|Pic showing who we believe is the Russian Marine killed by a VBIED...photo via Info Infantry.|
The mission orders they received from their sergeant squad leader, I’m sure, went something like this: “OK, take charge of this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass. You clear?” I’m also sure Yale and Haerter rolled their eyes and said, in unison, something like, “Yes, sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point, without saying the words, “No kidding, sweetheart. We know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry-control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.A few minutes later, a large blue truck turned down the alleyway – perhaps 60 to 70 yards in length – and sped its way through the serpentine concrete Jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest 200 yards away, knocking down most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was caused by 2,000 pounds of explosive. Because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers in arms.When I read the situation report a few hours after it happened, I called the regimental commander for details. Something about this struck me as different. We expect Marines, regardless of rank or MOS, to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different. The regimental commander had just returned from the site, and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event – just Iraqi police. If there was any chance of finding out what actually happened, and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it, because a combat award requires two eyewitnesses, and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police, all of whom told the same story. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police related that some of them also fired, and then, to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were injured, some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated, and with tears welling up, said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”What he didn’t know until then, and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal. Choking past the emotion, he said, “Sir, in the name of God, no sane man would have stood there and done what they did. They saved us all.If this story doesn't get you a bit misty, gives you a hard-on and leaves you in awe of these two Marines then I don't need or want to talk to you.
But back on task.
How many times have we seen this? Vehicle Borne IEDs are a threat to dismounted infantry as the Russian Marines have found to their horror and we've known from our long experience in this region.
5.56 and 7.62 mm bullets are just not good enough to stop a hillbilly armored vehicle being driven by a maniac.
What we need is a weapon system that can be carried by individual infantrymen that is capable of punching thru adhoc armor and stopping the vehicle. Ideally it would be lightweight anti-tank missiles but in many cases they're too slow in employment, not often carried on patrol and are weight restrictive. Large caliber sniper rifles like a 50 cal or 338 face the same issues with the addition of being so large that they highlight a squad member and will make him a target of importance for enemy fighters.
61 MECH recommended the 20mm...
Considering the blast radius of some of the larger VBIEDs I'm no sure it provides enough range to make the type of difference we're looking for. The short term answer that is in inventory today comes from a recent US Army purchase of CARL GUSTAV Recoil less Rifles.
This recoil less rifle is lightweight, allows for fairly rapid follow up shots and is in the supply chain.
The main takeaway from all the after actions I've read is awareness. The sooner forces recognize the threat, get weapons on target and start taking action to neutralize that threat the better their chances of survival.
Considering the speed that modern vehicles are capable of achieving and depending on the size of the bomb, we're talking about having seconds to react.
The final answer might be awareness and the addition of two Marines to rifle squads in certain areas to act as anti-vehicle men. These "anti-vehicle" Marines (no new MOS necessary...just designate 0311's to perform the task and train them appropriately--oh and this is an adhoc billet only applicable in the Middle East to augment our rifle squads) equipped with Carl Gustas' and prepared to act as soon as a threat is realized is probably the key to surviving.