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A Soldier's View...Supposedly

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Sierra Mike, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    WARNING: This article has in some instances tripped off my bullshit detector. Half-truths are on display and being ponied about as The Real Deal.

    And, once again, Aviation and Special Forces are not mentioned as Combat Arms. Journalists really don't know shit.

    Read all about it (truth and lies) at Fear at the Front

  2. saber11

    saber11 Veteran Member

    I can understand the feelings of some of those guys. I don't know if they are being driven by payback for 9-11 or if just the way they are trained.

    I read the book "Blackhawk Down" and seems that the newer guys, who had never seen combat before were the ones most eager to go into combat.

    During the Vietnam war many soldiers wanted to be in combat, they felt in control, and that they were actually doing something. Rather than being on R&R with time to reflect on the things they saw and things they did.
  3. valgore

    valgore Veteran Member

    it's the training. if you have been trained to fight and your whole life pretty much revolves around it you begin to question your own existence after awhile if you never get the chance to fight. of course once the blood and horror begins most people change their minds i think.
  4. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Depends on the length of the engagement. During GOTHIC SERPENT, the 3 October 1993 raid, we were in it full-tilt with no intention of backing down. We were getting our guys, and we would not be denied. We in the field would level Mogadishu, but Garrison and Company back at the airfield kept our DAPs on the deck.

    In a longer engagement, the psychological toll becomes far more impressive. Especially when soldiers are subjected to artillery; at Ft. Sill one time, during an exchange session, myself and some fellow aviators were mistakenly shelled by some of the gun-cockers doing training. They were only using smoke rounds, but it still scared the piss out of all of us. Though as we ran off the field, we were all laughing. A nervous reaction, but man, did we move fast.

  5. saber11

    saber11 Veteran Member

    It's interesting, I myself never served, however I have great respect for those that do, and think they should be supported. I come from a Military family.

    My dad was in the Navy in Vietnam, he joined rather than being drafted into the army or Marines.

    I have an Uncle that was drafted in the Army in Vietnam.

    My uncle ended up as a door gunner on Huey's in the Air Cav.

    My dad talks about his time in vietnam to pretty much anyone who will listen.

    My uncle would rather not have anyone know, and doesn't talk about the war at all.

    I guess it's a perspective thing. If you are on a carrier as my dad was, you had some degree of saftey, you didn't see your guys going into a hot LZ and getting tagged getting off a chopper.

    But if you were on a chopper trying to cover your guys, you see the war from a different vangate point.
  6. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Even in country in Vietnam you had all kinds from the man who would admit fear to the fool who looked forward to each engagement. The Army pretty much mirrors the rest of the country although since it has become all volunteer it is reasonable to believe there is less griping about being drafted:).

    I was in the Signal Corps in Vietnam providing communications support to the infantry. I have less trouble talking about it than many but I am more open than most about many issues.

    I did not see anything in the article that was plain unbelievable but Steve Moore's experience is more recent than mine so I would contradict his views.
  7. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    I certainly don't mean to insinuate I speak for every soldier out there. But this article paints a different picture than what I experienced in combat, and I have been shot at. I've also had the tenacity to remember my training and return fire to either neutralize the threat, mark it for follow-on fire, or make the shooters eat dirt and wet their own pants for demonstrating the temerity to shoot at a United States Army aviator.

    And here's the gig: there were 1,500 other guys in my unit who would, to a man, do exactly the same thing if they had the capability. Our training was so superior to that of our opponents that, pound for pound, we had the tactical and strategic advantage even when outnumbered ten to one. I absolutely kid you not.

    But let's move forward a bit...at Shah-i-kot, US Army forces were essentially left hanging in the breeze by an Afghan warlord who elected not to show up for the fight. 10th Mountain Division lightfighters and Airborne troops from the 101st had been placed in blocking positions to support the Afghan attack, led by the Northern Alliance. As usual, the Afghan warriors--touted by the media as fearless warriors who knew nothing of defeat, only ceaseless victory--were getting their clocks cleaned by al Qaeda and Taliban forces.

    So, about three thousand US soldiers went up against at least 12,000 guys who knew the terrain, had the tactical advantage, and had every inch of the territory zeroed with mortars, recoilless, and portable arty, not to mention any number of RPGs, AK-47s, grenades...you name it, Shah-i-kot was theirs to own.

    US forces got hammered. They were bracketed right out of the gate by al Qaeda mortar teams, and infantry led by Chechen combat troops who had gone up against the Russian forces in 1994-1996. The enemy was well organized, sufficiently motivated, and well-led.

    10th Mountain are the Army's high-altitude soldiers. Lightfighters, they bring to the fight exactly what they can carry--small mortars (67mm, maybe), AT-4s, Javelins, M-16A3s and M4s. They are not habitually supported by Bradley IFVs or M1A2 tanks; indeed, their one aviation brigade still uses AH-1F Cobras. But they are all trained at the Light Fighter School, where they receive instruction in pre-Ranger courses, Air Assault, and the vaunted Infantry Mountain Leaders Advanced Rifle Marksmanship Course (IMLARM). They also receive advanced mountain warfare and high altitude/cold weather training at the Army Mountain Warfare School. Added to this is a tough, competent cadre of NCOs who have seen action in DESERT STORM, Somalia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH).

    The 101st is generally better-equipped. Deployable by helicopter, they are usually supported by Humvees and attack helicopters. AH-64 Apaches were onstation to provide top cover, courtesy of 1-101 Aviation. Black Hawks cannot operate in mountainous terrain due to a tail rotor offset problem, so CH-47 Chinooks and MH-47s from the 160th provided logistics and troop transport to target. The 160th had two MH-47s rendered combat ineffective, and lost a Navy SEAL who fell out of one of the aircraft after it was hit by RPG fire. Al Qaeda and Taliban had already zeroed the LZs, and opened up on the Chinooks as they rolled in.

    So here's the deal: about 3,000 lightfighters and Airborne troops, caught out in the open, without promised Afghan support, and facing an enemy who had every tactical advantage.

    The Americans won in four days.

    They didn't win by pissing their pants. They won by chasing al Qaeda, and I can guarantee you that more than 10% of them fired their rifles. Chechen commanders kept notes; when they killed officers with the 10th Mountain, enlisted lightfighters stepped in and kept the heat on. 101st soldiers were able to act as forward air controllers--something they're not trained to do--and get the Apaches in the zone to where they could put steel on target. Apaches were shot to shit, but they did not leave the engagement area until they had expended weapons or were running out of fuel. One aircraft had to fly back single-engine, barely able to maintain altitude. Another's tail rotor system has taken a large-caliber round and had lost all of its fluid; I can tell you that Apache is full of alarm systems that never fail to notify the pilots they have suffered critical damage that will result in loss of essential capability. Those pilots did not piss their Nomex flightsuits and RTB; they stayed and fought, and THEN left.

    10th Mountain chased al Qaeda through valleys, up and down mountains, and into caves. They were outgunned and outmanned; lightfighters have a very small sphere of combat influence, due to the fact they are what they sound like: light infantry. But they overran every position they encountered, or held on until the 101st could get on-station and eliminate the resistance.

    And that's how it worked. 10th Mountain lightfighters ranged ahead in the cavalry role, engaging the enemy and keeping him on the run, while 101st Airborne troopers played follow-on or used vertical envelopment to redeploy and attack al Qaeda and Taliban from the rear.

    I think we lost 18 or so guys at Shah-i-kot.

    The enemy lost hundreds, and they lost the valley, even though they had every conceivable initiative and no lack of will.

    I look at things like this and I scoff at journalists who ignore the facts: American soldiery is without peer. We are and will likely remain the eminent combat force out there. There is no threat we cannot kill.

    I don't know why the media likes to stroke the so-called "human" side of the story so hard and fast. All those guys in Afghanistan demonstrated nothing but ultimate humanity by going out and attacking an overwhelming force after being stood up by nominal allies. But hell no, why paint an accurate picture based on events less than a year old when we can look to the future and create something more foreboding? To hell with accuracy. Let's stroke the "human" element of it. And the wrong element, at that.


  8. saber11

    saber11 Veteran Member

    Thanks steve, very intersting read. I sense a feeling though, that soldiers are being trained in "Engagements" and not for sustained combat though.

    Shi-kot or however you spell it was 4 days, it was short it was quick, not even long enough for the pizza at the firebase to get cold.

    But are we prepared for a major campaign that won't be over in 4 days, or 4 weeks, where soldiers are under constant threat of engagement, or are facing combat every day in a hostile environment?

    I agree have the best trained, equiped fighting force the world has ever known.

    I had a friend that was a loader buttoned up in an M1 in desert storm, that had some choice words about our "Allies" the Suadis. Their military officers are sons, nephews, cousins of the rulers. He said the tankers are mostly the lower echelon of the upper class. They would have tanks throw tread, or run out of gas and park their tanks and call their best friends to drive out in a mercedes or Land Rover and pick them up and go out and party.

    So our allies left alot to be desired.

    We have to be ready to fight in someone elses sandbox with very little support.

    Durring the cold war we were preparing to fight the russians, invading through the Fulda gap in Germany. We already had troops and weapons in place to act as a speed bump. Plus we would be fighting on terrain we were familier with in valleys and hills with cover for our choppers, the Kiowa warrior can get behind a stand of trees and pop up the MMS and direct the apaches who are also behind cover, and blast away at a vastly outnumbering force of armor and possibly infantry.

    In pretty much any of the engagements we have had since the end of the cold war, none of the preperatins we had made were what worked out. Yes it my have been media nit picking, but some things you just can't avoid. The hunt for Noriega in Panama was a joke, Somalia came off as looking like the commanders didn't know what they were doing and it didn;t look good that Pakistan had Armor and we didn't. By the way I was supposed to go to Somalia when Us forces were first deployed.

    I think some of the mistakes of the past have been corrected, and the US military is now realizing the way wars were fought in the past aren't nescesarily how they will be fought in the future. Now changes haven't happened overnight, but I think there are alot of lessons to be learned. I think the majority of Pentegon brass were in Vietnam, and realized that VIetnam was no way to fight a war.

    I have had the privelege and honor to be with some of our forces, going into Bosnia on a C-130 that was taking small arms fire into Zagreb Croatia right after the Dayton Peace accord was signed. Flying in an F-16 to on the last deployment of our local active duty fighter wing before being disbanded, I have seen both how some of our troops train, and how they worked in a combat zone.

    By the way what's a former photo-journalist have to do to thumb a ride in an Apache?
  9. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Sorry, we train for protracted combat every day. Your suspicion we somehow train for an "engagement by engagement" type of combat is ludicrous. One has only to recall that US forces remain in Afghanistan.

    We are absolutely ready for protracted combat. If we weren't, please tell me why the 101st's aviation brigade has an entire DISCOM attached to it? Why do we have such large logistics footprints and processes? Why so many troops? Do we really need 800+ AH-64s for LIC?

    Your comments have rubbed me the wrong way, obviously. But journalists do that to me all the time.

    Your loader friend was right about the Saudis; they're all princes and princelings, and terrible warriors. But they do have some great facilities though, like KKMC. Then and again, they should be world class; we built them.

    By the way, the OH-58D is relegated to scouting for A-model Apaches; the D-model doesn't need it for the mission, and the OH-58D's flight envelope is puny. Two hour flight time, less than three hundred mile combat radius. It does have a great MMS, and I've played around with it, but the rest of the airframe sucks balls.

    As far as thumbing a ride in an Apache, couldn't tell you. Hope down to Fort Campbell, KY and talk to someone at the 101st. I'm sure their S-5 will be happy to show you around, but as far as giving you a ride, I wouldn't count on it.

  10. saber11

    saber11 Veteran Member

    Oh I am sorry I rubbed you the wrong way, believe me I am very very pro military. But perception is reality, and maybe it's because congress funds programs. But the image of $400 hammers and let's not even talk abou the DIVAD, or the Bradley IFV. (give me an M-113 any day to ride in) tarnish the image.

    Then top it off with congress trying to ram the Crusader down the Amy's throat. Not that we don't need to upgrade our artillery, it however was the wrong weapon for the wrong war.

    But I think that kind of thing is nit pickety, and the individual performance of the troops often get overlooked.

    Oh I agree the OH58D sucks, bad in terms of flight envelope. I have logged way too much time in Bell Jet rangers, which is a similar airframe and they suck, bad.

    Oh, BTW I am no longer in the media been out for almost 7 years, after being in it for almost 10. I just held a camera most of the time.
  11. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Most fascinating thread.

    And Saber, I like when people rub SM the wrong way. It keeps him on his toes. ;)
  12. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Pecker! :)

  13. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    I've never deployed in either, but I think I'd prefer the M2, since it can shoot back.

    Crusader just won't die. It's been resurfacing and being killed for years. I understand Rummy finally pounded a stake through its heart...for this administration, anyway.

    The 58D is generally an OK aircraft, but it's got too much stuff hung on it. The AN/ALQ-144 won't even provide coverage on one side of the a/c, because the cowling is in the way. The four-bladed rotor system is pretty cool, though. I've flown some 206s in my time, and I've never been fond of the teetering rotor system. Not responsive enough for me, like the banded-strap system on the 500D.

  14. melpomene

    melpomene Banned

    agree, fascinating thread. i had to read it, with the upcoming engagements in Iraq. i realise the US military are trained for these operations, and are wanting to use their skills, but what about the casualities. are these "sand boxes" worth it?
  15. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, it depends on how you look at it. Which I realize is hardly a defensible position, but nevertheless quite true.

    There are some basic truths which have to be remembered:

    Hussein has killed his own people, including some extremely vicious attacks against the Shiites in the south using attack helicopters...which happened right under our noses, because Schwarzkopf did not have an aviator with him to tell him not to agree to allowing Iraq to use such aircraft. And he did gas his own people.

    He has also gassed Iranians, which at the time was of no concern of the US; after all, Iran was very much involved with stabbing America, "the Great Satan," in the heart with a pencil. To plead ignorance of this and castigate the US for standing idly by doing nothing and quite possibly enabling such attacks is to be ignorant of history. And, in order to level the playing field with more contemporary facts, one must also recall European recalcitrance in setting things aright in the Balkans.

    The Hussein regime is hardly a nationalistic collective. It is in fact a tyranny, centered around the wants and ambitions of one man: Saddam Hussein. Said dictator is preventing lawful aid, such as foodstuffs and medicines, from reaching the people of Iraq. Instead, these items are resold to neighboring nations and other more closely-aligned nations for currency, which goes to rebuilding his military and constructing lavish palaces. These facts are a matter of public record. To say that neither activity does nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people is a tragic understatement.

    The Hussein regime has failed to account for any number of biochem toxins, as well as supporting components, such as 29,000+ delivery systems. This is also a matter of public record, as released by the United Nations. I am not a biochem expert by any means, but if each one of these 29,000+ delivery systems can carry a payload which would kill 100 people, then that can be calculated to result in the deaths of 2,900,000 people...and I rather suspect that my figures are extremely conservative, since infection vectors have a propagation sequence many, many times greater than the initial detonation area. As Hussein has seen it fit to inflict such elements on people within the borders of his own nation, it does appear extending further trust in his "tender mercies" is not only idealistic, but rather stupid as well.

    We've all heard stories and reports of terror, death, and rape squads which oppress the people of Iraq. As I have no personal contact with such elements, I as an individual can neither confirm nor deny their existence. However, given the general character of the regime, their existence does not appear to be a flight of fancy. I personally accept their status as fact, as they have been so reported by Iraqi defectors.

    It is clear that containment is not working. In order for sanctions to be lifted, the Hussein regime must go. These two elements are directly tied to each other. The former cannot materialize until the latter has been affected.

    As far as casualties go, in the First Gulf War, the major casualties were among Iraqi military. To be certain, civilians died; however, every aspect of restraint which could be reasonably practiced was employed. In this, I do have direct operational experience. As newer, more controllable weapon systems are now available to us, it is only proper to presume that restrictive rules of engagement will continue to populate every air tasking order and every movement to contact mission. This is Hussein's greatest tactical advantage; he can and likely will use his population as a shield against him, necessitating troops on the ground to go head-to-head. I don't doubt for an instant there will be situations were it will not be pretty, and innocent men, women, and children will die. But it likely will not be in the thousands, unless there is a massive break in discipline among the American, Australian, and British troops. As this has not happened in Afghanistan, where the enemy is much more eager to fight, then one can assume it will not happen in Iraq.

  16. saber11

    saber11 Veteran Member

    Said by SM:

    "it is only proper to presume that restrictive rules of engagement will continue to populate every air tasking order and every movement to contact mission"

    I'm not sure what the ROE in Afghanistan is, but I would presume any target capable of shooting you, is fair game. I know that during the first Gulf war the ROE was somewhat relaxed, in that pilots were given greater latitude in attacking "Targets of Opportunity" Retreating enemy, convoys, aircraft on the ground, and the like.

    This came because the ROE was so restrictive in Vietnam, pilots could only attack fuel dumps on the first Thursday of a month where the previous Wednesday had a full moon, I know pilots complained about seeing targets but they were on the exclusion list, eventhough they were shooting at them.

    I'm not sure what the ROE will be in the Iraqi theater of operations, but I presume it will be similar to the first gulf war, or maybe more along the line of Kosovo.

    Presuming troops on the ground are fighting in an urban environment, then I figure there will be involvment of attack helo's, Harriers, and to a limited degree A-10's for Close Air Support, although I imagine AH-1's, and AH-64's will handle the bulk of it
  17. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    OK. But I have to disagree with you on the ROE in the Gulf War. You're quite wrong about it, at least from the Army Aviation side. We would roll our eyes at every brief and wonder how we could possibly shoot anything.

  18. saber11

    saber11 Veteran Member

    The way some F-16 pilots, and warthog pilots I know talk, they rarely came back with A2G ordinance on their racks.
  19. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, given that some USAF guys wouldn't even provide CAS for the Army units they were tasked to support, I'm surprised. A lot of ordnance that was supposed to be delivered never made it.

    But it's all good...Navy and Marine Corps were around while the zoomes grabbed three hots and a cot. ;)


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