View Full Version : A Marine SGT Sounds Off

06-13-03, 06:46 AM
Letter written to David Hackworth

A Marine SGT Sounds Off


Was reading your article Secrets galore, I was wondering when the story on this unit would arrive, still waiting. Very interesting you hit on several topics maybe I can fill in some spaces. I did see the pictures on the news, of the attacked convoy. There was a short blip of one of the Sgt's or the Warrant Officer (rescued POW), saying while "returning fire their weapons malfunctioned, and they were forced to surrender".

I was a Marine and a Gulf war Vet and how I see this story so far...the vehicles involved did not follow convoy procedures, they were obviously close together when hit, as a result after the attack they stopped in a row (no herring-bone, no separation) rather than counter attack or leave the kill zone, some of them appear to possibly have even (rear-ended) each other. (poor preparation, poor training, poor leadership). In an interview with a family member of one- quoting " she said she would never see combat, she was in maintainence ". (poor perception) I sometimes wonder if any war stories are true. My point being if policy, tactics, and troops all ****ed up who is writing that story? We do not need to generate more hero's, it is possible this unit/individuals is and (did) something we might not call heroic. May or may not be their fault. I agree with you pound them for the facts.

I see some errors in what these troops probably did, but I also see some politics that killed these troops and will kill others in the future. In our new techno- micro managed military, officers quickly rid themselves of those basic old-fashioned things such as the application of (basic tactics). If I understood the news correctly yourself and all retired officers are old-fashioned, lets call that subliminal rhetoric.

I saw the very same thing in the gulf war right on the front line, Artillery units set in rows rather than staggered, My protest of the vulnerability and lack of basic tactics was met with "we will never see armor" by an officer. On a later move, with fighting on three sides we were almost over ran from behind (the fourth side) by a (retreating) Battalion of enemy tanks. The very same officer who spoke earlier also kept in his hummer, our platoons extra ammo, all of our hand grenades, all of our anti armor weapons, 203 grenades etc. His logic was he signed for it and was responsible for it all to turn it back in after the war.(LOL) When almost ran down by a battalion of tanks ( we had no anti-armor weapons available) ammo trucks lined up next to each other and howitzer pointed the other way- our orders? "get ready to speed shift" (that takes 5 mins) lol my orders? "get on the ****ing truck"- I figure better to fight with at least a 50. than sitting next to two 5 tons loaded with HE (18 trucks total). Helo's saved the day and our ass, it took them about 15 mins. Tank rounds were bouncing through our position, just one on a truck would have wiped out the unit. (no separation). I am starting to think the problem is control freaks run the military/s and cannot cope with separation of troops or equipment regardless that tactics dictate such things. As Artillery we were going in convoy (with) the armor and tank assaults, with air providing fire support until we took a position. So we were not exactly (in the rear), like other wars. Even on these assaults the (teeth) of our infantry weapons were in our lead or rear vehicle and not dispersed in the unit. This maintainence unit and what they went through almost gives me goosebumps, thinking of the same vulnerabilites. Our new fangled technotactics take into account every thing except basic and individual tactics like if by-passing hostiles with your supply and support to prepare and reinforce/arm/manuver them accordingly.

They missed the boat in the gulf now gulf2.

One of our many months in sand I noticed constant sand in my rifle- and that it wouldnt chamber every time. I cleaned it and tried again - same thing. I had all my guys try it, same thing- a few worked. We all cleaned weapons/ammo again and again, it turns out just the sand/dust in the air was enough to cause problems wet or dry- we werent allowed to cover our weapons- some Commander didnt like the appearance. SO I felt justified in having brought my own weapon- that and the fact we werent sure (when) we would get ammo-(thinking of barracks lebanon) I had friends that survived it. If I may be blunt that M16 rifle is a piece of ****- in function and design- it blows dirty gas into the bolt- the gas tube protrudes into the receiver, which with a worn magazine - the bolt will drive a round above it which takes 15 minutes to get out. The 55gr bullet while originally fairly destructive still had little energy, to increase the energy they added some weight to it- the added weight dictated a new twist rate, the new twist rate over stabalizes the new bullet-and an over stabalized bullet while accurate (no worky for tissue destruction). The weapon locks up so tight it is damn accurate but for that very reason the slightest sand or grit in the air and it will not function. It is my impression that the original rifle in vietnam quickly malfunctioned with carbon blowing into the bolt and building up (lets call that a dry exhaust) which they resolved with lets call ( a wet exhaust) new powder, now which do you think sand would like to stick to?

At the conclusion of your story Heavy Armor VS. Light Armor, I guess I sort of disagree. If someone was shooting at me and I was given a choice of which armor to hide in I would choose the previous heavy armor- but if I was tasked with responding to something as in (right now) I would want the lighter less thirsty armor. With the heavy in reserve. I guess I see it as initial response VS. final response. I spent almost 8 months in Saudi Arabia mostly (waiting) for our monster to have a tail.

At least in the old days learning to master basic tactics seemed to eliminate those without common sense, in these days of bureaucratic-techno-nontactical- wonders of micro-management, those with common sense seem eliminated in the selection process.

Though I had the Billet of a Staff Sgt and lead troops in combat alas I was just a lowly E-4 Cpl not even rating to write an after action report. Was nice reading your Article hope you dont mind hearing occasionally how NCO's see the world. It is kinda scary with this new brass portraying themsleves above debate or question on whatever issue. Ahh thats how we got the M16, this is such a cause and effect conversation, like lessons learned multiple choice lol D. didnt learn a damn thing

Let me summarize with a list

1) Todays troops esp. support troops are lacking weapons/training/tactics to survive the malfunctions/oversight of todays battle plans. They may have been told these things on (one) day in training but they do not practice them.(convoy combat)

2) The politics of the service prevent these tactical/training malfunctions being entered into after action reports, for correction from the troops up.

3) The lack of tactical knowledge/application by low level officers prevents them making analysis which would indicate any vulnerability. Higher level officers are generally consumed with "the big plan" and how to get an attaboy for themselves during it.

3) The basic rifle is so inadequate we cannot endure the reporting of all it's failures, the ammo which it needs in sandy areas is the same ammo which carbon fouls the bolt.- the bullet is over stabalized with the wrong twist- a fairly common feeding malfunction disables the rifle etc etc.

And-all we wanted to know were the facts about private lynch. They said she had bullet holes "small ones" - say the size of the pins and stretchers the news shows the iraqi's using instead of cast for broken bones. I think some of them were barely surviving Army life away from home and were hysterical during the attack- others were killed- a few tried to fight back with weapons that malfunctioned- from a tactical position/situation they shouldnt have been in. But this is just a guess is it really secret?

As a side note the problem with 911 was not acting on analysis and the solution-stovepiping all analysis to one place as nothing to do with acting on analysis. You are analysis but they like to keep it in a box. We need public analysis- we get analysis of rhetoric.

Good Day Soldier/Sir (snappy salute)~ give em hell, (pardon the typos)

Name withheld..............



Secrets Galore from Iraq article


06-13-03, 08:59 AM
Without addressing specific points, due to my lack of current knowledge, I will make THIS comment.

When someone comes running into MY house to tell me it's on fire, I don't ask him his rank, position, social status, political affiliation, or his opinion on current events of the day.

Either the house is on fire, or, depending on the season, the suspicious smoke is coming from our Christmas fireplace. OR it's the first of April.

I MAY regret paying attention later, but considering the alternative .......................