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thedrifter
04-10-06, 08:15 AM
Guerrillas use creativity to try to fight Marines in Ramadi
By TODD PITMAN
The Associated Press

RAMADI, Iraq - On an eerie, battle-scarred street in this blown-out urban war zone, a mannequin with painted black hair stares silently at U.S. Marines hunkered down in sandbagged observation posts atop buildings a few blocks away.

It's the latest insurgent ruse in an evolving war pitting the world's most powerful military against guerrilla fighters using their most effective weapon: ingenuity.

Insurgents in Ramadi recently have flown kites over U.S. troops to align mortar-fire, released pigeons to give away U.S. troop movements and staged attacks at fake funeral processions complete with rocket-stuffed coffins, U.S. forces here say.

"They're crafty; I'll give 'em that," said Marine Cpl. John Strobridge, 20, of Orlando, Fla., as his Humvee passed the mannequin along one of the most bomb-infested roads in town, a street Americans call Route Michigan.

"Gun it! Gun it!" he screamed to his driver as the vehicle crossed a frequently targeted intersection.

The mannequin first popped up a few weeks ago in the courtyard of a secondary school near a collapsed building. The simple figure appears to be made of wood, with a white shirt and blue pants painted on. Two white arms hang down, carrying a briefcase.

"We kind of laugh at it. We don't know why they do it," Strobridge said. "But I think the idea is, we get used to looking at the mannequin, and then one day there's a real person standing there" -- with an AK-47 or a rocket launcher.

Marines said there's no point stopping to take it down. The road is too dangerous, and such bizarre sites are often booby-trapped. At the bottom of a light pole beside another mannequin elsewhere in the city, the sleeve of an American MRE package was found concealing a bomb.

A Marine intelligence officer, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said insurgents had placed other booby-trapped mannequins on roadsides, hoping that U.S. forces would believe that they were corpses and stop to check on them. He said they had used the same trick with real corpses.

In recent weeks, Marines found a human leg in the road with a pressure-switch bomb set to go off when it was picked up.

"The enemy will always try different things to try to get us to bite on. They're very smart," Capt. Andrew Del Gaudio, 30, commander of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment said during an interview at Government Center.

The Government Center, a sandbagged fortress topped with camouflage netting that serves as headquarters of the provincial government, came under two hours of sustained attack Saturday.

The most dangerous threat remains roadside bombs -- hidden in trash, potholes, piles of dirt or animal carcasses.

But guerrilla fighters also fly kites that signal to other fighters where U.S. soldiers are, to help them direct their fire, and Del Gaudio said insurgents have released flocks of pigeons as patrols go by.

Carlos Goetz, 29, of Miami said insurgents have also used mosque loudspeakers.

"They'll call for blood drives in the hospital or say there's gonna be a funeral procession, and seven out of 10 times that's code for an attack," Goetz said.