2nd Iraq War: The Takeaway

Self is now nearing the end of Fiasco:  The American Military Adventure in Iraq.  She spent most of yesterday reading the gruesome account of how Abu Ghraib turned into Abu Ghraib.  This morning, she is on p. 307.

The American troops were preparing, in the winter of 2003, to complete “one of the biggest troop rotations in the history of the U.S. military.” The soldiers who had completed their year of service in Iraq were about to hand off to the second wave of replacement American troops.  The web came alive with e-mails and essays from the departing soldiers.  In accounts “far more personal than those offered by the media and generally grimmer than the official statements that painted a picture of steady progress,” soldiers passed on hard-earned knowledge.  IEDs were the insurgents’ weapon of choice, the targets the long train of American supply vehicles snaking across the desert.

Taking the “every cloud has a silver lining” approach, here are the most valuable lessons soldiers learned from each other:

  • The Iraqi equivalent of the Vietnam War’s “ambush points on jungle trails” were highway overpasses.” Soldiers were advised to “move toward them with caution, and then swerve from lane to lane at the last minute.”
  • “. . .  to be defensible, convoys should consist of at least five vehicles.”
  • “. . .  a study of insurgent tactics” showed “that they “tended to attack the last vehicle.  To counter this, soldiers “recommended putting heavy firepower there.”
  • Because, “in the lead truck in a convoy, the driver and gunner tended to be too busy with their tasks to adequately scan the ground for roadside bombs” it was advisable to have “a third soldier, equipped with binoculars and night-vision goggles” to “be posted in that vehicle —  and be trained and ready to take over the machine gun should the gunner be hit.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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