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Tactics and Stuff
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, June 20, 2006

McQ's post on the apparent tactical error made by the squad leader of the troops that were kidnapped and killed a few days ago has raised the ire of a commenter, who opines:
As an infantry officer of 10 years, I am well versed in the book answer on things. Having commanded a rifle company in Iraq, I am also well versed on the various considerations that you take into mind when employing your units and in passing guidance and directives on to your subordinates, and the practical application of that doctrine. There were times when I employed my 3 man sniper team all by their lonesome (thereby refuting your assertion that they are never deployed alone), and there were plenty more times when I was not comfortable in employing them in that small of an element. This is just one example of where I had to make patrol size decisions...

[M]my argument is that the ground commander must go through a decision process to determine the risks of splitting up and weighing this against the rewards for pursuing the course of action, and then deciding if the course of action should be taken or a new one developed.
McQ responded:
What the commander in that situation should have done was his mission. If it was TCP, then he should have hunkered down and called for help. If it was pursue insurgents, then let higher know what’s up, hat up and go ... and take everyone. But he tried to do both things and that is where he failed.

So his decision making process was flawed and the resulting death of the three he left behind is a result. That’s how that works in combat and you should know that as well.

Now, you may find that defensible.

I don’t.
I’m going to chime in on McQ’s side here. The "ground commander" in this case was probably a Staff Sergeant, since he was leading a 12-man squad. Maybe he was an Sergeant First Class, but more likely a Staff Sergeant.

Now, I wasn’t an officer. I was the young Staff Sergeant leading a squad. So, I don’t understand perfectly how you officer types go about making these kinds of decisions, but I sure as hell know how us SSG types do it.

We do the mission. If the mission is a traffic checkpoint, then that’s the one we stick with. If the mission is to chase down insurgents, then we do that. What we don’t do is split up the squad so that we have no ability to provide mutual support. Because there’s a universe of things I don’t know. I don’t know if the purpose of the initial skirmish is to get me to leave the checkpoint with my squad in oder to be ambushed by a company-sized force. I don’t know if the purpose is to get me to leave the TCP, so some contraband or weapons can be smuggled past it.

What I do know is that two fire teams aren’t enough firepower to do much if I step into it during the chase, and one fire team is in even worse shape if I leave them all alone without support.

When I went out, I knew what my orders were—indeed, I usually had written instructions, either in the form of a patrol order, Special Security Instructions, or SOP that made it clear what my primary mission was. And that was the mission that my squad stuck with.

As far as I can see, this was a case where a squad leader made a bad tactical decision, and tried to do two things at once, which allowed the insurgents to defeat part of his forces in detail.

Also, as an aside, having been an Emergency Services Team training NCO, I’m not at all sure that your decision to deploy a 3-man sniper team alone is indicative of, well, anything, in terms of squad-level deployments. Snipers are, after all, somewhat of a special unit, with tasks that aren’t generally shared by the rest of the company at squad level.

What I am sure of is that, unless I am absopositivelifreakinglutely sure that my squad is facing no more than a squad-sized skirmishing element, I’m not gonna start detaching fire teams to fend for themselves while I hare off out of support range. And If my primary mission is not to chase insurgents through the streets, then I’m not gonna do it even with my whole squad.

What I’m gonna do is stick with whatever my primary mission is, and be sure it gets done.

So, I gotta admit, I’m kind of curious, captain. If you send out a SSG with 12 guys to man a Traffic Checkpoint, are you going to order him to split up his squad to chase down insurgents if they’re attacked? If so, what provision are you going to make to ensure that, in following your orders, the SSG doesn’t get into a situation where what is, in effect, two heavy fire teams aren’t going to be defeated in detail? Where is your Quick Response Force if I split my squad? What’s their response time? Is it fast enough to pull my ass out of trouble if I step in it? If not, and my mission is to die in place, do you have a particular preference about what mission I’m trying to accomplish while I’m doing it? Or can I just cowboy my way through it and do whatever I want to do?

If I was a battalion commander looking over your patrol orders, I’d be kinda curious about your answer to those questions. If I was the SSG leading the squad, I’d be a helluva lot more than curious.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Sometime mistakes are made, but micromanging every mission by officer is a far worse idea - as if officers do not make mistakes.
Oh for heaven sake, this isn’t about "micromanaging", this is about basic good tactical sense. And that’s the job of officers and NCOs.

Are trying to argue that leaving a Sp4 and two PFCs alone at a TCP in a very hostile area was a good decision? If not then why is questioning it considered "micromanaging"?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I see a great deal of difference between a 3 man sniper team, and 3 guys left in a hummer to man a checkpoint.

I would have thought, either everyone goes in pursuit, or everyone stays, and the intel is called in.

Hindsight is 20/20 though, so hopefully, troopers will learn, and be less at risk in the future...

However, I think, combat, like motorcycle riding has only two options, live and learn, or die trying.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Sometime mistakes are made, but micromanging every mission by officer is a far worse idea - as if officers do not make mistakes.
This isn’t about micromanaging by officers. It’s about determining the commander’s intent from the patrol orders, and making decisions that support that intent.

Is the mission to man a traffic checkpoint? If so, then you make tactical decisions that ensure the checkpoint is manned. Is the intent to man a checkpoint as a decoy for insurgents, who are to be destroyed if they attack? Then, as soon as the insurgents hit, you maintain contact, and you forget about the checkpoint. The checkpoint became a done deal as soon as the insurgents attacked.

(If the orders are to do both, well, then that’s the fault of someone other than the SSG who’s running the show on the street.)

I’m sure when you went on your patrols, you had a clear idea of what the purpose of the patrol was. You may have a lot of freedom to make tactical decisions in the field, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t just make up the mission of your patrol as you went along.

 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
You two still have absolutely nothing proving that one Humvee stayed behind to man the checkpoint. Nada. Nice soapbox though.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
I would think that at this particular juncture it wouldn’t be that hard to figure out that one humvee was left behind to man the checkpoint.
 
Written By: Mack
URL: http://bruisedorange.com
Then lay it out. As of now we don’t even know definitively the exact chain of events. For the last few days it was assumed Babineau was killed in the initial attack but now the NYT has the cherished eyewitnesses saying he was killed in the follow on attack. Everyone was trumpeting(including McQ) the quote from the Iraqi general and there was nothing to detract from its authenticity until it became known that he only saw a cursory report of the incident and didn’t have any second-hand information much less first-hand. Burns from the Times felt sure enough of his conclusions based solely on the word "nahr"(used in a now discredited communique by the way) to go on PBS and claim both were decapitated only to find out later military officials told the families the bodies were "intact". There’s plenty of bunk floating around and it’s plainly irresponsible for anyone to draw any conclusions one way or the other at this point.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
For the record:
1) Never been a soldier
2) Am not now a soldier
3) Will NEVER be a soldier, too old, fat, too blind...

Looks like a case of the combination of several factors, Boredom, Over-Confidence, and Agression.
Boredom, as one of the other posting here points out, contrary to the MSM Iraq, is by-and-large DULL. Heck from what I’ve read and concluded, MOST WAR IS DULL, History records the "Exciting" moments and I’m sure that they were 10% or less of the war. Iraq as LIC/COIN operation is generally VERY DULL. I’d argue that the unit involved had FINALLY made contact with the people they came to fight and decided to capitlize on that opportunity.
Over-Confidence, the insurgents and Al-Qeada have not won a battle involving PLATOON-SIZED element, or smaller, since the insurgency began. To steal a phrase from another war, "The Little People" aren’t very good and this unit acted as if it was invincible. Not an unreasonable ASSUMPTION given the stae of affairs to date, but only an ASSUMPTION, not a Law of Nature. In this case it was a bad idea to ASS-ume that the "Hajji’s" were pre-destined to lose, just because they always HAD.
Aggression, the SAS motto is "Who Dares, Wins", but there is another saying, too.."There Old Warriors, there are Bold Warriors, but there are NO Old Bold Warriors." It seems, that the section leader decided to act agressively in defeating his opponent and "light out after them". In so doing he split his force... thinking, possibly, that 9 guys/gals is good enough for the Hajji’s and 3 guys can hold the TCP. After all, what can happen to THEM?
Bottom-line: he split his forces attempting to do too much with the forces at hand. He didn’t think that his opponents could do anything about it. He was wrong.
It doesn’t seem criminal, but it IS something that may be difficult to live with. OTOH, IF in his pursuit, he’d come across Zarqawi’s replacement and nailed him, the section leader’ll be a hero...Sure McQ would grouse, not intended as an insult, and the pages of Infantry Magazine would have criticized the decision, but the section leader would STILL have the Silver Star and be the "Man that Caught What’s-His-name." Life’s funny that way...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
You two still have absolutely nothing proving that one Humvee stayed behind to man the checkpoint. Nada.
Well, we actually do have the official statement of Maj Gen Caldwell, who confirmed that the three soldiers were, in fact, alone at the checkpoint. Oh, and Lt. Gen Chiarelli ahs ordered an investigation as to why the three soldiers were left alone at the checkpoint.

But, hey, thanks for your input.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Everyone was trumpeting(including McQ) the quote from the Iraqi general and there was nothing to detract from its authenticity until it became known that he only saw a cursory report of the incident and didn’t have any second-hand information much less first-hand. Burns from the Times felt sure enough of his conclusions based solely on the word "nahr"(used in a now discredited communique by the way) to go on PBS and claim both were decapitated only to find out later military officials told the families the bodies were "intact".
Maj Gen Caldwell, while not confirming or denying the condition of the bodies, said in response to questions about his official statement:
"We are all very much aware of the atrocities they commit … with their victims that they take into custody. It pains us to realize what other servicemembers may go through."
I gotta hand it to you, boy, you’re a bear on the facts, aren’t you?
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
There must be a bug going around here at QandO, Dale. Nothing from either of the two cited men says why. Does that help you any? Both you and McQ have made assumptions as to that and the fact that there is an investigation is not conclusive. Sorry.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
Yes, I am a bear for the facts. Thanks for noticing. By the way, nothing in the quotes provided warrants some of the supposition I’ve seen—beheaded(Burns and the Times), skinned(jihadi fantasists online), burned alive(CBC), etc. It’s irresponsible to throw those around based on horrible reporting and information that cannot be verified.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
More info that sure makes it sound as though the two were dead prior to the mutilation:
In telephone interviews, two Youssifiyah residents, Muyasar Ghalib al-Qaraghuli, 19, and a tribal leader who gave his name only as Abu Salam, described insurgents beheading and dismembering the soldiers after dragging their bodies behind pickup trucks.
Should I bother listing all the "facts" that have been declared only to be revised later?
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
It’s irresponsible to throw those around based on horrible reporting and information that cannot be verified.
Just a question, but what do those wildly reported "facts" have to do with what Q&O has published?

In the end, if we, back here in the states and in our armchairs, get the facts wrong (based on what has been missreported), and make a few suppositions based on those incorrect facts, the most that happens is we say, we were wrong. (More then the press ever admits BTW)
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
I think the officer was objecting to "Armchair Quarterbacking" the situation without knowing the battlefield circumstances firsthand.

That’s a good point.

On the other hand, Dale and McQ aren’t saying the Army is wrong, is mis-training the recruits, we’re going to lose, or anything like that. They’re saying the leader made a mistake. Which seems indisputable. Had the first-line leader not made this mistake, the guys wouldn’t have been captured. They aren’t calling the leader stupid, or evil, or dispicable. They’re saying he made a mistake.

That may not sit well with other current and former military leaders. Too bad. It’s a valid and accurate assessment.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
Easy, Keith. If McQ and Dale were simply restating facts which may prove to be incorrect I’d agree with you that all they’d have to is simply correct the record. But that’s not what they’ve done. They’ve used facts which may prove to be incorrect as the basis for saying someone screwed up. Note they refuse to note the facts as they changed—the Iraqi general, reports on the state of the bodies changing atleast 3 times, the atleast two claims of responsibility, chain of events whether or not Bobineau was shot before or after the other two Humvees left, etc. Lots of things that have a direct impact on whether it’s more likely that it was just an accident or the result of a decision and none of it is talked about on the front page, I think, because they both already think it was the result of a decision. So, no, I do not think either of them will correct the record. The soapbox will stand and let the facts be damned.

Here McQ includes the quote from the Iraqi general that was later qualified as coming from a report that he’d seen. No update for that.

Same post:
a result of a basic tactical error by the leader of the group
Also see the second update from the same post where whoever it is sneers at any dissenters. Well, there’s nothing conclusive on that front yet given that we don’t even know how they died. People were quick to assume it had been "slaughtering" but now? Well, maybe not. Any update on that, you think?

McQ in comments to that post said the two soldiers "surrendered" based on the most laughably flimsy evidence...that they were taken. Now I let machismo get in the way of rational thought at times too but I’m not stubborn enough to persist in claiming to not be wrong. He doesn’t know any more than I or anyone else what happened between the first attack and when the attackers finally left. All he has is "led away". Nothing more. You think there’ll be any update if in fact another eyewitness says "shuffled away". Good lord, what could that mean? One guy under each arm? Maybe I’ll wait for QandO to divine it for me.

But maybe you can do what neither Dale or McQ seem willing to do—back up their argument. Explain to me what mistake was made. From the time the first attack happened to the time the Humvees were split up tell me what happened. Then maybe I can forward it to CNN, BBC, and Centcom because apparently they don’t know either hence the investigation.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
And please don’t just say "the Humvees were split up!" Tell me why. Tell me why other hypotheticals are impossible. Hell, my hypothetical that all 3 Humvees were going to pursue only to have the last driver killed was based on Bobineau being the driver but I’ve seen reports today that he was the gunner killed in his turret. If anyone has kept up even passing attention to this story it’s apparent that not much is known. Certainly not enough to make some proclamation about a guy being haunted for life for a decision that resulted in the brutal deaths of his comrades.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
Interesting.
They[two Iraqi eyewitnesses] said the two soldiers and a driver fell back a few hundred meters behind two other military vehicles when they came under attack at dusk.
"A lot of dust was kicked up by the cars so the soldiers in the other cars probably could not see. The gunmen killed the driver. Eventually the other two soldiers were totally outnumbered and they were taken away."
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
Come on. We’ve had two front page entries about a decision being made to split up the squad and how it was a mistake. Wuzza matter? Cat got your tongues? Anyone feeling kind of foolish for not atleast allowing for other possibilities? For impugning two dead men for giving up and "surrendering"? For simply jumping the gun? Anything?
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
Uh, actually, we work, ass.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Try working on an update. Or do you still refuse to admit alternate possibilities because it detracts from your spiel about tactics? What a load. All along I somehow thought Jon was the odd one of the bunch but now I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that you all ended up on the same blog. Intolerant, inflexible and just as doctrinaire as any fringer from the two big camps. The sad thing is this was a pretty inconsequential disagreement. You guys jumped to a conclusion and didn’t hedge your bets. And instead of backtracking to a more tenable position which would allow for all variables you compound the problem by not only defending McQ but expanding on his shaky opinion. Good job. And good luck working the ever-changing story around your predisposed judgement.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
Frontius, either you’re unable to read or unable to research, perhaps both.
Then lay it out. As of now we don’t even know definitively the exact chain of events. For the last few days it was assumed Babineau was killed in the initial attack but now the NYT has the cherished eyewitnesses saying he was killed in the follow on attack.
Had you read the initial post I made on this you’d already know how it happened and wouldn’t be asking me. No one but you, apparently, "assumed" Babineau was killed in the initial attack. This from the article I cited in that post:
At the time of the attack, the American soldiers were at a traffic control checkpoint on the edge of Karagol. According to the Iraqis, the checkpoint was guarded by about a dozen American soldiers who had arrived in three Humvees.

The checkpoint came under fire from insurgents operating from the fruit groves that line the road. The Americans in two of the Humvees took off in pursuit as the insurgents retreated into the groves, possibly to lure them in, the Iraqis said, leaving one Humvee and only three or four American soldiers at the checkpoint.

The checkpoint then came under attack from another direction by a group of seven or eight guerrillas, wearing kaffiyehs over their faces and black track suits, the Iraqis said. At least one of them carried a heavy machine gun, and two of them carried rocket-propelled grenades.

Minutes after the two Americans were taken away, a team of Americans arrived and began searching door to door in the area, the Iraqis said.
No one has contradicted that scenario.

From another article cited:
Two U.S. soldiers, missing for three days since their abduction in an insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad, were found dead, a military spokesman said Tuesday, and a top U.S. commander ordered an investigation into why the men were isolated from a larger force in such a dangerous part of Iraq.

[...]

Caldwell declined to describe the condition of the soldiers’ bodies, saying it would be "inappropriate until I know what the families were told." He said it was clear that the soldiers had died of wounds suffered in captivity, rather than at the site of the attack on the checkpoint, but that the cause of death could not be immediately determined.

[...]

The killings of the two privates raised questions about why such low-ranking troops were left alone, backed by a single armored Humvee, in a region Caldwell described Thursday as "an insurgent hotbed" and the most dangerous place in Iraq for U.S. forces after Baghdad and Ramadi. Even in safer areas, U.S. troops generally travel in convoys to provide support in case insurgents attack or a vehicle breaks down.

Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, has ordered an investigation into procedures used that night. "They are looking at the entire situation," Caldwell said.

To the consternation of U.S. officials, who are careful to withhold casualty details until the soldiers’ families can be notified, the deaths were first reported by an Iraqi defense official. Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Muhammed Jassim said in a news conference Tuesday they had been tortured and killed "in a barbaric way."
And:
The killings of the two privates raised questions about why such low-ranking troops were left alone, backed by a single armored Humvee, in a region Caldwell described Thursday as "an insurgent hotbed" and the most dangerous place in Iraq for U.S. forces after Baghdad and Ramadi. Even in safer areas, U.S. troops generally travel in convoys to provide support in case insurgents attack or a vehicle breaks down.
As for surrendering, at some point they were either taken unconsious or were taken because they quit fighting. If unconsious, then they didn’t surrender. Reports have them being led away under their own power. That indicates they quit fighting and surrendered.

Part of your job as a commenter is to do your homework. You’ve failed miserably in that department.

Now unless you have some contrary and compelling facts I’d appreciate it if you’d find another place to do your trolling.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Or do you still refuse to admit alternate possibilities because it detracts from your spiel about tactics?
Uh, no. An SPC and two PFCs were left alone at a TCP, in indian country, without any NCOs. That is not disputed. If they were left there as a result of a SSG being too agressive, or because a Company CO wrote it into the patrol order, the criticism stands. It was a bad tactical decision. There was no go-to-hell plan.

Moreover, stupid, even if, at the end of the day, we learn that they became separated from their patrol through some horrific misadventure, the tactical criticisms themselves are still perfectly valid.

At the moment, though, it looks like their separation was the result of a human decision, not misadventure. All of the reportage indicates that to date.

Essentially, your stupid point, is that, unless we we know all things concretely, and cannot absolutely eliminate any possibility of misadventure, then we have to remain silent.

Well, of you think so, go read another blog. Because I’m done with you.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
I have to give it you, McQ, if nothing else you’re consistent.
Frontius, either you’re unable to read or unable to research, perhaps both.
Or the problem could be on your end. But let’s stick to ironing out all the possibilities in one scenario at a time.
Had you read the initial post I made on this you’d already know how it happened and wouldn’t be asking me. No one but you, apparently, "assumed" Babineau was killed in the initial attack. This from the article I cited in that post:
As hard as this might be for you to believe there are other sources besides the ones you cite. Initial reports were that there was one attack followed up by the abduction. Go back to the AP stories. They all cite one attack. So apparently I’m not the only one who assumed something. Unless I work for the AP and wrote the stories. You’ve been wrong up til now so do you want to take that bet as well?
but that the cause of death could not be immediately determined.
The other bolded part of the quote is commentary from the journalist. And as noted on other aspects of this story the facts change. Now we have two witnesses who claim all 3 Humvees were moving. Sucks that you declared that wasn’t the case, eh?
As for surrendering, at some point they were either taken unconsious or were taken because they quit fighting. If unconsious, then they didn’t surrender. Reports have them being led away under their own power. That indicates they quit fighting and surrendered.
See? That wasn’t so difficult now was it? You know what they say about muscles and habits...each benefits from practice. Keep it up.
Part of your job as a commenter is to do your homework. You’ve failed miserably in that department.
Do the job requirements of blog proprietor differ in any way? I’m just trying to figure out where our paths diverged.
Now unless you have some contrary and compelling facts I’d appreciate it if you’d find another place to do your trolling.
It was already provided. But in case your mouse buttons are malfunctioning I’ll quote in length so you can reply...in length.
But two Iraqis who said they were witnesses gave similar accounts of the moments when Privates First Class Thomas Lowell Tucker, 25, and Kristian Menchaca, 23, went missing in the al Qaeda stronghold of Yusufiya, south of Baghdad, on Friday.

They said the two soldiers and a driver fell back a few hundred meters behind two other military vehicles when they came under attack at dusk.

"There was one vehicle in the back of the convoy. It was very dusty. Suddenly these gunmen in Land Cruisers and Toyotas and other cars started firing at the soldiers," recalled farmer Omar Abdullah, 49, who said he was some 200 meters (yards) away.

"A lot of dust was kicked up by the cars so the soldiers in the other cars probably could not see. The gunmen killed the driver. Eventually the other two soldiers were totally outnumbered and they were taken away."

He said about 30 gunmen, some wearing ski masks and baggy black pants and others in white and red checkered headdresses, mounted the ambush.
Now, from the other thread you poopooed on my suggestion that the Humvees were not splitting up at all. You said there was nothing to indicate the third was moving. I think I said that didn’t matter. Well, it didn’t but now you have testimony that would lead a normal person to think that all 3 were moving. So back to my (then) hypothetical. Why is it necessary to believe a mistake was made and the 3 Humvees were split up? You still haven’t explained that after multiple requests to do that simple job. Surely that was your starting point for this theory of a mistake made, right? If you want to change the geography of your grand mistake from the decision to split up(which you won’t or can’t prove happened) to the decision to pursue at all then kindly do so.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
Uh, no. An SPC and two PFCs were left alone at a TCP, in indian country, without any NCOs. That is not disputed.
It isn’t?
They said the two soldiers and a driver fell back a few hundred meters behind two other military vehicles when they came under attack at dusk.

"There was one vehicle in the back of the convoy. It was very dusty. Suddenly these gunmen in Land Cruisers and Toyotas and other cars started firing at the soldiers," recalled farmer Omar Abdullah, 49, who said he was some 200 meters (yards) away.
If they were left there as a result of a SSG being too agressive, or because a Company CO wrote it into the patrol order, the criticism stands. It was a bad tactical decision. There was no go-to-hell plan.
Again, I’ll need something more than the word of Dale Franks. You can’t prove the 3 Humvees split up and you can’t prove any of other possible reasons for why one ended up overrun by jihadis. Neither can I by the way. Once again...I’m not the one who took a stance. It was you and McQ.

Moreover, stupid, even if, at the end of the day, we learn that they became separated from their patrol through some horrific misadventure, the tactical criticisms themselves are still perfectly valid.So even if no mistake is attributable to any one person in the chain of command your criticism of the mistake in the chain of command is perfectly valid? That explanation should be fun to watch.
At the moment, though, it looks like their separation was the result of a human decision, not misadventure. All of the reportage indicates that to date.
The reportage has changed. The initial claim of responsibility was reported then retracted. The Iraqi general sounded knowledgeable only to find out he’d only read a report. Babineau was the driver, then the gunner, now once again he’s the driver. They were "slaughtered", then burned, then dragged, now we don’t know how they died. Two Humvees were moving, now all 3. I think I pointed out the spotty reporting in the other thread...but of course that was a square peg and all you have are round holes.
Essentially, your stupid point, is that, unless we we know all things concretely, and cannot absolutely eliminate any possibility of misadventure, then we have to remain silent.
No. My point is that unless you know enough things concretely to state something unequivocally you should atleast grant that other possibilities are, umm, possible or remain silent. If you disagree with that maybe you should keep that "stupid" tag for yourself.
Well, of you think so, go read another blog. Because I’m done with you.
Oh, believe me I plan to. But after this is resolved. I’ve been reading you guys for too long to walk away in the middle of this.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
What I am saying is that we have to trust that junior leaders (either NCO or officer) will make good tactical decision in the field and follow the mission they are given.
Yes, agreed.
What you are implying - and I apologize if I get it wrong - that senior leadership should take extra action to make sure that junior leaders make good tactical decision and that they follow the letter and intented of the mission they are given. You cannot do that without micromanagement.
I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that senior leaders set the parameters, and junior leaders are expected to stay within them. One I would insist on, in the enviorment endemic to Iraq, is never breaking a squad up without the platoon leader’s explicit ok. That isn’t micromanaging. That’s setting Standard Operating Procedures (or ground rules).
This incident is one bad decision among a thousand of other good decisions.
The problem is that one bad decision cost three soldiers their lives. Unfortunately that’s how combat works. This isn’t a bad decision that made the stock price dip a little or caused a customer to be p*ssed off ... it cost lives. That’s why you have to be a little more careful in creating and enforcing ground rules, and a much less forgiving when they’re broken or disregarded.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Frontinus ... why are your eye-witnesses the only credible eye-witnesses now? What imbued them with instant credibility?

More importantly, why hasn’t the military contradicted the original story?
See? That wasn’t so difficult now was it? You know what they say about muscles and habits...each benefits from practice. Keep it up.
See what? I’ve said the same thing previously.
Do the job requirements of blog proprietor differ in any way? I’m just trying to figure out where our paths diverged.
I’m actually trying to figure out what your point is.
Now, from the other thread you poopooed on my suggestion that the Humvees were not splitting up at all. You said there was nothing to indicate the third was moving. I think I said that didn’t matter. Well, it didn’t but now you have testimony that would lead a normal person to think that all 3 were moving. So back to my (then) hypothetical. Why is it necessary to believe a mistake was made and the 3 Humvees were split up? You still haven’t explained that after multiple requests to do that simple job. Surely that was your starting point for this theory of a mistake made, right? If you want to change the geography of your grand mistake from the decision to split up(which you won’t or can’t prove happened) to the decision to pursue at all then kindly do so.
There’s no indication, given the reports, that the 3 were moving. None.

They were reported to be manning a TCP. You don’t move when manning a TCP. It’s a stationary mission.

Now, they either were or weren’t at a traffic control point. Unless you can confirm they were doing something else, they must be assumed to have been stationary. I assume, other than these two witnesses you have something to corroborate that they weren’t, in fact, at a TCP and all 3 were moving?

Once again, all indications and all reports are they were indeed stopped at that point.

That leaves your two suddenly credible witnesses. When those two suddenly observed the location where some firing was taking place, they may have assumed they were observing a convoy being hit (a fairly common occurrance in that part of Iraq) instead of observing a check point. They may also have assumed the third humvee didn’t move because it had been hit (further assuming it had been the target of the ambush) instead of not moving because the three had been ordered to stay behind and continue to man the TCP while the other 2 moved off after the insurgents.

Additionally, had the squad leader just run off from a disabled vehicle and its occupants in indian country, his mistake would have been compounded. That’s not how they do business.

Unless you come up with credible evidence they weren’t at a TCP and stopped, your scenario doesn’t work. A vehicle disabled and a driver killed among 3 stopped vehicles wouldn’t have the other two go chasing off after the bad guys. They would stay and support. They’d also call in the casualty.

One more time:
Caldwell declined to describe the condition of the soldiers’ bodies, saying it would be "inappropriate until I know what the families were told." He said it was clear that the soldiers had died of wounds suffered in captivity, rather than at the site of the attack on the checkpoint, but that the cause of death could not be immediately determined.

[...]

The killings of the two privates raised questions about why such low-ranking troops were left alone, backed by a single armored Humvee, in a region Caldwell described Thursday as "an insurgent hotbed" and the most dangerous place in Iraq for U.S. forces after Baghdad and Ramadi. Even in safer areas, U.S. troops generally travel in convoys to provide support in case insurgents attack or a vehicle breaks down.
Why is Caldwell identifying their position as a "checkpoint"?

Why is Caldwell quesitoning why two privates "were left alone, backed by a single armored Humvee" at the checkpoint?

And on the remote chance that your scenario has merit, why did the other 2 leave given the general SOP of providing security for broken down or disabled vehicles, especially if they had a casualty?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Frontinus ... why are your eye-witnesses the only credible eye-witnesses now? What imbued them with instant credibility?
I never said one group was better than another. Matter of fact my first post in this sordid affair had nothing to do with the supposed facts reported by that time. It was about what could have happened given those facts. There was nothing that implied an intent to split up the convoy. I simply said "what if a driver was shot and they got split up due to momentary inattentiveness." Nothing more. The only reason I provided todays new version from two other witnesses is because you didn’t want to talk about hypotheticals for obvious reasons. Well, now you’ve got something to look at.
More importantly, why hasn’t the military contradicted the original story?
I have no idea. Maybe they’re waiting for atleast a preliminary investigation before they muddy the waters even more. But you can’t square the eyewitness accounts. Even the numbers of jihadis are so far out of whack that one group must be wrong. Seven versus thirty. It doesn’t make any sense.
See what? I’ve said the same thing previously.
Actually, you didn’t.
A witness saw them led away, disarmed but under their own power and apparently not wounded.

Now regardless of how they ended up in the hands of the terrorists, one can properly surmise that at some point they quit fighting and allowed themselves to be taken.

That’s surrender.
Being rendered unconscious or overpowered and disarmed is hardly synonymous with that statement.
I’m actually trying to figure out what your point is.
No need as it was pure snark. One good turn and all that.
There’s no indication, given the reports, that the 3 were moving. None.
There is now. But as I said before my hypothetical wasn’t based on all 3 moving. It was based on intent. I assume their intent to be to all move out despite the fact that possibly only two did. You assume their intent was to leave one behind to continue with the check point. Maybe it was an ad hoc check point set up to nab someone in the area. Maybe one of the jihadi drivers spooked prompting immediately pursuit thinking that was their quarry. Maybe it wasn’t a diabolical plan at all and just a chance opportunity that was wildly successful. That would explain the bungled aftermath and the disparity of treatment between the two U.S. soldiers and the diplomats nabbed by the same group. Who freaking knows. It doesn’t matter to me how it happened. All I wanted to do is say that it was possible despite whatever was reported. And guess what..it’s still possible. But even if my hypothetical turns out to have been absolutely 100% correct it means nothing to me. It was a dichotomous choice...a flip of a coin. Whoever is right in the end won’t get a merit badge for insightfulness.
Additionally, had the squad leader just run off from a disabled vehicle and its occupants in indian country, his mistake would have been compounded. That’s not how they do business.
Again, you’re only assuming something that furthers your position. How about the other two Humvees not knowing one was disabled or its driver killed? Why must we assume there was some negligence or incompetence?
Unless you come up with credible evidence they weren’t at a TCP and stopped, your scenario doesn’t work. A vehicle disabled and a driver killed among 3 stopped vehicles wouldn’t have the other two go chasing off after the bad guys. They would stay and support. They’d also call in the casualty.
It doesn’t matter whether they were or not. Once again, you’re trying to make it seem as though all 3 vehicles were stopped when one was disabled. We don’t know that. We don’t know if 2 were moving when the driver of the third was shot. We don’t know if all 3 were moving when the driver of the thid was shot. Anything could have happened and I’m willing to accept that any of them did. You and Dale were not. Hence the argument. This isn’t a pissing contest from my end. I don’t care who is right in the end. You should have qualified your rant. You didn’t.

What does anyone do at press conference on a particular day? They are questioned and comment on what is known(or thought to be known if you like Rumsfeld) at the time. Again, I don’t care if my hypothetical has merit. It is possible...nothing more. Maybe with 3 Humvees(or 2) and a few jihadi SUVs offroading on main street there was dust in the air and there was momentary confusion. Again, you’re assuming there was some negligence or deviation from SOP. There’s no need for something sinister or some conspiracy bunk. Just plain dumb luck works well enough. They didn’t radio a casualty report or react to protect a disabled vehicle because no one saw it happen.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
"Hell, my hypothetical that all 3 Humvees were going to pursue..."

They were going to violate their orders and abandon their post in a combat zone? That’s grounds for court martial even without bad results.

One of the "lessons learned" in VietNam(and no doubt long before) was that the enemy would use individuals or small groups of personnel to lure American troops into pursuing them, whereupon the main force of VC/NVA would attack a weakened and divided US unit. This was publicized in official and unofficial army publications and passed on from experienced troops to inexperienced troops and trainees. I have seen an officer physically restrained form doing so. I have personally verbally chastised officer trainees for pursuing an apparently weak and vulnerable enemy unit without regard to their own vulnerability. Apparently this lesson, like many others, needs to be relearned the hard way by each generation. The individual in charge showed poor judgement under pressure, and should probably be reduced in rank.

On a lighter note, I knew one guy who claimed he was a one man sniper team and was sent out on missions by himself. His barrack mates(I heard this in the US) thought he was full of s***. After knowing this guy for a while, I thought he may have been truthful, though I thought the reason for sending him out may have been a little different than he thought. It’s a tough league.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
They were going to violate their orders and abandon their post in a combat zone? That’s grounds for court martial even without bad results.
Show me the orders.
One of the "lessons learned" in VietNam....
No need to go back that far to look at an enemy wholely dissimilar to the one in Iraq. Cooperative conferences(one good thing to come from the Carter admin), war college research, and plenty of books detailed the muj in Afghanistan. FMSO has a pretty extensive listing. Some people spent months getting to know the enemy years ago. Honest.
The individual in charge showed poor judgement under pressure, and should probably be reduced in rank.
McQ still has the podium. You might want to get in line.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
I have no idea. Maybe they’re waiting for atleast a preliminary investigation before they muddy the waters even more.
Caldwell talks about a checkpoint. Obviously he’s aware that was the mission. And I’d be willing to bet he got that directly from the unit involved.
Being rendered unconscious or overpowered and disarmed is hardly synonymous with that statement.
The same point is made ... led away under their own power strongly suggests they were conscious, which means they must have quit fighting and surrendered. Unless you’re familiar with unconsious people who walk under their own power.
But as I said before my hypothetical wasn’t based on all 3 moving. It was based on intent. I assume their intent to be to all move out despite the fact that possibly only two did.
Which, as I pointed out, indicates an even worse decision than the one to leave one group at the TCP. There is no pursuit worth leaving a disabled vehicle and crew alone in indian country. So a leader worth his salt would ensure all were with him when he moved out.

That’s his job.

Given your hypothetical, if he was aware the 3rd was disabled and left anyway, then he made an even worse tactical decision. If he was unaware, then he wasn’t doing his job and is just as guilty. If you believe a commander would just wander off and go into an attack unaware one third of his force wasn’t with him, well, I’m not sure we have much more to talk about.
Again, you’re only assuming something that furthers your position. How about the other two Humvees not knowing one was disabled or its driver killed? Why must we assume there was some negligence or incompetence?
Are you serious? You don’t assume anything in that sort of situation, you check, double check and triple check to ensure everyone is with you when you’re the leader. You put your eyes on all of them or you get radio confirmation they’re moving and what their position is relative to you. You don’t just hope or assume everyone is with you and wander off. You get killed that way.

And that is why those of us who’ve done this before make assumptions about this situation others can’t fathom. Been there, done that, know how it works, know how it is supposed to work, know how to make it work, know what it take to make it work and know why some scenarios are plausible and others aren’t.
It doesn’t matter whether they were or not.
It most certainly does. If they were stopped, they had established the TCP, the one MG Caldwell references. That, per Caldwell’s reference, was their apparent mission. That is why Caldwell and Chiarelli are questioning why those 3 were left at the "checkpoint" alone.

And 3-star generals don’t generally relay their concerns unless they’re pretty sure of the facts.

But the bottom line remains: whether they were disabled before, during, or after the engagement, whether they were stationary or moving, the leader of the group was WRONG to leave them. For any reason.
There is now.
No, there isn’t. As pointed out, at the time your two witnesses began watching the event, they could have been operating on assumptions, based on what they thought was happening, which just weren’t true.
We don’t know if all 3 were moving when the driver of the thid was shot.
The humvee was sitting at the TCP location and that argues strongly that it wasn’t moving.
Anything could have happened and I’m willing to accept that any of them did. You and Dale were not. Hence the argument. This isn’t a pissing contest from my end. I don’t care who is right in the end. You should have qualified your rant. You didn’t.
There’s nothing to qualify. There was a bad tactical decision made in the incident. Period. That’s irrefutatable on its face. For the sake of argument, assume any of the above scenarios as valid. In everyone of them the leader of that squad leaves 3 soldiers to their fate. That’s WRONG.

And the point of the "rant" as you characterize it was to point that out.
They didn’t radio a casualty report or react to protect a disabled vehicle because no one saw it happen.
Good lord ... then the leader of that squad is incompetent and should be relieved. It’s that simple.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen infantrymen work, but that is simply a no-go. No squad leader worth his salt would be unaware one of his vehicles was down and one of his guys was dead. Especially if he’s making an attack. And he certainly wouldn’t leave them if he was aware they were down and had a casualty. I don’t know how to stress this point strongly enough.

If however, he had told them to stay and left to chase insurgents, then it is possible he wouldn’t know one was dead when they were subsequently attacked.

That is why the last scenario is the only really plausible scenario. And that is the part you seem to not understand.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
What I am saying is that we have to trust that junior leaders (either NCO or officer) will make good tactical decision in the field and follow the mission they are given. What you are implying - and I apologize if I get it wrong - that senior leadership should take extra action to make sure that junior leaders make good tactical decision and that they follow the letter and intented of the mission they are given. You cannot do that without micromanagement.
Minh, I’m not gonna speak for Bruce, but I don’t see how you got that from my post. I didn’t really care how officers made their decisions about patrol objectives. What I cared about was the commander’s intent, and how I was gonna implement that intent as a squad leader or a flight chief .

(DIGRESSION: I was a USAF Air Base Ground Defense specialist, the USAF’s infantry. Unlike the Army, we were organized into 12-man squads. Each squad consisted of three fire-teams of four people: A FT Leader (Sgt or SrA), an M-203 grenadier, a M-60 machine gunner, and a rifleman/M-60 Assistant gunner. One FT leader leader doubled as Squad leader (SSgt or TSgt). These squads were organized into a 44-man ABGD flight, consisting of 3 squads, and an 8-man flight HQ element. The Flight HQ element consisted of the Flight Commander (1Lt or Capt), Flight Chief (TSgt or MSgt), 2 ratelos, and a fire team for security. Two or three ABGD flights make up an ABGD squadron, under command of a Maj or Lt Col).

My point was not that commander needs to micromanage, but rather that he needs to make his intent clear in the patrol orders. Once I divine the commander’s intent as a squad or patrol leader, I have to make tactical decisions based on the commander’s intent. If I can’t divine the commander’s intent from the patrol order, then I need to ask questions at the patrol brief to ensure my commander’s intent is clear.

Once I know the commander’s intent, then every tactical decision I make needs to be made in the framnework of the commander’s intent. If the commander’s intent is to man a TCP, then I’m gonna man the sh*t out of the TCP. If it’s to chase down insurgents, then, when the opportunity presents itself, I’m gonna chase insurgents and abandon the TCP.

My argumnent with the captain’s initial post is that it seemed to ignore the whole issue of commander’s intent. Or even worse, the commander’s intent was divided between two objectives. In that case, I am gonna decide, as a squad leader, which objective is more important at the moment, and pursue that objective.

In that case, my decision will be to pursue one objective well, instead of to pursue two objectives badly.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Unless the SOP had changed since I left Iraq - and I doubt that it did; one cannot travel anywhere without a minimum of three vehicles, nine persons, two crew-served weapons, and two sets of radio. Local commander may strengthen the standard, but not lower it. So by pursuing the enemies in two vehicles, the squad leader already violated the SOP.
That’s the point of all of this. It was a bad tactical decision.
Another thing about SOP, it is a guideline and should not be set in stone. There are time when it is impossible or unwise to follow the SOP.
But you better have a d*mn good reason ... and this one doesn’t rise to that occasion, does it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
It doesn’t matter whether they were or not. Once again, you’re trying to make it seem as though all 3 vehicles were stopped when one was disabled. We don’t know that. We don’t know if 2 were moving when the driver of the third was shot. We don’t know if all 3 were moving when the driver of the thid was shot. Anything could have happened and I’m willing to accept that any of them did. You and Dale were not. Hence the argument.
Yeah, that’s right. What you don’t seem to understand is that if the problem was that the 3rd HMMWV was disabled, that not only doesn’t absolve the squad leader, that, to my mind, makes the squad leader’s error even more egregious.

If the squad leader didn’t ensure that all three of his HMMWVs were following him, then he was even more negligent than if he had deployed the crew of the 3rd HMMWV to the TCP, then hared off on his own to follow the insurgents. I mean, the report you are citing says:
They said the two soldiers and a driver fell back a few hundred meters behind two other military vehicles when they came under attack at dusk.

"There was one vehicle in the back of the convoy. It was very dusty. Suddenly these gunmen in Land Cruisers and Toyotas and other cars started firing at the soldiers," recalled farmer Omar Abdullah, 49, who said he was some 200 meters (yards) away.

"A lot of dust was kicked up by the cars so the soldiers in the other cars probably could not see. The gunmen killed the driver. Eventually the other two soldiers were totally outnumbered and they were taken away."

He said about 30 gunmen, some wearing ski masks and baggy black pants and others in white and red checkered headdresses, mounted the ambush.
Apparently, you think that’s excupatory in some way. To my mind, with 10 years of experience as a M-60 gunner, M-203 grenadier, Rifleman, FT leader, and squad leader, that makes the squad leader look worse, not better.

And, of course, I’ve been the squad leader. I know what the squad leader is supposed to do. Have you?

If not, then I submit that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. If you have, and you’re the type of squad leader that can’t or won’t ensure that your whole squad is with you when you deploy, then, frankly, you need substantially more training/experience.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Caldwell talks about a checkpoint. Obviously he’s aware that was the mission. And I’d be willing to bet he got that directly from the unit involved.
Please point out where I disputed them being at a checkpoint?
The same point is made ... led away under their own power strongly suggests they were conscious, which means they must have quit fighting and surrendered. Unless you’re familiar with unconsious people who walk under their own power.
Conscious when they were led away. Whether they had been conscious since slightly before breakfast or for only minutes I have no idea. Then again we’re talking about at the point of capture. You said they quit fighting and surrendered whereas I don’t know.
Which, as I pointed out, indicates an even worse decision than the one to leave one group at the TCP. There is no pursuit worth leaving a disabled vehicle and crew alone in indian country. So a leader worth his salt would ensure all were with him when he moved out.
You have got to be kidding me, McQ. "Leaving a disabled vehicle...." We don’t know when the driver was shot. We don’t know how far that Humvee moved. We don’t know what the people in the other two knew. We don’t even yet know why they left the checkpoint. Quit stating something as fact when there are varying accounts from unreliable eyewitnesses.
If he was unaware, then he wasn’t doing his job and is just as guilty. If you believe a commander would just wander off and go into an attack unaware one third of his force wasn’t with him, well, I’m not sure we have much more to talk about.
There was a QRF en route. Who’s to say once the discovery was made that they didn’t wait to synchronize their arrival back at the spot of the checkpoint? You’re so deadset on pinning a scalp to your chest I doubt we have much more to talk about.
Are you serious? You don’t assume anything in that sort of situation, you check, double check and triple check to ensure everyone is with you when you’re the leader. You put your eyes on all of them or you get radio confirmation they’re moving and what their position is relative to you. You don’t just hope or assume everyone is with you and wander off. You get killed that way.
Yes, sorry to say I am. We’re talking about you and I assuming things. Please do keep track of pronoun targets, eh?
And that is why those of us who’ve done this before make assumptions about this situation others can’t fathom. Been there, done that, know how it works, know how it is supposed to work, know how to make it work, know what it take to make it work and know why some scenarios are plausible and others aren’t.
You don’t know what exactly they were doing so somehow I doubt your certainty. But I can see why you’d want an appeal to authority given your immediate reluctance to discuss even the smallest details.
was their apparent mission
Thanks for that.
That is why Caldwell and Chiarelli are questioning why those 3 were left at the "checkpoint" alone.
Well, let’s see what they say if the information changes. Oh wait...it did change.
No, there isn’t. As pointed out, at the time your two witnesses began watching the event, they could have been operating on assumptions, based on what they thought was happening, which just weren’t true.
Likewise with your eyewitnesses.
The humvee was sitting at the TCP location and that argues strongly that it wasn’t moving.
Or it was following the other two.
There’s nothing to qualify. There was a bad tactical decision made in the incident. Period. That’s irrefutatable on its face. For the sake of argument, assume any of the above scenarios as valid. In everyone of them the leader of that squad leaves 3 soldiers to their fate. That’s WRONG.
Yes, there is. And it’s most definitely not irrefutable on its face. I’ve been refuting it for a day now and you’ve done nothing to prove me wrong. And you couldn’t identify that tactical decision. You said it was X. Now you’re saying it’s either X or Y and both are somehow willful...or you have a bad habit picking your verbs.
Good lord ... then the leader of that squad is incompetent and should be relieved. It’s that simple.
Ok, so you admit it’s possible that a mistake/decision wasn’t made. At long last. Thank you.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen infantrymen work, but that is simply a no-go. No squad leader worth his salt would be unaware one of his vehicles was down and one of his guys was dead. Especially if he’s making an attack. And he certainly wouldn’t leave them if he was aware they were down and had a casualty. I don’t know how to stress this point strongly enough.
And I don’t know why you’re even bothering to stress this. I don’t accept that a squad leader or anyone else knew. I don’t even accept that they were attacking. Matter of fact, I don’t accept anything in your little strawman. But thanks for the effort.
If however, he had told them to stay and left to chase insurgents, then it is possible he wouldn’t know one was dead when they were subsequently attacked.

That is why the last scenario is the only really plausible scenario. And that is the part you seem to not understand.
Or...all 3 were leaving. They move out in pursuit. Babineau radios that he’s fine and moving. A second later he is hit and the Humvee is a sitting duck. Dust cloud obscures the road. The other two keep moving after communicating with Babineau. Two minutes(or pick your time) the second Humvee notices the third is gone. Radios to first. First radios commander on what to do. Commander asks if there is a firefight. First Humvee reports no. Commander says QRF en route, break off pursuit and synchronise with QRF back at checkpoint position. Entirely plausible. Nothing required to make it work. It fits perfectly with the evidence so far. Your failure of imagination isn’t any fault of mine.
 
Written By: frontinus
URL: http://
Hey, Frontinus! Guess what? You just exceeded my troll quotient for the month.

Bye.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Yeah, that’s right. What you don’t seem to understand is that if the problem was that the 3rd HMMWV was disabled, that not only doesn’t absolve the squad leader, that, to my mind, makes the squad leader’s error even more egregious.
The problem is that you wouldn’t even countenance the possibility.
If the squad leader didn’t ensure that all three of his HMMWVs were following him, then he was even more negligent than if he had deployed the crew of the 3rd HMMWV to the TCP, then hared off on his own to follow the insurgents. I mean, the report you are citing says:
He didn’t? And how do you know that? Let me guess the sun rises because the c0ck crows....He didn’t ensure they were following because one didn’t follow. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. It all makes sense now.
Apparently, you think that’s excupatory in some way. To my mind, with 10 years of experience as a M-60 gunner, M-203 grenadier, Rifleman, FT leader, and squad leader, that makes the squad leader look worse, not better.

And, of course, I’ve been the squad leader. I know what the squad leader is supposed to do. Have you?
Wow, appeal to authority. Quite the debate champ, eh, Dale? Like I told McQ...I can’t account for your lack of imagination.

And by the way, it is exculpatory in atleast one narrow respect. It’s possible the third Humvee was moving. Does that stick going down, Dale?
If not, then I submit that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
Given the reaction of you and McQ I’m going to hazard a guess that I got closer to my mark than you’d be willing to admit. I’m done with you...indeed.
If you have, and you’re the type of squad leader that can’t or won’t ensure that your whole squad is with you when you deploy, then, frankly, you need substantially more training/experience.
Yes, one military guy has already had his service deemed deficient for deigning to disagree with QandO. If I were you I’d stick to the topic at hand and put your resume back in the dust jacket.

By the way, Dale, don’t worry about me abusing your ban with proxies. I only wanted to post my reply to you which just missed the hammer. You have good timing if nothing else.
 
Written By: silence dogood
URL: http://
"Show me the orders."

This is a joke, right? Why the he** do you think they were there in the first place? They got bored sitting around the barracks so they decided to go for a drive?

"No need to go back that far to look at an enemy wholely dissimilar to the one in Iraq."

Enemies may be dissimilar, but tactics and stratagems don’t change. That is the point.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Given the reaction of you and McQ I’m going to hazard a guess that I got closer to my mark than you’d be willing to admit. I’m done with you...indeed.
What mark?

All you accomplished, as far as I can see, is raising a number of implausible scenarios because you’re unfamiliar with the duties of any commander in that sort of situation. Congratulations. Anyone can do that. I’m still at a loss as to what point you were trying to prove or you think you got close too.
Ok, so you admit it’s possible that a mistake/decision wasn’t made. At long last. Thank you.
Heh ... how you arrived at that conclusion simply mystifies me. Uh, no, in fact, if that were the case, he still made a BAD TACTIAL DECISION - A MISTAKE- to continue without knowing the status of the third humvee. His incompetence is demonstrated by his DECISION.

Clear enough?

Gawd ... your conclusion is indicative of the entire "argument" you’ve made. Are you so desperate to say "I’m right" that you are forced to invent admissions out of thin air?

And reading timactuals comment should make it clear that others aren’t buying into your nonsense either.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
McQ,

You’ve readvanced the strawman fallacy that I am trying to defend the tactical decisions made at Yousifiyah despite the fact that I’ve explicitly stated that I am not defending those decisions and have agreed that it was a mistake in this instance. Instead, my argument, which I have explicitly stated, is that I disagree with your original argument that you never split a squad plus or section minus element, however you want to term 12 soldiers. I have even concurred with a follow up statement of yours that it is a bad idea as a general rule of thumb. However, my point is that there are exceptions. You now seem to agree with my argument, having stated

One I would insist on, in the enviorment endemic to Iraq, is never breaking a squad up without the platoon leader’s explicit ok.

I would fully concur with this, as the platoon leader will be able to clarify whether he would want to even attempt running both missions and more importantly, the platoon leader is the one who will maneuver reinforcements to either location – where the original mission was and where the now maneuvering element is going. The squad leader will more than likely be able to correctly assess if his element is capable of defending from the current location and if he has the size to maneuver on the enemy that he made contact with. However, he DOESN’T own the assets that will come in the event that he needs to make a 911 call.

Now, please don’t offer the strawman that my original argument stated that it was the squad leader’s or section leader’s decision – I never discussed prior at whose level the decision should be – you were the one who brought this subject up.

***

Dale,

1. I never discussed commander’s intent because it is irrelevant to my argument about whether splitting up a small element in general is always wrong. Now, if you attach a specific mission to a scenario, then task and purpose absolutely matters.

2. Officers and non-commissioned officers don’t inherently have different methods of coming to tactical decisions. However, different experience sets and spans of control may lead to different decisions. For example, a NCO who served as a sniper and/or on a recon team may be more comfortable with operating in a smaller element and have passed on his experiences to his guys. Likewise, an officer may have the ability to get UAV coverage or indirect fire coverage or be able to maneuver reinforcements may be more likely to be comfortable with having smaller elements operating. In other words, experience will shape decisions, and the previous examples are just a small fraction of the variations that we could come up with.

3. It appears that you focused your response heavily on this TCP incident. Take a step back and think of a scenario where a three man element has a very defensible position. Now think of an enemy element that can be attacked successfully by a squad. If it helps, put the three man team in a Stryker, where they now are protected against indirect fire, against RPG and small arms fire, have a heavy automatic weapon, and have both long range digital and long rage FM communications. Now put the maneuvering squad in Strykers, where they have the same protection and capabilities. Give yourself UAV coverage to help mitigate even more of any potential risk. I would hope that you could come up with a least one scenario where splitting a squad would not prove to be an unnecessary risk. If for some reason, you can’t build a scenario, let me know, and I’ll build one, although it may not be as detailed as you’d like, as OPSEC would trump. I understand that this may seem somewhat artificial; however, it is fully consistent with my argument that to say you should never split a squad plus/section minus is just plain wrong. The purpose of the scenario is to demonstrate that you may be able to be split your small element and be judged to have used sound tactics. Also, once again, this is not an argument that advocates splitting your small element – just that it is the exception that may be warranted depending upon the situation, terrain, mission, etc. Likewise, I could build a mission statement that would cause a leader to consider splitting his element.

4. You are asking some of the right questions that would come up if you were to consider splitting your element. Commo, fire support, routes, fire control measures, etc. are a few more. Bottomline, I don’t think you’ll run into too many situations where splitting your squad plus/section minus element would be advisable. My unit had very specific minimum force requirements in Iraq – quite simply, the terrain in my AO didn’t permit fire teams to operate independently. However, there was other terrain in other AOs where such a course of action could potentially be used, depending on the enemy, other friendly assets, etc.

5. Lastly, I agree that sniper teams are different than a fire team. They do have different capabilities, training and equipment that make them more more survivable on average. However, the decision making process on whether to employ them is just the same. You still have to look at the enemy, look at other friendly capabilities (fire support, UAV, etc.), look at infil/exfil routes, defensibility of positions, etc. So, bringing up the sniper example is useful, although not completely analogous.
 
Written By: Shek
URL: http://
Now, please don’t offer the strawman that my original argument stated that it was the squad leader’s or section leader’s decision – I never discussed prior at whose level the decision should be – you were the one who brought this subject up.

McQ,
Having reread the posts, I stand corrected. I made a strong implicit argument previously that it was the squad leader’s or section leader’s decision, aka "ground commander," and as I stated in the post immediately prior to this, I would agree with your argument that the PL should be the one to make the call, with my main reasoning being that he is the one who will work the contingency issues such as reinforcements, fire support, etc.
 
Written By: Shek
URL: http://
Having reread the posts, I stand corrected. I made a strong implicit argument previously that it was the squad leader’s or section leader’s decision, aka "ground commander," and as I stated in the post immediately prior to this, I would agree with your argument that the PL should be the one to make the call, with my main reasoning being that he is the one who will work the contingency issues such as reinforcements, fire support, etc.
Fair enough ... then we’re agreed.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

 
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