Differences in Middle East Military Field Operations

A few years ago, I was fortunate to help sponsor a couple Iraq/Afghanistan vets, one ex-Army, one ex-Marine, as they were accomplishing an across-the-U.S. bicycle ride to protest these Middle East wars. What I learned from them told me that each branch had their own way of dealing with being on the receiving end of the dreaded Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that were used by the local “enemy” against our daily vehicle-transported patrols.

An Army patrol, no matter how sharp-eyed or careful they could be, would trigger an unseen IED and at least one vehicle would be “taken out” with one or more dead and others experiencing often horrendous injuries because of the inadequate armor (shattered legs and genital injuries) of those vehicles. Typically, the Army response was an almost automatic command to “light it up”… opening fire and destroying anything and everything that moved, no matter age, gender, human, or animal…. Remember, these guys had been through the post WWII/post Vietnam training to overcome their natural-born resistance to killing. The ex-Army vet of this little group confirmed this process, but, in violation of the post WWII enhanced training program, had managed to add to the racket and remain in apparent compliance of the order, but by firing slightly higher or into open, dusty areas. The next day and the day after that, etc., were all repeats of the same process.

And so, we have an example of Newton’s 3rd Law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction“ with a blur of action/reaction cycles.

Unit rotation time… a Marine unit moves in to take over these patrols as the Army unit pulls out for a different area to patrol. The Marines dread this as they know they’re going to get hit. And, yes, they do.

BUT, they’re working under a different paradigm. They get hit, but gather their dead, tend to their wounded, and move out again, back to base camp to tend to their injuries! The next day they go out again and nothing… no IEDs! The local opposition/local enemy couldn’t goad them into acting like barbarians to feed that recruiting mantra, so why waste the IEDs? So, the cycle of action/reaction is, at least temporarily, broken.



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