View Full Version : Gear / TTP List

04-29-2007, 05:48 AM
29 Washington Post commentary - Tom Ricks's Inbox (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/27/AR2007042702041.html).

Some of the most interesting accounts of the Iraq war have come in notes from young soldiers writing to comrades who are preparing to deploy to the country.

Here, Army Lt. Brendan Hagan, a resident of Arlington and a recent graduate of George Washington University, advises an ROTC buddy on what to bring with him (the letter has been edited slightly for space). Hagan is now a highly regarded infantry platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division, operating near the town of Samarra...

Here is the list - visit the link for an explanation of why each item or TTP has been included:

Desert ghillie suits or ghillie blankets
Spotter scopes or good binos
Always carry everything you might need in the vehicles
Always have all your night fighting equipment with you
Make sure all extra ammo for the crew-served weapon is NOT inside the crew compartment
Have fire blankets on all vehicles in a standard location
Be very careful when driving on dirt roads. Don't do it if you don't have too
When a vehicle does get disabled by an IED or mine, slow down and look for secondaries before you move up to aid
Don't be afraid to dismount
Whenever you talk to someone get their full name. There will always be three
One last thing to remember is to use your personnel that have been here before, but do not get sucked into the that's-not-how-we-did-it-last-time thing

04-29-2007, 07:45 AM
I think this would be a great place to talk about the TTP's we employed for vehicle movements.

I was the point vehicle, point element in all of our movements. When we rolled as a platoon we had four trucks and when we rolled as a company we would have movements of 50+ vehicles going to or from Camp Fallujah. Let me tell you there is nothing more hair raising than leading your entire unit on a route that you may or may not have traveled on previously, may or may not be mined or IED laden and is always a threat.

My biggest fear was not that my vehicle would get hit but that I would miss the wires or signs that would get someone behind me hit. In my entire deployment with some skill and a considerable amount of help from Above we were only hit with one (ONE) IED and preemptively uncovered hundreds. The one that did hit our convoy destroyed some gear but was otherwise ineffectual. After examining the blast site it was determined, somewhat to my relief, that the concealment of the IED was so effective that it actually minimized the effectiveness of the blast.

Here are some of the methods we developed and employed over time. These are in no way comprehensive but certainly served to help us immensely and if they can do the same for someone else than that is great. (Bear in mind these were pre EFP days so I can not speak on the latest devices being employed.)

1. Our lead truck (my truck) was up-armored. The logic in the platoon was two fold. One, if a heavy truck can navigate the route anything behind it should be able to do so as well and as a corollary if your lead truck says the route is a "no go" then at least the column is not cut in half. The second was that since every trace vehicle "laces the tracks" of the vehicle in front of them the lead truck is the most likely to be hit by an emplaced mine. Having the armor was nice but it seriously impaired our observation skills and one of my initial inner dilemmas was whether or not the immediate safety of my team (buttoning up the windows etc...) was more important than being able to observe the IED signs and symbols. We had to have the heavy truck but we did not have to be blind so I decided that we would keep the windows down and all eyes (and sometimes heads, arms and ears) would be oriented in every direction.

2. We rolled everywhere SLOW. I have seen a lot of units who haul ass everywhere they go but I can not speak for the merits or liabilities of that tactic as it was one that was not preferred by Gunny or my Lt. (Which by extension, means I did not like it either! :) ) As I mentioned, I was not only point element for platoon sized movements but also company and battalion sized (when Bravo led) movements as well. A number of the tactics we designed were geared towards being a viable scout element for our bigger movements and consequently they have a very defensive yet proactive feel to them.

A considerable amount of study has been done by the LE community and the military that compares observation skills/ reaction times with speed while driving. We would all agree that at higher speeds our peripheral perception becomes severely diminished. It was because of this that we "slowed our roll" so to speak and I think that the record (one sloppy IED in 100+ that we FOUND) will speak for the merit of the tactic.

By moving slower we were able to project a simultaneous sense of peace to the locals (it was much easier to stop and have a conversation or share the latest information at 5mph than 5omph) and menace to would be IED trigger men. One of the guys from another platoon said that we constantly looked like we were about to do a drive by and to the irhabi I am sure that is how it came off. (The locals and kids etc... knew better, they were getting smiles and "Salaams" and waves...) I know of the countless IED's we uncovered but I shudder to think of how many were spooked off by the watchful eyes of our gunners and A drivers.
By rolling slower and having optics up front we were able to stop well in advance of suspicious objects, dirt mounds etc... and glass the item/area without having to stop right on top of said item/area.
One obvious downside to this is that it took us much longer to get to certain points and we had to back plan and work our time tables accordingly. A know a couple commanders whose initial impatience at having to move so slow were quickly curbed when the slow, methodical approach would uncover 15 daisy chained IED's... my point, everyone learned to adapt to the Low Rider approach.

3. We took combat engineers with metal detectors as attachments with us on every patrol. I don't know how viable this is for everyone but it worked wonders with us. One of the seats in my truck was reserved for an engineer, no questions asked. Same thing with the rear truck and if we could get three 1371's then the third would go with either Gunny or the Lt. Having these guys was awesome. Over a period of time we started to work with the same teams and developed a rapport with them and they with us. If (while rolling slow) I, or my gunner, driver, the engineer or my ATL saw something (everyone was engaged in the observation process and stayed as such until we got back to base) we could easily alert the patrol, stop, dismount the platoon and push them out to the flanks** while I would observe the item of interest with my vehicle. If we thought the item was a potential threat I would punch in to the flank with my engineer (while four heavy guns and 40+ eyes covered my movements) and search for signs of lead wires, trigger devices, footprints, vehicle traffic etc... Only after clearing the side would I (and my little buddy) approach the suspicious item and when we did we would only do so from the EXACT angle that we thought the insurgent would approach it from. After coming on the item I would provide security (more like assurance... if he died he knew I was going with him) while he ran his detector over the area. If he got a hit we would IMMEDIATELY back off and scour the area before re approaching or calling EOD.

**By flanks I mean off of the roads and 15-20 meters into the side (terrain dependent- a ditch or canal would preclude this) where everyone would conduct "5 & 20's" The "5's" were the initial cursory searches of everything that was within 5 meters of their position and were geared for short halts. The "20's" were deeper searches or the area around them and often turned up weapons caches, wires, IEDS etc...

More on EOD (self help and otherwise) tomorrow... I am also considering putting some of the schematics for the tactics we employed down on Word/Paint diagrams if anyone is interested in seeing how we divided trucks, elements, roles etc... I have all of my notes from my last deployment and would be happy to diagram some of this out if it would help.


04-29-2007, 08:00 AM
Ender - thanks - would recommend any diagrams of TTP be exchanged via PM / e-mail with those you know are in an official capacity. Nice post though.

04-30-2007, 05:18 AM
I've never seen the "go slow" method described so succinctly. Unfortunately, during my time, we rolled in 3-4 NTV "serials" which were armed primarily with 9mms, so "go slow" was not an option. We typically drove 60-70 mph and prayed for the best.

But that was then, this is now.

04-30-2007, 02:23 PM
I've never seen the "go slow" method described so succinctly. Unfortunately, during my time, we rolled in 3-4 NTV "serials" which were armed primarily with 9mms, so "go slow" was not an option. We typically drove 60-70 mph and prayed for the best.

But that was then, this is now.

120mm, the good old/bad old days. Running around in a white pick up truck, no comms, and a mandress with sandals in a backpack as my "E+E" plan.:eek:

04-30-2007, 06:55 PM

Mission and equipment dictate speed. If I am the terrain owner and I am conducting security patrols/MTC. Then I am going to lean on the slow side of the speed spectrum, but I would vary my speed based on what I was doing (going point A to point B at high speed) in order to keep the bad guys guessing. I you are not in a hardened vehicle, then speed is life. If I was just transiting an area, and had no organic responsibility in that area, then I attempted to transit it at the highest speed possible. Once again, speed varition being used to throw off triggermen. Different situations call for different tactics. I am glad to see that Tom Ricks has as in with the ROTC crowd. I guess he is trying to expand his ever shrinking circle of friends (sources).

04-30-2007, 11:22 PM
I concede there are absolutely times when speed is essential and a few examples that come to mind are:

Raids, VCP's, Area Cordons and Cordon & Knocks: These all require a measure of decisiveness and directness in order to effectively catch your quarry in the act, or more likely catch them at all. If coordinated speed is not employed during mission profiles such as these, we miss our targets and they will slip through our net, sometimes never to be caught again. Even with this though I do not know if I would suggest going balls out JUST because the particular mission is more DA oriented. The emphasis I would place is not speed = safety, but that vigilance = safety and speed is only a positive component in so much as it can be controlled. Speed caused more problems for a lot of convoys I saw than they ever solved. If someone shoots at me when I am doing 70mph I am considerably less likely to be able to pinpoint the source of the threat and engage it than if we were cruising at 7 but it is assured, guaranteed, that my desire to return fire is the same IF NOT HIGHER when I am doing 70 miles and hour. This is a dangerous mix... Another problem I saw is what happens to the rear of a column traveling at Ludicrous Speed is very rarely (OK never) communicated to the front in an instant and more often than not this comm gap leads to the patrol becoming temporarily divided at worst or momentarily disoriented at best. I know speed makes us feel safer but I have found as cliché as it sounded to me in Boot and ARS, "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is truly where its at.
MSR's: This is the one example where we would pick up our pace and drop the hammer but.... the amount of time we spent on MSR's compared to rural, irregular roads was completely disproportionate. If I had a month to talk about comprehensive vehicle tactics I would spend 3 and a half weeks talking about the rural and urban aspects (Low Rider 101) and only a weekend on MSR procedures (Miami Vice).

I am definitely not saying that speed is a bad thing, it is just that I believe it doesn't matter whether you are in a Daewoo or an Abrams, trained observation and a highly disciplined sense of vigilance goes so much farther to ensure safety in every situation than speed saves in a few. I have to admit that the times we went fast were so few and far between that I can not speak from experience on the pros or cons of doing so and am only offering opinions about what I observed from the outside in, so to speak.

05-01-2007, 01:15 AM
Aside from the speed issue I think the list concept is a good one and agree with everything there and would even add a couple items:

Shovels. Make sure every truck has one. A good one. I know this is more of a 4 shop request than a rucksack item but its importance can not be overstated. People ask me here in the States how Iraq was and I tell them 99 days out of 100 over there are spent with a shovel and that it is the one day in 100 they hear about here. They think I am highlighting the disparity in number of humanitarian missions compared to "martial machine gunning" missions and while they are mostly correct they too often don't realize I am being literal as well. In Iraq, as many of you know, it is impossible to go 1000 meters without tripping over a cache of some magnitude. Once your patrol has found the mobile AA piece (you weren't looking for) buried in the cemetery (for example) your ass is not leaving until it is recovered and if you were headed for one of AMZ's lieutenants, that is ok... someone else can do the hit... My point is with everything that is buried over there and the conditions of the roads everywhere it is very nice to have the means to dig quickly, comfortably and with some minimal expectation of effectiveness.
Spray Paint. Lots of it. We stocked up on browns, greys, blacks and greens (of all shades) before we left specifically so we could modify our hides, equipment and weapons... it is very difficult to insert a sniper team and leave them anywhere for any length of time (because of the nature of local foot traffic) unless you have "pre fabbed" the bulk of their "hide" before hand. With the ghillie material, the right vegetation and a conservative amount of paint in the right mixes you can blend your hides without having to pick up a specific soil, building sample from your intended OP before hand to make sure they match. Without these materials expect to have your teams compromised within 8-12 hours of insert(if not much sooner...say like by daylight)... bottom line if you expect to insert anyone covertly and have them stay concealed you are going to have to do a considerable amount of prep work before leaving the LOD. Paint is fast and effective...and in combination with other concealment methods works quite nicely. (As an aside to paint re: hides etc... it is also helpful to be able to put a fresh [or old?] look on something in a hurry... cars, buildings, windows, walls etc...if you play off of what they are USED to seeing it is easier to trick "their" eyes.)
Ditto on the NOD's... in fact EVERYTHING should go out with you every time. Frago's happen and there is no excuse for we don't have item 'X' because this wasn't supposed to be mission 'Y.'
Cameras. We sent everyone who had one and wanted to out with their own personal cameras. No two people would have the same perspective on the same patrol and if Private So and So can back up his gut feeling (good bad or indifferent) to his Platoon Commander, about Mahmoud Such and Such and do so with color pictures it carries considerably more weight than trying to get the same 18 year old to articulate his complex (and often correct) instincts verbally. With the SIDS system now this goes a step further where E-2 So and So's snapshot can be relayed back to the FOB and used for immediate decision making. An example of this that I saw came from a Lance in my platoon. This kid took pictures of a group of MAM's earlier in a patrol.... hours later this same kid took pictures of another group of MAMs and noticed that one of the guys was the same in both groups...except for he had dramatically altered his clothing and general appearance. The Lance was able to take his digital camera and show it to our Gunny who then proceeded to look for, find and search the guy's vehicle. That camera enabled us to take a few RPK's and an RPG off the street of Fallujah before Al Fajr and highlighted just how effective good observation skills can be. If this E-3 hadn't had the picture to back up just HOW altered this guy's appearance was it is POSSIBLE that the platoon leadership may have mentally made an excuse for him (maybe he played soccer and showered, or is heading to prayers etc...) and let the guy slide. We had issues initially with the 2 not wanting to take pics from personal cameras but a JPEG is a JPEG and they weren't going to refuse hot photos with the proper format simply because they came from a camera that wasn't serialized. I guess more accurately, we were going to take the photos no matter what and if they wanted to use them they would have to deal with where they came from. On any given (5 hour to 5 day) patrol we would have 15 personal cameras on board in addition to the hot mega jobs we were issued. By the end of our deployments all of our debriefs would have 5 or so separate (fully edited, "azimuthed" and annotated) photo logs that would together provide a VERY comprehensive picture of what went down.

05-01-2007, 06:05 AM
120mm, the good old/bad old days. Running around in a white pick up truck, no comms, and a mandress with sandals in a backpack as my "E+E" plan.:eek:

With $3 million in duffel bags in the back for contractor payments. Don't forget that....