Sgt Major's Tips

The following email is intended to provide information so that soldiers can improve survival if they encounter an IED ambush. No OPSEC is compromised by passing on this email.

From: Butler A Jeffrey Command Sergeant Major MNC-I 16 MP BDE

Sent: Sunday, September 12, 2004 12:52 PM

To: Soldiers,

First I want to say that I am glad to be here today. As you know my M1114 UAH vehicle was struck by an IED on 8 Sep 04, while traveling on MSR Sword south of CP45 in Baghdad. The blast damaged the left rear quarter panel and tire, started the vehicle on fire, and caused the vehicle to > swerve out of control. We then rolled over three times before coming to a rest back on all four wheels. Thanks to the heroic actions of numerous soldiers, to include those from the Bde JAG and CLD, Bde PSD, 21st MP Company MSR Patrol, and 1st Cav QRF, my driver and gunner were stabilized and medevaced from the scene, the scene was controlled, all possible sensitive items and personal equipment were recovered, and security was maintained so the convoy elements could return to base and reconsolidate. The final outcome was that all vehicle occupants received relatively minor injuries and the vehicle was the key major loss as it continued to burn to a shell. As I have reflected over this for the past few days I am thankful for some of the safety measures that were in place that greatly contributed to our surviving this incident. We repeatedly put out safety messages and guidance and hope that all soldiers understand the importance of them. When nothing happens to you while out on your mission these safety requirements
may seem unnecessary but I am here to testify to their effectiveness when it counts.

I want to list and discuss some of these safety factors and TTPs.

Route Position- Vehicle should travel in the middle of the lane as much as possible. We were traveling straddling the line between the left and center lanes. We adopted this technique so the rear vehicle blocks traffic from passing on the left side. The blast came from the median and this location created some distance between us and the device.
Ideally we would have been in the center lane so I am looking at adjusting my PSD blocking technique. Movement Techniques- Maintain proper distance while traveling based on conditions. As our three vehicle convoy was moving down open highway we had approx. 75-100 meters between vehicles. This made the ability to attack more than one vehicle impossible.

Gunner Position- Gunner was at nametag defilade. Bde and Corps have repetitively put this out as the standard. You must survive the IED or first attack to be able to fight back. I still see gunners throughout Iraq standing, creating a large profile for the enemy to strike. In our case the gunner was then blown by the concussion back into the vehicle where he remained as we rolled. Any other position would have killed him.

Gunner Position #2- Front and rear gunners must position themselves at the 3 or 9 o'clock position. Our attacks are coming primarily by an IED initiation from the shoulder or median. A gunner turned to the 12 or 6 o'clock position exposes his sides to the threat. A gunner at the 3 or 9 has the gunners shield towards one side and the hatch toward the other. My gunner had his back to the blast. The hatch took shrapnel and a hole that punched through on the upper portion of the hatch which would have struck a standing gunner.

AT4 Location- Bde has put out that the AT4 will not be placed on the hatch atop the vehicle and will be maintained in the passenger compartment. Ours was in the vehicle as required and able to be recovered after the incident. Soldiers think that it looks cool on the hatch but realistically cannot be fired any quicker than if kept in the compartment. What the hatch storing does do is create another hazard for the crew when attacked. An explosive next to the gunners head is not smart and the hatch stored AT4 is routinely lost or damaged during an IED attack.

Seatbelts- All seated occupants must wear seatbelts. I and the passenger in the right rear seat were belted in. This was critical as we were secured as we rolled over. I know I would have been seriously injured and likely killed if I were not. Unfortunately my driver was not wearing his seatbelt. He routinely does and I did not ensure that he did so this time as we moved out on the mission. Supervisors must be critical of their crew and protect them. The driver did manage to stabilize himself by holding the steering wheel throughout the roll over.

Goggles/Glasses- All occupants need to wear protective eyewear. Flying debris, shrapnel, and later exploding ammunition all were hazards that threatened our eyesight. Each soldier in my crew was wearing their Wiley Xs or gunners goggles.

Sensitive Item List/Load Plan- Strict accountability of crew's sensitive items must be submitted and tracked prior to departing base camp. Maintain this list back at base not in the vehicle itself. This made accountability and reporting of damaged and destroyed sensitive items a smooth process. My vehicle burned and recovery of radios and other items was not possible.

Comments- We did not do everything possible correct and we were not perfect.

-In hindsight I would recommend all doors be battle locked for all travel. My driver's door as well as the left rear door was opened by the blast or the rolling.
-We needed to know were the driver kept the keys to the radios. Prior to the cab being overwhelmed by flames we possibly, although at great risk, could have gotten the radios out. The driver was unconscious and could not tell us. Develop an SOP so all occupants know that they are in the front left pocket of the driver for example.

-Vehicle compartment load should be secured and strapped as much as possible. Ammo cans and other items can hurt when they become projectiles.

Final Message- All 16th MP Bde units will cover these safety requirements and use me as the example or reason...I and my crew are very fortunate to be here and hopefully others can learn from our example.

If any unit would like for me to come and discuss this with your units I would welcome the invitation. Thanks to everyone for your concern and caring. Continue the great job that all of you are doing and Stay Safe!

Feel free to pass this one to anyone that you think can benefit from it.

CSM Jeff Butler
16th MP BDE (ABN)
Protector 7
Victory Camp, Iraq
Thanks for that Tomahawk.

And lucky for the Sgt. Major his hummer was uparmoured! 8O
Thanks for that swift replay scalieback.

This sounds like the sort of thing that you used to learn on Day 1 of NITAT.

Mr Happy

I assumed it meant name-tag level with the top of the vehicle, which, to be perfectly honest, has got to be the highest anyone would want to be in injun country. Nice link though.
Isn't this why most of our vehs where we have top cover deployed have a wire cutter at above head height?

Has anyone told the Spams?

Mr Happy

chicken_jim said:
Isn't this why most of our vehs where we have top cover deployed have a wire cutter at above head height?

Has anyone told the Spams?
Do we? I could point out a shed load of open L/R's, 4T's, Pinz, Drops that don't - and I don't think it would have helped in this example of IED or 22 inch tree branch.

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