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Mission 17 - Tactical Considerations
Baghdad: Mahdi Army Assault
"The Bradley is a great big target, and Mahdi Army militiamen love to blow one up"

The Bradley has a couple of variants, but it holds about 13 troops and of course, it’s tracked. The Bradley’s Armor is mostly impervious to small arms fire, and if anything makes it through, they’ve got a fire suppression system inside that chokes the flames right away. It’s like an airbag that explodes with gas inside the vehicle to snuff out any fire. Being inside a Bradley, these guys are in pretty good shape, so it’s not likely the troops would get out, except when they have wounded to be evacuated.

So they’re out in the night, which lends itself to some considerations. You’ve got night vision capabilities inside the Bradley, and probably some additional infrared sighting, which allows you to see things in the non-visible spectrum by displaying heat from engines and bodies. But as much as you’re able to amplify the human-eye capabilities with night vision, the resolution of the device only displays so many shades of green so you look for motion as well when there are enemies in the area.

If the enemy has a bright light, it will wipe out what you see on the screen. That‘s a cheap counter-measure for the insurgents. Flares would work well for them too. There’s a chemical transformation that takes place in your eyes when you use your vision at night, and a bright burst interrupts it. It takes about 3 minutes before you get re-acclimated and gain back the full low-intensity vision you had before the disruption. So one tactic to use in the field is to keep one eye - preferably your shooting eye - closed so it’s not affected if there’s a flash of bright light.

The Bradley is a great big target, and Mahdi Army militiamen love to blow one up. Obviously they can see you pretty well and the guys in the streets know where the sights are set, so they can easily move out of the line of fire. Even though the enemy has some mobility the guys in the Bradley are not afforded, the First Cav soldiers do have the advantage. The Bradley is armored, which is great. And the soldiers inside can maintain excellent coordination at night with other troops by keeping their speed down and maintaining proximity between Bradleys.

If a Bradley suffers damage, US forces have big recovery machines to come in and tow the vehicle to be fixed or reused. Bradleys are multi-million dollar machines, so recovery is important. So is getting any wreckage out of the field so the enemy doesn’t get hold of our technology. Always deny the use of your combat gear to the enemy. On the other hand, you get all the stuff from the insurgent you can. That’s what happens when you take a guy out. You search him and get his effects, like weapons and bullets and such. You don’t want the enemy to have any weapons he can pass on to someone else, and you may find something else of interest in the search, like a map or documents of some sort.

The First Cavalry is well-schooled in these tactics. They’ve been in combat and caused a lot of casualties as a team. In Vietnam, you always hear about how guys didn’t want to get close to their troops when they got moved around. Not because they were bad guys, but because they didn’t want to get attached to people they knew they’d probably not see again. When you shuffle around in combat, you’re susceptible to a unique place and enemy and every little unknown advantage they’ve got on you.

These guys, the First Cavalry, have been in Sadr City for a long time which is a definitive advantage in any combat situation. They’ve seen hot action for more than 3 months, but you don’t hear about that much in the news. We have a tendency not to report victories as often as casualties on our side. So the fact that you don’t hear much on the First Cavalry is actually good news. They’re better in-tune with the surroundings because of the length of time they’ve been fighting in one place. The more you’re there the more you know, and these guys know a lot. They’re seasoned veterans in the area.

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