Monday, June 19, 2006

Michael Fumento Reports from Ramadi 
His riveting account is an absolute must read.

Couldn't quite tell from the footage whether Camp Corrigedor is the old Combat Outpost out on the western side of Ramadi, which was the home of C/1-124 and part of HHC/1-124. Yes, it was hit every couple of days with mortars and RPGs, as well - even during the quieter days of OIF I. At least, from what Fumento reports, Ramadi seems more active now than it was in OIF I.

A couple of things interested me:

1.) The enemy had a pretty good sniper on the payroll, at least for a while. During my tenure there, I don't recall much enemy sniper activity of note - in the sense of long-range precision fire. There may have been one a bit south of us, in the Tamim/5 mile section of the town... which is actually IDEAL ground for sniper operations - on both sides, because there are thousands of apartments on high ground overlooking one of the main thoroughfares. A good sniper sitting back from a window or door in one of those places 500-600 meters away could wreak havoc on road traffic - and has, from time to time.

In central Ramadi, though, there are few good places for long range precision rifle fire in the classic sense. The town is built up on level ground so ranges are restricted, and the few elevated firing platforms, such as minarets, or tall buildings, are too obvious to be occupied by a sniper for long, unless he has a death wish. But Fumento's account notes that the enemy occasionally uses snipers effectively and too good effect.

Few feelings are creepier or more nerve wracking than the feeling that someone has his reticle on your temple right now. A sniper can really put a cramp on the enemy's style. Fortunately, our snipers are better than theirs.

2.) Why put a road off limits just because the enemy plants 18 IEDs there per night? That sounds like a terrific tactical opportunity to me. Any enemy who can organize and plant 18 IEDs in a single night is worth going out of your way to kill. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat - and if I knew such an enemy was making a habit out of doing that in one place, I'd find a way to attack and kill him - through some combination of aerial observation, snipers, OPs, channeling, random traffic control points, and manned or mechanical ambushes. Maybe not on the site itself - that's too obvious - but on the approaches to it. For instance, you could set three ambushes on approaches to and from the site, and observe it from the air or with a sniper team, if possible. The car with the IEDs approaches the site, and the aerial crew observes them, reports the information, and hits them. The ambush is not set until the air crew makes the report. When the moojies are hit, they'll either die, or run, and chances are they'll run right into the ambush, which is now activated and fully alert.

If air is not available, and the terrain does not allow for a sniper team, you could use a series of small battery-operated cameras for the night, surreptitiously emplaced by your dismounts during the day. No one method will work all the time - you have to use them in combination.

Any man who gets out of his car to plant an IED must expose himself, and he can be killed. This is the enemy at his most vulnerable - and the best anti-IED weapon in the arsenal is the trained sniper.

The popular IED sites can themselves be booby-trapped, though this is legally problematic for our troops. Iraqi troops could do so, no problem. The difficulty with mechanical ambushes is that you leave ordnance out for the enemy to capture. But there's no shortage of ordnance anyway.

You also leave mechanical ambushes for the local kids to play with. But the kids can't play on that road anyway, if the moojies are dropping 18 IEDs per night on it. The article doesn't say, but I wonder if that IED road is the northern road up by the river?

If so, it's too bad... that's really the only road in town that has any bearable scenery in it, other than the Saddam mosque. If it is, though, the US commander should look also at interdicting boat traffic on the Euphrates - which is where some of the ordnance and IED planters may be coming from. That area was a frequent site for IEDs and weapons cache sites alike during 2003 and 2004, though we never found anything like that many being planted on one night. Five would have been an active night.

3.) Commanders in Ramadi are still pissed off about the lack of media coverage. So am I. If the media is not covering Ramadi, they are not covering the heart of the insurgency. It seems like the moojies have their A-team in Ramadi, and that's where the friction is greatest, and that's where the unit doctrine is really being written, on both sides. Back before Fallujah was stormed I wrote that Ramadi was really the central piece - the lynchpin of the insurgency. I still believe that. The insurgents must be able to use Ramadi to support their efforts in Baghdad. They clearly have a remote base of support outside of Baghdad. If they cannot use Ramadi or Khalidiyah, Baghdad gets a lot quieter. If Ramadi and Khalidiyah can be denied to the enemy, they must move their base out to Hit, if support comes from Syria. But Hit's a long drive through the desert - and any operations between Hit and points west are very vulnerable to TCP operations. And the TCPs themselves don't make inviting targets out there because they can be set up in open desert.

The problem with the media is that if they don't get out of Baghdad, they cannot appreciate the lay of the land along the stretch between Baghdad and Hadithah - and where do they think the war in Baghdad comes from?

4.) Fumento's account illustrates the difference in coverage you get with a REAL correspondent - someone with military experience himself, who knows what he's looking at - and the drive-by media holed up in their Baghdad hotels relying on stringers.

Splash, out


About Ramadi being the actual heart of the insurgency, have you read Bing West's No True Glory? He said practically the same thing you did in point 3 about Ramadi being the real battle rather than Fallujah. The media focussed on the lynching of the 4 contractors and ignored the massive defeat of the insurgents trying to capture Ramadi.

He also makes the point that the US military should release UAV footage in order to counter the propoganda put out by al jazeera and the terrorists/insurgents.
Mr Fumento first posted this story back in mid April. How could we find out what changes/progress have been made since then?
Anonymous is confusing my Ramadi piece with my "Return to Fallujah" piece (May 8, at: http://www.fumento.com/military/fallujah2006.html) with the Ramadi piece of June 19.

Also, Corregidor is in southeast Ramadi. Regarding the IED layers, what Ramadi desperately needs in addition to more troops is more unmanned surveillance. Those in the know know that "The Highway of Death" from Baghdad International is now again known as "Route Irish" because it's become so safe. Few know that much of this is because, as I saw, there are two blimps permanently stationed above it. They have stopped IED-laying as well as ambushes.
Wow! Blimps! Brilliant! Plus, there's a stadium conveniently located in Eastern Ramadi as well!

And think of the ad revenues such a blimp could generate!
Especially if we moved the ProBowl there.
" Why put a road off limits just because the enemy plants 18 IEDs there per night? That sounds like a terrific tactical opportunity to me. Any enemy who can organize and plant 18 IEDs in a single night is worth going out of your way to kill." Those three sentences reveal the skilllful ignorance of the Lame Stream media. Not only would they never see the tactical opportunity, but believeing warfare is only random violence, it never occurs to them to examine a military viewpoint. As if they say to themselves, "What can those guys possibly teach us?". Jerks.
My Son (Sapper Platoon - Purple Heart Recipient), Recently returned from COP (which is across the street from Camp Corrigedor) after a 10 month deployment. In response to lack of media attention, he assures us that no one wanted to come there, too dangerous.. jokingly he says, why do you think they call it Combat Outpost.
I was with him at combat outpost at the time and he is 100 percent correct tell Brandon that Strauss says hello
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