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Mission 6 - Tactical Considerations
Fallujah Police Station Raid

There's a huge difference in the weaponry used by each force in the Fallujah battle. Heavy machine guns, like the insurgents used, are a holdover from World War I and the days of big, heavy weaponry. These machine guns weigh upwards of 80lbs so they are harder to move around, but you can shoot through buildings and sustain firepower for a longer period of time. If you're targeting a building, a machine gun is a good weapon to use because heavy machine guns really dominate the atmosphere. Iraqi police in Fallujah had more modern, and more portable, light machine guns. Generally speaking, light machine guns have the same range of fire as the heavies, but they can't hold as many rounds, and you'll go through them quickly. You have to fire in bursts and worry about conserving ammo. Also, the light machine gun can overheat and have what's called a catastrophic malfunction. It simply can't sustain that same use that a heavy machine gun can.

With only light machine guns, the Iraqi police are sitting ducks in a stationery spot. That's big trouble. They don't have the “mutually supporting troops” they need for protection against an enemy wielding heavies. In this sort of situation, you don't want just one guard. You want every guard to have a guard. Here's what happens. The first guard falls, and everyone else in the building is rolled up like dominoes. A classic strategy is to make sure the enemy meets a secondary line of defense if he manages to penetrate the first. In this case, the insurgency broke through the outer perimeter, and the raid turned into a nasty room-to-room fight.

The enemy executed their raid on the main police station with extreme efficiency. Insurgents managed to release all prisoners and not exit the building until they were convinced they had killed every Iraqi policeman. The security system in Fallujah was as unsophisticated as one you might expect of the Wild West. Police could not match the attackers' coordination, never mind their superior weaponry. The insurgents were thorough, seeming to have studied the layout of their target and taken the time to plan their strategy. With accurate information, they could choose the most damaging path of fire, secure the target, take their time extracting prisoners, and then reduce the structure to rubble.

Iraqi police were unprepared to repel an attack on their station, even though they knew the volatility of a city like Fallujah. And once insurgents attacked, they trapped police and took them out of the world of maneuverable warfare. Still unclear is why Iraqi police asked for weapons support but not additional manpower. And their defeat just fuels the doubt of how prepared Iraqi law enforcement will be when it comes time for them to take exclusive control of their own affairs.

From an interview with Staff Sergeant Dan Snyder, US ARMY


Fallujah Police Station Raid

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