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Mission 14 - Tactical Considerations
Fallujah Vigilant Resolve

"We’re not the KGB. The people of Fallujah, of Iraq, might expect us to do that because that’s what Saddam would do. We are there trying to tell them there’s a better way to live."

What we’ve got is a showdown. Marine training is about shock-troop tactics, totally crushing offensive operations and overwhelming force. This operation is in urban terrain, something the Marines train on extensively because the wars of the future will be fought in urban terrain.

So Fallujah is the perfect fighting ground, and the fact that the enemy factions are all gathered there is extremely convenient. Yes, they’ve hired guns from foreign Islamic jihadists, but they’re holed up in Fallujah, having lost the advantage of hiding out in undisclosed locations.

Before the Marines get their orders to move in, they’re busy preparing the battlefield. They’ll be digging in the ground, filling sandbags, and securing their field of fire. They’re setting out claymore mines and building an interlocking network of grazing fire. They’ll be selecting positions of wide-open fire, preparing a position to see the enemy from a concealed location. It’s really nice to see the enemy walking across a field with no idea you’re in it. That’s a good feeling.

Taking out the enemy at the time and location of our choosing also ensures we have an overwhelming amount of firepower. We’ve got sniper protection, M240G light machine guns (which replaced the M60s you might remember from all the Rambo movies), M4 50 caliber machine guns, M2s, and M249 SAWs. Our Marines have spectacular capabilities to fight at night, which is why you’ll see the enemy retreat come dark. We can fight as well at night as they can during the day. The Marine expedition unit also has helicopters and tanks that, combined with infantry, communicate with each other as one unit.

Meanwhile, the only organization that’s going on with the enemy is their cellular organization, the way they’re trained and the belief system they have in place. Their unit will be a small team of maybe 4-6 people. They’ll employ sniper teams, which consist of a couple of snipers and a security guy on the other side. The enemy unit will go for a fire effect from all sides, acting in concert when shooting their small arms and RPGs. They also have their IEDs, which are pretty effective in causing some serious damage on a small-scale level.

Without a great array of weaponry, a common terrorist tactic is to use local people to aid in the battle. There are no distinctions between civilians and combatants because it’s for the greater cause. It’s about the common struggle against Western indifference. That’s how they’ll pull on the heartstrings of the locals to recruit help. So the old lady goes out to get her paper and looks around and comes back in and reports on who’s around and what’s going on. It’s not surprising given the culture.

We do make the distinction between civilians and combatants, though. So the Marines will never just go in and level the place. We’re not the KGB. The people of Fallujah, of Iraq, might expect us to do that because that’s what Saddam would do. We are there trying to tell them there’s a better way to live.

From an interview with US Army Staff Sergeant Dan Snyder


Fallujah Vigilant Resolve

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