Vietnam Speak In Iraq Military

Vietnam-Speak in Iraq

Military historian Tom Collier writes with regard to the killing of 14 Marines in Anbar province with a huge improvised explosive device:

‘ There seem to be two developments in Iraq that are “more than eerily Vietnam speak.” The first is the increasing use of bigger and better mines: bundled 155mm artillery shells, 500lb aircraft bombs, shaped charges, and clever booby traps to kill the mine clearers. All of that is old hat dating back through Vietnam and at least to WWII, but the insurgents seem to be able to plant their mines without either being detected by our surveillance [e.g., drone aircraft] or being reported to the police by the local people.

That is a bad sign, and means we control neither the terrain nor the populace. They are also very good at command detonation, in addition to the usual pressure detonation. And finally the Iraqi Army ammo dumps that we left unguarded back in 2003 gave them a huge supply of explosives which they have evidently carted away and hidden — a big job, skillfully done.

The second development reminiscent of Vietnam is the US decision to move away from the population centers and move west to the border in order try to attack “base areas” and interdict routes from Syria [read Cambodia & Laos]. SLA Marshall, whom I do not worship, warned in 1967, “Rattling around the Cambodian border held nothing good for our side….The enemy from out of Cambodian base camps was ever scouting, measuring, and plotting the countryside….We were literally engaging [the enemy] on the maneuver ground where they did their training.”

Add to that the general hostility of the Sunnis of Anbar Province and it makes you wonder why Marines and soldiers are repeatedly searching and destroying out in the Wild West — some kind of cognitive dissonance? The Custer-Westmoreland Syndrome? Surely it defies all the lore and knowledge of insurgency/ counterinsurgency.’

Tom Collier

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