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Thread: Roadside Bombs & IEDs (catch all)

  1. #221
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    The objective area vs. Walk in issue was the exact issueI looked at in a MC Gazette article a ways back that analysed Fire Force. We can technically do it, BUT I don't think we are doctrinally organized to do it.

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    Council Member Pete's Avatar
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    Wait a minute, Mr. Custis, you wrote that article on the Rhodesian Fire Force concept in Marine Corps Gazette. Was the reluctance to walk to the objective mainly to enhance the speed of execution?

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    If by THAT article you mean the one circa 2000, yes, that was mine.

    Was the reluctance to walk to the objective mainly to enhance the speed of execution?
    With this question, are you asking about the Rhodesians? If you are, I think the actions of the various elements (RLI, RAR, etc.) that provided Fire Forces were founded on the mobility that the helicopters provided first and foremost, but you have to remember the factors someone else already described.

    The Rhodesian Sec Forces were very small, considering the land mass they were responsible for. With that in mind, and considering the fact that multiple sightings of terrorist "gangs" could be made in a single day and in a single ops area, the Rhodesians generally could not afford to walk to the objective. It just took too much time. That's not to say that they never walked about...it's just that in order to reset the Fire Force, the techniques employed worked best when they were dropped straight in. Please note that the Selous Scouts and C Sqdrn SAS boys did plenty of long range inserts to gain observation over enemy infiltration routes, encampments, etc.

    Of note is the fact that the terrorists would often split up into very small groups (either on purpose or plain lack of discipline) and "bombshell" out for some distance before trying to go to ground. In order to assess the avenues of escape that they might try to use, the command helicopter usually pulled right into an orbit over the target area, so it makes sense that the maneuver sticks that were dropped in followed the same route and went straight to the area. Fire Force was the classic employment of counter-terrorist techniques that we hear argued for by some with regard to Afghanistan. It was conducted in a COIN campaign for sure, but the techniques only solved a single problem set.

    I disagree with Wilf that Fire Force was borne out of the lack of helicopters. The use of old CH-47 Dakotas for parachuting sticks in was a result of the lack of aircraft, but the Fire Force was born out of precisely the mobility that the Alouettes and later Bell Hueys (only dispatched for FF work infrequently if I remember correctly) provided.

    I also disagree that the concept would have had problems if pitted up against a more determine foe that employed more MANPADS. Although they didn't employ active anti-SAM measures in the way of IR decoys, the flight profiles employed and exhaust manifolds bolted on did work to an effect. It's also important to remember that the FF did not just stumble into a target area based off of some fleeting spot report. An OP was typically in position with a view of the tgt area, and knew the terrorist composition, strength, and armament, and had fed the information via radio retransmission to the ops center responsible for the FF strike.

    If the terrs had decided to stand and fight, all the better targets for the 20mm Hispano autocannon and the .303 quad guns. They would have had a success here and there for sure, but I'm not certain it would have been operationally significant unless they brought down more than 10 helicopters. I cannot remember the numbers of aircraft actually shot down, but I think there were more incidents of combat accidents than anything else. And if the SAMs had become an issue, I suspect that the Rhodesians would have simply started attaching snipers to the OP teams so that those threats could be addressed.

    We could achieve similar effects for sure with unmanned aerial systems in overwatch of a terrorist encampment, but we just employ Hellfire and JDAM to resolve those matters if the collateral damage factors don't give cause for concern, but I am convinced that there is no better ISR sensor than the Mark I, Mod I eyeball. In the Afghanistan context, we have to remember that the bad guys over there have a background in baiting and setting traps for heliborne forces employed by the Soviets, and the terrain in much of the country supports that sort of defense. I don't have a crystal ball view on what they might do against a force organized and employed like a Fire Force, but that goes back to my earlier point about the doctrinal issue. We simply do not keep the ground force commander aloft anymore, like the FF commanders did, and that prevents us from being able to effectively assess just what is going on relative to the threat's actions.

    ETA: I think a great resource for training to this standard would be to start with FF vets, and supplement that with time spent talking shop with police chopper pilots from the large metropolitan depts.

    If we were to put heliborne forces into an area to go up against some knuckleheads laying over on their way to say, Kandahar, methinks that we would need lots of them, and about five times the size of Fire Force elements in order to cover the various ratlines involved. There is a certain mobility luxury that the enemy might enjoy in the way of a brace of mopeds and red racing stripe Toyota pickups.
    Last edited by jcustis; 02-01-2010 at 07:25 AM.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Probably the most effective LOO for reducing IEDs is to be much more aggressive in our IO campaigns, locally and globally, challenging the manhood of any Pashtun who would let an IED do his fighting for him. We cannot underestimate the power of the offensive warrior culture on these people. Sneaky defensive tactics are beneath them. We need to rub that in their faces.

    Meanwhile there is no easy button cure to massive logistics packages that we must move daily. Those big diesel generators all over your FOB are sucking down fuel like rush hour traffic in LA. You won't fly that in with a UAV, or a C-130 for that matter.

    Blowing up or sniping kids and night laborers hired to dig in IEDs is no solution either. Poppy money fuels this insurgency, and there are an endless supply of people who will work for cash; and the second order impact on creating anger and dissent among the populace by targeting these workers is far too significant to ignore.

    I suspect going after IEDs is a lot like going after pirates, in that if you are looking on the roads and the high seas you are going after the symptoms and not the roots of your problem. There are key nodes to IED networks that must be ID'd and reduced or mitigated, and they are in the neighboring towns and extend into Pakistan and Iran. Similarly pirates are probably more effectively dealt with on land than at sea. We just need to step back from the problem far enough to see the solution.

    Meanwhile, its a dangerous, high-stress world out there for a lot of our guys each and every day. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I suspect going after IEDs is a lot like going after pirates, in that if you are looking on the roads and the high seas you are going after the symptoms and not the roots of your problem. There are key nodes to IED networks that must be ID'd and reduced or mitigated, and they are in the neighboring towns and extend into Pakistan and Iran. Similarly pirates are probably more effectively dealt with on land than at sea. We just need to step back from the problem far enough to see the solution.
    I agree with you. We could wack IED makers and emplacers until the cows come home. Getting rid of IEDs is essentially getting rid of "ambushes".

    In a small town, small town people pay attention to strange people (local or not) doing strange things. Small town people talk lots. Think of your own neigbourhood. If something out of place was on your street or backyard, you'd have a good idea that something was up. Small town people also generally know what goes on around their village - especially on the areas they frequently traffic (which are also areas you usually frequently traffic). They just have to be convinced to come forward with that information.
    Last edited by Infanteer; 02-01-2010 at 05:01 AM.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default 'Sneaky tactics' are traditional - an IO option?

    From Bob's World above:
    Probably the most effective LOO for reducing IEDs is to be much more aggressive in our IO campaigns, locally and globally, challenging the manhood of any Pashtun who would let an IED do his fighting for him. We cannot underestimate the power of the offensive warrior culture on these people. Sneaky defensive tactics are beneath them. We need to rub that in their faces.
    Bob,

    From this faraway armchair this LOO (method) is not effective. Frontier warfare in the Imperial era was rarely a "stand up" fight, ambushes were favoured, albeit with rifle fire, not IEDs (although I think they were used) and within the Pashtun culture is are such 'sneaky tactics' contrary to their culture? My reading is that they are not. Add in the Soviet experience and the apparent success in the use of IEDs - hardly a good starting point for an IO campaign.

    I anticipate some of those with real experience may be restrained from comment.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    From this faraway armchair this LOO (method) is not effective.
    Actually, you'd be surprised.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Probably the most effective LOO for reducing IEDs is to be much more aggressive in our IO campaigns, locally and globally, challenging the manhood of any Pashtun who would let an IED do his fighting for him. We cannot underestimate the power of the offensive warrior culture on these people. Sneaky defensive tactics are beneath them. We need to rub that in their faces.
    Have I understood you correctly, Bob? Why? I cannot think of any circumstance where that would succeed. What's more is I think an assumption that this argument could sway them verges on painting them as stupid and irrational.

    Are such "Sneaky defensive tactics" beneath us? Can of worms?

    ....and I think it would backfire badly, when the Pashtun watch us call in fire-support, or the mention the fact that we have women flying combat in the theatre.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Have I understood you correctly, Bob? Why? I cannot think of any circumstance where that would succeed. What's more is I think an assumption that this argument could sway them verges on painting them as stupid and irrational.
    My thought too--and as earlier mentioned, ambushes are very much the traditional Afghan fighting style.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  10. #230
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default So too is disappearing when confronted by superior force.

    Not to mention promising to do things one has no intention of doing, being hospitable to one's guests while under the roof then killing them as soon as they cross the threshhold outbound -- or siccing the women and kids on the casualties of enemies.

    More cultural wishful thinking, perhaps...

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I think I actually laid out an array of activities to employ...but thanks for focusing on the first one as if it were the only one!

    And no one assumes these guys are smarter, or tougher than I do.

    I just figure if what is doing isn't working, one should try another tact. We are under-employing the IO LOO on all fronts, this one included. It won't cure the problem, but it will help.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  12. #232
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    My thought too--and as earlier mentioned, ambushes are very much the traditional Afghan fighting style.
    Well ambushes are a favorite traditional welcome party for pretty much every tribe or folk living in the mountains. Oetzi the Iceman was killed by an arrow into the back by friendly people waiting hidden near the traditional resting place on this path running over the Similaun pass. A true Hunter's shot into the heart.

    Dear Hannibal met a couple of other, initially very friendly people as he tried to cross the Alps:

    "So long as the Carthaginians had remained in the plains the various chieftains of the Allobroges had left them alone because of their fear both of the Carthaginian cavalry and also of the barbarian troops who were escorting them. But as soon as the latter had set off for home and Hannibal's troops began to advance into difficult country, the Allobrogian chiefs gathered a large force and took up commanding positions alongside the road by which the Carthaginians would have to climb."

    "In the narrow pass the marching column was rapidly losing cohesion; there was great confusion and excitement amongst the men, and still more amongst the terrified horses, so the tribesmen, in the hope that any hostile action by themselves would be enough to complete their discomfiture, came swarming down the rocky and precipitous slopes, sure-footed as they were from long familiarity with their wild and trackless terrain."
    Another place, another ambush:

    "The natives, springing from their places of concealment, fiercely assaulted front and rear, leaping into the fray, hurling missiles, rolling down rocks from the heights above."

    This tradition continued happily:

    Frederick's brother, Leopold of Austria, led an army of 3000 to 5000 men — about one third of them knights on horseback — to crush the rebellious confederates, planning a surprise attack from south via Lake Aegeri and the Morgarten pass and counting on a complete victory over the rebellious peasants.

    The Confederates of Schwyz — supported by the Confederates of Uri, who feared for their autonomy, but not supported by the Confederates of Unterwalden — expected the army in the west near the village of Arth, where they had erected fortifications. A historically plausible legend tells of the Knight of Huenenberg who shot an arrow into the camp of the Confederates with the attached message "watch out on St. Otmar's day at the Morgarten".

    The Confederates prepared a road-block and an ambush at a point between Lake Aegeri and Morgarten pass where the small path led between the steep slope and a swamp. When about 1500 men attacked from above with rocks, logs and halberds, the knights had no room to defend themselves and suffered a crushing defeat, while the foot soldiers in the rear fled back to the city of Zug. A chronicler described the Confederates, unfamiliar with the customs of battles between knights, as brutally butchering everything that moved and everyone unable to flee. This founded the reputation of the Confederates as barbaric, yet fierce and respectable fighters.
    Note the great use of IRD (Improvised Rolling Devices), which were also greatly used during the Napoleonic wars and resurfaced as avalanches triggered purposefully by artillery fire. IRRC the Indians quickly rediscovered this specific method during the Kargil war. During all that time the simple stone powered by gravitation proved ever handy for the defender...


    Considering history I'm pretty sure that human creativity in harming other humans knows little to no bounds and that the mountains make some designs more effective than in other places. Fighting smart can mean using those. This poses quite some challenge for the soldiers fighting there. The Helicopter can be part of the solution.


    Firn

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    Im reminded of a story I read about the Australian SAS doing 7-10 day recce's on main trafficways. SOP for the aussies to focus on good eyeball recon before moving assets in. They used this to good effect in vietnam. Using a small reconnaisance force and then moving larger troop movements into an area. Well, because they were not in command and control, this specific area intell on the IED activity was disregarded by the US and sadly several Marines were killed on this roadway.

    I dont know what the standard is for US troops being out in observation posts and staying put but it was insinuated that the US is impatient in their reconnaisance and intelligence gathering and just balling it down the road or into an AO. Drones are not going to pick up everything and there is no replacement for eyes on target or humint.

    Hopefully, the winter will provide a time for a complete intelligence build up for the spring offensive where the taliban are apparently staying put and waiting for the fight in Helmand province.

    Again, Im an amateur in this field and I have read each and every post and appreciate the input.

  14. #234
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Oops. I'd have a problem...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I just figure if what is doing isn't working, one should try another tact.
    I've often been assured I have no tact...

    I do BTW, agree that what we're doing now is not working but I also don't think your suggestions will work either. The basic problem is that we are trying to do something that is just not going to be accomplished. IOW, the Goal is unachievable and should never have been undertaken. Therefor much of what anyone suggests is unlikely to 'work.'

    Zealot66

    The Troops of the 1st Bde, 82d Abn Div when in Kandahar during 2005 and before being relieved by the Canadian 1/PPCLI in 2005-06 were routinely pulling week plus dismounted and two week or more mounted patrols, all resupplied by helicopter. Those patrols were variously in Platoon or company strength and were quite successful. I have no idea why the technique is not used by others.

    Or maybe a little bit of one...

  15. #235
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default I'm feeling a sense of role reversal here...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I've often been assured I have no tact...

    I do BTW, agree that what we're doing now is not working but I also don't think your suggestions will work either. The basic problem is that we are trying to do something that is just not going to be accomplished. IOW, the Goal is unachievable and should never have been undertaken. Therefor much of what anyone suggests is unlikely to 'work.'

    Zealot66

    The Troops of the 1st Bde, 82d Abn Div when in Kandahar during 2005 and before being relieved by the Canadian 1/PPCLI in 2005-06 were routinely pulling week plus dismounted and two week or more mounted patrols, all resupplied by helicopter. Those patrols were variously in Platoon or company strength and were quite successful. I have no idea why the technique is not used by others.

    Or maybe a little bit of one...
    People talking tactics, then someone jumps in and drags the conversation to the strategic level! I guess I stepped on that one Ken, nicely played...


    Certainly, IMO, the critical issue that must be addressed in order to reduce the number of landmines in Afghanistan is the perceived illegitimacy of the Karzai government. I believe an open, all stake holders invited, Loya Jirga is the best way to address that top strategic issue. This will have best impact on getting the TB leadership to stand down (or "reintegrate and reconcile")
    TB leadership is largely waging a Revolutionary insurgency, so their incorporation, in a controlled, reasonable fashion, into governance makes sense.

    As to the fighters themselves, they are largely fighting a resistance insurgency. Affairs in Kabul don't mean much them. They fight us because we are here, and because the TB leadership, flush with Poppy $$, can pay them a day’s wage for a day’s work, (which by the way most men find the preferred way to feed their families, not taking charity from some foreign NGOs). Even if that day's work is at night putting in IEDs or joining a team of fighters. We best address resistance insurgency by simply going home. Success with the Loya Jirga above allows us to VASTLY reduce our presence.

    The fly in the ointment, is that no one can predict or control the results of a true Loya Jirga; thus why it is perceived as legitimate. Thus why the elections we enabled were NOT perceived as legitimate (did anyone wonder what the results would be??)

    So, yes, I have strategic ideas as to reducing IEDs.

    I also believe based on my training and experience that an IO campaign that hammers over the radio waves here (these people for large part do not read, so leave your flyers and billboards at home) the honor of Pashtunwali, the Pashtun people, and cowardly attributes of IEDs that kill local women and children as well as the foreign soldiers, is an important step that needs to be stepped up. Not a cure all, there will always be those that will rationalize it to be within the "rules."
    Last edited by Bob's World; 02-02-2010 at 01:43 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    It's not related to aviation and IEDs but the Israelis used to drag fences behind their patrolling jeeps to leave a unique pattern in the ground so anyone crossing it would leave footprints. Same principle applies to detecting anyone digging IEDs. I also recall sitting on the beach at Tel Aviv and watching all different kinds of helicopters constantly fly by along the coast right after the Palestinian intifada attempted a rubber raft beach landing back in 1990. Use air routes paralleling key ground routes and have a constant stream of aircraft watching for trouble.

    Liked the idea of using helicopters to drop off 2-man to fire team sized OPs with good optics at multiple high terrain OP locations each night along troubled routes to include false insertions. Then have the helicopter return to base and pick-up a second squad and go park somewhere nearby on secure terrain to prepare to respond to any problems detected. Or monitor the OPs using loitering UAS with an Apache/UH-60 QRF ready to respond.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No intent to play or change the level of discourse or comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    People talking tactics, then someone jumps in and drags the conversation to the strategic level! I guess I stepped on that one Ken, nicely played...
    Just stating that it is my belief that we are pursuing the old impossible dream...

    I don't disagree with what you suggest and I strongly agree that what we're doing now is not working, Yet, I really doubt your suggestions will make much difference if implemented. Unfortunately,we cannot leave just yet and are thus doomed to a holding action. Damned if we do, damned if we don't. Your oft stated advice to think about what we're trying to do before we implement is totally valid -- unfortunately, no one did that in 2001...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    so too is disappearing when confronted by superior force
    There's an excellent example of this, and of the Taliban scout/picket/sentry/early warning system, in today's NYT:

    As Marines Move In, Taliban Fight a Shadowy War

    By C.J. CHIVERS
    New York Times
    Published: February 1, 2010

    KARARDAR, Afghanistan — The Marine infantry company, accompanied by a squad of Afghan soldiers, set out long before dawn. It walked silently through the dark fields with plans of arriving at a group of mud-walled compounds in Helmand Province at sunrise.

    The company had received intelligence reports that 40 to 50 Taliban fighters had moved into this village a few days before, and the battalion had set a cordon around it. The Marines hoped to surprise any insurgents within.

    But as the company moved, shepherds whistled in the darkness, passing warning of the Americans’ approach. Dogs barked themselves hoarse. The din rose in every direction, enveloping the column in noise. And then, as the Marines became visible in the bluish twilight, a minivan rumbled out of one compound. Its driver steered ahead of the company, honking the van’s horn, spreading the alarm. Spotters appeared on roofs.

    Marine operations like this one in mid-January, along with interviews with dozens of Marines, reveal the insurgents’ evolving means of waging an Afghan brand of war, even as more American troops arrive.

    ...

    On the morning of the sweep, made by Weapons Company, Third Battalion, First Marines, a large communications antenna that rose from one compound vanished before the Marines could reach it. The man inside insisted that he had seen nothing. And when the Marines moved within the compounds’ walls, people in nearby houses released white pigeons, revealing the Americans’ locations to anyone watching from afar.

    The Taliban and their supporters use other signals besides car horns and pigeons, including kites flown near American movements and dense puffs of smoke released from chimneys near where a unit patrols.

    “You’ll go to one place, and for some reason there will be a big plume of smoke ahead of you,” said Capt. Paul D. Stubbs, the Weapons Company commander. “As you go to the next place, there will be another.”
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracker275 View Post
    Every week, I arrive on a scene where a simple device was built to defeat either the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, or United States Forces (USF). I am never ceased to be amazed at how simple, yet complex the devices are, and most of the components could have been purchased at Walmart, Ace Hardware, and Radio Shack to produce what we are seeing.

    The common theme I see in most of the posts found in this thread is that the concept, collectively, is that of a reactive measure vs. a proactive measure. Instead of focusing a majority of our efforts on how we defeat devices through defense, let us focus on finding out where they are being made and stopping that prior to them being placed somewhere. Obviously, defensive measures are essential, however in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the appearance is that of not going after the "bad guy", but getting hit and trying to find out how to survive a strike...Then limp away.

    Rarely do I see efforts here in Iraq where the focus is on identifying where the devices are made, but more where they have been emplaced. I look at briefing after briefing that reflects hot spots of detonations, however I have yet to look at one that identifies where exactly the optimum location for them to be made is.
    How much does location matter? What sorts of tools/equipment are necessary for creating these devices? The reason I ask is, if the requirements for building these devices are low, then hunting for locations may not be the best way to go about it. If all you have to do is assembly and some spot welding, for instance, then trying to find the location will be almost as difficult as searching for the devices themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole View Post
    Liked the idea of using helicopters to drop off 2-man to fire team sized OPs with good optics at multiple high terrain OP locations each night along troubled routes to include false insertions. Then have the helicopter return to base and pick-up a second squad and go park somewhere nearby on secure terrain to prepare to respond to any problems detected. Or monitor the OPs using loitering UAS with an Apache/UH-60 QRF ready to respond.
    That is called a LRS team, and the Army has tried to neuter and eliminate us since our creation. Now we are in BfSBs were we do what? Who knows, not I, and I am in one.
    Reed
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

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