been pulled several times too since the info is a bit detailed.
Nonetheless, I heard John Bachelor and that guy he's always on the phone with, discuss this note on WABC radio Friday night as if it were sent to them personally!
Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight.
Standard groove diameter of foreign military rifles in 7.62 x 39mm is .311", and most factory ammunition is loaded with bullets near that diameter. The Ruger Mini-30, the first U.S. commercial rifle to be produced in this caliber, has a groove diameter of .308". The design of it's chamber throat enables it to handle bullets of .308" and .311" diameters.
Imagine my delight when I saw footage of a jihadi doing that...... with a Dragunov ;-D
This thread should be pulled because it has too much detailed information about what tactics and weapons are working well for us.
The "standard" AK round is the 7.62x39 russian, which translates to a diameter of 30 cal.
The .308 is also considered a 30 cal round, but the .308 cartridge packs about 66% more punch.
At this point it's been so widely circulated that I no longer think it matters.
That would be so cool if my Mom got stuff faster than FR.
The AK series has several different loads.
The Ak-47 is 7.62 while the Ak-74 is 5.45
You can usually tell the difference between them from a distance because the 47 usually has a wooden stock and is milled out of a solid piece of metal and the 74 has a synthetic stock and created out of stamped metal.
Interesting about getting captured. I don't recall of any of our guys getting captured other than the "regular" war - and then only rarely. I suppose the scum's way of fighting (a bomb in a road or market) doesn't give much opportunity for capture.
Yes you did and I have it saved.
Yer Mom is plugged in!!
Google should be prevailed on to take down anything of use to Jihadis. Sure the internet is really cool, but we're at war. I know the management are kinda lefty but I'm sure they don't want Americans dying anymore than the rest of us.
Not only has it been posted a dozen times, it's been shown to be a bogus cut and paste.
Good post,, haven't seen it before.
Great to hear from someone who's been there- done that.
God Bless Our Troops
"Google should be prevailed on to take down anything of use to Jihadis."
I've seen the coverage of Iraq in Google Earth. It's pretty low-resolution, and it is time-late (most imagery dates back to before the war).
"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.
Least favorite part:
M16's still jamming in harsh environment but nice to know that the M60 upgrade rocks the islamofascist world.
Bogus? Bummer. Erase memory bank. Pfffffffffffffffffffffffffft!
Random autopsies on live insurgents might also provide a wealth of information.
I noted your tagline. I also noted you are Catholic. The originator was a very young aristocratic leader in the Vendee, France, during the Revolution, of peasants who fought at his side, armed with pitchforks, farm implements, scapular and Rosary against the Revolution leaders who intended to ban the faith. This very young man, Henri de la Rochejaquelin, said, "Si je recule, tuez moi; si j'avance, suivez
moi; si je meurs, vengez moi!"
It translates a little differently, "If I retreat, kill me, if I advance, follow me, if I die, avenge me."
The leaders were killed along with many hundreds of thousands of people eradicated in the region, yet at the end, the Faith survived. Not many history books show this side of the genocide over two hundred years ago. But the details are documented nevertheless.
Thanks, great read and I haven't seen it before.
FReeper comment: Interesting.
Yeah. Particularly as nobody is doing "random autopsies on dead insurgents." Autopsy is offensive to Islamic mores and our guys respect that. Now, we probably should feed 'em to hogs as far as I'm concerned, but we don't, and we don't autopsy their stinking carcasses either.
This is one example (of many in the post) that make me believe that it is not what it purports to be, but a collection of hearsay (some of which is accurate) and wishful thinking by some gun-chat groupie.
Those started within a week of the first guys getting on the ground in Afghanistan in 2001 and have continued... and they hit on all the themes beloved of 400 lb gun-shop weenies. As does this.
Here's one more example. The M240 was not developed to replace the M60, it was actually a contemporary of the M60... which unlike the home-grown weapon, worked. It took us forty years to get rid of the 60 and adopt the MAG-58 (as the M240), because the gun-shop weenies and armchair experts never actually tested the weapons side by side, unlike, say, SF weapons sergeants, who could see the performance difference every class... all an M240 is, internally, is a belt-fed BAR! No wonder it worked.
Criminal Number 18F
The info's detailed, but it's largely bogus. No need to pull it.
As far as Bachelor (from his voice, a "natural bachelor"?) and John Loftus ("the guy he's always on the phone with,") Bachelor means well but Loftus is a phony. His predictions and analyses make the CIA stuff that gets publicized look good.
There is a lot of nonsense by armchair experts right here in this thread.
Criminal Number 18F
7.62X39 bullet is nominally .311 diameter.
Bump for later
Imagine my delight when I saw footage of a jihadi doing that...... with a Dragunov ;-D
Interesting. I took my tag line from the motto of the Christeros rebels; Mexicans that stood up for the Catholic Church during it's oppression by the Mexican government after the Mexican revolution. (Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929)
I first heard it during Vicente Fox's campaign for President of Mexico. He adopted the slogan as his campaign theme.
Looks like there's more history to it than I thought!