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general commentaries from a Marine just back from Iraq


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Got this from a LCol I know. It's from a former Marine first sergeant -
thought you might be interested in his son's assessment of weapons and enemy
tactics in Iraq (the boy is home from his first tour, going back in early
2006, and early re-enlisted for another 4 years.) No idea of its validity,
but some interesting items in it.

Hello to all my fellow gunners, military buffs, veterans and interested
guys.  A couple of weekends ago I got to spend time with my son Jordan, who
was on his first leave since returning from Iraq.  He is well (a little
thin), and already bored.  He will be returning to Iraq for a second tour in
early '06 and has already re-enlisted early for 4 more years.  He loves the
Marine Corps and is actually looking forward to returning to Iraq.

Jordan spent 7 months at "Camp Blue Diamond" in Ramadi.  Aka: Fort Apache.
He saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about weapons,
equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to
you.  Nothing is by any means classified.  No politics here, just a Marine
with a bird's eye view's opinions:

1)  The M-16 rifle :  Thumbs down.  Chronic jamming problems with the talcum
powder like sand over there.  The sand is everywhere.  Jordan says you feel
filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower.  The M-4 carbine version is
more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems
also.  They like the ability to mount the various optical gun sights and
weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in
a desert environment.    They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor
penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso
hits cant be reliably counted on to put the enemy down.  Fun fact:  Random
autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.

2)  The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon):  .223 cal. Drum fed light machine
gun.  Big thumbs down.  Universally considered a piece of shit.  Chronic
jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly (that's fun in
the middle of a firefight).

3)  The M9 Beretta 9mm:  Mixed bag.  Good gun, performs well in desert
environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge.  The use of handguns for
self-defense is actually fairly common.  Same old story on the 9mm:  Bad
guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

4)  Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun:  Works well, used frequently for
clearing houses to good effect.

5)  The M240 Machine Gun:  7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun,
developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!).
Thumbs up.  Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down.
Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being
dismounted and taken into the field by infantry.  The 7.62 round chews up
the structure over there.

6)  The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun:  Thumbs way, way up.  "Ma deuce" is
still worth her considerable weight in gold.  The ultimate fight stopper,
puts their dicks in the dirt every time.  The most coveted weapon

7)  The .45 pistol:  Thumbs up.  Still the best pistol round out there.
Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one.
With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso
hit.  The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the
HK military model and supposedly love it.  The old government model .45's
are being re-issued en masse.

8)  The M-14:  Thumbs up.  They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a
modified version to special ops guys.  Modifications include lightweight
Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights.  Very reliable in the
sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

9)  The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle:  Thumbs way up.  Spectacular range and
accuracy and hits like a freight train.  Used frequently to take out vehicle
suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy.
Definitely here to stay.

10)  The M24 sniper rifle:  Thumbs up.  Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win
mag.  Heavily modified Remington 700's.  Great performance. Snipers have
been used heavily to great effect.  Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his
third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record
for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

11)  The new body armor:  Thumbs up.  Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs.
and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an
AK-47 round.  The bad news:  Hot as shit to wear, almost unbearable in the
summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees).  Also, the enemy now goes for
head shots whenever possible.  All the bullshit about the "old" body armor
making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter.  The IED
explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in
most cases.

12)  Night Vision and Infrared Equipment:  Thumbs way up.  Spectacular
performance.  Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period.  Very
little enemy action after evening prayers.  More and more enemy being
whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams.  We've all seen
the videos.

13)  Lights:  Thumbs up.  Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are
Surefire's, and the troops love 'em.  Invaluable for night urban operations.
Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.

I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance
are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!!  With all our technology, it's the WWII
and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!!  The infantry fighting  is
frequent, up close and brutal.  No quarter is given or shown.

Bad guy weapons

1)  Mostly AK47's  The entire country is an arsenal.  Works better in the
desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably.  PKM belt fed
light machine guns are also common and effective.  Luckily, the enemy mostly
shoots like shit.  Undisciplined "spray and pray" type fire.  However, they
are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (Iran,
again)  Fun fact:  Captured enemy have apparently marveled at  the
marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight.  They are apparently told
in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be
easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness.  Let's
just say they know better now.

2)  The RPG:  Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys.  Simple,
reliable and as common as dogshit.  The enemy responded to our up-armored
humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range.  Still
killing a lot of our guys.

3)  The IED:  The biggest killer of all.  Can be anything from old Soviet
anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells.  A lot found in Jordan's
area were in abandoned cars.  The enemy would take two or three 155mm
artillery shells and wire them together.  Most were detonated by cell phone,
and the explosions are enormous.  You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1
tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there.
Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shape charges" (Iranian)
specifically designed to penetrate armor.  Fact:  Most of the ready made
IED's  are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah
types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics.  That's why the
attacks have  been so deadly lately.  Their concealment methods are
ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray
painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads.  We find
about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes
of this war.

4)  Mortars and rockets:  Very prevalent.  The soviet era 122mm rockets
(with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent.  One of Jordan's NCO's
lost a leg to one.  These weapons cause a lot of damage "inside the wire".
Jordan's base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and
rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (It
did).  More of a psychological weapon than anything else.  The enemy mortar
teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a
matter of seconds.

5)  Bad guy technology:  Simple yet effective.  Most communication is by
cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops.  They use handheld
GPS units for navigation and "Google earth" for overhead views of our
positions.  Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their
explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE.  Night vision is rare.
They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units and
laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

Who are the bad guys?

Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group..  They operate
mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi).  These are mostly
"foreigners", non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world
(and Europe).  Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge
and complicity of the Syrian govt.) , and then travel down the "rat line"
which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been
hitting hard for the last few months.  Some are virtually untrained young
Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in "sacrifice squads".
Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al
Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.)  These are the guys running around murdering
civilians en masse and cutting heads off.  The Chechens (many of whom are
Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters (they
have been fighting the Russians for years).  In the Baghdad area and south,
most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites.  The
Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt.'s,
the police forces and the Army. The have had a massive spy and agitator
network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's.  Most of the
Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics

When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every
time.  Brave, but stupid.  Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common
earlier in the war and still occur.  They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man
teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing Ak's and RPG's
directly at our bases just to probe the defenses.  They get mowed down like
grass every time.  (see the M2 and M240 above).  Jordan's base was hit like
this often.  When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same
building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand.
Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that more often than not.
These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeo's (Allah's Waiting
Room).  We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science.  The
fast mover's, mostly Marine F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll on
the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130
Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially
at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.  Fun fact:  The
enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand.  That is why we're
seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber shit. The
new strategy is simple:  attrition.

The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian
non-combatants as cover.  They know we do all we can to avoid civilian
casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) mosques are
locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and
flee to when engaged.  They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for
civilian casualties.  They will terrorize locals and murder without
hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new
Iraqi govt.  Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to
influence people they are trying to influence but can't reach, such as local
govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.).

The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured".  They know that
if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet. Zarqawi
openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman.
This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a shit about
the war.  A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common
criminals and sold to Zarqawi.  As such, for our guys, every fight is to the
death.  Surrender is not an option.

The Iraqi's are a mixed bag.  Some fight well, others aren't worth a shit.
Most do okay with American support.  Finding leaders is hard, but they are
getting better.  It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers,
en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake.
Many Iraqi's were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the
police forces went up, along with their motivation.  It also led to an
exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqi's are sick of the
insurgent attacks against civilians.  The Kurds are solidly pro-American and
fearless fighters.

According to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only
believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively.  They are
stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they
almost universally view as against them.  The embedded reporters are
despised and distrusted.  They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1
and then see shit like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the print media.
For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and
leadership.  Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not enough
guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency,
primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the
borders with Iran and Syria.  The Iranians and the Syrians just can't stand
the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US
bases there).

Very interesting read.
I love stuff like this... whether it cant be considered fact or not, it is a mans opinion who was there on the ground, and should be considered.
Sig_Des said:
what about it?

Either we're both wrong or thinking the same thing, I thought it was M240? Not that it matters much... typos happen.
M249 SAW is the C9...

Most of these points DO NOT jive with comments from friends of mine in the HSLD field of the US mil.
M240 is a 7.62


Read the post closely and you will see one is referring to 5.56 and the other to 7.62.  Two completely different MGs.  One is like our C9 and the other is like our C6.  If you pay attention to what he is saying about the stopping power of the different Calibres on "Opiated" murdering thugs, then you will see where he is going.  Bigger is better.  WW II and Vietnam era Technology is still proving better than a lot of more modern stuff.
I agree with the vietnam era weapons comment though... hopefully after these kinds of experiences, our weapons projects will shift back towards more stopping power .... the days of the soviet invasion are over, and using  5.56 rounds to wound their friendly troops, causing two men to carry and care for him, making three casualties are over. Typically it doesnt seem like these insurgents care much about their fellow jihadists, especially since the goal of their attack is to die fighting the enemy.

But about the m243 thing, I think Forgotten_Hero was thinking the same thing I was, when he said M243 (SAW).. the M240 is the saw, the M243 is the C6 equivalent that fires the 7.62.
Correct me if im wrong but isnt the C6 a german designed weapon? and isnt the M243 the exact same thing.. I remember a couple years ago one of my MCpls was telling me about how much the americans liked the c6 and were considering/ in the process of adopting it.
Hero, my bad again. You are right:

M240 = C6
M249 = C9

The guy who wrote that probobly just screwed up the numbers accidentally... it isnt really that important, the meat and potatoes of it to me where the parts about enemy tactics, training, equipment and capabilities. Things im far less familiar with.
FN = Fabrique Nationale a company in Belgium that has let licences out to other nations.  The C 6 is an FN product, as is the Minimi C9.
George Wallace said:
FN = Fabrique Nationale a company in Belgium that has let licences out to other nations.  The C 6 is an FN product, as is the Minimi C9.

Did they design the weapon as well, or were they just given the contract to build them for us ?
They designed them

The M240/C6 started life of the FN MAG-58

The M249/C9 - the FN MINIMI

If this is supposed to be a MARINES view -- their sniper rifle is the M40A1/A2 - NOT the Army's M24.


If you look over at SOCNET, the BTDT's there believe this to be a piece of Internet fake spam-mail.  They debunk it on this link and on another that I can't find - they also, from their experience in Iraq, disagree with alot of what is said in the piece.

It definately wasn't written by a Marine.
KevinB said:
Most of these points DO NOT jive with comments from friends of mine in the HSLD field of the US mil.

Can you elaborate?
The guy who wrote that probobly just screwed up the numbers accidentally... it isnt really that important, the meat and potatoes of it to me where the parts about enemy tactics, training, equipment and capabilities. Things im far less familiar with.

No, I dont think so. Do you see anyone, especially someone who supposedly handled these weapons first hand or saw them being handled by his buddy, not knowing the name of those weapons? I have yet to see anyone who's in any position to possibly use these kinds of weapons mistake their names. Hell, I have yet to see anyone who's graduated from SQ mistaking the names of the weapons. Coupled with the all the other discreptancies, I find the article to be quite suspect...

Oh, and he could have redeemed himself partially if he'd atleast known that SAW stands for Squad Automatic Weapon.
I have no doubt about the validity of these observations, but I'm quite surprised at the poor performance of the C7/C9 series.  I felt the C9 was far superior to the C2.... would the writer have a C6 as a section weapon to replace the C9?  I'd rather have one weapon that works well than 2 that are crap.

Do I detect a bit of tongue in cheek when he says the M60 was a great piece of kit?  In my experience the 'pig' was just that, and I was thankful the C6 came in.  The C6 was more in line with the German concept of a LMG/MMG/HMG design, able to be used in advance to contact as well as an SF weapon.

Good observations, thanks.
It talks about Army systems, it misnames pieces of kit, it has timings screwed up, and it falsely describes Insurgent TTPs.   As well, most BTDT's tend to disagree with what is said - it's a flaming pile of BS, so don't read too deeply into it.