View Full Version : Marine view from camp Blue Diamond

mike M.
11-10-2005, 10:12 AM
The following was forwarded to me long but interesting read. Thought it might be interesting to some to read a first hand evaluation. Seems that the old designs are still working well.

........ spent 7 months at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi. Aka: Fort
Apache. He saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about
weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here,
just a Marine with a birds eye views opinions:

1) The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the
talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you
feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine
version is more popular because its lighter and shorter, but it has
jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical
gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon
itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm
(.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over
there and even torso hits cant be reliably counted on to put the enemy
down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of
opiate use.

2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light
machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of Finless Brown Trout. Chronic
jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (that fun
in the middle of a firefight).

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert
environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for
self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad
guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for
clearing houses to good effect.

5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun,
developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!).
Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts em down.
Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being
dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the
structure over there.

6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. Ma deuce is
still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper,
puts their ****s in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon

7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there.
Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on
one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put em down with a
torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work)
use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government
model .45s are being re-issued en masse.

The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a
modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight
Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in
the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range
and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out
vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and
barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win
mag. Heavily modified Remington 700s. Great performance. Snipers have
been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on
his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcocks
record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs.
and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will
stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as Finless Brown Trout to wear, almost unbearable
in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy
now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the Crimp One Off about the
old body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IEDs was a non-starter.
The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any
difference at all in most cases.

12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular
performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very
little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being
whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. Weve all seen
the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights
are Surefires, and the troops love em. Invaluable for night urban
operations. Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.

I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and
ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology, its the
WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry
fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

Bad guy weapons:

1) Mostly AK47s . The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the
desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt
fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the
enemy mostly shoots like shit. Undisciplined spray and pray type fire.
However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper
rifles. (Iran, again) Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled
at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are
apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on
technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of
toughness. Lets just say they know better now.

2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys.
Simple, reliable and as common as flys. The enemy responded to our
up-armored humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range.
Still killing a lot of our guys.

3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet
anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in
Jordans area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm
artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone,
and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an
M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over
there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated shape charges (Iranian)
specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made
IEDs are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah
types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. Thats why the
attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are
ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray
painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find
about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung
heroes of this war.

4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets
(with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of Jordans NCOs
lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage inside the wire.
Jordans base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and
rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue
(It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy
mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul
*** in a matter of seconds.

5) Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by
cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use
handheld GPS units for navigation and Google earth for overhead views of our
positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their
explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare.
They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units
and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

Who are the bad guys?:

Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They
operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly
foreigners, non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world
(and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the
knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.) , and then travel down the at
line which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that weve
been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained
young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in sacrifice
squads. Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual
suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.) These are the guys running around
murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many
of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best
fighters. (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the
Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led)
Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian S!
hiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt., the
police forces and the Army. The have had a massive spy and agitator
network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80s. Most of the Saddam
loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics:

When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked
every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very
common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice
8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing
Aks and RPGs directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get
mowed down like grass every time. ( see the M2 and M240 above). Jordans
base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to
flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious
last stand. Instead, we call in air and thats the end of that more
often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeos
(Allahs Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a
science. The fast movers, mostly Marine F-18s, are taking an ever
increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter
gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and
rocket fire, especially at!
night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all. Fun fact: The
enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why were
seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber
shit. The new strategy is simple: attrition.

The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian
non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian
casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are
locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee
to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian
casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation
anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt.
Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to
influence people they are trying to influence but cant reach, such as local
govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.).

The first thing our guys are told is don't get captured. They know that
if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet. Zarqawi
openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American
serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a
Finless Brown Trout about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually
kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our guys, every
fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.

The Iraqis are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a
Finless Brown Trout. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they
are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawis use of suicide
bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical
mistake. Many Iraqis were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the
Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It
also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqis are
sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly
pro-American and fearless fighters.

According to .... morale among our guys is very high. They not only
believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are
stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they
almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are
despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1
and then see shit like Are we losing in Iraq on TV and the print media.
For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and
leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not
enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the
insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut
down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just
cant stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course,
permanent US bases there).

Gen. Sandworm
11-10-2005, 10:20 AM
Wow good post Mike...........how old is this? This year I guess. Very informative.

11-10-2005, 10:28 AM
Or maybe from last year.

The former home of Saddam Hussein's half-brother is Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi, headquarters of the 1st Marine Division, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general of 1st Marine Division, and Sgt. Maj. Wayne R. Bell, the division sergeant major, uncased the "Blue Diamond's" colors during a relief-in-place ceremony at Camp Blue Diamond, Iraq, March 20, 2004.

from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/ramadiyah.htm

Edited: Ooops!! Or maybe this year. http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/D76FCE1944F1FF6485257099006D68E9?opendocument

11-10-2005, 10:29 AM
Interesting that they had problems with the M16 over there - it's often held up as what we should have bought instead of the SA80, but we never had a problem with the SA80A2 over there.

mike M.
11-10-2005, 10:48 AM
I don't know how old it is, they are talking about a lot of I E D's maybe that is a clue for us. I thought it was an interesting read.

11-10-2005, 12:40 PM
Very interesting, I note that 5.56 comes in for some stick again and I assume we are supposed to draw the conclusion that the opiate use in the opposition is contributing to the lack of effectiveness. Should have gone for .280British back in the fifties! :twisted:
I don't know whether to take the report of M14s being reissued seriously but if true I would have thought that 5.56 is on it's way out.
I wonder why .45ACP is more popular than 10mm? I thought US plods were fond of 10mm for it's knock-down ability over both .45 an 9mm?

mike M.
11-10-2005, 01:27 PM
I don't know whether to take the report of M14s being reissued seriously

I wonder why .45ACP is more popular than 10mm? I thought US plods were fond of 10mm for it's knock-down ability over both .45 an 9mm?

The writer says "The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a
modified version to special ops guys." I think special OPS is the key here.

Remember the 45 acp is the opinion of the writer who is ONE guy, and we know its what the generals think about weapons not the ground pounder. :cry:

11-10-2005, 01:33 PM
I have seen quite a few M14s in various pics from Iraq lately. I wonder if that's part of it.

11-10-2005, 02:12 PM
IIRC the M14 - like the British SLR - was semi-automatic only because 7.62 assault rifles are uncontrollable on full auto. This might have the very positive effect of putting a stop to the "spray and pray" fire-discipline that Ironman was so fond of

11-10-2005, 02:13 PM
The M14s are being issued to units as "Designated Marksman Rifles" (DMR), one per squad IIRC. Several US companies are involved in their inspection, refurbishment & modification.
The SA80 is now (finally!) being proven to be more resistant to stoppages than the M16/M4 but is still too fragile for rough handling according to reports (the receiver is pressed steel & the guage used was too bloody thin :roll: ).
It will be interesting to see if the 6.8mmSPC round makes itself a name then we can tell the Septics "we told you so 50 years ago". :wink:

11-10-2005, 04:34 PM
The tinplate receiver is typical of "lowest bidder" design and also typical in that as a "cost saving" measure it is more expensive in the long run than using decent materials (I believe thicker aluminium extrusions/castings were suggested).

On a related note in Sunday's Torygraph Christopher Booker (ventung against Europe as usual) said that Britain's next rifle was likely to be Belgian (a bad thing according to him - neglecting to note that the minimi, the GPMG and the SLR are all Belgian), the only new Belgian rifle is AFAIK the FN2000 - how does that compare to the SA80? I know that the barrel is 4in shorter, but how reliable is it?

Iron Yeoman
11-10-2005, 05:39 PM
I noticed a lot of you are discussing weapon specs comparing M-16 to M-14, those of you wanting to look at some of the technical data check out this link


Recently did an essay on m-16s vs. m-14s, hope you find the info useful!

Man of Stoat
11-11-2005, 01:31 PM
It's nice to see that the US forces have got over their "not invented here" problem and have adopted the FN MAG 40-50 years after the rest of the civilised world :D

And interestingly the locking mechanism on the MAG is an inverted BAR lock (no, Tinwalt if you're still lurking, it wasn't invented independently - it was a modification of an existing design, just like so many other small-arms).

11-11-2005, 03:45 PM
I was speaking to a guy today that said that the reason the US forces are having problems with the SAW is that they are mostly too old and worn out. Dont know the truth in it, but he had just come back from there.

2nd of foot
11-12-2005, 07:17 PM
The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a
modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight
Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in
the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

For them that never fires the elephant gun it must be a bit of a shock. But the weight of ammo. If it takes 3 rounds of 5.56 to drop the enemy and one round of 7.62, how does that compare weight wise? If like he has suggested that most of the enemy are on drugs it may be that this is the problem not the rounds stopping power?