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Sat

19

May

2007

It Was Not An Ambush - Attack on small U.S. Army outpost (the 4th Battalion) in the Mahmoudiyah area
Saturday, 19 May 2007 09:35
by Larry C Johnson

If we are going to understand anything about the war underway in Iraq we have got to get the terminology right. The news media – CNN in particular – continue to call last week's attack on small U.S. Army outpost in the Mahmoudiyah area (wihch is south of Baghdad) an "ambush". This was not an ambush.

An ambush is defined as:

1. The act of lying in wait to attack by surprise.
2.
A sudden attack made from a concealed position
What happened to a squad of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division in the Mahmoudiyah area is something worse and more disturbing. Pat Lang offers this analysis at Sic Semper:
The latest I have heard indicates that these eight men were in an observation post consisting of two up-armored HUMVEES surrounded by concertina wire and that the position was attacked at 0400 (CNN Barbara Starr) from four sides, that the assaulting force breached the wire and overran the position. According to CNN, the "patrol" had been in that oupost for five hours.

If that is so, then this was not a patrol. It was an outpost placed there to watch for the emplacement of IEDs (on a road presumably). The battalion appears to have had other such outposts out that night.

Questions:

- Had this same position been occupied on other nights any time recently?
- Did the squad have adequate night vision equipment and were there adequate fields of fire and observation?
- Were supporting mortar and/or artillery fires plotted in a "box" around the position. Was such fire available? What about armed helicopter support?
- How long did it take the squad's "back up" (500 yards away?) to get moving and to arrive?
- An armored HUMVEE is basically a big "jeep" with a ton of armor hung on it. Each has an M2 .50 cal. machine gun on it. The armor on this kind of vehcle will stop small arms fire (maybe) but nothing else. Were these men well enough equipped for the job?
- Were radios relied on to an excessive degree in this situation? Hand held pyrotechnics should always be included in a signal plan for this kind of operation.

A CNN military analyst said yesterday that this kind of disaster "in detail" results from having to do "too many things with too few troops." One of the captured soldiers' mother said today, "we need a miracle."

They were both right.
The attackers did not pop up out of spider holes nor did they fall from the sky. They moved against a fixed, defended position. The most likely possibility – the U.S. soldiers were asleep and did not spot the attackers. They apparently did not have time to even call for help over the radio.

The response of U.S. troops in the area – going house to house and taking people into custody – is understandable but counterproductive. The odds are high that we are taking men into custody who had nothing to do with the attackers or the attack. But, by taking them into custody their honor is insulted and they are more likely to support insurgent activities in the future. It is a Catch-22.

I mourn the deaths of these brave young men. It is increasingly apparent that they are dying in vain with no clear objective in sight. It is time to bring our soldiers home.
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a guest said:

0
What is the mission and when will it end?
When will the criminals in the White House be held accountable for providing cannon fodder to an enemy of our making?
 
May 20, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

0
Great questions
I think Mr. Johnson raised some excellent questions. I'd be interested to read the US Army's response. It would seem odd that a heavily armed unit could be overwhelmed so quickly.
 
May 23, 2007
Votes: +0

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