Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Checkpoint shooting 
Some of the leftie blogs are all aflutter over the incompetence of the troops who fired on a vehicle that ran a checkpoint - killing the occupants, one of whom was pregnant.Granted, the soldiers on the ground, and Rumsfeld personally should have been able to discern, from hundreds of meters away, that the modestly clad woman in the floor-length robes in the back seat was obviously pregnant.

Now some of them are criticizing soldiers for "not shooting out the engine block," or "not shooting out the tires."


Look at the lethal radius of a VBIED.

Well, I suspect our official estimate is classified. But Danger Close for our own artillery is 600m, and 155mm shells have a lethality radius of about 300 meters.

Which happens to be about the maximum real-world effective range for an M16. (Ok, die hards - I'm fully aware that the effective range listed in the -10 manual is 525m. That's in a laboratory. How many of your soldiers skip the 300m target on the pop up range and save their ammo?)

And a .223 round ain't gonna "shoot out an engine block."

A .50 cal might. But that's because a .50 cal actually PENETRATES the engine block. And so will probably penetrate the dashboard as well. Even if it is carpeted. And it will kill the people inside.

But there's no evidence I've seen reported that a .50 cal was even on the scene. Which doesn't leave many options. Well, it leaves two: Accept the risk that the vehicle is a VBIED (despite the signage which clearly indicates, in Arabic, that you must stop "or you will be shot"), or you shoot to take out the occupants - beyond the lethal radius of the VBIED. Which could well consist of several 155mm rounds connected together.

I personally know that an IED consisting of about 3 155mm rounds will shatter windows more than 1,000 meters away, because I was in a room when it happened.

Of course, you could "shoot out the tires." And a .223 round will penetrate a tire. Unless the tire is filled with plastic explosive, of course. But even if it's not, why would flattening a tire in a suicide bomber's VBIED do anything more than make the last 20 seconds of his life a bumpy ride?

At any rate, the max effective range of the M16 under ideal conditions against a man-sized target is 525 meters or so. But most soldiers can't reliably hit the 300m target on a pop up range. And that one is standing still, not hurtling along at 60 mph.

And the man-sized silhouette is rather larger than a tire.

Really, in order to score a reliable tire shot with an M16, you'd probably have to let the vehicle close to within 1/5th to 1/10th of the actual lethal radius of a potential VBIED.

You also have to consider that since the explosive force experienced by the victims of the IED decreases by the square of the radius to the IED, it therefore follows that your own exposure to lethal effect - and therefore risk - increases exponentially with every passing second.

So some of our soldiers guessed wrong, and are labeled "incompetent."

Is this what passes for "analysis" among these people?

Who's calling whom "incompetent?"

Splash, out


Justifying the cold blooded murder of a pregnant woman about to give birth.

Typical neocon reaction.

What happened to "every life is precious"? What if this woman had an abortion instead of being shot to death in the act of childbirth?

The duplicity astounds.

Feel free to delete, and don't bother responding, because I won't be back.
Heh. "cold blooded?"

Are you naturally stupid? Or did your parents pay for lessons?

What evidence is there that this was done in "cold blood?"

Sorry. I don't need readers as dumb as you are. Blogger doesn't offer a "coloring book" interface.
I believe your brave, anonymous commenter got his information about the capabilities and limitations of weapons systems from old episodes of the A-team. I wish movies and such were a bit more realistic with such matters. I remember being a bit shocked to learn what the effective casualty radius of a hand grenade was during summer training at the Naval Academy. I channeled Roberto Clemente throwing that grenade. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to debunk a lot of these things.
The left wingers all consider themselves a clone of John Wayne or Dirty Harry, except they are all cowards. People these were actor's and couldn't hit the wall of a barn in real life if they were standing inside the barn. If you think you are such a crack shot there must may be an opening at the local recruiter's office.
I think some of the lefties are about to get a hard lesson when the fight comes to the streets of America. Ask the French, they are left with two options, fight or surrender the entire country. It's likely the French will surrender, again. Do as i do, not as they say, shoot from the belt line to the shoulders, it's the largest target on a body. Getting killed is not your job, killing the enemy is and someday soon that will include the lefties.
What does 'splash, out' mean? I always thought splash was your name. Now that I see you are Jason, I'm confused.
It's easy to judge when you're not on the ground in Iraq. Our host here has been, so I trust his judgment more than someone who uses Anonymous as their handle and then leaves before anyone can reply.
A lot of people pretend that war is somewhat like a video game when it serves their political purposes to do so. Modern war, like the Civil War variety, is hell. Bad things happen, a lot of them by intent. One of the purposes of a terror campaign is to provoke friendly fire events and civilian casualties. Sometimes it works.
What happened to "every life is precious"?

What happened to "our soldiers' lives are precious"? I guess that stance only applies when it can be used to undermine the policies of the current administration eh?

Duplicity? Pot Kettle Black.
A sign, in arabic, says 'stop or you will be shot'. They did not stop. So why is this news? It's sad that they didn't obey the rules, but in a war zone that gets you killed.
Good post, Jason. (Don't get me started about the shortcomings of .223.)

What astounds me about Mr. Drive-by commenter and those like him is the endless, emotion-driven and movie-informed Monday-morning quarterbacking of a life-or-death (maybe life-and-death in this case)decision halfway around the world by people who've lived lives of such prosperity and safety that a database of phone records probably frightens them.
Mr. Blogagog,

Since Jason is away training, I'll take this one. "Splash, out" is part of a call for fire. There is "shot, over" and "shot, out," telling the observer that guns have fired and the observer's acknowledgement. Then, there's "splash, over" and "splash, out," with the observer calling back to the guns that rounds have impacted, and the acknowledgement.

Sorry to nitpick, but the "splash, over" command is given five seconds from the impact of the rounds to allow the observer to prepare to view the impact with his binoculars in order to make the best possible adjustments, if necessary. "Splash, out" just acknowledges that the "splash, over" transmission was received.

The fire direction is given confirmation that the rounds have impacted through the adjustment correction or "fire for effect, over" command given by the observer (and the absence of the command "rounds unobserved, over").

Hope this helps ;)
Just proves how difficult it is to fight in an built up area after the combat period has ended. Add the fact that most check points are not manned by MP's. Combat troops don't make the best policemen...never should have to be for long periods.

It is only a matter of time before a poor PFC is made to make the 'shoot, don't shoot' decision in this CNN era.

A tough decision in a tough spot. The Monday morning quarterbacks should just shutup, or get up and enlist.

Can you illuminate for me what additional training that a MP receives that would allow them to better make the shoot or no shoot decision?

Running check points has been a doctrinal task for the combat arms for over a decade now, and my experience has been that the infantry, at least, is much better equipped than MPs to run checkpoints, especially in the Iraq environment.


Not sure why an MP unit would have acted any differently here.

TCPs aren't rocket science, and everybody has the same ROE - the details of which will not be discussed here -- regardless of branch.

MP units also have pretty much the same weapons mix down at the Joe level. It's not like a 95B unit would have a magic bullet that can stop a car without hurting anyone inside. They have the same M16s, M4s, M249s, and .50 cals that the combat arms units have over there (once you account for the reorganization of noninfantry units).

MPs make better MPs than infantry do - and should be expected to do a better job at handling prisoners. (There's a reason we don't want infantry to have their hands on prisoners too long - and battlefield rage issues are only part of it. Infantry soldiers have no training in the preservation of evidence, except what leaders with law enforcement backgrounds themselves can infuse).

But any unit that's been through a successful premob training ought to be able to handle a garden variety traffic control point.
Thanks Chris!
How does one justify a cold blooded murder? Talk about a leading and loaded statement.

Instead, let's talk about the difficulty of trying to balance the lives of you and your fellow soldiers against the desire to do no harm. It's easy to stand on the moral high ground and shake your head at the inhumanity of war. Grow up. It's brutal and more people without weapons get killed and wounded than actual trigger pullers. War sucks. Everybody knows it. And the people who really understand that are the ones who have fired their weapons, been shot at, or been in the vicinity.

With this war, try to avoid classifying those who find some degree of greyness in civilian deaths as right wing neo-conservatives. We're all thinking and feeling human beings. Making the obvious statement that killing pregnant women is wrong won't earn you a Nobel Prize or make you the smartest individual on your block. It's just a cop out, a great way of avoiding the responsibility that WE ALL SHARE for the actions and deeds of our people, and the lazy way to avoid REALLY choosing between multiple painful solutions. Good and evil are just abstract concepts. Angels and monsters don't really exist in this world -- there are just individuals who make choices and decisions based on emotion, need, and way too little planning.

As for the body of this original blog, details are important. If you want to criticize the actions of a soldier, first educate yourself on the tools, methods, and realistic options available to them. If you don't want to make the effort, then picture trying to decide whether the estimate for your car repair is realistic when you don't even know what's under the hood. Knowledge is power.

Or even better, try this simple trick. Play "rock, paper, scissors" with a friend. Then add "knife, rifle, machine gun, cannon, bomb" to the mix. Now it's not so easy to play the game, eh? Lots more choices and you have no idea what will come up next... Then make the game options real, put your most loved one behind you, picture a silhouette running towards you, and give yourself 1.2 seconds to decide what to do...

It would be much easier if enemies were color coded, carried flags, and only showed up at scheduled battlefields... but most wars in the past 100 years haven't worked like that. Progress cuts both ways.

That's my $0.02. Peace out. Splash out. And pray for those who never got out...
Heres an idea. Before you pass judgment, enlist in the military go to Iraq and work on a checkpoint and have a car hurtling towards you with no intentions of slowing down. Having done that myself there is no way to know the intentions of the people driving the car. So you can easily not shoot and risk your best friends dying and possibly yourself or you can shoot the vehicle and protect your own life and those around you. War is hell. Bad things happen the last thing soldiers need is your negative opinions on something you know nothing about. My advise is go there be put in that situation and then make your decision because it is so easy to pass judgment when you looking into the box from the outside.
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