Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The reality of combat

David Horowitz posts a guest blog by a Seal "who was there":

Here is your situation Marine. You just took fire from unlawful combatants shooting from a religious building attempting to use the sanctuary status of their position as protection. But you're in Fallujah now, and the Marine Corps has decided that they're not playing that game this time. That was Najaf. So you set the mosque on fire and you hose down the terrorists with small arms, launch some AT-4s (Rockets), some 40MM grenades into the building and things quiet down. So you run over there, and find some tangos wounded and pretending to be dead. You are aware that suicide martyrdom is like really popular with these kind of idiots, and like taking some Marines with them would be really cool. So you can either risk your life and your fireteam's lives by having them cover you while you bend down and search a guy that you think is pretending to be dead for some reason.

Also, you don't know who or what is in the next room, and you're already speaking English to each other and its loud because your hearing is poor from shooting people for several days. So you know that there are many other rooms to enter, and that if anyone is still alive in those rooms, they know that Americans are in the mosque. Meanwhile (3 seconds later), you still have this terrorist that was just shooting at you from a mosque playing possum. What do you do?

You double tap his head, and you go to the next room, that's what.

What about the Geneva Conventions and all that Law of Land Warfare stuff? What about it. Without even addressing the issues at hand you first thought should be, "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6." Bear in mind that this is a perpetual mindset that in reinforced by experience on a minute by minute basis. Secondly, you are fighting an unlawful combatant in a Sanctuary which is a double No No on his part. Third, tactically you are in no position to take "prisoners" because there are more rooms to search and clear, and the behavior of said terrorist indicates that he is up to no good. No good in Fallujah is a very large place and the low end of no good and the high end of no good are fundamentally the same... Marines get hurt or die. So there is no compelling reason for you to do anything but double tap this idiot and get on with the mission.

Update: Falklands veteran Quintin Wright says that this is just what soldiers are trained to do
There is a drill, for instance, for "clearing ground". This is a combat tactic, now used by every army in the world, for securing an area that has just been captured. The context is this: there's just been a battle; there will be bodies and weapons lying around. Your unit will go past the area that was the target (it might be just a courtyard or a building). Once everyone and everything has been checked - which takes a matter of seconds, two minutes at most - the section commander will order a couple of soldiers, working as a pair, to go back and "clear the ground".

The main purpose is to gather intelligence - paperwork, maps, radios. When you know that there have very recently been people in that area trying to kill you, do you go up to a body and start to rummage through pockets without knowing for sure that the guy isn't actually still alive and about to stick a 10-inch knife in you? So where there are bodies, you don't go near them. Not until you have put two bullets into each, fired usually from a range of several yards.

One More: SAS ace defends trooper
A wounded US soldier seen on TV shooting dead an Iraqi prisoner was defended last night by SAS hero Andy McNab.


But McNab — who has stared death in the face — said: “It’s easy for people sitting comfortably in their armchairs in front of the TV to take the moral high ground.

“They are not there in Fallujah, in that killing environment.

“We don’t know what is going through that marine’s head. The Iraqi could have been hiding a weapon or explosives. “Troops are fighting an enemy that doesn’t stick to any rules.

“The insurgents use mosques to launch attacks. They come out under cover of a white flag, then attack the Americans. They plant booby-trap bombs on dead bodies.

“Every soldier has a right to defend himself, and if that is a grey area — then so be it.”

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