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Mission 15 - Tactical Considerations
Mosul - The al Qaeda Connection

"...you can get a concussion just from the wind produced by the blow of a grenade."

Cordon and knock is a basic, essential operation where you take however many guys you can and rope off a block and just start knocking on doors. You’ll guys covering the windows, guys covering the back of the house, and guys at the door. If there’s no answer, you kick the door in.

In Mosul, I don’t think they knew they had someone when they went to the door. I think they were pretty surprised when they walked up and the grenade was thrown at them. Luckily, it was thrown before they entered the house, and they could hit the deck out in the wide open. Hitting the deck is the first thing you learn because grenades have a tendency to blow with an upward force so the closer you are to flat on the ground, the safer you are. The damage grenades can do isn’t like what you see on TV where it doesn’t look so bad. It’s a huge explosion.

And the blast isn’t like bullets. It’s just tons of shards of metal. If you’re well-protected and nothing vital gets hit, you might be okay. But it’s not just the projection that can kill you. A concussion can, too, and you can get a concussion just from the wind produced by the blow of a grenade.

A couple guys were hurt outside the house, but the rest got in to complete the mission. Once you’re in, you’ll usually do what’s called "pieing" the room, where you take a corner and visually make a slice of a pie out from where you’re standing. The guy in the next room does the same thing and you’ve got each other’s back. So you’ve got this area you’re responsible for, depending on how many people are in there with you.

The beauty of a cordon and knock when the targets are home is that they’re trapped. It’s tough to overcome being targeted in a building. The cordon and knock takes away mobility and the enemy’s element of surprise. It’s also pretty easy to tell where hostiles are in the house once you start shooting. The forces can pretty quickly figure out where the enemy is and simply wait it out. Then, it’s only a matter of time until the enemy’s going down.