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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/1/2005 9:02:58 PM EDT
WARNING-LONG

From strategy page.com

Combat Lessons Learned
The troops are already reporting in with lessons learned during the Iraq war. Below we have collected the "lessons learned" items that we have already published on Strategypage.com.

May 28, 2003: The rapid conquest of Baghdad provided a lot of practical experience operating in a large urban area. While that operation went well, it made generals nervous about what would happen if the resistance had been greater. Out of this has come an interest in developing better reconnaissance capabilities for urban areas, and some ideas on how to take over urban communications networks for military use. There's also interest in how to take advantage of air conditioning and electrical systems in large buildings (and structures like malls or stadiums) for reconnaissance. So there will be attempts to get permission from the owners of large structures, and governments in large urban areas, to let the army come in and check out the possibilities. UAVs and cheap, air dropped wireless vidcams can be used in many ways to monitor activity in large urban areas. It's important, because it saves time and lives in wartime, to find out what can be done, and at what cost, now.

May 27, 2003: In Iraq, no American M-1 tanks were destroyed outright by enemy weapons. Several were badly damaged, and some of these (the ones that could not move) were destroyed by U.S. troops to prevent advanced equipment falling into the hands of the enemy. The frontal armor of the M-1 continued to be invulnerable to any enemy weapons. But side and rear armor was vulnerable. In a friendly fire incident. An M-2 Bradleys 25mm cannon, firing depleted uranium armor piercing shells, penetrated the rear armor of an M-1 and damaged the engine. RPGs proved useless against the M-1, except in a few cases where they hit a vulnerable component (like a hydraulic line.)

There were no cases of M-1s being fired on by ATGMs (Anti-tank guided missiles.) No Russian Kornet missiles were found in Iraq.

The most useful weapons were the M-1s three machine-guns (a 12.7mm and 7.62mm mounted on the turret and a 7.62mm one mounted next to the 120mm gun.) The Iraqis, when they fought, waited until the M-1s were close (under a hundred meters away) and opened up with machine-guns and RPGs. In these situations, the 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine-gun was particularly devastating, as it could tear up whatever cover the Iraqis were hiding behind. When the 120mm gun was fired, HEAT (shaped charge) or non-sabot (MPAT) shells were more often used.

The advance was so fast that the supply system could not keep up. Vital spare parts for inoperable tanks were often flown in, otherwise the tank was stripped of spare parts and abandoned. Fuel consumption was underestimated, although the army is not saying by how much. The three day halt during the extended sand storms was apparently used to bring addition fuel forward for the final push on Baghdad.

The crews, as is customary, stored a lot of their personal gear (tents, sleeping bags and the like) on the outside of the turret. In this campaign, with the frequent attacks by enemy troops armed with automatic weapons, a lot of this gear got shot up.

Overall the M-1s performed well. The crews had practiced in desert areas back in the United States and knew that a lot of maintenance was required to keep the tanks going.

May 26, 2003: For over two decades, the U.S. Navy has deployed it's carrier groups (one carrier and its escorts) on six month sea cruises followed by six months or more in their home port for leave, training and maintenance best done at pier side. Actually, it wasn't as bad as that, as some carriers had home ports overseas, which gave the sailors more time ashore, while still keeping the carriers close to potential trouble spots. This system kept at least two carriers at sea and ready for anything at all times. But the Iraq war showed, as did the Afghanistan campaign, that the traditional system does not work during war time. Seven carriers were sent to fight in Iraq, and some of them were away from home for over ten months. The more you keep sailors at sea for over six months, the lower the re-enlistment rates. So the navy is going to adopt a "surge system" that keeps nearly all the carriers near their home ports most of the time. With this arrangement, half a dozen, or more, carriers can be quickly sent to some new hot spot. Because of maintenance, leave and training requirements for all the carrier groups returning from Iraq, the fleet won't be ready to surge again until the end of the year. So if anything bad is going to happen in Korea, it had better wait at least six months so the navy can get ready.

May 25, 2003: When the recent Iraqi operation was replayed in a computerized wargame, and the terrain changed to mountainous jungles or forests, the tactics that worked in Iraq didn't work so well. For one thing, the terrain did not allow the use of the "swarming " tactics that worked so well in the desert. The flat terrain of Iraq allowed American troops to advance in multiple columns, and their battlefield Internet and GPS insured that US troops always knew where everyone else was. American aircraft were usually first to spot the enemy, but the Iraqis rarely knew where the Americans were coming from. When an enemy unit was spotted, the nearest American air, artillery or armored units were directed to swarm in and destroy it. This was especially effective at night, because American units had much better night vision equipment. But in mountains and jungles, the attackers can't move just anywhere and their columns tend to get channeled into a few routes that can be more easily defended. The swarming doesn't work so well in these situations. Nor does the air reconnaissance. Jungles, forests and mountains provide more, and better, places for enemy troops to hide. Another problem with mountains is communications, as many American military radios are still "line-of-sight." Put a mountain between two units and they have a hard, often impossible, time communicating. This is why there is so much enthusiasm for moving to satellite communications. But this is expensive, and there's not enough capacity yet for the satellites to handle all the militarys communications needs. Iraq was another example of the old military maxim, "plains are easy, mountains are hard," at least if you are the attacker. The military professionals are aware of this, especially since most U.S. Army generals have served several one year tours in Korea. And there they discovered how difficult it is to travel, operate and communicate, amongst all those mountains.

May 22, 2003: GPS jammers are somewhat overrated. Iraq used at least four GPS jammers in an attempt to reduce the accuracy of JDAM guided smart bombs. With GPS guidance, JDAM will land within 40 feet of the target. With GPS jammed, it will land within 100 feet. The Iraqi jammers were quickly located and destroyed. While the GPS satellites signal is compared to a 25 watt light bulb viewed from a distance of 17,000 kilometers, that only describes the civilian signal. GPS uses a special military signal that is a thousand times stronger than the civilian one. There are more announced (like G-STAR) and secret anti-jamming technologies being put into service in the next year. There will be more attempts at GPS jamming in future conflicts, but the ability to do that successfully has now been revealed to be more potential than performance.



May 21, 2003: The role of snipers is changing. There are still, "one shot, one kill and get out" situations. But often the sniper is concealed in friendly territory and facing multiple targets that all need prompt attention. This has made semiautomatic sniper rifles like the SR25, and refurbished (and upgraded for better accuracy) M-14s popular with many combat snipers. Sniping ranges are often quite short, making a slightly less accurate (than a bolt action sniper rifle) SR25 popular. For this kind of shooting, every round does not have to hit within a inch of the cross hairs. Two or three inches will do if you are aiming for the trunk, and not the head, and at 200-300 meters, a trained sniper can do this with a high quality semi-automatic like the SR25, and do it quickly enough to make a difference. "Semi-automatic sniping" is becoming more popular with troops who have not gone through extensive sniper training. It's becoming more common to have one or two men per squad trained as designated sharpshooters. They are selected for their natural skill at shooting, given some additional training and a better scope for their M-16, and trained to be, well, the squad sharpshooter. It's also more common to equip all combat troops with some kind of scope for their M-16, and make available night vision and heat sensing scopes as well. All of this comes from the basic idea that better trained troops mean soldiers who have more practice with their infantry weapons. More skill means more can be done with additional equipment like scopes. So far, this approach seems to be working. And it should, because during both World War I and II, years of combat brought out thousands of natural snipers, who made it dangerous to stick your head out when too close to the enemy. With the introduction of the 12.7mm sniper rifle in the 1980s, it became possible to hit someone two miles away. It's dangerous out there. If you're the one with most of the snipers, that's just the way you want it.



May 21, 2003: During the Iraq war there were a number of "firsts" and, true to their traditions, the U.S. Air Force was the first to get out a list of their own. The war saw the first combat use of the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon (a cluster type bomb that releases computer controlled and radar equipped submunitions that hunt for tanks below and destroy them), CBU-107 (a guided cluster bomb), the AGM-86D CALCM (air launched cruise missile) hard target penetrator, a JDAM delivered by F-14D, and Mk-82s (500 pound bombs) delivered by B-2. The B-2 was originally designed to carry nuclear weapons and smart bombs. It had to be retrofitted to carry good old fashioned 500 pound bombs. The war also saw the first use of Compass Call (EC-130 electronic warfare aircraft) and EA-6B (navy electronic warfare aircraft) in a PSYOP (psychological warfare) role. There was the largest JSRC (Joint Search and Rescue Center in history (this was a collection of specialized troops and aircraft for rescuing downed pilots). There was also the first use of Navy F/A18 fighters as a refueling aircraft (because the air force didn't have enough aerial tankers). Also the first time four Predator UAVs flew simultaneously in support of combat operations, and the first time six U-2’s flew in same theater of operations.

May 21, 2003: The U.S. air force, realizing that every aerial battlefield in the past few decades has featured several KC-135 tankers circling, waiting to refuel a thirsty warplane, has given the tankers another job. By adding a few hundred pounds of electronics mounted on a cargo pallet, which KC-135s are equipped to handle, the tanker is turned into a node in an aerial communications network. This solves the problem of how to connect warplanes to the new battlefield Internet when those planes do not have satellite communications capability. The aircraft use line-of-sight communications, which cannot connect with any ground station or aircraft that is over the horizon or behind a mountain. The system, called ROBE (Roll-On Beyond-line-of-sight Enhancement), would be particularly useful in a mountainous area like Afghanistan. The first 20 ROBE units, costing about $900,000 each, are entering service now. The Department of Defense and NATO have already developed standards (LINK 16) for the transfer of video, picture and data electronically between ground stations, aircraft and ships using radio or satellite communications networks.

May 20, 2003: The experience of U.S. Army AH-64 Apache gunships has revived a debate that's been going on since the end of the Cold War. On one side you have the Cold Warriors who see the AH-64s flying into firing positions and then hovering as they get off shots at enemy armored vehicles. On the other side you have a lot of the AH-64 pilots, who see a whole new battlefield (and now have Afghanistan and Iraq experience to back them up.) The pilots want the AH-64s to keep moving on the battlefield and basically be the close support for the ground troops, as well as their overhead observers. This is what the AH-64s were successful at in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the other hand, several dozen AH-64s got shot up when they tried a Cold War era attack on a Republican Guard division. The pilots, being pilots, have a wish list of AH-64 improvements that they are pushing. This includes a more powerful engine, more armor and a better night vision system. The pilots have experience on their side, and some of the army aviation generals are leaning towards seeing things the pilots way.

May 20, 2003: The Iraqi campaign brought forth a lot of requests for changes in how the infantry are equipped. You'd think some of these things would show up in peacetime training, but for some reason there's nothing as intense as the real thing. Actually, a lot of the complaints coming from troops in Iraq have been heard before, but now they are more likely to be listened to. While the troops thought most of their training was good, it's now recognized that more of that training has to be done in full combat gear, including protective vest and hauling around the chemical protective gear. Also, keep a magazine (even if it's an empty one) in the M-16 most of the time. By operating more in full "battle rattle," it would have been discovered earlier that the Humvee really needs a new seatbelt. The current one, when used by a trooper with all his gear on, takes too long to unfasten. This can be fatal when the shooting starts and you are in an Humvee. The debate still goes on about the MOLLE pack and webbing that replaced the older Alice gear. The MOLLE rig feels too bulky, too heavy and seems to have less space for storing gear than the older Alice pack system. MOLLE was also criticized for not holding hand grenades properly, and under some conditions the pins call out. Troops operating with their protective vest and MOLLE pack on noted that the lower pockets on the BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) shirt were useless. It's been recommended (many times over many years) that some pockets be added to the sleeves. As for weapons, troops were impressed with the superior range and accuracy of the RPG, versus their M203 40mm grenade launcher. This has been a lament heard since the Vietnam war (when U.S. troops with 40mm grenade launchers encountered opposition using RPGs). Troops using the new, lighter M-4 rifle (a shorter M-16) also noted that once you added all the neat new accessories to the M-4 (which was built to more easily take new electronic sites and such), the weapon is actually heavier than the M-16. But the new electronic sights were well liked, no complaints there. There were more requests for a decent squad radio. The word was getting around about the neat squad radio the British marines had.



May 20, 2003: The British media have been promoting a story that claims the U.S. commando raid to rescue wounded American soldier Jessica Lynch was staged. Part of their proof is the assertion that the troops participating in the raid were firing blank rounds. But anyone familiar with how military weapons use blanks knows that for a weapon to fire blanks it must have a large orange metal device fitted on the barrel. This "blank adaptor" restricts the amount of hot gas leaving the barrel when the weapon is fired. This provides enough hot gas in the barrel to operate the reloading system. The blank adaptor, in addition to being very obvious, takes several minutes to put on or take off. Now the Brits may fall back on the assertion that the troops had movie prop weapons. These also fire blanks, but have the "blank adaptor" built into the barrel via a metal plug with a narrow exit hole to keep the hot gas in (and prevent anyone from using real bullets in the gun, unless the metal plug is removed.) As for the rest of the story, some of the Iraqi hospital staff assert that the Iraqi irregulars had fled before the American commandos showed up. Earlier, other hospital staff had said quite the opposite. The British press are rather infamous for their creative use of sources and story angles to snag a valuable hot headline. Their story that American troops would go behind enemy lines equipped with blanks is in itself remarkable. What's not remarkable is that this story, and many equally off the wall (and later discredited) scoops should emerge from the London media.



May 20, 2003: Iraq has seen the use of better tactics and training by American military police (MPs). Much of this was the result of recent experience in the Balkans. One of the more useful new tactics developed from this experience was how to "deflate" an angry mob. Most demonstrations that get out of hand are organized and led by a handful of mob leaders. In past times, these guys were called "agitators." That's an apt description. But the agitators don't strictly control the mob, they simply "agitate" it. MPs have learned that a mob can often be "deflated" by having skilled (usually older and more experienced) MPs engage members of the mob in discussion. This can be in the guise of negotiations (about where the mob can go, or about their grievances) or simply friendly discussion. Even when conducted through interpreters, this usually gets the friendly attention of many members of the mob. Special Forces troops are good at this, as they usually speak the local language and already know local leaders. If you keep these discussions going on for an hour or so, the mob losses it's enthusiasm for violent action and starts to break up, or "deflate." If you can't do it with words, you go to plan "B", which means identifying the agitators and plunging in with some burly MPs (in a diamond formation) and arresting these mob leaders. This may inflame the mob momentarily, but once the agitators are gone, so is the agitation, and the mob usually deflates.

Sometimes equipment can be used as well. Helicopters hovering low over a mob, especially in a dry and dusty environment, stirs up a storm of dust, sand, wind and noise. This often works. If you have an M-1 tank, back it up into the mob. The hot gasses coming out of the M-1s 1500 horsepower gas turbine engine forces civilians in its path to get out of the way. The bulk of the advancing tank also makes a fearful impression.


May 19, 2003: The U.S. Marine AH-1W helicopter gunships used a new version of the Hellfire missile (the AGM-114N ) in Iraq. AGM-114N uses a thermobaric warhead. The official name is "Metal Augmented Charge," and it's a new application for the fuel air type explosive that Russia has been developing (and selling on the open market) for the last decade. This weapon was developed in less than a year. The warhead dispenses an explosive mist when it hits a target, and then detonates an explosion that will go around corners and into every corner of a building, bunker or cave. Since the Hellfire is accurate enough to be put through a cave entrance, window or bunker opening, it's a much more effective weapon for these types of targets. The blast created is more effective at killing people than destroying structures. But the intense heat created is also useful for destroying chemical and biological weapons. Captured Iraqi soldiers said one of the reasons they surrendered was stories of American weapons "that melted soldiers." A thermobaric weapon will do that. Hellfires are also used by AH-64 Apaches and Predator UAVs. There is also a new thermobaric bomb, the BLU-118S, which was used in Afghanistan.

May 19, 2003: In Iraq, American troops have been ordered to seize all firearms held by civilians. While most of the weapons seized were AK-47s and RPG-7 rocket launchers, there also some weapons over a century old. The most ancient weapon was an 11mm 1871 model German army Mauser bolt action rifle. This weapon uses black power cartridges, which were apparently made by Iraqi craftsmen. More numerous were British .303 caliber Lee-Enfield rifles from World War I. Also found were Russian World War II 7.62mm submachineguns and high quality German 9mm pistols (apparently specially manufactured for assassinations, as they could not be traced). There were many other weapons from the last half century. Enough to fill a good sized museum.

May 19, 2003: The U.S. Army has 37,500 military police (MPs), which are, as the name implies, used to perform police functions. That includes patrolling and crowd control. The active army, a pretty disciplined force, doesn't need that many, so 22,000 of the MPs are in reserve and National Guard units (which many civilian policemen belong to.) In wartime, MPs are also used to take care of prisoners of war and keeping the peace among civilians in captured territory. Some 8,000 MPs have been sent to Iraq, and several thousand more are on the way. Because of their usefulness in peacekeeping, the Department of Defense is increasing the MP force by 3,600 in the next few years.



May 19, 2003: The air war against Iraq involved 1,801 coalition aircraft. The largest number (863) were from the United States Air Force. The U.S. Navy had 408, the Marine Corps 372, the U.S. Army 20 (not counting attack helicopters), the British 113, Australia 22 and Canada three. The 794 "shooters" comprised fighters and heavy bombers from the U.S. Air Force (344), the U.S. Navy (232), the Marines (130), Britain (66) and Australia (22). The 1991 Gulf War used 2,700 aircraft.

These aircraft flew 20,753 combat sorties and used 18,467 smart bombs and missiles and 9,251 dumb bombs. Most of the smart bombs were JDAM (6,542) and laser guided (8,618). U.S. Navy ships also fired 802 cruise missiles. There were 153 air launched cruise missiles used, 98 EGBU-27 GPS/Laser Guided bombs and 408 anti-radar missiles. There were 908 guided cluster bombs dropped. Other missiles used include Hellfire (562), Maverick (918), AGM-130 (4), AGM-84 SLAM ER (3) and AGM-54 JSOW (253).

The dumb bombs were mostly high explosive, but there were also 300 cluster bombs. Cannon were used a lot as well, with 311,597 30mm rounds and 16,901 20mm rounds fired. Thus 68 percent (18,467) of the aircraft weapons use were smart bombs and missiles, versus seven percent (17,000 smart bombs and missiles) during the 1991 Gulf War. But the total number of bombs dropped in 1991 was 227,000, versus only 28,000 in 2003. Total sorties flown (not counting attack helicopters) in 1991 was 108,000, versus 41,404 in 2003. In 1991, 70,000 of the sorties were for combat, versus 20,752 in 2003.

Thus the roughly same number of smart bombs were dropped during the 1991 (17,000) and 2003 (18,467) wars. The big difference was the number of unguided ("dumb") bombs used. In 1991 210,000 dumb bombs were dropped versus only 9,251 in 2003. Fewer bombs were needed in 2003 because of better sensors (UAVs and more JSTARS) and communications (faster and more people connected to the "battlefield Internet"). What didn't work in 1991 (lots of massive dumb bomb attacks) was not used in 2003. The Iraq campaign used a different approach to finding and destroying targets. Everything was done with more accuracy and speed.

About half the combat sorties were used against the six Iraqi Republican Guard divisions, which was the only military force they had that showed any willingness to fight. The Iraqis made the mistake of trying to move these divisions, and discovered that U.S. UAVs and surveillance aircraft (mainly JSTARS) could track their movements 24/7, even during sandstorms. While those storms gave the Iraqis some protection from missiles and laser guided bombs, they were no help against GPS guided high explosive and cluster bombs. The Iraqis quickly realized what was going on, and all but a few dozen of the Republican Guards 3,000 armored vehicles were destroyed (mostly from the air) or abandoned.

There were 15,592 sorties against Iraqi ground forces. In comparison, only 1,799 sorties were flown against command and control targets (headquarters and communications) and only 832 against missile and NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) targets.

Ground and air commanders made 30,542 requests for targets to be hit, and 25, 240 of these requests were approved and 19,898 of the targets were actually hit. Many of the "target requests" were for bombers to patrol certain areas ("kill boxes") and hit any enemy forces found there.

The ground survey of targets hit is not complete, or has not been released. It is known that the Iraqis did learn from the Serbian 1999 experience in Kosovo. Thus the Iraqis used quite a bit of deception (fake tanks and other targets) on the ground, and managed to keep a lot of choice targets (like their own warplanes, none of which took off) hidden from aerial view until ground troops found them.

But overall, the air campaign had a devastating effect on Iraqi combat units. Combined with a psychological warfare campaign (over 50 million leaflets dropped and hundreds of hours of radio broadcasts), Iraqi troops were either bombed or scared into inactivity or desertion. The only effective ground troops they were able to muster were lightly armed irregulars and Republican Guard troops who were able to travel by car, truck and bus (and thus look like civilians from the air, and thus usually not bombed). These guys put up some stiff resistance, but U.S. Army troops and Marines just blasted their way right through them. This was often done with the assistance of smart bombs or A-10s getting in close. The Army and Marines have not yet released data on the activity of the 500+ helicopter gunships they used for most of their close support. These attack helicopters were critical not only for close up fire support, but also for the eye-in-the-sky they provided for the troops below. This combination of aerial firepower and eyeballs went a long way towards neutralizing the Iraqi tactic of using aggressive light infantry. Many of these guys called themselves "martyrs" and American troops saw to it that they were quickly martyred whenever encountered.

The tight integration of ground and air forces is something that has not been seen since World War II (when the air force was part of the U.S. Army) and it was much more effective in 2003. Generals in China, Russia and the rest of Europe now realize that their air forces are obsolete. They have seen the future, and they are going to be scrambling to catch up.

May 19, 2003: As expected, the Iraqi-Americans and Iraqi exiles recruited to act as interpreters and negotiators for American troops in Iraq proved very useful. If possible, such a program will be used even more in future conflicts or peacekeeping situations. The interpreters wore Army uniforms without rank insignia (they were technically civilian employees of the Department of Defense) and were armed with (and trained to use) 9mm pistols (for self-defense). But the uniform, the gun and their Iraqi accents gave them authority and familiarity to overcome qualms many Iraqis had about dealing with the American troops. This made it much easier to make contact with unofficial local leaders (usually religious or tribal) and find armed members of the Baath Party that were still lurking about. Most importantly, the good will these interpreters created spread rapidly. As exiles, they all had stories of their own family losses to Saddam, and their enthusiasm for America (many were already naturalized citizens.) Most of the men were also middle aged, and experienced in dealing with people in general. Finally, they could not hide the fact that they were very glad to be back in an Iraq that wasn't run by Saddam Hussein.



May 18, 2003: Mine clearing during the Iraqi campaign was performed by four American mine sweepers that are permanently stationed in Bahrain, and six British mine British minesweepers (plus a larger mother ship) that arrived for the campaign. In addition, there were several MH-53 helicopters brought in, that towed sonar equipment through the water to map the sea bottom. These maps indicated possible mines. There were also some teams of divers and EOD (bomb disposal) detachments. The MH-53s could also tow equipment through the water to detonate magnetic and acoustic mines. But the deadlier pressure mines had to be carefully spotted and blown up using minesweepers.

May 18, 2003: In Iraq, American armed forces, mindful of the importance of getting their experiences accurately recorded, deployed numerous professional historians. The U.S. Air Force sent 21, the Navy at least two, the Marine Corps had at least nine and the U.S. Army deployed 41.



May 17, 2003: One of the many "things that need to be improved" noted after the 1991 Gulf War was keeping better track of civilians serving overseas with the troops. These people are usually contractor representatives helping to maintain, or even operate, some types of equipment, as well as Red Cross and AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the military WalMart people) workers. Civilians who were army employees were already being tracked, but these "independents" were becoming more numerous and keeping track of them was a growing headache. So a web based tracking system was developed, and it came into service in May, 2002. CIVTRACKS also kept track of Department of the Army civilian employees, since there was no point in having two systems for civilians operating overseas. CIVTRACKS now keeps tabs on 900 army employees and 1200 contractors. It worked well during the Iraq war, especially during emergencies when a civilian working with the troops overseas had to be found and contacted in a hurry. But commanders could also get information on how many civilians were operating with his troops and what they were there for. So successful is the program, that it is going to start tracking civilians working with the other services.


May 17, 2003: The mission reports of coalition aircraft during the Iraq campaign listed the following actions by Iraqi air defense forces. There were 1224 attacks by anti-aircraft guns, 1660 SAM/Rocket launches, 436 SAM instances of emitters (radars or control radios) being active, and 19 SSM (surface to surface missile) launches were detected. There were about 20,000 combat sorties flown (that would have run into Iraqi air defenses.) It was estimated that the Iraqis had about 210 Surface to Air Missile launchers and some 150 Early Warning Radars. No one had an accurate count on the number of anti-aircraft guns, but there were thought to be more than 2,500 of them.

May 16, 2003: During the Iraq campaign, only four coalition jets were shot down, But two of them were brought down by American Patriot anti-aircraft missiles. Patriot batteries fired 22 missiles during the war, and the attacks on friendly aircraft appear to have been caused by flaws in the Patriot fire control software. When Patriot radar detects an aircraft, it immediately sends out an electronic signal to the aircraft's IFF (Identify, Friend or Foe) radio. This device is designed to listen for those "interrogation" signals, and immediately respond with a coded signal indicating who the aircraft belongs to. The IFF is used in training, and constantly during the Iraq fighting. So how did the Patriot not recognize the IFF signal, and launch missiles at a British and a U.S. Navy aircraft? Well, it appears that if an aircraft is flying in a certain way (altitude, speed), the Patriot identifies it as a missile, not an aircraft. When the Patriot thinks it has detected missile, it does not waste a few seconds looking for a friendly IFF signal, but promptly fires (if the missile is set on "automatic," which it often is if enemy missiles are expected.) Some types of missiles do go at about the same speed as fast jets, but in retrospect it seems false economy to not send out the IFF interrogation signal unless the radar has spotted a real fast moving (faster than any aircraft) target. If this was indeed the cause of the two friendly fire shoot-downs, changes in the software will no doubt be made.

May 16, 2003: The Special Forces are actually motorized infantry most of the time. In Iraq they used a customized version of the Humvee they called the Dumvees ("Desert Humvee"). This was a standard Humvee with several modifications. A hole in the roof allows for a turret containing a .50 caliber (12.7mm) machine-gun. In the open truck bed behind the drivers compartment a 7.62mm M240 machine-gun is mounted. Sometimes the .50 caliber machine-gun is replaced by a M19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Each passenger also has their own M-4 or sniper rifle, plus several AT-4 portable anti-tank missiles. Additional ammunition and each mans rucksack is piled inside the Dumvee, which also hauls an eight foot trailer containing additional gear (a small generator, fire control and communications equipment) as well as food, water and medical supplies.


May 16, 2003: One of the weapons to get a successful workout in Iraq was the SR25 Stoner sniper rifle. This is a 7.62mm weapon based on the M-16 design (created by retired USAF Colonel Stoner in the 1950s). The Stoner sniper rifle achieves its high accuracy partly by using a 24 inch heavy floating barrel. The "floating" means that the barrel is attached only to the main body of the rifle to reduce resonance (which throws off accuracy.) The semi-automatic, 45 inch long rifle weighs 10.75 pounds without a scope and uses a 20 round magazine. This is considered the most accurate semi-automatic rifle in the world. It's popular with Special Forces and commandos because it allows a good shooter to take out a number of targets quickly and accurately.


May 16, 2003: One soldier died from disease during the 1991 Gulf War. Another one died during the 2003 campaign (compared to 14,000 during World War II and 930 in Vietnam). Eliminating disease as the major cause of death during campaigns was one of the major military advances during the 20th century. Dealing likewise with driving accidents only began in earnest during the 1990s. During the 1991 Gulf War, 235 troops died in accidents (half of them driving accidents), compared to 157 in combat. The reasons for this were several. Part of it was lack of sufficient training in driving at night and cross country. But the major reason was what became known as "sleep discipline." Commanders did not insure that troops operating round the clock were able to received sufficient sleep. This has long been a danger, and the "sleepy driver" problem was noted during World War II. From that came generations of NCOs admonishing their troops to take a nap every opportunity this got. This worked for the more resourceful troops, but by 1991 it was obvious that a more determined approach was needed. Thus arose the development of the "sleep plan." Officers and NCOs were instructed to keep an eye on how much sleep their troops were getting, especially those that had to drive long distances. It's not that the troops needed much encouragement to get some sleep when they were exhausted, but by establishing places where they could do it (the back of a moving truck would do it), you had fewer sleepy drivers. Setting up a "sleep tent" for drivers or troops coming off a long period of duty made a difference. Even before the 1991 war, it became clear from the U.S. Army's many realistic NTC (National Training Centers) exercises that lack of sleep hurt the ability of units to operate. The more obvious cases of commanders occasionally dropping from lack of sleep (after trying to stay alert for 48 hours or so to run their units) was accompanied by many tank and vehicle drivers dozing off and causing accidents. These particular reform efforts paid off in 2003, for every three combat deaths, there was only one death from accidents.



May 16, 2003: More medical reports indicate that the new Interceptor protective vest was, indeed, bullet proof. Only nine percent of the combat wounds to 118 army casualties were in the trunk, and these were either by larger caliber weapons or shots that came in at odd angles and got around the Interceptor (like via an armpit.) Autopsies of 154 dead soldiers showed that the single most common area hit was the head (neck and face, the rest is well protected by the Kevlar helmet.) The next largest category is multiple wounds, including ones that sever major in the arms, and most dangerously, in the legs. The marines, who were always more willing to wear the protective vests (in Vietnam, this is thought to have saved the lives of at least a thousand marines), soon discovered that the 16 pound Interceptor, with ceramic plates, did indeed stop bullets. After the first few marines took a bullet in the chest (plate), got knocked down, then got up still full of fight, the word got around real quick.

May 15, 2003: When a U.S. Army Apache gunship that was brought down, intact, on the third day of the Iraq war, the pilot and weapons officer were captured. The fear was that the Iraqis would get their hands on its advanced radar and fire control system. These items are considered quite valuable to Russian or Chinese weapons makers. And the Russians and Chinese always pay top dollar for slightly damaged American aircraft, missiles or smart bombs. The fear was well founded. Before a bomber could destroy the helicopter, the Iraqis brought in a flatbed truck with a crane, loaded the eight ton Apache and drove off. Oops. There were visions of the helicopter being disassembled and the valuable bits smuggled out of the country. The helicopter was found, intact, outside the Baghdad airport and a 1,000 pound bomb was dropped directly on the Apache. Two weeks later, when the 3rd Mech division rolled into the airport, what was left of the Apache (not much) was found and trucked back to Kuwait. The trade in slightly damaged American equipment has been going on for some time. Because of this, when an M-1 tank was disabled during a raid into downtown Baghdad, it had to be destroyed with fire to prevent the high tech fire control and computer systems being taken. In 1999, Serbs spirited components of crashed cruise missiles and an F-117 stealth aircraft out of the country, apparently to Russia. During the Vietnam war, American warplanes downed in North Vietnam were often examined by Russian and Chinese technical experts. Captured American equipment was then sold or given to China and Russia. In the next decade, new Russian and Chinese weapons appeared that showed the influence of these items. The only way to deal with this sort of thing is to destroy downed warplanes and missiles as quickly as possible. This is relatively easy with aircraft, but it's harder to keep track of missiles. You can minimize this kind of technology transfer, but you can't always eliminate it.



May 15, 2003: When a U.S. Army Apache gunship that was brought down, intact, on the third day of the Iraq war, the pilot and weapons officer were captured. The fear was that the Iraqis would get their hands on its advanced radar and fire control system. These items are considered quite valuable to Russian or Chinese weapons makers. And the Russians and Chinese always pay top dollar for slightly damaged American aircraft, missiles or smart bombs. The fear was well founded. Before a bomber could destroy the helicopter, the Iraqis brought in a flatbed truck with a crane, loaded the eight ton Apache and drove off. Oops. There were visions of the helicopter being disassembled and the valuable bits smuggled out of the country. The helicopter was found, intact, outside the Baghdad airport and a 1,000 pound bomb was dropped directly on the Apache. Two weeks later, when the 3rd Mech division rolled into the airport, what was left of the Apache (not much) was found and trucked back to Kuwait. The trade in slightly damaged American equipment has been going on for some time. Because of this, when an M-1 tank was disabled during a raid into downtown Baghdad, it had to be destroyed with fire to prevent the high tech fire control and computer systems being taken. In 1999, Serbs spirited components of crashed cruise missiles and an F-117 stealth aircraft out of the country, apparently to Russia. During the Vietnam war, American warplanes downed in North Vietnam were often examined by Russian and Chinese technical experts. Captured American equipment was then sold or given to China and Russia. In the next decade, new Russian and Chinese weapons appeared that showed the influence of these items. The only way to deal with this sort of thing is to destroy downed warplanes and missiles as quickly as possible. This is relatively easy with aircraft, but it's harder to keep track of missiles. You can minimize this kind of technology transfer, but you can't always eliminate it.

May 14, 2003: The U.S. bought a nine 62 ton D9 armored bulldozers into Kuwait for the Iraq campaign. The D9s, and their Israeli made armor kit, were purchased because of the Israeli success with the dozen in urban warfare against Palestinian terrorists. America had used the D9 during the 1960s in Vietnam, but after that only used the smaller (35 ton, with armor kit) D7. The D9 was not needed for urban fighting in Iraq, but was found very useful (much more so than the smaller D7) for combat engineering tasks. The D9 quickly cleared highways of debris and built temporary roads for combat vehicles. One D9 was thought to be as useful as four D7s, and there is a lot of enthusiasm among combat engineers to keep the D9s, and get more of them.


May 14, 2003: In Iraq, there was a lot of infantry fighting, and reports are coming back about the performance of various infantry weapons. The 5.56mm round used by most coalition infantry rifles had no trouble knocking down enemy troops, especially if they were hit in the head or chest. Hits in arms and legs were less likely to stop the bad guys, but this has always been the case with infantry rifles. Some troops asked for the heavier, 77 grain, 5.56mm bullet, rather than the current 62 grain bullet in the NATO standard SS-109 5.56mm round. Debate over adopting the 77 grain bullet has been going on for some time. Some Special Forces troops are thought to have been obtaining 5.56mm ammo with 77 grain bullets for their M-4 rifles and using it in Afghan and Iraqi operations. The heavier bullet is supposed to be more likely to knock down men it hits.

In Iraq, the average range of engagement for infantry was under a hundred meters, more often 20-30 meters. Even the snipers rarely took a shot farther than 300 meters. A lot of thing fighting was in urban areas, where the Iraqis preferred to stand and fight. This raised two more issues. The infantry want more pistols. There were many situations in buildings where a pistol was a better weapon than a rifle. Also, more pistols in the infantry (at least one or two per squad), provided back up weapons when rifles or machine-guns broke down. It was also noted that many of the 5.56mm M249 squad machine-guns, first introduced in the early 1980s, were wearing out. The M249s got a work out in Iraq and many literally fell apart, especially among the Marines. But the Marines were also quite happy with their new 7.62mm M240 machine-guns, which they had just received to replace their ancient M-60s. The army had adopted the M240 years ago and both services use the M240 on vehicles and as a "medium machine-gun" in infantry units. The heavier bullet of the M240 came in handy in city fighting, where you often wanted to shoot through doors and some walls.

Support troops, and crews of armored vehicles, wanted a small weapon than the M-16, and many mentioned the M-4 (an M-16 with a shorter barrel, 33.3 inches long overall). But even infantry complained about the length of the M-16 (40.3 inches) when operating in cramped urban environments. Some troops used captured AK-47s (34.5 inches long) for city fighting.

The 9mm pistols continued to have problems. The big one was weak springs in the magazines, which tended to cause failure to fire, and the tendency of bullets to fall out of magazines not loaded.



May 13, 2003: Satellite communications appear to be a catalyst for getting the different services to cooperate. Since the 1991 Gulf War, a lot more common, and usually satellite based, communications equipment has been adopted by all the services. As a result, usage has grown enormously. Since 1991, Department of Defense use of satellite communications has grown 30 fold. During the 1990s, the Department of Defense helped broker a deal to save the bankrupt Iridium satellite phone network, and got access to really cheap minutes on Iridium phones. But since September 11, 2001, use of those phones by troops has gone up 48 fold. The Iridium phones were a key communications tool during the Afghanistan war, and since then thousands of phones have been distributed to unit commanders and special operations forces. Over all, communications traffic on all Department of Defense networks has gone up over five fold since September 11, 2001. As a result, the Pentagon plans to spend $28 billion over the next five years getting more troops, and more uses, on to the military satellite network. In addition, the military is proposing allowing "first responders" (emergency medical technicians, firefighters, police) emergency access to the military networks, so that everyone will be able to talk to each other during another major emergency. This will require new satellite communications equipment that will allow for this, and equipment makers are coming up with new dual use capability. This would mean that each police precinct or fire battalion would have at least one of these dual use radios so that it would be easy to get into touch with military units called in to help.

May 12, 2003: The U.S. Marines typically get a lot of hand me down equipment, and this applied to the UAVs they have to use. In Iraq they ended up with two Pioneer UAV squadrons. Each unit had eight UAVs. The Pioneer entered service in 1985. The 450 pound UAV requires small rockets to get it off the ground, and lands like any other aircraft. The UAV cruises at 120 kilometers an hour for 4-5 hours. The UAV can operate up to 180 kilometers from its control station. The U.S. Navy has been the main customer for the Pioneer, buying 120 of them for about $815,000 each. The U.S. Army had some, but turned them over to the Navy in 1995.

In Iraq, the two Pioneer squadrons leapfrogged each other during the march on Baghdad, so that one unit was always getting UAVs into the air at any one time. They managed to keep at least one Pioneer out in front of the Marines at all times. The Pioneer can use either a day or a night camera (the max payload is sixty pounds), and was used mainly to spot enemy artillery or armored vehicles. There were some problems with other electronic equipment in the area stepping on frequencies the Pioneer used, which is becoming a more frequent problem as more and more electronic gear is out there broadcasting.

The Pioneer was used a lot in the 1991 Gulf War, and was the experienced veteran among UAVs in 2003. Oddly enough, many of the new UAVs did not do so well. The Marine Dragon Eye short range UAV did less well. The main problem was that the laptop computer used to control it failed after a week and they couldn't get it fixed. For the week the Dragon Eye was in use, it did good work, although the troops had some complaints. First, they thought the UAV was too flimsy, and it's flight time too short (one hour, two would have been much better.) Moreover, the large rubber bands used to launch it kept breaking. And there were problems getting the special batteries used. There should have been a rechargeable battery, or a more common one. The ten kilometer range was also too short, 20 kilometer would have made a big difference. Being able to fly the UAV at a lower altitude (like a hundred feet) would have also helped.

The Predator and Global Hawk, the stars of the Afghanistan campaign, were also present over Iraq and continued to do an excellent job.

The U.S. Army also had some new UAVs for brigades, but it turned out that there were lots of helicopters available and these were preferred over the UAVs.

The main lesson to be learned here is that the UAVs that were found to be most valuable were the ones that did things no other aircraft or spy satellite can do. This means either the "high persistence" (in the air for 12 hours or more) birds (like Predator, Global Hawk and the Marine Pioneer's working in shifts) or the tiny ones (like Dragon Eye) that gave battalion (or even company) commanders their own aerial recon capability. But the little ones like Dragon Eye have to be more rugged.



May 9, 2003: One of the more successful new communications devices used by American forces in Iraq was the Blue Forces Tracker (BFT). This is a locating device that uses satellite phone technology. For anyone with the software and access codes, you can display the location of everyone in an area who has an operating BFT transmitter. This was frequently done from a laptop in a vehicle. In stationary headquarters, the BFT display could be put on a larger computer screen. The BFT transmitters were distributed to infantry and tank companies, as well as some helicopters (like the leader of a group of gunships.) Another very useful function of BFT was the ability to send instant messages between users of BFT display systems. This was useful because radios often didn't work, but BFT usually did. Radios have always had problems because they are either FM (meaning line of sight transmission) or AM (subject to atmospheric interference.) Thus satellite based communications were much preferred. While headquarters could set up a satellite dish and establish a local Internet network, people in vehicles or running around on foot needed an Iridium satellite phone or BFT to be sure of always getting through.

The main reason for BFT was to keep track of where all your troops were, and to avoid friendly fire situations when a lot of units were close to each other at night or in bad weather. BFT was first used in Afghanistan, where headquarters in the United States or the Persian Gulf could keep track of where all their Special Forces A Teams were.

Based on the Iraq experience, there is a lot of enthusiasm to distribute more BFT transmitters, and more tracking stations (perhaps using a PDA size display.) The instant messaging capability was very popular and company and battalion commanders all want it.



May 8, 2003: The Iraq war demonstrated once again that there is a lot of gear on the civilian market that does the job better than the stuff the troops are issued. This ranged from such simple items as goggles, to high end stuff like satellite phones. The goggles issued were too big and bulky and lenses often popped out. Many troops bought civilian models were more sturdy and fit better. The Iridium satellite phones (which were issued) always worked, versus many types of military radios that would not under certain conditions. The troops feel that satcom (satellite communications) is the future and that the sooner the shift is made, the better. Another civilian item that was very popular was the $65 drop holster for pistols. Much more convenient. Troops also improvised lanyards for the pistols using phone chords. These coiled chords would automatically retract when the pistol was holstered, unlike the straight issued chord. Another popular item from civilian sources was three point slings for M-16 rifles. One popular off the shelf one was the “Giles Tactical Carbine Sling” (from “The Wilderness Tactical Products”). Some troops also purchased computerized translation systems (Phrase-later) for communicating in Arabic. The PDA sized unit allows the user to speak into it, and in a few seconds what was said comes out in Arabic (or any other language the Phrase-later is equipped to handle.) Another electronic item many troops bought were commercial GPS receivers. These were smaller, lighter and easier on the batteries than the military issue ones. During the 1991 war, troops also bought GPS receivers (at several thousand dollars each), but this time around the price was a tenth of what it was twelve years ago. Memory sticks were yet another popular item. There wasn’t enough capacity on the battlefield Internet to transfer large image files. The memory sticks easily held these files, which were then carried by courier (via helicopter if it was a rush item) to the headquarters that needed.

May 7, 2003: Many of the "military transformation" enthusiasts are trying to downplay the important role the M-1 tanks and M-2 infantry vehicles played in the Iraq campaign. The military transformation crowd has come to believe progress means that "the tank is dead." Progressive military thinkers have been saying that for nearly half a century. But the death of the tank has been embraced by many in the media as well. The M-1 was frequently described in the media as "lumbering," when it is anything but. The M-1 has a top speed (limited by a governor) of 72 kilometers an hour and is considered a "lively" and highly maneuverable vehicle. The M-2 was built partly so there would be an armored infantry fast enough to keep up with M-1s sprinting cross country at fifty kilometers an hour. In Iraq, the fire control system of the M-1s was as good as ever, in one case getting hitting an enemy vehicle 4100 meters away on the first shot. So lethal was the M-1 that most Iraqi troops abandoned their armored vehicles when M-1s showed up. The Iraqi troops felt they had a better chance setting up ambushes inside towns and villages. They were right, but not by much. The 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine-guns on the tanks and 25mm cannon on and 7.62mm machine-gun on the M-2 took down these ambushes quickly. The 3rd Mechanized Division, in fact, had a shortage of infantry. Since 13 of the 40 men in an M-2 platoon the four M-2s to drive and operate the weapons, there were only about 1200 infantry (in the divisions five infantry battalions) you could actually put on the ground. So the firepower of the M-1s and M-2s did most of the work when Iraqi troops were encountered.

May 7, 2003: The Iraq campaign saw much less cooperation between air and ground units than was the case in Afghanistan. Part of this had to do that the ground units in Iraq had their artillery and helicopter gunships with them. So in Iraq, the air force fought their own war, going after Iraqi units far ahead of the advancing coalition ground units. Even the A-10s, designed to operate closely with friendly ground units, spent most of their time way in front of friendly armor. This was also the case with marine warplanes, which take pride in their skill in working closely with marines on the ground. This approach to using airpower made sense. American artillery, in particular, has improved their effectiveness even since 1991 (when they put in an impressive performance during a five day ground campaign, and several weeks before that as they joined with the air force in battering Iraqi troops.) Even the helicopter gunships spent a lot of time way in front of the troops. This was partially because it can get tricky when you are using artillery and helicopters in the same air space. The helicopters do have to watch out for those 90 pound artillery shells (or the even larger MLRS rockets.) As far as the army was concerned, the air force served as very long range artillery. One problem that remained was the inability to meld the artillery and bomber operations. This is supposed to be done at higher headquarters, and efforts were made to develop "combined (bomber and artillery) fire plans." But as a practical matter, the air force kept a close eye on friendly ground forces (using JSTARS radar aircraft) to avoid friendly fire, and then tried to smash Iraqi units in the path of advancing army and marine units. The only ground troops who used bombers as they did in Afghanistan were Special Forces and commandos. The air force considered these small groups of elite infantry as excellent solutions to the problem of spotting well hidden Iraqi targets.

May 7, 2003: The rapid advance of the ground troops in Iraq left division and corps headquarters out of the loop most of the time. Operations were moving too fast and brigade and battalion commanders had been trained to think independently in a fast changing situation. This was essential for the steady advance. And there was a lot of pressure to keep moving. The original plan had the 4th Mechanized and 101st Airmobile division (plus a brigade of the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces units) advancing from the north towards Baghdad, while the 3rd Mechanized division, the 1st Marine division and the British division advanced from the south. The northern advance had less ground to cover, although there were more hills. When the Turks refused to let the American troops in, the entire operation fell to the southern force (reinforced by the troops of the 101st and 82nd divisions.) Intelligence analysis indicated the Iraqi troops and officers were demoralized enough for this to work, although it might take longer and get more American troops killed. The southern attack had to now move even faster to succeed, and it turned out to be a brigade and battalion commanders war. As a result, there is some enthusiasm about giving battalion, and company, commanders a larger share of the battlefield Internet goodies (like text messaging and real time map displays showing who's where.) There has been a growing call for pushing command and control lower, letting the brigade and battalion commanders to call the shots. The success of the Iraq operations appears to confirm that this approach does work.

May 6, 2003: Iraqi air defenses were never underestimated during the 2003 war, and coalition air forces went to great lengths to shut down any widespread use of missiles and guns against coalition aircraft. But the Iraqis had learned much about American SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) methods during the twelve years of low level warfare in the No-Fly Zones. One thing the Iraqis learned well was that U.S. radar detectors and anti-radiation missiles were a lethal combination for any Iraqi radar that switches its power on. So throughout the war, Iraqi radars were rarely turned on. They were attacked anyway, as were any missile launchers caught out in the open. The fiber optic communications system, illegally built over the last few years by Chinese firms, was also attacked, as this system was seen as meant mainly for the air defense system. Iraq fired its anti-aircraft missiles after visually detecting coalition targets, doing so without radar. The thousands of anti-aircraft guns, of course, usually fired without any help from radar. The Iraqis continued, as they had over the last 12 years, to place their missile launchers and guns in residential neighborhoods. These were not often attacked, because most of the coalition smart bombs were dropped from 10,000 feet or higher, beyond the range of most Iraqi anti-aircraft guns. Two helicopters (an AH-64 and a UH-60) and an A-10 were shot down by Iraqi fire. In addition, one British and one American fighter were accidentally shot down by American Patriot anti-aircraft missiles.



May 4, 2003: Sometimes the lessons of combat take a long time to get sorted out and attended to. A good example was the discovery, during the 1991 Gulf War, that the Firefinder counterbattery radar (used to spot incoming enemy fire and calculate where it was coming from so "counterbattery" fire could be directed at it) often picked up incoming fire that wasn't there. This wasn't noticed during the war itself, as there was no way to check if any sighting was a false one. But once there was a ceasefire, any Firefinder radar spotting "incoming fire" was looking at a potential ceasefire violation. After the ceasefire went into effect, there were about ten false Firefinder sightings per week. All had to be checked out, to see if the coalition was going to go back to war with Iraq because of real violations. But all these Firefinder reports proved to be false. The problems with Firefinder and false reports had been known for years, and the cause was thought to be a combination of software flaws and inadequately trained Firefinder radar operators. By the late 1990s, the Firefinder software had gone through several upgrades to eliminate, or at least cut back on, the false reports. Training for the Firefinder operators was changed to include more material about false reports from the radar. Experience in Afghanistan and Iraq 2003 indicates that the problem still exists, but not as much as before.



May 4, 2003: The B-1B was so successful over Iraq, flying 432 sorties and dropping 2,250 tons of bombs, that several upgrades are being proposed.

Most important is a fully automated data link system, which would allow targeting data sent directly to the aircraft's targeting system. Over Iraq, targeting information (the GPS coordinates) were sent verbally. To insure there were no mistakes, all four crewmen wrote down the numbers, and then compared the information with each other to insure there were no errors. Then the coordinates were typed into the targeting system (which sent the data to the JDAMs being dropped.)
Replace the current ground surveillance radar (which can only distinguish objects at least ten feet long) with the radar used on the F-16 (that can pick out items as small as one foot large.)
Replace the current electronic countermeasures (that never really worked well) with a cheaper, more effective, system. One suggestion is to use the system currently carried by the Navy F-18.
Install the Litening II targeting pod, which is already carried by B-52s. This would allow the B-1B to use the longer range JSAM (Joint Standoff Attack Missile), which the B-1B can carry twelve of externally. This would be in addition to the 24 JDAMs carried internally on the three rotary bomb racks.
Build bomb racks that would allow the B-1B to carry the 250 pound JDAM. This would allow the aircraft to carry up to 144 250 pound bombs.
Upgrade the targeting system so the smaller (250 pound) bombs could hit moving targets (especially vehicles moving in convoys.)
May 3, 2003: Despite it's higher (than the B-52) operating cost, a dozen B-1Bs, operating from Oman, dropped half the bombs (by weight) delivered during the Iraq campaign. The B-1B usually carried 24 one ton JDAM bombs, and could loiter over the battlefield for up to eight hours. There are only 36 B-1Bs left in service. Another 32 are being retired, in addition to 32 that have already been taken out of service. Because of the exceptional performance of the B-1Bs over Iraq, it's now proposed that fewer B-1Bs be retired, and perhaps 45 be kept ready for combat. Originally, a hundred B-1Bs were built.

May 2, 2003: There was only one Global Hawk UAV available for operations over Iraq. The long duration of the Global Hawk (12-24 hours per flight), coupled with it's 550 pound synthetic aperture radar (SAR) proved to be a powerful combination. The SAR can distinguish objects three feet wide on the ground in search mode (covering an area 37 kilometers wide), and then zero in at one foot resolution (up to five kilometers away). The major advantage of synthetic aperture radar in Iraq was that it can see through sand storms, any time of day. It was the Global Hawk that spotted Iraqi divisions trying to move while sand storms raged, and then circled overhead while coalition bombers hit the targets Global Hawk was picking up.

May 1, 2003: The Iraq war was notable for low coalition casualties. In fact, the casualties (killed, wounded missing) per division per day were about SEVEN. During the 1991 war they were 12 a day. By comparison, during World War II the daily losses per American division were usually over a hundred a day when in action. On the Russian front, it was often several hundred casualties a day for German and Russian divisions. The spectacular six week German conquest of France in 1940, saw their combat divisions taking 30 casualties (on average) per day. But during another spectacular military victory, the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli casualties the were 110 per division per day, and that actually went down to 90 a day during the less spectacular 1973 war. So by any measure, our guys have learned how to avoid getting hit.

But it was more than that. For over half a century, American troops have not had to worry about getting attacked from the air (except for the occasional friendly fire incident.) And in the last few decades, American troops have also reduced the major cause of casualties; mortars and artillery. While the U.S. Air Force is largely responsible for eliminating enemy aircraft, it's the army's much improved artillery equipment that has silenced most of the enemy guns and mortars. In the 1970s and 80s, American artillery introduced effective counterbattery radar (that detected enemy shells and calculated where they were coming from) and more effective ammunition and artillery. The MLRS rocket launcher proved, as expected, to be the ultimate weapon for destroying enemy artillery. The MLRS could cover a large area quickly, making it difficult for enemy artillery to "shoot and scoot" (fire and few rounds and then drive off to avoid the counterbattery fire.)

Another major change was the enthusiastic adoption of mobile warfare. This meant fewer instances when American troops would get stuck fighting heavily fortified enemy troops sitting behind mine fields and barbed wire. One reason the U.S. army didn't like getting stuck fighting in Vietnam was because it was everything they were not training for. Vietnam was lots of small, static, infantry battles, that produced lots of casualties. Hard to do a blitzkrieg on guerillas. Coming out of Vietnam there was a dedication to developing new ways of fighting, new methods that got the fighting over more quickly, with fewer friendly casualties.

At the same time, the American armed forces also began paying more attention to shutting down enemy command and control. This meant using electronic reconnaissance aircraft and ships in peace time to discover how enemy communications and radar systems worked. When war broke out, the first priority was now to shut down enemy communications and radars. Blinding and muzzling the foe meant that the enemy had a harder time controlling their own forces. America's armed forces became quite good at this, as was show in two wars with Iraq and in Afghanistan.

An all volunteer army also made a big difference. Every soldier either performed like a professional, or got tossed out. The officers also changed, adopting a more friendly attitude towards innovation and change. This is unusual for peace time soldiers, who realize that any untried technology could get them killed when they use it in combat for the first time.

An inept opponent also keeps your casualties down, and the Iraqis have long been known as the lest effective soldiers in the Arab world. But even the Israelis took over a hundred casualties per division per day when fighting the Egyptians and Syrians. A lot of that has to do with the difference in weapon quality between American and Iraqis. In 1967 and 1973, the Israeli tanks were not virtually invulnerable to enemy fire as American M-1s were in 1991 and 2003. Nor did the Israeli infantry have the excellent protective vests U.S. troops now have. It's likely that if Israel fought another war against an Arab army, their casualties would be closer to ten per division per day, rather than the 90 they suffered in the 1973 war. Israel has been reducing it's casualty rates. In the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the casualties were down to 25 per division per day. In the last two decades, Israel had adopted many of the same tactics and equipment as the United States, and kept their combat casualties down.

Keeping casualties down to less than ten per division per day is unique, but it should not be seen as a permanent fixture. Facing a more powerful and resourceful enemy will send the rate right back up. Fighting North Korea would be a good example. The terrain of Korea (lots of steep hills and narrow valleys) makes it hard to use mobile warfare. The North Koreans have spent half a century digging fortifications into the sides of those hills. But morale in the North Korean army is fragile, as is the command and control systems used to run the army. North Korea can be beaten, but not with casualties as low as seven per division per day. It might be something closer to ten times that, depending on a lot of things you can't quite put your hands on. Like surprise, unexpected tactics and good information about what shape the North Koreans are in. The important thing to remember is that while lower casualties for the better prepared force is a historical fact, experiencing historically low losses every time is not.

April 18, 2003: At least one of the American chemical decontamination teams sent into Iraq has made the best of a bad situation. While these units never had to wash down troops exposed to chemical weapons, they realized their gear could also be used to provide hot showers to marines and GIs who were getting pretty ripe. So a U.S. Marine decontamination unit informally converted themselves to a mobile shower unit. Nearby marines, who had not had a shower in over a month, were invited to get three minute showers. Going unwashed for that long, this could be considered a form of decontamination.

April 1, 2003: A software flaw in Patriots fire control system is thought to be causing at least two cases of the system ignoring the IFF (Identify, Friend of Foe) transmitters on friendly warplanes. In one case, a missile was fired and downed a British Tornado aircraft, killing the two man crew. In the second incident, on March 25th, an American F-16 was also tagged as "hostile" by the Patriot fire control system. But this time, a missile was not fired. Patriot crews are on the alert for the for further occurrences of the flaw. In the past, there have been some problems with IFF equipment on some NATO aircraft, but this does not appear to be a factor here. During the 1991 Gulf War, there were instances where friendly electronic warfare aircraft, testing some of their equipment as they headed north, triggered a hostile response from nearby Patriot systems. There were no shoot downs then.

May 8, 2003: The Iraq war demonstrated once again that there is a lot of gear on the civilian market that does the job better than the stuff the troops are issued. This ranged from such simple items as goggles, to high end stuff like satellite phones. The goggles issued were too big and bulky and lenses often popped out. Many troops bought civilian models were more sturdy and fit better. The Iridium satellite phones (which were issued) always worked, versus many types of military radios that would not under certain conditions. The troops feel that satcom (satellite communications) is the future and that the sooner the shift is made, the better. Another civilian item that was very popular was the $65 drop holster for pistols. Much more convenient. Troops also improvised lanyards for the pistols using phone chords. These coiled chords would automatically retract when the pistol was holstered, unlike the straight issued chord. Another popular item from civilian sources was three point slings for M-16 rifles. One popular off the shelf one was the “Giles Tactical Carbine Sling” (from “The Wilderness Tactical Products”). Some troops also purchased computerized translation systems (Phrase-later) for communicating in Arabic. The PDA sized unit allows the user to speak into it, and in a few seconds what was said comes out in Arabic (or any other language the Phrase-later is equipped to handle.) Another electronic item many troops bought were commercial GPS receivers. These were smaller, lighter and easier on the batteries than the military issue ones. During the 1991 war, troops also bought GPS receivers (at several thousand dollars each), but this time around the price was a tenth of what it was twelve years ago. Memory sticks were yet another popular item. There wasn’t enough capacity on the battlefield Internet to transfer large image files. The memory sticks easily held these files, which were then carried by courier (via helicopter if it was a rush item) to the headquarters that needed.

May 7, 2003: Many of the "military transformation" enthusiasts are trying to downplay the important role the M-1 tanks and M-2 infantry vehicles played in the Iraq campaign. The military transformation crowd has come to believe progress means that "the tank is dead." Progressive military thinkers have been saying that for nearly half a century. But the death of the tank has been embraced by many in the media as well. The M-1 was frequently described in the media as "lumbering," when it is anything but. The M-1 has a top speed (limited by a governor) of 72 kilometers an hour and is considered a "lively" and highly maneuverable vehicle. The M-2 was built partly so there would be an armored infantry fast enough to keep up with M-1s sprinting cross country at fifty kilometers an hour. In Iraq, the fire control system of the M-1s was as good as ever, in one case getting hitting an enemy vehicle 4100 meters away on the first shot. So lethal was the M-1 that most Iraqi troops abandoned their armored vehicles when M-1s showed up. The Iraqi troops felt they had a better chance setting up ambushes inside towns and villages. They were right, but not by much. The 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine-guns on the tanks and 25mm cannon on and 7.62mm machine-gun on the M-2 took down these ambushes quickly. The 3rd Mechanized Division, in fact, had a shortage of infantry. Since 13 of the 40 men in an M-2 platoon the four M-2s to drive and operate the weapons, there were only about 1200 infantry (in the divisions five infantry battalions) you could actually put on the ground. So the firepower of the M-1s and M-2s did most of the work when Iraqi troops were encountered.

May 7, 2003: The rapid advance of the ground troops in Iraq left division and corps headquarters out of the loop most of the time. Operations were moving too fast and brigade and battalion commanders had been trained to think independently in a fast changing situation. This was essential for the steady advance. And there was a lot of pressure to keep moving. The original plan had the 4th Mechanized and 101st Airmobile division (plus a brigade of the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces units) advancing from the north towards Baghdad, while the 3rd Mechanized division, the 1st Marine division and the British division advanced from the south. The northern advance had less ground to cover, although there were more hills. When the Turks refused to let the American troops in, the entire operation fell to the southern force (reinforced by the troops of the 101st and 82nd divisions.) Intelligence analysis indicated the Iraqi troops and officers were demoralized enough for this to work, although it might take longer and get more American troops killed. The southern attack had to now move even faster to succeed, and it turned out to be a brigade and battalion commanders war. As a result, there is some enthusiasm about giving battalion, and company, commanders a larger share of the battlefield Internet goodies (like text messaging and real time map displays showing who's where.) There has been a growing call for pushing command and control lower, letting the brigade and battalion commanders to call the shots. The success of the Iraq operations appears to confirm that this approach does work.

May 6, 2003: Iraqi air defenses were never underestimated during the 2003 war, and coalition air forces went to great lengths to shut down any widespread use of missiles and guns against coalition aircraft. But the Iraqis had learned much about American SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) methods during the twelve years of low level warfare in the No-Fly Zones. One thing the Iraqis learned well was that U.S. radar detectors and anti-radiation missiles were a lethal combination for any Iraqi radar that switches its power on. So throughout the war, Iraqi radars were rarely turned on. They were attacked anyway, as were any missile launchers caught out in the open. The fiber optic communications system, illegally built over the last few years by Chinese firms, was also attacked, as this system was seen as meant mainly for the air defense system. Iraq fired its anti-aircraft missiles after visually detecting coalition targets, doing so without radar. The thousands of anti-aircraft guns, of course, usually fired without any help from radar. The Iraqis continued, as they had over the last 12 years, to place their missile launchers and guns in residential neighborhoods. These were not often attacked, because most of the coalition smart bombs were dropped from 10,000 feet or higher, beyond the range of most Iraqi anti-aircraft guns. Two helicopters (an AH-64 and a UH-60) and an A-10 were shot down by Iraqi fire. In addition, one British and one American fighter were accidentally shot down by American Patriot anti-aircraft missiles.

May 4, 2003: The B-1B was so successful over Iraq, flying 432 sorties and dropping 2,250 tons of bombs, that several upgrades are being proposed.

Most important is a fully automated data link system, which would allow targeting data sent directly to the aircraft's targeting system. Over Iraq, targeting information (the GPS coordinates) were sent verbally. To insure there were no mistakes, all four crewmen wrote down the numbers, and then compared the information with each other to insure there were no errors. Then the coordinates were typed into the targeting system (which sent the data to the JDAMs being dropped.)
Replace the current ground surveillance radar (which can only distinguish objects at least ten feet long) with the radar used on the F-16 (that can pick out items as small as one foot large.)
Replace the current electronic countermeasures (that never really worked well) with a cheaper, more effective, system. One suggestion is to use the system currently carried by the Navy F-18.
Install the Litening II targeting pod, which is already carried by B-52s. This would allow the B-1B to use the longer range JSAM (Joint Standoff Attack Missile), which the B-1B can carry twelve of externally. This would be in addition to the 24 JDAMs carried internally on the three rotary bomb racks.
Build bomb racks that would allow the B-1B to carry the 250 pound JDAM. This would allow the aircraft to carry up to 144 250 pound bombs.
Upgrade the targeting system so the smaller (250 pound) bombs could hit moving targets (especially vehicles moving in convoys.)
May 3, 2003: Despite it's higher (than the B-52) operating cost, a dozen B-1Bs, operating from Oman, dropped half the bombs (by weight) delivered during the Iraq campaign. The B-1B usually carried 24 one ton JDAM bombs, and could loiter over the battlefield for up to eight hours. There are only 36 B-1Bs left in service. Another 32 are being retired, in addition to 32 that have already been taken out of service. Because of the exceptional performance of the B-1Bs over Iraq, it's now proposed that fewer B-1Bs be retired, and perhaps 45 be kept ready for combat. Originally, a hundred B-1Bs were built.

May 2, 2003: There was only one Global Hawk UAV available for operations over Iraq. The long duration of the Global Hawk (12-24 hours per flight), coupled with it's 550 pound synthetic aperture radar (SAR) proved to be a powerful combination. The SAR can distinguish objects three feet wide on the ground in search mode (covering an area 37 kilometers wide), and then zero in at one foot resolution (up to five kilometers away). The major advantage of synthetic aperture radar in Iraq was that it can see through sand storms, any time of day. It was the Global Hawk that spotted Iraqi divisions trying to move while sand storms raged, and then circled overhead while coalition bombers hit the targets Global Hawk was picking up.

May 1, 2003: The Iraq war was notable for low coalition casualties. In fact, the casualties (killed, wounded missing) per division per day were about SEVEN. During the 1991 war they were 12 a day. By comparison, during World War II the daily losses per American division were usually over a hundred a day when in action. On the Russian front, it was often several hundred casualties a day for German and Russian divisions. The spectacular six week German conquest of France in 1940, saw their combat divisions taking 30 casualties (on average) per day. But during another spectacular military victory, the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli casualties the were 110 per division per day, and that actually went down to 90 a day during the less spectacular 1973 war. So by any measure, our guys have learned how to avoid getting hit.

But it was more than that. For over half a century, American troops have not had to worry about getting attacked from the air (except for the occasional friendly fire incident.) And in the last few decades, American troops have also reduced the major cause of casualties; mortars and artillery. While the U.S. Air Force is largely responsible for eliminating enemy aircraft, it's the army's much improved artillery equipment that has silenced most of the enemy guns and mortars. In the 1970s and 80s, American artillery introduced effective counterbattery radar (that detected enemy shells and calculated where they were coming from) and more effective ammunition and artillery. The MLRS rocket launcher proved, as expected, to be the ultimate weapon for destroying enemy artillery. The MLRS could cover a large area quickly, making it difficult for enemy artillery to "shoot and scoot" (fire and few rounds and then drive off to avoid the counterbattery fire.)

Another major change was the enthusiastic adoption of mobile warfare. This meant fewer instances when American troops would get stuck fighting heavily fortified enemy troops sitting behind mine fields and barbed wire. One reason the U.S. army didn't like getting stuck fighting in Vietnam was because it was everything they were not training for. Vietnam was lots of small, static, infantry battles, that produced lots of casualties. Hard to do a blitzkrieg on guerillas. Coming out of Vietnam there was a dedication to developing new ways of fighting, new methods that got the fighting over more quickly, with fewer friendly casualties.

At the same time, the American armed forces also began paying more attention to shutting down enemy command and control. This meant using electronic reconnaissance aircraft and ships in peace time to discover how enemy communications and radar systems worked. When war broke out, the first priority was now to shut down enemy communications and radars. Blinding and muzzling the foe meant that the enemy had a harder time controlling their own forces. America's armed forces became quite good at this, as was show in two wars with Iraq and in Afghanistan.

An all volunteer army also made a big difference. Every soldier either performed like a professional, or got tossed out. The officers also changed, adopting a more friendly attitude towards innovation and change. This is unusual for peace time soldiers, who realize that any untried technology could get them killed when they use it in combat for the first time.

An inept opponent also keeps your casualties down, and the Iraqis have long been known as the lest effective soldiers in the Arab world. But even the Israelis took over a hundred casualties per division per day when fighting the Egyptians and Syrians. A lot of that has to do with the difference in weapon quality between American and Iraqis. In 1967 and 1973, the Israeli tanks were not virtually invulnerable to enemy fire as American M-1s were in 1991 and 2003. Nor did the Israeli infantry have the excellent protective vests U.S. troops now have. It's likely that if Israel fought another war against an Arab army, their casualties would be closer to ten per division per day, rather than the 90 they suffered in the 1973 war. Israel has been reducing it's casualty rates. In the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the casualties were down to 25 per division per day. In the last two decades, Israel had adopted many of the same tactics and equipment as the United States, and kept their combat casualties down.

Keeping casualties down to less than ten per division per day is unique, but it should not be seen as a permanent fixture. Facing a more powerful and resourceful enemy will send the rate right back up. Fighting North Korea would be a good example. The terrain of Korea (lots of steep hills and narrow valleys) makes it hard to use mobile warfare. The North Koreans have spent half a century digging fortifications into the sides of those hills. But morale in the North Korean army is fragile, as is the command and control systems used to run the army. North Korea can be beaten, but not with casualties as low as seven per division per day. It might be something closer to ten times that, depending on a lot of things you can't quite put your hands on. Like surprise, unexpected tactics and good information about what shape the North Koreans are in. The important thing to remember is that while lower casualties for the better prepared force is a historical fact, experiencing historically low losses every time is not.

April 18, 2003: At least one of the American chemical decontamination teams sent into Iraq has made the best of a bad situation. While these units never had to wash down troops exposed to chemical weapons, they realized their gear could also be used to provide hot showers to marines and GIs who were getting pretty ripe. So a U.S. Marine decontamination unit informally converted themselves to a mobile shower unit. Nearby marines, who had not had a shower in over a month, were invited to get three minute showers. Going unwashed for that long, this could be considered a form of decontamination.

April 17, 2003: On April 12th, U.S. Army Special Forces troops seized the Iraqi al Assad airbase in western Iraq. Despite being bombed several times, aerial reconnaissance had missed fifteen Iraqi warplanes, two UAVs and five rocket launchers. As has happened in every war since World War II, troops on the ground have managed to deceive American aerial reconnaissance. The U.S. Air Force redoubles its efforts to eliminate the problem in time for the next war, but always manages to get deceived by even more desperate enemy troops in the target area.



April 16, 2003: For the first time, during the Iraq campaign, a B-52 heavy bomber used a targeting pod (a Litening II pod) to spot and designate with a laser, a target that was then hit with a laser guided Paveway II bomb. Normally, B-52s fly too high to use a laser designator. But the B-52 can fly low, at least low enough (4-5,000 meters) to use the laser designator and still stay above light anti-aircraft weapons. With the B-52s large carrying capacity (over two dozen bombs per sortie), one aircraft can take out many targets quickly.

April 15, 2003: While the U.S. Air Force is feeling quite good about it's performance in the Iraq war, there are already some disquieting trends appearing. For one thing, the star of the show was not the aircraft, but the weapons. More specifically, the JDAM GPS bombs. These weapons need little from the aircraft beyond dropping the bombs within a few kilometers of the target selected by the folks on the ground. While the air force still pushes finding targets from the air, and then bombing them, this has not always worked as well as people on the ground determining what is going to be hit. And then there are the bad memories of what happened the last time the air force fought the Iraqis. After the 1991 war, when it battlefield was examined, about half the "destroyed" Iraqi armored vehicles turned out to have been abandoned, and sometimes destroyed, by the Iraqis themselves. Of the other half that coalition forces hit, only a third of those were hit from the air. Some army wags are trying to reassure the air force guys by commenting that all those smart bombs often scare the Iraqis into abandoning their vehicles. This makes it easier for the ground troops to destroy them. But what the air force is really worrying about is the fact that most of the bombs were again dropped by older, cheaper and generally lower tech aircraft. The most prominent bomber of this type is the fifty year old B-52. Kind of hard to make a case for a new F-22 as a bomber when the BUFF is still doing the job.

April 9, 2003: Israeli Military Industries Tald (Tactical air launched decoy) aerial decoy, for use against enemy air defenses, was so successful in Iraq that the U.S. Navy has rushed out a $12.5 million for the improved (Itald) version of the decoy. The original Tald was a 7.3 foot long, 400 pound glider that deployed wings after it was launched and could go for about 100 kilometers, looking like an approaching warplanes to enemy radars. You could equip Talds to drop chaff, to further confuse radar, or broadcast deceptive signals. Enemy missiles and guns would fire at the Tald, especially during night attacks, taking pressure off the real bombers. Each Tald cost about $145,000. The Itald has a small jet engine and can fly for about 300 kilometers along a preprogrammed course, aided by GPS, making it appear even more realistic to enemy radars. Itald costs about $160,000 each. The Tald was developed and built by an American company until an Israeli firm took over development and manufacture.

April 6, 2003: U.S. Cruise missiles have been more reliable than expected, only about one percent failed and crashed short of their target. A failure rate of up to five percent was expected. But even with only seven wayward missiles, all caused diplomatic problems because they were flying over Saudi Arabia and Turkey when they went down. Most did not explode when they crashed, and none caused any injuries. But U.S. specialists had to go in and clean up the wreckage. Most of the people in Saudi Arabia and Turkey oppose the war in Iraq, so these crashed cruise missiles caused political problems for the local leaders who allowed the U.S. to send cruise missiles over Saudi Arabian and Turkish territory.

April 1, 2003: A software flaw in Patriots fire control system is thought to be causing at least two cases of the system ignoring the IFF (Identify, Friend of Foe) transmitters on friendly warplanes. In one case, a missile was fired and downed a British Tornado aircraft, killing the two man crew. In the second incident, on March 25th, an American F-16 was also tagged as "hostile" by the Patriot fire control system. But this time, a missile was not fired. Patriot crews are on the alert for the for further occurrences of the flaw. In the past, there have been some problems with IFF equipment on some NATO aircraft, but this does not appear to be a factor here. During the 1991 Gulf War, there were instances where friendly electronic warfare aircraft, testing some of their equipment as they headed north, triggered a hostile response from nearby Patriot systems. There were no shoot downs then.



Link Posted: 9/1/2005 9:10:18 PM EDT
Longest. Post. Ever.
Link Posted: 9/1/2005 9:13:55 PM EDT

Originally Posted By walrus:
Longest. Post. Ever.



You sure do read fast.

Link Posted: 9/1/2005 9:18:50 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/1/2005 10:08:15 PM EDT
Pretty good post though.
Link Posted: 9/1/2005 10:11:00 PM EDT
tag
Link Posted: 9/1/2005 10:13:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By walrus:
Longest. Post. Ever.



I'll read the rest over the next few days....
Link Posted: 9/1/2005 10:30:28 PM EDT
I hope for your sake that this is a copy and paste job.
Link Posted: 9/1/2005 10:50:59 PM EDT
You DO realize this was posted here when it was first published back in 2003,
don't you?
I forgot who posted it, though.
Link Posted: 9/2/2005 9:18:14 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:
You DO realize this was posted here when it was first published back in 2003,
don't you?
I forgot who posted it, though.



I think I think "dupe status" expires after 2 years.

Link Posted: 9/2/2005 9:25:03 AM EDT
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