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fellow gunners, military buffs, veterans and interested guys, A letter from a Soldier

Hey Pelosi and friends! Why don’t you make yourself useful and address this soldier’s concerns? Something productive, that should be a new experience for you. Hey baby, it’s never too late even for you.

This was received from a friend whose son who just returned from Iraq.
Hat tip: Jake

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

No politics here, just a Marine with a bird’s eye view’s

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 picanttiny 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 can’t be reliably
counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents
show 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 forCorner20shotself-defense is actually fairly
common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the

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 them
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-starte
r. 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.

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 can’t 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 dog
shit. 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.

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 2 or 3 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.

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
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 andRPG’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 cant 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-Americanand
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
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).

G-d bless you man, bless you and your brothers and keep you safe. Thinking of you everyday – Pamela

More here on the Gun pictured above.
Download USMarinestakingoutAfghanisnipers0-2121.wmv
shows the Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle in action. Hat tip Moody

So many heros, so litte time. Go over to Solomonia here . Fayrouz has an excellent interview with Lisa Ramachi, widow of murdered author Steven Vincent, the man who’s blog deserved to be voted most missed. See my sidebar under true heros to read Vincent’s words.

I met Lisa at the OSM Pajama Media launch, quite a woman.What she had, what she lost and she is Steven’s flame. She assumed his mantle and carries on with his work.

The Truth Must be Told

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