After Action Report - Iraq

Appologies for the long C+P but i thought i found it interesting

The following unclassified AAR (After Action Report) was prepared by four Marines (a sergeant, a corporal and two lance-corporals.) AARs are usually written by officers, so this one is special. It’s very grunt level in its observations

Lessons Learned: Infantry Squad Tactics in Military Operations in Urban Terrain During Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq

Fallujah, Iraq


Historically speaking, military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) have created casualty figures that are extraordinary compared to similar operations conducted in different types of environments. The casualties in MOUT present a significant challenge to small unit leaders. Casualties hit Marine infantry squads and fire teams extremely hard because generally speaking they were already under the table of organization (T/O) standards.

Some squads in 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5) commenced the assault on the Jolan with only six Marines. It is the small unit leaders' duty to accomplish the mission with the least amount of casualties possible. In order for small unit leaders to complete the above task they need tactics and techniques that will prevent casualties.

Section 1 of the Scout/Sniper Platoon has attacked and cleared buildings with all the line companies in 3/5. The authors have observed nearly all the squads in the battalion and have "rolled in the stack" with many of them.

This is an experience which few in the battalion have. Knowing this, the authors believe it is their duty to consolidate their observations, produce a comprehensive evaluation of squad tactics and techniques, and pass it onto the squad leaders. The authors' intent is to give the squad leaders options in combat. It is by no means a "bible," but it is a guideline. All the tactics and techniques have been proven in combat by one squad or another.

Section 1 does not take any credit for the information contained within. The information was learned through the blood of the infantry squads in 3/5.

The entire evaluation has one underlying theme: Accomplish the mission with the least amount of casualties possible.

Terrain and Enemy


The city of Fallujah, Iraq is unlike any city in which Marines have trained for. The layout of the city is random. Zoning distinguishing between residential, business, and industrial is non﷓existent. An infantry squad could be clearing a house and next door may be clearing a slaughterhouse or furniture wood shop.

The streets are narrow and are generally lined by walls. The walls
channelize the squad and do not allow for standard immediate action drills when contact is made. This has not been an issue because the majority of contact is not made in the streets, but in the houses.

The houses are densely packed in blocks. The houses touch or almost touch the adjacent houses to the sides and rear. This enables the insurgents to escape the view of Marine overwatch positions. The houses also are all made of brick with a thick covering of mortar overtop. In almost every house a fragmentation grenade can be used without fragments coming through the walls. Each room can be fragged individually.

Almost all houses have an enclosed courtyard. Upon entry into the courtyard, there is usually an outhouse large enough for one man. The rooftops as well as a large first story window overlook the courtyard. Generally, all the windows in the house are barred and covered with blinds or cardboard restricting visibility into the house.

The exterior doors of the houses are both metal and wood. The wood doors usually have a metal gate over top on the outside of the house forming two barriers to breach. The doors have two to three locking points. Some doors are even barricaded from the inside to prevent entry. There are generally two to three entrances to the house. The entrances are the front, the kitchen, and the side or rear.

The interior doors are also made of metal and wood. The differences between the interior and exterior doors are the strength and durability of the doors. Interior doors only have one locking point and most of them can be kicked in. All doors inside and outside of the house are usually locked and must be breached.

The layout of all the houses is generally the same. Initial entry in the front door leads to a small room with two interior doors. The two doors are the entrance to two adjacent open seating rooms. The size of the rooms varies according to the size of the house. At the end of the sitting rooms are interior doors that open up into a central hallway.

The central hallway is where all the first floor rooms lead and it contains the ladderwell to the second deck. The second deck will contain more rooms and an exit to the middle roof top. The middle roof top will have an exterior ladderwell leading up to the highest rooftop.


The two types of insurgents that the squads are engaging will be labeled the Guerrillas and the Martyrs in this evaluation. The Guerillas are classified by the following principles:

Their purpose is to kill many Marines quickly and then evade. They DO NOT want to die. Dying is an acceptable risk to the Guerillas, but their intention is to live and fight another day.

The tactics used are classic Guerilla warfare. The Guerillas will engage Marines only on terrain of their choosing when they have tactical advantage.

After contact is made the Guerillas will disengage and evade.

Their evasion route normally is out of sight of Marine overwatch positions.

The Martyrs are classified by the following principles:

The Martyrs' purpose is to kill as many Marines as possible before they are killed. Time does not have any significance. The Martyrs want to die by the hands of Marines. The final outcome of their actions results in dead Marines as well as their death.

Their tactics directly reflect their purpose. The Martyrs will make
fortified fighting positions in houses and wait. Marines will come, they will fight, and they will die in place.

Both the Guerillas and Martyrs employ the same weapons. The weapons used are mostly small arms, grenades, and rocket propelled grenades (RPG's). The Martyrs have used heavy machine guns and anti﷓air machine guns, unfortunately, with good effects.

The battle positions and tactics that the both employ are somewhat similar. The major differences between the two are the egress route and the fortifications. Guerrillas have an evasion plan, while the martyrs do not. The Guerrillas normally do not have fortified positions.

Marines have been engaged from mouse holes within the house, Guerrillas shooting down from the rooftops when they are moving into the courtyard, Guerrillas and Martyrs shooting and throwing grenades down the ladderwells, in second deck rooms that are fortified or blacked out, and upon breaching of interior doors. Martyrs have emplaced machine gun positions in rooms facing down the long axis of hallways.

The egress routes the Guerrillas use are preplanned and well﷓rehearsed. They move in groups and withdrawal perpendicular to Marines' forward line of troops (FLOT). Their movement is through windows of houses, down back alleys, and from roof to roof (only when obscured from Marine overwatch positions). The routes minimize exposure in the streets. Escape routes do not cross streets that run perpendicular to the FLOT, only parallel. This is done because Marine snipers during 2nd Battalion/1st Marines' (2/1) attack last April devastated the insurgents when attempting to cross those streets.
If contact is made with Guerrillas and the block is not isolated on all four sides then their chance of escape increases exponentially. Isolation of the block is absolutely necessary in order to prevent any "squirters."

Overall, the enemy has adapted their tactics and techniques in order to maximize their strong points and hit Marines when they are the most vulnerable. They have learned from 2/1's attack last April. This is common sense, but it must be said in order that Marines realize the enemy they are fighting is somewhat intelligent. In MOUT it only takes a miniscule amount of intelligence in order to create massive amounts of casualties.
Section on squad tactics has been left out for opsec.

AAR Iraq
Those insurgent tactics sound awfully familiar 8O
Interesting reading. However why leave out the section on squad tactics etc for Opsec reasons when they're all there on document you have then linked to? It's hardly increasing the security by making someone click on a link... :?:
It's from here:

But you need a septic email address to get it:

Any user email addresses not from the U.S. Government, U.S. Military, U.S. Companies, or U.S. Research Institutions will not be processed.

Another long cut and past but worth the read:

Subject: CG 1st Cav Div Lessons Learned Comments

Went to an AUSA dinner last night at the Ft. Hood Officers' Club
to hear a speech by MG Pete Chiarelli, CG of the 1st Cav Div. He and
most of the Div. have just returned from Iraq. Very informative and,
surprise, the Mainstream Media (MSM) isn't telling the story. I was
not there as a reporter, didn't take notes but I'll make some the
points I remember that were interesting, suprising or generally stuff
I had not heard before.

It was not a speech per se. He just walked and talked, showed some
slides and answered questions. Very impressive guy.

1. While units of the Cav served all over Iraq, he spoke mostly
of Baghdad and more specifically Sadr City, the big slum on the
eastern side of theTigeris River. He pointed out that Baghdad is, in
geography, is about the size of Austin. Austin has 600,000 to 700,000
people. Baghdad has 6 to7 million people. His mission analysis
included analyzing the proportion of the population that was:
terrorist; "on the fence", and pro-freedom/Iraqi democracy. His
mission was to move "on the fence" folks to the Pro group, not allow
them to move to the terrorist group. Excellent piece of analysis.

2. The Cav lost 28 main battle tanks. He said one of the big
lessons learned is that, contrary to docterine going in, M1-A2s and
Bradleys are needed, preferred and devastating in urban combat and
he is going to make that point to the JCS next week while they are
considering downsizing armor.

3. He showed a graph of attacks in Sadr City by month. Last
Aug-Sep they were getting up to 160 attacks per week. During the last
three months, the graph had flatlined at below 5 to zero per week.

4. His big point was not that they were "winning battles" to do this
but that cleaning the place up, electricity, sewage, water were the
key factors. He said yes they fought but after they started
delivering services that the Iraqis in Sadr City had never had, the
terrorist recruiting of 15 and 16 year olds came up empty. Raw sewage
is everywhere--a real health hazard. Terrorist cells are most prevalent
in areas where services are worst. Clear correlation.
When they restored services, the terrorist support
melted away.

5. The electrical "grid" is a bad, deadly joke. Said that driving
down the street in a Hummv with an antenna would short out a whole
block of apt. buildings. People do their own wiring and it was not
uncommon for early morning patrols would find one or two people lying
dead in the street, having been electrocuted trying to re-wire their
own homes. Electricity available only a few hours a day. When
electricity not there, sewage lift pumps stop, sewage everywhere,
leeches into the drinking water supply.

6. Said that not tending to a dead body in the Muslum culture never
happens. On election day, after suicide bombers blew themselves up
trying to take out polling places, voters would step up to the body
lying there, spit on it, and move up in the line to vote--very unusual and
surprising treatment of Muslim dead.

7. Pointed out that we all heard from the media about the 100 Iraqis
killed as they were lined up to enlist in the police and security
service. What the media didn't point out was that the next day there
300 lined up in the same place to enlist as replacements.

8. Said bin Laden and Zarqawi made a HUGE mistake when Bin Laden went
public with naming Zarqawi the "prince" of al Quaeda in Iraq. Said
that what the Iraqis saw and heard was a Saudi telling a Jordanian
that his job was to kill Iraqis. HUGE mistake. It was one of the
biggest factors in getting Iraqis who were on the "fence" to jump off
on the side of the coalition and the new gov't.

9. Said the MSM was making a big, and wrong, deal out of the
religious sects. Said Iraqis are incredibly nationalistic. They are
Iraqis first and then say they are Muslum but the Shi'a - Sunni thing
is just not that big a deal to them.

10. After the election the Mayor of Baghdad told him that the people
of the region (Middle East) are joyous and the governments (Middle East) are

11. Said that he did not lose a single tanker truck carrying oil and
gas over the roads of Iraq. Think about that. All the attacks we saw
on TV with IEDs hitting trucks but he didn't lose one. Why? Army
Aviation. Praised his air units and said they made the decision
early on that every convoy would have helicopter air cover. Said
aviators in that unit were hitting the 1,000 hour mark (sound
familiar?). Said a covoy was supposed to head out but stopped at the
gates of a compound on the command of an E6. He asked the SSG what
the hold up was. E6 said, "Air , sir." He wondered what was wrong
with the air, not realizing what the kid was talking about. Then the
AH-64s showed up and the E6 said, "That air sir." And then moved out.

12. Said one of the biggest problems was money and regs. There was a
$77 million gap between the supplemental budget and what he needed in
cash on the ground to get projects started. Said he spent most of his
time trying to get money. Said he didn't do much as a "combat
commander" because the the war he was fighting was a war at the squad
and platoon level. Said that his NCOs were winning the war and it was
a sight to behold.

13. Said that of all the money appropriated for Iraq, not a cent was
earmarked for agriculture. Said that Iraq could feed itself
completely and still have food for export but no one thought about
it. Said the Cav started working with Texas A&M on ag projects and
had special hybrid seeds sent to them through Jordan. A&M analyzed
soil samples and worked out how and what to plant. Said he had an E7
from Belton, TX (just down the road from Ft. Hood) who was almost
single-handedly rebuilding the ag industry in the Baghdad area.

14. Said he could hire hundreds of Iraqis daily for $7 to $10 a day
to work on sewer, electric, water projects, etc. but that the
contracting rules from CONUS applied so he had to have $500,000
insurance policies in place in case the workers got hurt. Not
kidding. The CONUS peacetime regs slowed everything down, even if
they could eventually get waivers for the regs.

There was more, lots more, but the idea is that you probly haven't heard any
of this from any media source, at least I hadn't.

Great stuff. We should be proud. Said the Cav troops said it was ALL
worth it on Jan. 30 when they saw how the Iraqis handled election
day. Made them very proud of their service and what they had
The reason i didnt post the squad tactics when it is already in the public domain is that i didnt want to make them any more widely known than they allready are by certain sections (ie insurgents or sympathisers). If they really want to find them, why should i make it any easier for them? 8O
9. Said the MSM was making a big, and wrong, deal out of the
religious sects. Said Iraqis are incredibly nationalistic. They are
Iraqis first and then say they are Muslum but the Shi'a - Sunni thing
is just not that big a deal to them.
Nice to have someone agree with me :D

Latest Threads