Monday, July 03, 2017

Combat Ops/Actions that shape the current US Army.

Going over the current state of things in the US Army and where they're going and why.  The answer (at least in my mind) are the lessons learned from the following combat ops/actions.  If you have other examples I look forward to hearing them.

Thunder Run.

If you don't know/remember the famous Thunder Run into Baghdad then you haven't been paying attention.  A quick description?  It was one of the most audacious, in your face, we're all out of fucks to give, risky as hell armored action in the past fifty years.  A short Wiki on the battle is here, but in my mind its unsatisfying.  I'd love to read a proper unit history of the event but I haven't laid  hands on one and haven't searched hard enough.  I really need to make up for that.  This was one for the ages.

Ambush on AH-64 in Karbala.

This was the day that attack helicopter concepts died.  The idea?  To launch a pure attack helicopter raid ahead of the front lines (FEBA if you're old skool).  At the time it made nothing but sense.  The AH-64 was supposedly proof against 23mm cannon fire (standard Soviet anti-air system), Iraq's air defense network had been all but neutralized and command/control had broken down.  What caused the black eye?  Cell phones.  Semi coordinated trash fire.  Primitives with AK's and the cultural norm to shoot into the air.  So when the Iraq's put together this adhoc, hasty ambush using cell phones and telling everyone and their mothers to shoot into the air when they heard helicopters, it was a smashing success....unfortunately for the pilots that night.  Quick and dirty?  3rd ID sent up 31 Apaches, 29 made it back, and all had major damage.  We didn't know it at the time and historians aren't making a big deal of it, but the Iraqis rendered this Army unit combat ineffective.  Replacements would be rushed forward but for a time the 3rd ID lost its attack helicopter support.

Jessica Lynch, and the Battle of Nasiriyah.

This was a bad one for the US Army and Marine Corps.  The pain for the Corps would come later in the form of a well laid ambush by Iraqi Tanks, and RPG teams mixed with a horrific, stupid and to this day unexplained blue on blue courtesy of USAF A-10s.

As far as the Lynch story is concerned, I feel for the girl.  I won't go into details but rumor has it some real nastiness went on here and the fact that the Army tried to spin her tragedy into one of heroism is in my mind weird.  What I do know and what is undenied is that this whole action was caused because of the strategic idiocy of Tommy Franks and Donald Rumsfeld.  This supply unit was operating alone, made a wrong turn and ran into a meat grinder.  This one you read and research on your own.  The aftermath was that the Army attempted to increase the combat skills of its support troops but from the outside looking in it seems that the effort has tailed off and they're back to business as usual...until the next incident that is.

173rd Airborne drop into N. Iraq.

This was the earliest sign that Turkey was gonna go rogue.  Suffice it to say that the planned flanking maneuver by 4th ID (not sure...think it was those guys) didn't get approved so it was left to the 173rd to do an airborne op into Northern Iraq.  Why is this telling?  Because I believe it was the impetus behind the airborne to get a ground mobility vehicle.  Ounces equal pain and the troop in the famous pic above has alot of ounces on his back.  Being footmobile woke up the boys at Bragg in a big way after this operation.

There are many other examples that people will think of that I missed.  That's cool.  This list isn't meant to be complete but to get the conversation started.  Why no Afghanistan?  Because I don't think there are any lessons going forward for the Army there.  That place is best forgotten except for a few examples.

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