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Michael Yon: Operation Arrowhead Ripper, day one
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, June 21, 2007

Michael Yon has his first dispatch up on Operation Arrowhead Ripper (don't ask, sometimes the names of operations are taken from random lists and mean nothing). Lead paragraphs:
The first day of operation Arrowhead Ripper was intense. The Army is giving full access to the battlefield, and while on base full access to the TOC (HQ) which means I see the raw truth on the ground, and as it feeds through the TOC. They are hiding nothing. Or if they are, it’s in plain view. (Special operations notwithstanding.) A reporter can see as much as he or she can stand.

Civilian casualties are occurring, despite much discretion being used on the firing. I saw three MLRS rockets hit targets downtown today (June 20) and more were fired. Watched the video feed from the TOC as some of them hit. The targeting was perfect. Our guys had cleared out the civilians, but the enemy starts shootouts using civilians as cover. American officers are trying to account for civilian casualties; media is asking and command is still unable to answer, which of course looks like a cover-up. From what I see on the ground, there is no cover-up. The number is unknown but certainly there must be some.
He goes on to talk about an NYT reporter who is covering the operation and his interest in seeing how he reports it. As they say, do read the whole thing.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

But with stuff like this by the BBC, you have to wonder who the enemy really is.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
McQ - I was wondering if you could say something about what exactly "corps level operations" are. And how they are different from what’s been occurring previously...

Bill Roggio has a summary of some of what is going on...
Written By: Keith_Indy
But with stuff like this by the BBC, you have to wonder who the enemy really is. (link fixed)

For over two hours yesterday, the BBC News website carried a request for people in Iraq to report on troop movements.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
I was wondering if you could say something about what exactly "corps level operations" are.
Bruce can correct me if he wants, but essentially, although there are a number of exzceptions, it works like this:

Armies are organized in units of various sizes. The basic unit is the fire team, which consists of four or five persons. In the USAF a fire team consists of a FT Leader (M16), Grenadier (M203), Machine Gunner (M60), and assistant gunner (M16). The Army, on the other hand, uses a five man fireteam, with the addition of a dedicate rifleman (M16).

In general, two or three fire teams form a Squad. Two squads form a section. two or three sections form a platoon. Usually, though not always, from this point, progressively larger units consist of three smaller units. Three platoons form a company. And so on and so on.

So, in the army, the usual progression of units in the army is as follows:

Fire Team
Army (or Army Group)

So, when you are talking about corps-level operations, you’re talking about operations that are being carried out by all of the divisions that make up a corps, operating to achieve a specified goal. So, corps level operations are very large operations, carried out in a large geographic area, by all of the units that form part of a corps.

Most of what has happened in Iraq—after the actual invasion—have been local operations, carried out at the company or battalion level, and occasionally at the regimental level.

In case you’re interested, in the USAF, the equivalent ground forces organizations would be:

Fire Team
(No Section in the USAF)
Air Division
Numbered Air Force
Major Command

At least that’s the theory. In actual practice, the USAF doesn’t have any ground forces units larger than a Wing. Also, equivalent USAF units tend to have more personnel at the flight level, since a USAF Air Base Ground Defense flight consists of 44 persons, while an army platoon usually consists around 30 persons.
Written By: Dale Franks
Thanks Dale, that’s the kind of context I was looking for.

As I describe on my blog, according to the map Bill has on his website, and some MS Live figuring, the AO is roughly the size of New Jersey.

And yet, most of the media is pretty ambivalent about the whole thing.
Written By: Keith_Indy

Somewhat of a side question, but I noticed you used the M60 as the MG. Has the org changed any, now that we are using the M249 and M240, and I’ve heard that some have Designated Marksmen added to the mix (or is that just the Marines?). At what level would they fit in? Has the M240 taken the M60 slot, and moved the M240 up the org? Sorry for the pedantic question.
Written By: Crusader
The Army uses the 4 man fire team, now.....
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
It varies widely depending on the unit (Infantry != Airborne Infantry != Air Assault Infantry, and none of them = any other unit’s platoon loadout) but basically an Infantry platoon has a weapons squad with two machine gunners and two AGs. In most cases those are 240 gunners, with one 249 assigned to each of the three rifle squads.
Written By: Lysenko
URL: http://
Crusader: the 240 is replacing the M60 as the 7.62 machine gun. The 249 is the 5.56 MG.

Keith: A corps is a unit of at least two divisions (or more). In conventional warfare it is where tactical and strategic begin to diverge. Divisions fight the close battle, Corps fight the deep battle. So the division is the largest unit involved in the tactical battle, and a corps is usually the smallest unit involved in the strategic battle (although it has a tactical function as well).

In asymetrical warfare such as this a crops really doesn’t function in quite that manner, so I’d guess that because of all the different units involved in the fight (and they’d most likely be the equivalent of two to three divisions) they’re using a corps headquarters to manage the battle space, allocate non-divisional assets and ensure seamless joint operations as well as provide liason with both MNF-I and the Iraqi government.
Written By: McQ
John Derbyshire is on the "Operation Arrowhead Ripper" explanation trail.

The Corner: Re: Arrowhead Ripper
Written By: Marlin
URL: http://
Dale, that was very helpful. COuld you possibly supplement the post by adding approximate troop levels for each unit?

Written By: Francis
URL: http://
In most armies a squad consists of eight to fourteen soldiers, and may be further subdivided into fireteams.
There are two fireteams per squad.

A platoon is a military unit, typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing about 30 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three or four platoons.
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 100-200 soldiers. Most companies are formed of three or four platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type and structure.
A United States Army battalion includes the battalion commander (Lieutenant Colonel), his staff, and headquarters, the Command Sergeant Major (CSM), and usually 3-5 companies, with a total of 300 to 1,200 soldiers. A regiment consists of between two and six organic battalions, while a brigade consists of between three and seven separate battalions.
A brigade is a military unit that is typically composed of two to five ... battalions ... Usually, a brigade is a sub-component of a division, a larger unit consisting of two or more brigades.
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of around ten to twenty thousand soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions make up a corps.
A corps is a battlefield formation composed of two or more divisions, and typically commanded by a lieutenant general.
If you’re interested in the order of battle of specific US Army units, they can be found here.
Written By: McQ
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Crusader: the 240 is replacing the M60 as the 7.62 machine gun. The 249 is the 5.56 MG.
McQ, I know that, silly. I just wondered how it fit in the picture, since Dales example was a 70s/80s model, and when the M249 was introduced, it was the first SAW (dedicated Automatic Rifle, as such) that we had introduced since the late 50s when the BAR was retired. Dales example was M16+M60, but for the last almost 15+ years we have had M16+M249+M240. That’s all.
Written By: Crusader
Well you hit on it in your explanation. The SAW replaced the "automatic rifleman" of BAR days. The AR was the guy who was able to give immediate suppression with his BAR. Believe it or not, when the M16 was introduced, M14s (a 7.62 weapon) were still used as the AR. They, however, were quickly phased out. When we went to the M16 totally, it was inadequate to the job (it was just one more M16, the difference being a designated guy in each fireteam kept his on automatic) being limited to a 20 round 5.56 magazine. Needed something which could fire longer in a suppression role. Thus the SAW. It is exactly what it says it is .. a SQUAD automatic weapon.

The 240 is a PLATOON automatic weapon, and they are placed by the platoon leader and is a heavier and thus more effective weapon. Nothing has changed in that regard that I know of except the weapon designation.
Written By: McQ
Thanks McQ!
Written By: Crusader

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