Posted: 11/14/2011 11:04 AM
Thanks for posting this article. What a gut-wrenching story. Here is a link: http://www.vanityfair.com/poli...of-wanat-201112
Posted: 11/18/2011 9:30 PM
I am going to throw this out there because I am curious as to what WP is teaching regarding small unit combat.
My experience is colored by the Viet Nam (VN) war . I was not in VN and never experienced combat but I was at WP during the late 60s –early 70s when combat in VN was intense.
My opinion of the training I received at WP in regards to small unit combat was important but fundamentally flawed. So much so, that I think it unnecessarily increased the chances that a newbie lieutenant would quickly become a casualty. Side note: Junior officers typically have the highest casualty rates in wars, so high casualty rates of lieutenants in VN would not be considered abnormal.
When I was at WP, cadets were introduced to the various combat branches during the summer following plebe (freshmen) year at Camp Buckner. During Infantry week, cadets would be taught the current army doctrine on small unit combat. At that time, one of the techniques taught was how to conduct small unit patrols (many patrols were conducted in VN by small units out in the bush for periods of 30 days or so). The army doctrine (as taught at WP) on small unit patrols was, in my opinion, no different from that of the British Army during the French and Indian War.
The patrol was often directed down roads or trails. There was no emphasis on stealth or reading the terrain. When engaged by the inevitable ambush there was a great deal of emphasis on what to do next (all good ) kind of like a BA officer saying “When engaged in an Indian ambush, I don’t think we should form up and volley fire as the Indians only take cover.” Begging the question : what could you have done to avoid the ambush in the first place?
This question was never addressed in my training at WP. Really, the only difference I could see between the BA in the French and Indian war and US Army doctrine as taught at WP, was that once engaged, the US army could bring down artillery and gunships to wreak havoc on enemy positions if they did not break off. So if you were not one of the unlucky ones gunned down when the ambush was sprung, your chances of survival were pretty good.
Looking at the battle of Wanat, the importance of reading the terrain in the context of the relationship between the local population and the soldiers stands out. Perhaps there should be more emphasis devoted to avoiding risky positions rather than relying on air support and artillery to bail the survivors out once the ambush has been sprung.
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