One Second Broom, Next Second Boom: War With Insurgents

first published on December 10, 2015 by

One second this man is sweeping, the next he is firing an RPG at you. Insurgents are difficult to deal with, and this shows you why.

Insurgents

Dealing with an insurgency can be extremely difficult. Every single day you are faced with impossible decisions. Is this military aged male talking on his cell-phone, or is he reporting my position to a mortar team? Is that man cold, or is he strapped with a suicide vest underneath his heavy jacket? Is that man with a broom sweeping the street outside of his shop, or is he waiting for me to turn my head, so he can slam an RPG into my squad?

The reality of the past few wars with insurgent forces have gone completely over the heads of the individuals who haven’t lived it. In our comments section, I have seen at least one comment about civilian casualties in every single video, picture, or post we make to this webpage. It’s as if certain people truly believe that coalition forces left the wire every single day on a mission to cause collateral damage to non-combatants.

Have a look at this video, and try to understand how difficult it is to fight in an environment where literally, every single person might be the enemy.

After viewing that, hopefully you can begin to understand the complexity of the mission during the Global War on Terror. Every day we went up against men who dressed, and acted as non-combatants. In the beginning this was very hard to adapt to. Some mistakes were made, and some innocent people were killed. That is the nature of war, but we adapted to the situation very quickly.

Over the course of three combat deployments, and hundreds of missions as a Marine Infantryman, I can recall exactly one time that a non-combatant was injured by my unit. The scenario unfolded over the negligent discharge of a heavy machine gun. A Marine who was incompetent, accidentally discharged a MK19. One round was sent flying as a result. That round impacted in a nearby village and injured a little girl. The Marine who accidentally discharged the weapon was punitively punished. We treated that little girl, and she made a full recovery.

Insurgents Friend

Over those three deployments (once to Iraq, twice to Afghanistan) I watched our rules of engagement escalate from strict, to damn near impossible. The insurgency was making it hard enough to win the war, but the populace watching it on TV, from the food court at the mall, was making it absolutely futile. It was literally as if the politicians, news anchors, and civilian populace back home, thought that we weren’t taking every precaution to prevent unnecessary casualties.

The reality of the situation however is much different. Every single day we left the wire with a simple mission. There is no better friend, and no worse enemy, than a member of this coalition. We were polite, and we were courteous. We respected the traditions, and culture of the indigenous population we were engulfed in every single day. We set up contingencies, and plans to escalate force slowly to prevent innocents from being hurt. At the same time though, we were expected to have a plan to kill every single person we met. The reason behind that, was exactly because of what you just watched in the above video.

Insurgents

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