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Old 02-01-2007   #7
Council Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 74
Default Stormtroop Tactics and Cordon and Knock

Great discussion. Couldn't agree more--we must be very careful training Marines/Soldiers for CQB using SWAT TTPs when the enemy is often hunkered down in what would have been considered pillboxes in WWII. Then 1stLt Elliot Ackerman, USMC, wrote a great Gazette article in the Sept 2006 issue titled "Relearning Stormtroop Tactics: The Battle for Fallujah" that provides insight into his experiences leading a rifle platoon in Fallujah. I tried to attach the PDF file but it's too big. Not sure if you've all had a chance to read it.

In the article Ackerman initially describes how he felt unprepared to attack a highly determined irregular foe in a fortified urban defense commenting that he didn't think we'd "cracked the code" just yet on urban combat. He proceeds to describe all Marine units at first relying too heavily on CQB tactics only to realize very quickly that doing so equates to suicide. He then demonstrates how infantry squads/platoons quickly learned to first identify enemy positions and then moved to isolate/overwatch while calling in tanks, air, D-9s, CAAT, LAR, Bradleys, etc. to reduce before Marines moved into clear. It's in the latter clearing process that CQB skills should be emphasized and employed. In sum: CQB TTPs are fine, but the conditions must be set to employ them before entering the objective.

Another and possibly even more important point brought on in the article is the importance of U.S. units using infiltration tactics when fighting irregular foes in Block III urban combat instead of strictly relying on on-line assaults that are currently recommended in our doctrine and the standard in most of our training exercises. Ackerman argues that using on-line tactics makes the enemy's job easy and falls right into his preferred strategy: attrit U.S. forces at range and then fall back through pre-made tunnels, jumping from roof-to-roof or over gates, etc as U.S. forces close and then to continue this pattern until you run out of room, at which point you execute your pre-determined E&E plan and live to fight another day. His argument in this respect is supported strongly by Poole's analysis in Phantom Soldier and Tactics of the Crescent Moon. Ackerman's experiences demonstrate the validity of urban night infiltration tactics as his platoon successfully infiltrated roughly 300 meters behind enemy lines and proceeded to wreak havoc on the enemy at first light when the enemy attempted to expolit what they perceived to be our predictable on-line attack preference shortly after the sun comes up in the morning.

All this said it's still extremely important for U.S. forces to train for urban ops at the other end of the spectrum of conflict as well. This afternoon I spent an hour conducting an AAR interview w/ an infantry Lt recently back from Ramadi. Many of his comments emphasized the importance of Marines toning down their actions and being much less aggressive when conducting cordon and search operations and even raids. As his company's primary raid force he found after a few months that his unit was much more successful when knocking and talking vs. explosive breaching/kicking down doors--even when conducting raids. He argued that even when we think we have solid intel, we're still wrong or too late in acting very often, therefore, our SWAT hard hit tactics only serve to increase the pool of POIs (pissed off Iraqis). Besides, he said he'd always isolate the objective area first and then move to enter the house with more Marines and firepower than the enemy had. Many interesting points were made throughout the discussion. His company's experience in Ramadi only goes to show that a unit can succeed when doing everything possible to de-escalate as much as possible.

Last edited by Maximus; 02-01-2007 at 04:50 AM.
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