An Iraqi Answer for Terrorists:A Day with the Commandos

#1
October 14, 2005
An Iraqi Answer for Terrorists:
A Day with the Commandos in Tallafar
By Lieutenant Colonel Gary Skubal

Our three humvees were loaded and ready. The commandos had the intel on the location of a terrorist cell and we had clearance into the battle space to conduct the raid. But where were the commandos? Their gun trucks were empty. The jundies (privates) were idle in the doorways and courtyards of their sleeping areas. Our senior advisor, Colonel Jeffrey Buchanan, strode off to find the commander of the Iraqi Special Police Commando Division, Major General Rasheed. A few moments later he was back. “Shut ‘em down guys, we’re going to eat lunch,” declared the Colonel with a look of chagrin. Earlier in the day we (the eight man Special Police Transition Team, or SPTT, advising the Commando Division) had been invited to lunch with the Commando Division Staff. Naturally we assumed the new mission took precedence over our meal. Not so. General Rasheed’s hospitality prevailed and we were feted to a literal feast of roast lamb, chicken, soup, rice and vegetables. As the meal was nearing an end, Colonel Buchanan, with friendly Arabic phrases and his faithful interpreter Ali, gently prodded the Iraqi staff for a sense of urgency to execute the mission. “The terrorists are also eating lunch and will be sleeping afterwards,” grinned General Rasheed, “we will catch them napping.”

And indeed we did. Sixteen “detainees” were captured in just over an hour. Such is the wisdom of the Iraqis dealing with their own terrorists. But this wisdom was not gained without hardship.

While languishing in prison under the Saddam regime, General Rasheed and his superior, General Adnon, formulated the idea of a commando style unit. The concept was simple. Groups of light vehicles, each loaded with commandos and mounting a machine gun, would surround hideouts of known terrorists and capture them through surprise and speed. Interrogation would be swift. The resulting intelligence would provide new names and new locations for new raids. And just like a nuclear chain reaction, the commando’s capture of terrorists and caches would grow exponentially with each passing hour and day. In Tallafar, two battalions of commandos from Colonel Abdul Salam’s 4th “Lightning” Brigade were chosen to test the concept as part of a major combat operation.

To the cavalrymen of the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment who observed our raid on that day, the commandos shocked the mindset of conventional operations. They leapt from their unarmored gun trucks and raced from house to house with little regard for personal safety. They fired their weapons at any perceived threat. Their officers appeared to have some sixth sense in choosing which houses to enter. They chased suspects outside the area approved for the raid. The mounted machine gunners engaged targets just a few feet over the heads of their fellow commandos.

But out of this apparent chaos comes the brilliance of the idea. Despite the volume of fire during the raid, I still don’t know if any shots came from the insurgents. To them it must have sounded like all hell was breaking loose and heading their way. The pilot of a cavalry scout helicopter above exclaimed over the radio, “it looks like ants everywhere” as he watched the commandos flowing through the courtyards and gardens. Later a seasoned cavalry sergeant likened the commandos to “a swarm of killer bees.” In some houses we entered, we found the suspects cowering in dark rooms. Other houses contained evidence of insurgents fleeing in haste. There was something new going on here. Terror had gripped the terrorists.

In another part of the city, a separate dismounted commando operation took place with another SPTT led by Major James Yount. To his surprise as they returned to their gun trucks, people were dancing in the street with the commandos. Some were shouting “there are two terrorists in that house over there.” Others cried out “mister, come see the room where the terrorists killed many people.” The crowd was jubilant. Iraqis were finally there to protect Iraqis. The commandos, dancing with the people, AK-47s held high, chanted the Arabic phrases familiar to our advisors, “leader, give us your orders and see what we can do” and “where are the terrorists now?” Major Yount beamed as he described the scene, “it was like being at a rock concert.”

What I saw during my time with these men inspired my faith in a better future for Iraq. These commandos are accomplishing something that has challenged the best efforts of conventional forces for some time – hope for the Iraqi people on the street and, something we have long wished on the terrorists – a taste of their own medicine.

LTC Skubal is an Army Historian assigned to the 75th Training Support Division in Houston, Texas. He was embedded with members of his division currently attached as advisors to the Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq. His views do not represent official U.S. Army Policy
Lets hope he is right.
 
#2
Good news! I hope that insurgenrs will be defeated soon.
 
#3
"their officers appeared to have a sixth sense in chosing which house to enter"

Not a good enough explaination for me, anyway.

He dosn't ask where the intellegence comes from, in general. Maybe all they need is one good lead, and create a 'snowball' from that lead?

but the tactics of moving fast as soon as intellegence is acquired, getting everybody and sorting out the innocent later sounds good.
Probably difficult to do with western troops too, as the interrogation process would be slower.

A iraqi officer probably can get away with terrifing a detainee for information, whereas a western soldier could only expect a visit from SPS.


I wonder if similar tactics would work from criminal gangs in the west. The difference is probably interrogation speed and threat. Here, a criminal knows that he's got no physical threat in the police custody, but if he sqeaals, he'll have immediate threat from his collegues. In Iraq, the police can use force almost at will and a suspected terrorist knows this, so he talks.
 
#4
Bombard said:
but the tactics of moving fast as soon as intellegence is acquired, getting everybody and sorting out the innocent later sounds good.
Probably difficult to do with western troops too, as the interrogation process would be slower.

A iraqi officer probably can get away with terrifing a detainee for information, whereas a western soldier could only expect a visit from SPS.

. In Iraq, the police can use force almost at will and a suspected terrorist knows this, so he talks.
a local solution for a local problem it seems,

western conventional methods wasn't doing very well in an Eastern environment, perhaps something to learn here.
 
#6
According to recent intelligence, it would seem that the insurgents tend to spend a lot of time with the commandos, theyve infiltrated them.
 

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