Michael's Dispatches

Loaded Gun


16 May 2011

Iraq 2005

Combat was relentless in the surrounding city.  Explosions rumbled in from the neighborhoods and washed over base, which was itself under frequent attack by rockets and mortars.  Four days before Christmas, soldiers were having lunch on the heavily guarded Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez when a jihadist walked into the dining facility.  His vest detonated, killing 14 soldiers, 4 US contractors, and 4 Iraqis, and wounding about 80.  Casualties were rushed from the tangle to the hospital at FOB Diamondback, where the follow-on attack began.  The enemy rained indirect fire trying to hit the triage at the Combat Support Hospital.

Four months later, in April 2005, I came to the Deuce Four battalion as a writer.  On the first mission, another suicide bomber killed three.  Mostly you didn’t see the bombers, but felt an atmospheric pop from the shock wave, followed by a great heaving krrruummppphhh.  It was hard to tell the difference between smaller explosions close by and a massive detonation across town, until some seconds passed and the mushroom gathered into the sky.  Sometimes it was an IED, other times a car bomb, or who knows?

Wikipedia, though not necessarily reliable, is useful to get the gist of something.  It accurately mentions the difficulty in counting suicide bombers, and notes that there were about 478 in Iraq in the year 2005.  Two bombings I personally witnessed—on 23 April and 02 May—weren’t mentioned, though both caused deaths and were widely reported suicide attacks.  This suggests an undercount, if anything. (The first suicide bombing I had witnessed, 27 January in Baqubah, was listed.)  These were only a fraction of the attacks. The vast majority—probably more than 99%—were not suicide attacks, and not all suicide attacks were bombings.

The troops were constantly on offense and defense.  On base, their trailers were filled with many sorts of weapons.  They never went anywhere unarmed.  There were frequent warnings of plans for more attacks on base.

Many Iraqis and others, including Turkish contractors, lived on base.  For practical reasons this made sense, but carried risks.  One of the interpreters turned out to be a spy.

In April 2005, about four months after the attack in the dining facility in Mosul, a replacement dining facility was opened.  Despite that troops were fighting seven days a week, and that about a hundred people had been killed or wounded on this base by a suicide bomber, and the constant warnings of more such plans, soldiers were required to unload their weapons before entering the dining facility.

Six years later

On 27 April 2011, an Afghan military pilot shot and killed nine Americans on a main base in Kabul.  Anger spiked from home in the US when it was suspected that our people were either unarmed or had their weapons unloaded.  Turns out they were armed and had ammunition, and their weapons were on ‘Amber’ status.  Trainers were at amber status because a week prior to the attack the entire NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan upgraded the weapons posture status across the command.

With the war reaching an all-time peak during our ninth year, frustrations are high in the United States.  Pressure was mounting for answers.  How did one pilot kill nine Americans?  But eyes would soon be distracted.  Days later, 02 May, US forces swept into Pakistan, killed Osama bin Laden and delivered his body to the sea.  That was a very big deal, and worthy of all the coverage, but now it’s time to discuss the issue of military security on base.

A Reality

Between the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the spring of 2007, 89 US troops were killed in the area of operations by negligent discharges from weapons carried by troops.  These figures came from a reliable and well-placed source.  I do not know how many of those 89 were killed by Iraqis or Coalition partners, though at least one US Soldier was negligently shot and killed by an Iraqi in Mosul during this period.  Negligent discharge figures do not include fratricide in combat.

During 2008, troop levels peaked in Iraq.  The Coalition had about 158,000 service members on the ground.  If all troops were locked and loaded at all times, each day would translate to one troop handling a loaded weapon for 432 years.  And so, imagine the safest, most well-trained person on the planet, carrying a weapon for 432 years.  He’s carried that modern firearm through countless battles and winters, fatigue, cold, heat, hunger, distractions from heartache and sorrow, and never fired an unplanned round.  What are the chances?

In the past, in the US military, the relatively uncommon “accidental” gunshots were called AD, or Accidental Discharge.  With so many people, even rare events can reach noticeable levels.

Yet, upon closer inspection, most such “accidents” are not accidents; the bullet flies because there was a round in the chamber, the safety was disengaged, and the trigger was pulled, probably by a right index finger.  Dropping a US military pistol or rifle will not make it shoot.  Using the weapons as a hammer is a bad idea, but they still will not shoot unless something crucial is broken, which is rare.  The weapons will not fire accidentally so long as the user never deviates from simple procedures.

True life examples

* During an infantry exercise in US, a unit was training with live ammunition. A soldier did not follow procedure by failing to put his safety on when moving. He fired a bullet, which struck Colonel David Petraeus in the back.  Petraeus nearly died.

There were at least four mistakes:  1) Weapon not on safe.  2) Finger on trigger.  3) Finger pulled trigger.  4) Muzzle pointed in unsafe direction.  Had any one of these procedures been followed, General Petraeus would not have been shot.

* I was with Lithuanian soldiers when I heard a BANG.  A nearby soldier was preparing to clean his weapon and it “went off.”  It went off because there was a round in the chamber, the safety was off and he pulled trigger.

* I was with Iraqi forces when. . . .  Never mind.  Too many to remember.  Same with  Afghans. Not all armies are well trained.  But we are not talking about their rules.

* I was with British forces in Sangin, Afghanistan.  I was talking on the sat-phone when BANG!  Big commotion.  A soldier about to clean his weapon shot his buddy who nearly died and is today messed up for life.

* Canadian Brigadier General Daniel Menard was preparing to board a US helicopter in 2010 in Kandahar.  He fired a couple rounds that missed everyone and the helicopter.

The weapons don’t fire magically unless they are very hot due to heavy firing.

All of the above incidents illustrate sloppiness. Some forces are sloppier than others.

True accidental discharges are so extremely rare that I don’t recall hearing of one happening with a US or British weapon.  But they can occur in theory, so they probably occur now and then.  A British soldier once told me about an “AD” he nearly had with a hand grenade.  A bunch of Afghan kids swarmed him and during the melee a boy stole the pin from a grenade.  The soldier noticed later.  He was saved by the tape, and by heeding experience earned by generations of soldiers.

If a soldier unintentionally fires a rifle on base in Afghanistan, one of two things are likely to follow: If he admits to the error he will be punished.  Or, he will say the weapon fired on its own magic.  (He’s already got a problem; why was there a round in the chamber with the safety off?)  The weapon will be seized for examination.  If the weapon is found in good order, he’ll be punished.


To balance between preparedness and safety, the military has created a simple “weapons status,” so that when troops are told to go green, amber or red on the weapons, everyone understands.

Weapons Status

Green: Weapon completely unloaded. In Afghanistan, service members will have at least one loaded magazine with their weapon.  (A person can go from Green to firing bullets in probably 5-8 seconds, depending on various factors such as type of weapon, training level, etc.)

Amber: Magazine in weapon.  No round in the chamber.  Safety on.  (Amber to firing in about two or three seconds if he already is holding a rifle.  Some more seconds for a holstered pistol.)

Red: Round in chamber.  Safety on.  (Sometimes off depending on unit.)

Black: Out of Ammo.  (The most dangerous status.)

During heavy fighting in places like Baghdad, when troops returned to base (assuming they were not transporting dead, wounded, or prisoners), they stopped at the gate and cleared from red to green.  As a double safety, every troop was to be double-checked by another, and that included the machine gun up top.  No matter rank or experience, you still have someone double-check.  The same happens on many bases in Afghanistan.

There are other realities.  For instance, a rifle is not always in direct control of the service member. In combat or dangerous situations, it’s glued in their hands.  But on the major bases, where people work in offices or go to the gym (or whatever), the rifle often is kept in a rack or in a common place.  This probably has not changed since the invention of the flintlock.  And so these rifles typically are kept unloaded but the troops keep ammo.  Insofar as pistols, there are only three places a pistol should be: holster, hands, or the armory.  If the pistol is in the holster, it should be loaded and ready to fire.  But the reality is that training standards are so uneven across the military that we will end up with dead people if every troop always has a loaded pistol.  It’s not the reality we like, but it’s the one we’ve got.

Inside Attacks

During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, there have been numerous attacks against Coalition forces from “inside the wire.”  That is, the attacks either took place inside the security barriers, or were perpetrated by someone who was trusted, and should have been friendly, such as an Iraqi policeman or a US Soldier.  (On occasions in recent years, US troops have intentionally fired upon our own troops not in cases of fratricide, but homicide.  At least two cases in Iraq did not seem to be religiously motivated.)  Other times, enemies use disguises like uniforms from Iraqis, Afghans, or Coalition forces.  The Coalition has lost 49 killed and 44 wounded from insider threats in Afghanistan since 2005.  Various partners have been hit, including Italians, Germans, British, and US.  [Shortly before publication, the number of KIA rose to 51 killed after a dining facility shooting in Helmand by an Afghan policeman.]

The NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan studied 20 [just became 21] cases of insider attacks.  Hardest hit have been Afghans who are not listed in these figures:

According to the unclassified analysis, of the 20 attacks studied between 2005-2011, 40% were attributed to combat stress, 15% sympathized with or were intimated/blackmailed by the enemy, 10% impersonated Afghan Security forces, while 35% are unknown.

2007 – 1 case
2008 – 1 case
2009 – 5 cases
2010 – 6 cases
2011 – 7 cases

2011 – now 8 cases, as the latest occurred in Helmand on 13 May:

NATO says Afghan policeman kills 2 service members in southwestern Afghanistan

“The two were mentoring an Afghan National Civil Order brigade and were shot and killed inside the police compound on Thursday as they sat down to eat lunch, NATO said in a statement. Other soldiers returned fire and the policeman was wounded and hospitalized...”

There appears to be a trend.  But this progression is not entirely straightforward.  There are far more Coalition forces working more closely with Afghans now than ever before, meaning there are more chances for attacks.  The figures do not show how many of our casualties occurred during GREEN, AMBER or RED status.  It’s important to note that in many situations our troops are far outnumbered by Afghan security forces, yet they have no problems.

To the Point

Why put troops in a war zone with weapons not on Red status?  Is it restrictive ROE?  Presidential mandate?  The reality is that not all troops need to be on RED at all times.  The reasoning is apparent.  There are zones within war zones that are relatively very safe, and so chances are higher of getting hit with a negligent discharge than an attack.  Often the decisions for commanders are simple: on the more dangerous, smaller bases, all troops are on RED status at all times.  At larger bases were attacks never have occurred, most troops will be on GREEN while smaller numbers will be on AMBER or RED.  Increasingly, lately, commanders will be reviewing local policies as the situation evolves.

Dozens of Coalition Partners

A crucial point: roughly forty Coalition partners are in Afghanistan, plus the Afghans.  Some partners place little emphasis on safety.  Unless there is a serious threat, it’s far better to keep these areas on Green status.  Enough said.

In summary, local policy decisions about weapon status are up to the commanders’ discretion.  Many or probably most of the commanders now have substantial combat experience in numerous places.  Sometimes their decisions on weapon status are easy to make: the place is so dangerous that it’s all RED all the time.  Other times it’s all GREEN.  The in-between ground is tougher, and also threats increase or decrease with time.

It’s must be tempting from afar to cast aspersions on the motivations of the commanders when it comes to weapons status.  It’s important to bear in mind that they are on the same forward operating bases where these attacks have occurred; their skin is in the game.  They are closer to the action with far more experience than most of us possess.  It’s healthy to question the leadership’s decisions, but simultaneously it’s important remember that this is not their first rodeo.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    JD Glock · 10 years ago
    There is a difference between a Brave, Intelligent, American Soldier and an iraq/afghan/arab/muslim stuck with 12th century beliefs, the intelligence of a grapefruit, with hate as a motivator.
    Gen. Curtis Lemay said it well, "If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting."
    We will NEVER win any hearts or minds - it's time to kill the hell out of them or leave, in fact way past time.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    LCDR Citizen Deux · 10 years ago
    As someone who has manage weapons safety for deployed units, there is an inherent risk in a Condition 1 (Red) status weapon. When soldiers are in secure areas - a need for reduced posture is justifiable against the risk of an AD. However, in ANY environment where personnel are moving in and out of secure and unsecure areas - being prepared can mean the saving of lives. I was stunned to think how those eight fellow officers and senior airman died - there should never have been any doubt about their weapon status.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Weapons Free · 10 years ago
    I would go even further and delegate the decision to the squad leader or even individual soldier level. An American citizen is allowed to walk around almost any U.S. city with a loaded gun, so why shouldn't American soldiers be able to do the same in a combat zone? Just hold them accountable if the weapon fires "accidentially".
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JD Glock · 10 years ago
    Oh yes, one more thing, there is no such thing as accidental discharge - negligent discharge, yes.
    And no round in the chamber is basically an empty gun.
    If I took a leak in Afghan, I'd do it with one hand - the other would be on my weapon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Naddy Bumpko · 10 years ago
    It seems to me that if all American forces were to carry their weapons loaded and ready for immediate use. That would eliminate the need for different levels of preparedness since everyone would always be prepared; all the time. Thus the chance of a AD would be much lesser
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Spade · 10 years ago
    First civilian pistol course I ever took we were told we would catch hell if the instructor (an inactive Marine) ever found us during the course with a weapon that wasn't on red and didn't have a full magazine. We had 0 NDs. He also pointed out that if you couldn't safely carry a condition one handgun then you really didn't have any business carrying weapons at all.
    I find it baffling that I can safely and legally walk down the mean streets of Northern VA with a Condition One Beretta 92FS and a soldier in freakin' Afghanistan might not be allowed to do the same. Or that the military cannot train them to a standard to all be safe. Safe weapons handling isn't rocket science.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joe Blow · 10 years ago
    I was on a deployment a number of years ago when a troop dropped a 9 mil round on the carpet of the rental facility we were in. Static electricity caused a discharge, and a couple of the soldiers got peppered with brass, necessitating trips to the ER. There would have been hell to pay had not the XO been standing right there when it happened; in his words on the 15-6 investigation, "had I not been there myself I would not have believed it could happen." There was also an M-60 that ran away on the range after a long, hot summer afternoon. Those are the only accidental discharges I'm aware of; all the others (including my own 'whoopsie' on a captured 57mm AA gun come from operator stupidity/error. (I killed a barn wall. Hey, who knew the gun was hotwired and would fire that way?) Checking status is good but keeping the Deathstick pointed away from non-targets is the best safety advice there is.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bob · 10 years ago
    While in A-stan, was always in Amber or Red Status. Most ND's are due to lack of training or leadership. Red or hot when outside the wire. Always cleared my weapon when I came back from mission. Good NCO's are the key.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Topdoc · 10 years ago
    I'm sorry but I've had enough of this crap. If there was one good leader
    in Washington Every single American service member would be armed at all times no matter where on this planet
    they were. Once trained and qualified
    they should always have their weapon of course on them, in or out of uniform.
    If this had been the case at FT Hood
    we would have had maybe one or two wounded and one dead nut.
    I was a medic for 24yrs, Special OPNS, 82ABN, 101st etc. Spent years in the middle east on military and Diplomatic status. THEY ONLY UNDERSTAND POWER.
    Our current leadership will cause this
    war to go on for decades.
    Thanks for your hard work be safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert · 10 years ago
    I agree with the folks who point out that having a pistol in your holster in any condition other than red is not sensible. I was struck however by the notion that there are some places where weapons are carried with the safety off? That seems a poor choice. The weapon needs to be brought into firing position and aimed before it should be discharged, which allows time to swipe off the safety. Anyone who thinks they are so highly trained as to be able to carry a weapon with the safety off should be well enough trained to swipe it as they bring it up.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Spade · 10 years ago

    Can't speak to rifles, but Beretta 92's can be carried "safety off" since it's a DA/SA pistol. Carrying a loaded M9 with the "safety" off is identical to carrying a loaded Sig. You just use the safety as a decocker like the Sig has. Some people do it as they don't like the slide mount location.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Arlene · 10 years ago
    Fort Hood is a good arguement for the Red Status. I wonder if the status thingee has changed since then, across our own bases, here at home?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Christopher Barker · 10 years ago
    When visiting England in 1986 I noticed that British soldiers on parade had magazines in their rifles. As a U.S. veteran I found that peculiar as we were hardly ever permitted to insert a magazine into a weapon except when ordered to commence firing. I asked a Yeoman Warder at the Tower about the very obvious magazines protruding from the soldiers' rifles. He told me that when British soldiers were under arms for any reason that the weapons were to be loaded. An interesting difference. Great Britain has incredibly strict gun control laws, but trained military personnel are expected to have their weapons loaded when they are being carried. For the most part U.S. has gun owner friendly firearms laws, but service members are rarely permitted to load a weapon. The Islamoterrorist Army doctor who killed all those people at Fort hood was difficult to stop. A soldier with a loaded rifle was not to be found. Only the intervention of an armed police officer stopped the murders.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry Wood · 10 years ago
    When in bear country, or indian country, one carries red, safety on or off at the discretion of the individual. I was ARNG, USAR and ANG--just played soldat, fine hobby. Never once did we carry a weapon with a loaded magazine, at other than the range. For civil disturbances, the bolts were removed from the rifle, requiring the gov's permission to have in the weapon, same for ammo.
    I was Alaska State Defense Force as a State Military Police Constable, with pistol, shotgun and rifle. We qualified yearly, but trained with loaded weapons at the range at least once per quarter if not more. When we were called to State Active Duty, we carried red.
    I trained more, shot more as a state defense soldier than I ever did in 11 years playing soldat with the U.S.
    Weapons authorized were 9mm and .45 semi-automatic pistols, 5.56 AR15s, 7.62 M1A or AR15 type semi-auto rifles. Shotguns were riot guns of the individual's choice. The ASDF troop owned their weapons.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry Wood · 10 years ago
    In 8 years as an active SMPC, there was never an incident involving weapons with the troops of the ASDF. The soldiers of the U.S. military suffer the stupidity of the federal political correctness.
    Our troops are in a hostile environment. They should carry red. If there is a deficiency in training, it needs to be remedied. Issue side arms to those on who work with their hands on base, all troops carry off base and on base. The NCOs should be allowed to do their job.
    My son went to Iraq. Before he went in 2004, only himself and another ex-Marine knew what a function test was for the M16A2. He and the other Marine were then tasked to qualify each individual on the range, and when they got to their BN in HI for acclimatization and more training, they had to take the BN's deficient shoots and do the same thing.
    More training is the remedy.
    Equipment operators were required to carry M16A2s on their equipment. No pistols were issued, even to NCOs. New TOE.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    D · 10 years ago
    many of you are not taking into account combat stress, lack of sleep and exhaustion that happens in a deployment. Yes, you can walk down the road witha loaded pistol and not shoot yourself. So can any deployed soldier. Make 100000 of yourself, stop sleeping, have your buddy die the day before and your wife cheat on you and spend all your money and file for divorce and then see if you don't make a mistake somewhere in there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    D · 10 years ago
    One thing I will say is absolutely assinine is that firearms are allowed on military bases but you cannot leave them in your car, carry them concealed, or carry them in the open. It does leave service members vulnerable to both an on post shooting, and unprotected on the drive from post to off post housing.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SFMEDIC · 10 years ago
    I have learned to never underestimate human stupidity. No firearm maker has ever created a soldier-proof weapon. Like the previous post said, there are no accidents.
    As a small arms trainer here are some things I have learned;
    Do safety's work on firearms? Yes, sometimes but don't bet your life on it.
    Are loaded guns dangerous? Yes, and even all unloaded guns are dangerous.
    Can a gun accidently fire? In theory you have to pull the trigger while a round is chambered. In reality all firearms are accompanied by a psychotic monkey named Mr. Murphy whose only desire is to find the Go Bang Switch.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SFMEDIC · 10 years ago
    The US military is the greatest training institute in the world but it can't seem to impart and enforce the four simple firearms safety rules stressed by the NRA which would 100% eliminate these "accidents".
    As for commanders ordering their troops to be on Condition 4 in certain areas downrange and helping the enemy kill us,
    I just hope that commander has a conscious and they are tasked with writing the letter home to the soldier's Mom explaining how their orders got the son or daughter killed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry Wood · 10 years ago
    I agree with your point, especially with the fatigue issue and the stress. However, that's when one should be most aware of the weapon. Those are factors to be taken into account in training. Training, training, training, discipline.
    You imply a lack of confidence in the NCOs.
    Your comment about the condition four down range, seems to reflect a lack of confidence in those troops.
    That's why there are guys like you to help the NCOs "see" potential trouble.
    I do know this, you guys have a tougher ROE than the cops in the States.
    Sorry for the arm chair banter.
    I have the highest regard for those at tip of the spear point.
    I can't express my family's gratitude for the sacrifice made to spend a year away from family and friends in a hostile environment, much less to put your life on the line doing it. And, we know the stress upon the family first hand.
    May God bless.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    jallison · 10 years ago
    On the inner German border back a while ago (early to mid '80's), regimental policy insisted that small arms ammo issued for patrols was to be in sealed, banded ammo boxes that probably hadn't been opened since the constabulary regiment turned over responsibility to the 2d ACR. After having it drummed into my head that the patrol leader was responsible for everything relating to his patrol, I cut the bands of all my ammo boxes and inventoried and inspected the ammo, for every patrol. The S-4 went off the rails when he found out. After being clued in as to just how much of this ammo and the magazines they were stuffed into for years was absolutely unserviceable by the S- , XO and my 1SG he simmered down, but I was on his doodoo list for the rest of my tour. Didn't bother me a bit. Wasn't going to be his guy's @$$e$ on the line if things got stupid.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SFMEDIC · 10 years ago
    When did I say anything about stress and fatigue of combat? I haven't even gotten there yet. When did I say anything about lack of NCO supervision?
    Do you read every tenth word and think you know what someone is saying?
    This is why it is so hard to take someone off the street and in less than a year train them to be a warrior.
    In spite of our dedicated training, people either don't get it or they get slack when they are out of a training environment.
    The ultimate responsibility for weapons use and safety rest with each individual soldier, not with the people who lead them or those who train them. If one of my troops shoots himself or his buddy, whose fault is that?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    DeAnna Chandler · 10 years ago
    :lol:Fantastic Article. I love it. It gave me a lot of info i really didn't know about. I would love to post this to my Facebook account DeAnna Tippens-Chandler. Is there anyway i can do this. I know my Veteran friends would love to read this. Hooah!!!!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    From Canada · 10 years ago

    JD Glock, Weapons Free, Spade, Naddy ... You should review your comments and understanding on this subject in view of your lack of experience.

    From reading your comments it is more than apparent to me that you have never been in a situation that required a gun. The difficulty in an ambush is not in having the weapon loaded or not. The difficulty is moving and making good decisions, or making decisions at all. Having a loaded gun in your hand will only get you fixated on acquiring targets, but what you're not doing is moving. Sure way to die.

    This fighting business has nothing to do with machismos, just constant decision making.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Leroy · 10 years ago
    mr D is 100% right. Fatigue is a vital factor affecting safety no on hs yet comemnted on.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    ldwalaska · 10 years ago
    The Blind leading, yes, you are right and wrong. You refer to an ambush on a unit; tactics for the guy that walks into a restaurant and pulls a weapon out and starts shooting while you are eating is another matter. There is no maneuver and fire, it is react. And, who shoots straightest, lives.
    In either case, training and cool heads prevail.
    Machismo is the last thing anyone carrying a weapon should have. Leave the machismo to the gang bangers.
    SFMEDIC,maybe you left something between the lines that I missed. I don't read minds and I don't deal with 18 year olds anymore. I am 59. I learned to shoot at 5 with my father's service . 8.
    Still comes down to HUYA or not. If you don't trust, don't let them carry. Your problem, not mine. Can't shoot the weapon if one is indexing, no matter the position of the safety.
    Gotta watch the comparison of apples and oranges between what you guys do, and what a civilian or a cop trains for. World of difference.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    ldwalaska · 10 years ago
    jallison, read on what happened at Ishandlwana during Victoria's reign in South Africa. Two movies were done: Zulu and Zulu Dawn. The Brits screwed down their ammo boxes and did not issue screw drivers. When the Zulus attacked . . . well, you did the right thing. The Brits did it by the 'numbers' and died that day.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Violette · 10 years ago
    The HEAVENLY ANGELS and the CAT'S ANGELS MUST and WILL PROTECT YOU,continuing the BIG JOB...don't let the "moustiques" bug- you-kill them: Afghanistan is not an"nanny state"Shoot lots gigas&sinths 4 US back in the States & behond,THANKS4the LAUGHS too !
    En passant,my cat catches flys in the air,crockes it like praline...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    From Canada · 10 years ago
    ldwalaska - I ment especially in a restaurant movement is important, because you don't know who the bad guys are and you need time to orient (so you don't shoot or get shot by good guys). The old OODA loop. Anyways in practice it's not a very cerebral business - so what do you focus on : pulling the gun out and firing OR moving. My experience has taught me that you NEED to BREATH and MOVE, before you do anything with your gun. And yes the goal is what you said - to keep a cool head. For me what gets me back in the cool-headed-zone and it was a method that was taught to me is the above mentioned method. It needs to be practiced and pressure tested.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    ldwalaska · 10 years ago
    From Canada, after the first shot, the guy with the gun will be most obvious, as that will be the only individual standing.
    I was trained to react, but to try to avoid being caught flat footed by always being aware of my environment--situational awareness.
    Who gets there firstest with the mostest wins.
    I am not being cavalier, but I think you get what I mean. HUYA and being caught flat footed will lead to being behind the power curve from the get go.
    You say adapt to the situation then act, I am saying watch what goes on around you always, and when the idiot steps in the door, you may see him first and be watching him pull the weapon out.
    Situational awareness. Always evaluating. Kind of like a pilot always looking for a suitable place to put the plane down if the engine quits. My father made me into a guard dog. Does drive me nuts at times . . .
    We actually agree.
    And, I was taught to shoot second sight.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Justin · 10 years ago
    "During an infantry exercise in US, a unit was training with live ammunition. A soldier did not follow procedure by failing to put his safety on when moving. He fired a bullet, which struck Colonel David Petraeus in the back. Petraeus nearly died.
    "There were at least four mistakes: 1) Weapon not on safe. 2) Finger on trigger. ) Finger pulled trigger. 4) Muzzle pointed in unsafe direction. Had any one of these procedures been followed, General Petraeus would not have been shot."

    Anyone would recognize that this violate all FOUR LAWS of gun safety. I realize that gun safety is different for civilians than for soldiers, but this was caused by stupidity, not bad policy.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Wolfman · 10 years ago
    Just as an FYI, Air Force Security Forces carry M9's loaded, round in the chamber, and on fire at all times. I believe they are the only members of the military that do this while not in a combat zone. There's not even that much training that goes into it - annual firing I believe. Of course, not many people realize that they are the Air Force's largest career field. Kind of ironic. :-|
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike · 10 years ago
    Unlike when many of you joined, many soldiers today were hap-hazardly pushed through TRADOC and have no business carrying a gun no matter the circumstance or setting (you know you've seem em). Amber status has it's place in lower-risk FOBs.
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    Jbadgph04 · 10 years ago
    As a firearms instructor, the use of the safety on the M9/92FS is not really necessary due to other safeties present in the weapon and its DA/SA design. Also the "swipe up" design of the safety is not as natural as "swipe down" of the Colt 1911. You have to have some dedicated training to make it ingrained muscle memory. Also some handguns (Glock, Springfield Armory XD, S&W M&P and others) do not have any external safety to operate but are still safe to carry in condition Red. Again a matter of training.
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    simonferrer · 10 years ago
    The problem doesn't lie with US forces or even with our NATO allies for the most part. It's with the Afghans. You can train them a 1000 times about weapons status, and still find a round in the chamber; they're ignorant, don't remember, and often just don't care. I've seen ANA troops riding in the back of a truck w/a loaded RPG, safety rings pulled and finger on the trigger as they bounced around; ANA troops shoot themselves in the foot; ANA troops stumble and shoot their buddy in front of them; and ANA troops get into passionate arguments w/each other and wave loaded weapons in each others faces. This is on top of them being taught fire discipline and marksmanship, only to ALWAYS revert to spraying the landscape w/bullets like a leaking garden hose. Maybe that's why we unloaded our aging stock of M16A2s on the ANA, so that at worst they can only ND three rounds instead of 0.
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    simonferrer · 10 years ago
    [quote name="Mike"]..many soldiers today were hap-hazardly pushed through TRADOC and have no business carrying a gun no matter the circumstance or setting.. Amber status has it's place in lower-risk FOBs.[/quote]

    I agree with you, Mike. Amber status on FOBs is safer and does not unreasonably detract from readiness. The amount of time it takes to rack the slide and chamber a round is neglible, especially when we're talking about personnel inside the wire on the bigger FOBs, where rockets are a bigger risk than any type of ground attack.
    Regarding those unfortunate soldiers you mentioned, we had one in our unit in Afghanistan in 2006 who forgot his rifle in the porta-john, where it was found by the local national cleaning detail. Luckily, they valued their jobs over jihad and notified their US handler, who took charge of the weapon and tracked the soldier (and his chain of command) down. Needless to say, the s*** hit the fan.
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    paul brockman · 10 years ago
    [quote name="Topdoc"] If there was one good leader
    in Washington [/quote]
    Good point. The current occupant of the most expensive public housing in the country couldn't lead ants to a picnic. This will be the source of much misery and sorrow around the world.
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    Mark · 10 years ago
    [quote name="Christopher Barker"]When visiting England in 1986 I noticed that British soldiers on parade had magazines in their rifles. As a U.S. veteran I found that peculiar as we were hardly ever permitted to insert a magazine into a weapon except when ordered to commence firing. I asked a Yeoman Warder at the Tower about the very obvious magazines protruding from the soldiers' rifles. He told me that when British soldiers were under arms for any reason that the weapons were to be loaded. An interesting difference. Great Britain has incredibly strict gun control laws, but trained military personnel are expected to have their weapons loaded when they are being carried. .[/quote]

    For information - In the British Military, A loaded weapon is a weapon with a Magazine fitted (It may or may not contain rounds)
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    Robert I. Eachus · 10 years ago
    I was thinking as I read the article how I personally would react in these situations. I don't like pistols, and never really liked carrying one. But I was in Armor, and at the time we were issued M1911A1 pistols. Fortunately each tank had two M A1 Grease Guns, also .45 caliber.

    Don't ask me why, but that gun and I got along famously. I could score much higher on the pistol qualifying range one-handing the M A1. No semi-auto feature? Who cared? I could fire through magazines one round at a time, or in three round bursts.

    Anyway, whenever I was out of the tank in the field I carried the M slung across my chest. If I was in that caf with a clear sight path? I'd get off three rounds before my tray hit the floor.

    I can also imagine the reaction of a base commander to having lots of loaded M 's walking around base. They can go off if dropped--the solution of course, is don't drop them...
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    Robert I. Eachus · 10 years ago
    After posting last night, I thought some more about combat reflexes. As a tanker, you learn how to function as a team in a situation where the typical combat situation is that you see him, he sees you, and you have to be lucky or MUCH faster than the other guy to survive.

    Most combat kills (of other tanks) are at a range of about a mile. Kinetic kill rounds can cover that in less than a second, so if you are a second faster than the other crew--and accurate--you live.

    You can't duck, and normally a tank is much too big a vehicle to hide, so there is a premium on fast (combat) reflexes. I had never realized until last night that when carrying a (M A1) grease gun, I considered myself armed and dangerous, while with the .45 automatic, I felt I was carrying something heavier and easier to throw than a rock. ;-)
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    Rocky · 10 years ago
    I've always said that AD's aren't! Stay safe Michael.
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    Catbird · 10 years ago
    This is all water under the bridge now but I never understood the logic that says the US shouldn't wage total war. President Bush made the call to hold back, not use the full force of American military technology and expose troopers to Jihadists hiding in the civilian population. I happen to think that to win the war the civilians who support the enemy must be killed as well otherwise, the war never ends. This could have happened on 9-12. The "War on Terror" could have been won in a day without the loss of a single drop of American blood. Of course this is just my crazy opinion but you know, its been 10 years and how much money and mow many American dead and wounded?
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    Jack Peek · 10 years ago
    We need to show more sympathy for these people.
    * They travel miles in the heat. * They risk their lives crossing a border.
    * They don't get paid enough wages.
    * They do jobs that others won't do or are afraid to do.
    * They live in crowded conditions among a people who speak a different language.
    * They rarely see their families, and they face adversity all day ~ every day..
    I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans ~
    I'm talking about our troops!
    Doesn't it seem strange that so many are willing to lavish all kinds of social benefits on illegals, but don't support our troops?
    Wouldn't it be great if we took the $ 60,000,000,000 (that's billion) we spend on illegals every year, and spend it on our troops!!!
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    shah · 10 years ago
    And You still Presume, that they are not doing it!
    Right Dude!
    Do you think those guys serving the nation are fools & needs your advice,did they got their uniform from a surprise chocolate egg or what!!!
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    C · 10 years ago
    Mr. Saha's comment : Made my day!
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    Nick Ruisi · 10 years ago
    I could get an M16A2 to fire by dropping it on its buttstock with the charging handle pulled and locked and a magazine loaded. Every time. Of course, I only ever did this with blanks.
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    Ethan · 4 years ago
    Please adress my score wills increase.

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