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Mission 10 - Tactical Considerations
Samarra Stryker Brigade

"Learning from Saddam, the loyalists believe using human shields is a great strategy."

Samarra, Iraq. December 15, 2003: After the initial attackers use school children as human shields, US snipers - rarely called upon for defensive actions - effectively diffuse the situation. The use of human shields is nothing new in this region. Saddam employed this tactic in the first Gulf War, where his people, mostly idealists who felt strongly enough to put themselves in harm's way, often volunteered to be human shields at scud missile sites.

There are so many parallels to Vietnam and the first Gulf War, and Saddam really played that up. He used terminology, including calling people "outlaws" and "pirates," because these were terms from a time and a place where we weren't successful. Saddam did his homework on Vietnam, and he thought by verbally poking at our conscious or putting people in harm's way, we'd give up.

Learning from Saddam, the loyalists believe using human shields is a great strategy. When the enemy is faced with overwhelming combat power, they know the potential loss of innocent lives will affect us as Americans. It's what differentiates the good guys from the terrorists. In this mission, the minute the loyalists involve innocent civilians, it becomes a law enforcement situation that calls for specialty forces -- snipers.

Sniper fire is the only option to combat an enemy with a human shield because there's a lot of psychological power involved. I've known a lot of snipers and they're really businesslike people. Everyone thinks it's about pure marksmanship, but it's a whole other thing with these guys. Snipers have this superior mind-over-body ability and super patience. In a case where school kids are used as human shields, snipers are ideal for their effectiveness, even though this type of offensive may not the primary mission they've been trained to handle.

When the patrol is ambushed again, the armored and maneuverable Strykers choose not to continue. Instead, they call in additional forces. Fleeing the scene would have been a poor option because the overall goal in this mission isn't to escape; it's to search and destroy. What we want to do is to seize the prospect of taking out enemy fighters whenever we can. There before you is a simple target of opportunity. If you don't take advantage now, the enemy will keep resurfacing.

From an interview with US Army Staff Sergeant Dan Snyder


Samarra Stryker Brigade

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