Tag Archives: OIF

Joint Ops in Iraq with LRSC

 

A while back I wrote about a joint operation I did with a LRS unit in Iraq in 2009 but for the life of me I could not recall the specific unit designation.  Thankfully, I had a member of that patrol reach out to me recently to help jog my memory and provide some details.  The unit was 1st DET, B Trp, 38th CAV (LRS) (ABN) out of Ft. Hood, Texas which has since been reflagged as C Co (LRS) (ABN) 2-38 CAV but is still active as the III Corps LRS Company.

We did five days out in the desert doing an area recon.  The dynamics of the desert to the south west of Mosul were somewhat interesting.  Known locally as the Jeezera, meaning island in Arabic, this area was home to some very remote villages that served as waystations for smugglers and terrorists flowing across the border from Syria.  More than one foreign fighter had been intercepted by Special Operations teams in this region as they made their way to Mosul.  Village leaders are called Muqtar and are about as two faced as they come.  When you meet with them they will tell you that there is no Sunni or Shia in their village and that they don’t support terrorism.  It was pretty clear to us that they were mistaking their mouth for a bull’s asshole.

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Filed under Action Adventure, Iraq, News, Special Forces

Don’t Kill Yourself Briefs, Why the Army Fails at Suicide Prevention

Army Wrong.

The Army is big on mandatory briefings. Generals want briefings of everything under the sun, demanding more information than he and his entire staff can even process. Some briefs are somewhat useful for new soldiers such as annual briefings on the Geneva Convention and Laws of Land Warfare. Others such as the Equal Opportunity brief are worthy of an eye roll but relatively painless.

With the Army developing AKO and pushing it out Army wide on the internet in the early 2000′s, these briefings have not been replaced with, but rather supplemented with, dozens of redundant safety certification forms and surveys.

There is the information awareness certification, the motor vehicle safety certification, various safety surveys, anti-terrorism awareness certification, sexual harassment certificates, and many others.  I was even recently told about an online SERE re-qualification course in which students roam around a virtual forest looking for sticks to rub together in order to start a virtual fire with computer pixels.  The internet is a great tool but also allows busybody staff officers up and down the entire Army chain of command to reach all the way through the command structure and burden soldiers with their “great” ideas.

It gets even more ridicules when you realize that it is all about making quotas. Each unit has to get a certain percentage of their soldiers “qualified” through this type of online training. Each survey is considered to be critical mandatory training until you get to 70% of the company through it, then you won’t hear about it again for a couple months when it becomes time to re-qualify.

Even the best Sergeant Majors run around the company harassing their boys to get them to complete the surveys. Whether they are great leaders or not, the metric used to judge whether Senior NCO’s have been successful is not how combat effective their unit is, but whether or not they met their quotas on spread sheets and internet safety surveys. No one cares how many High Value Targets you captured and killed if MEDPROS is out of date.

Combined with Risk Mitigation worksheets and other risk adverse safety measures, these briefings and online workshops represent the Army’s pathetic attempt to replace real leadership with a bureaucratic Cover Your Ass technique that ensures that Officers don’t lose their jobs even as their units fall apart under the weight of suicides, drug abuse, vehicle accidents, and even losses in combat.

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Filed under News, Special Forces

US Special Forces Weapons Report Card

Click the picture to buy on Amazon.com

My non-fiction article about Special Operations weapons and employment is now live for the Amazon Kindle.

For years a highly dubious “Weapons Report Card” allegedly written by an American soldier serving overseas has been making the rounds on the internet. Unfortunately, this report card is highly inaccurate and full of misconceptions. In this 3,700 word article written by a former Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, the weapons used by American Special Operations forces are examined and reported upon. Rather than an all inclusive, comprehensive report, this article gives a good thumb nail sketch of the wide variety of weapons currently used by US Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a special focus on exotic weapons and cutting edge systems in the process of being integrated into service. Contains seven photographs from the author’s collection, including the bizarre “Chimera Gun” that an Iraqi soldier built in his home from spare parts!

An invaluable resource for researchers, enthusiasts, and those with an interest in the military.

Sample:

M4: The M4 rifle is a shortened M16 carbine and is by far the most common weapon found in the hands of US forces today.  Special Forces troops carry the M4 and utilize the new SOPMOD 2 package which includes the EO Tech 553 holographic reflex site, LA-5 infrared laser, foregrip, the M3X visible bright light (tactical light) and associated accessories.  Also included is the Elcan Spector telescopic sight which is adjustable from 1 power to 5 power via a throw lever on the side of the optic.  While this is an interesting idea, nearly all Special Forces troops leave these sights in their card board boxes to collect dust and simply use to EO Tech 553.  We felt that the Elcan was a little bit too much and perhaps over engineered.  Now, if we had been facing long range engagements in Afghanistan, rather than precision raids in Iraq, maybe we would have felt differently.  Along with the EO Tech, the LA-5 is much smaller than the PEQ-2 and together these are the most valued items in the SOPMOD kit.

M9: The M9 Beretta pistol is essentially the military version of the civilian 92F.  I never cared for the pistol due to the double action trigger and poor placement of the decocking lever.  Another failing of this weapon is that it is chambered for the 9mm round.  Most of us would have preferred a .45 caliber hand gun.  The manner in which this pistol is carried may be unfamiliar to some so I will explain here.  To load the pistol, the slide is locked to the rear, a loaded magazine is inserted, and the slide is released to chamber the first round.  The decocking lever is then depressed to safely drop the hammer.  Next, the decocking lever is switched back up into the fire position.  Special Forces do not consider the decocking lever to be a safety and do not use it as such.  The weapon is considered to be safe while on fire with a round in the chamber due to the fact that it has a double action trigger.  At this point, the pistol is safely holstered.

As I mentioned above, I never cared for the double action trigger, it makes sight alignment difficult with such a long squeeze needed before the hammer drops.  Rumor has it that some Special Forces soldiers have taken apart the trigger mechanism and cut the springs to make for a shorter trigger pull.  I never did this myself, but one hears things.  Of course, it is highly illegal under military law for an operator to go inside and make modifications to his weapon in this way.

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Filed under Action Adventure, Afghanistan, Gear, Iraq, Special Forces

Iraqi sandstorm

Here are some pictures of our compound in northern Iraq when a sandstorm blew through one sunny afternoon.  It looks like the surface of mars but this was about 2:30pm on a otherwise beautiful day.

We watched the sandstorm, also called a haboob in some regions of the Middle East, blow in from miles away.  It was a huge wall of brown you could see coming over the horizon.

I saw another picture like this on the net that someone had taken in Western China.  Most of the comments under the photo said things like, “This is obviously photoshopped”!

Sand storms like this usually last about six hours or so in my experience but sometimes they can go on for days, nearly shutting down operations, or at least making them very difficult.

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Filed under Iraq, Pictures

Views from Iraq in night vision and thermal.

A few shots of the city through PVS-14 night vision goggles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few through the thermal sight on a Remote Weapon System (RWS) mounted to the stop of a Stryker.

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Some more pictures from the desert (2009)

Myself and an Iraqi soldier I trained and worked with walking through a remote village.  Carrying a M4 with 10.5 inch barrel, LA-5, EO Tech reflex sight, magpul stock, pentagon tactical flashlight (before they got sued out of business by Surefire), and pmag.

My Soldier of Fortune cover!

Team picture: Two US Special Forces teamed with five Iraqi SWAT members.

Brrrr…I hate the desert in the winter…and the summer…

The lighter side of war.  Visiting a school house in another remote part of Iraq.

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Combat Mission (Iraq 2009)

Approaching a bad guy’s residence.

Skirting behind the house.

Yours truly getting put to work pulling some shit out of the way.

The modern day battlefield.  You will see more of this kind of thing well into the future.

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Five days in the desert (2009)

This was January or February as I recall.  It was pretty hot during the day but once that sun went down it was absolutely freezing.  I took these pictures during the course of a five day reconnaissance patrol through a area not frequented by coalition troops.

I was an attachment to this unit for the patrol.  As a Special Forces adviser I had five Iraqi soldiers with me who were there to help out with local engagements, meet and greets, and so forth.  I have a lot of respect for these units who spent most of their deployment out in the desert like this.  It isn’t easy living out of humvee day in and day out.

Meeting with the local elders.  They are always very welcoming but we knew all sorts of shady stuff was going on the second we left.  We found a pretty massive weapons cache just outside this village.

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Apache attack helicopter gunruns in Iraq (2005)

Here are a few pictures I took of an Apache attack helicopter doing some gun runs on a terrorist hide out in Iraq.  They came in with rocket pods and then machine guns demolishing the cinder block building.

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Strange and Interesting weapons in Iraq

This was a nice CZ75 pistol a contractor doing some construction for us had.  I liked it enough that I was going to try and buy or trade something for it until I realized that he wanted to charge me enough that I could just buy myself a brand new one back in the US.

In slide lock.  I’ve also seen some Iraqi security forces carrying new Smith and Wesson automatics…  WTF?  Iraqi soldiers are carrying M16’s…don’t even get me started.

This is a AK rifle grenade that I was looking at in a improvised Iraqi arms room.  It is fired from the barrel of the AK-47 with a blank round that is provided with the grenade.  The pin in the nose is a safety.

This is a Gorjunov WW2 era Soviet machine gun.  It fired the same 7.62x54mm Rimmed ammo as the PKM.  I took this picture before I attempted to disassemble the thing.  Ultimately an Iraqi NCO (pictured below) showed me how it was done.  This particular rifle has been retrofitted with a bizarre flash suppressor (?) for some reason.

Check out this Chimera of a rifle.  It was home made, constructed by the soldier holding it in his home with a mish-mash of weapons components.  It features a AK receiver fitted with a home made M16 style charging handle, a PKM barrel, a improvised wooden stock, a Browning Hi-Power pistol grip, and finally a crappy BB gun scope.  This thing actually fired, I saw it with my own eyes, from a safe distance of course.

Here is another shot of the rifle with it’s owner.  You can tell he is a gear nut as well as being a gun nut.  We had a lot in common.  Note the flash bangs we gave him, the flare gun on his left side, and home made unit insignia on his chest.

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Filed under Iraq, Pictures, Weapons and Tactics