- Posted February 5, 2013 by
California City, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The war through your eyes: Iraq 10 years on
Firefight 4 April 2005
The definitive fight of our deployment, I was not involved, however it is one of many stories never told or forgotten.
Elements of the 1st Squadron 278th Regimental Combat Team operating as MiTT Teams (military transition teams), a Special Forces ODA team, and the Iraqi Army engaged and killed about 17 insurgents in an open area battle that included fighting in trenches (dried canals) on April fourth, 2005. When the Deacon (1/278th Delta Troop) and Apache (1/278th Alpha Troop) soldiers fought dismounted against an initially superior force as buddy teams they were in a serious, no holds barred bloody and deadly fight given the this terrain.
Several of the enemy were blown to pieces by MK19 fire, others killed by .50 caliber fire, Deacon and Apache Troopers shot and killed others in close quarter combat, and also hand grenaded them. Attack Helicopters engaged the enemy and the area was bmbed by fixed wing aircraft leaving incinerated bodies across the battlefield. A Deacon Trooper was shot thorugh the neck and later died and a 98th Division MiTT Cadre member was also shot and killed.
The vehicle gunners (using M1114 Uparmored Hummers) and follow on fire support assets eventually killed many of the enemy force in conjunction with the dismounted U.S. soldiers and Iraqi army soldiers. Fighting dismounted as Infantry without being able to form into a complete squad and maneuver as fire teams presented a serious problem as no base of fire could be formed by the dismounted soldiers, however, the vehicle gunners were able to gain fire superiority while under fire themselves and fix the enemy once located, but not before we had casualties.
Troopers dismounted in buddy teams because the driver and gunner stays with the vehicle. The vehicles are spaced 75 to 150 meters apart, 75 meters is the main killing burst radius of an artillery round. The heavy weapon stays on the vehicle so those dismounting have to "group" up and form into a fire team or squad while under fire in an ambush, and in this case without M240B and SAW machineguns. Vehicles are not a good place to be if under fire with rocket propelled grenades. Like a combat breach, an ambush tactical response is to return fire and get out of the kill zone or gain fire superiority.
The dismounted Troopers effectively used buddy teams and tactical individual movement techniques (IMT) to close with and kill the enemy. In this type terrain it was very difficult to see the enemy because they were spread out in multiple fighting positions/locations. This was a tenacious fight in which individual valor was demonstrated and one that was unique in the theater of operations given the terrain. Those present, particularly the dismounts, demonstrated exceptional valor even if self preservation driven as usual. No one thinks about being valorous when being shot at, they act in response to the immediate situation.
This was an ambush, as they initiated fires from covered and concealed positions. They had surprise, but we countered by gaining fire superiority and initiating maneuver, and then brought on the fire support assets. We ended up massed better than they were, even though we had not been massed as a group ourselves, our elements were spread out and separated when the fight began. All things being equal the unit that applies the combat imperatives better wins. Seizing the initiative (defined as gaining a tactical advantage) increases the combat effectiveness even more.
Things can always be done better in hindsight, but my point is that once in action we won because we did out shoot, out maneuver, and out communicate them. They did not effectively mass fires and could not suppress our fires or maneuver. The insurgents’ only hope was to get their mortars and RPGs on target to suppress and kill us, then finish us with the RPGs and machinegun fire in a coordinated counter-attack before our other elements could arrive or fire support assets could be employed. They failed and they died.
Two Americans were killed in the action, as were several Iraqi Army soldiers, several others were wounded.
1st Lieutenant David Tiedeman was awarded a Silver Star for his actions and others Bronze Star Medals for Valor.
The complexity of one small action is worth noting. There were two different company elements of the 278th RCT, A Special Forces ODA, An Iraqi Army Company, U.S. Army Reserve military transition team cadre members, MEDEVAC air units, attack helicopters, and fixed wing aircraft, along with medical CASH units receiving the wounded.
An account of this firefight and other actions along with a general description of events can be found in Defending the Frontiers of Democracy, by Daniel Hendy on LULU.com. It has a full free preview available.