Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

A Marine’s Afghan AAR (VII): How and when to shoot

Here CWO2/Gunner Keith Marine recommends less shooting, more assaulting: Fire Discipline and marksmanship fundamentals. Got to get your guys to buy in to only shooting at targets. I think we did a good job of this but there were some units who got engaged by an estimated enemy force of fire team size and managed ...

DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images
DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images
DAVID FURST/AFP/Getty Images

Here CWO2/Gunner Keith Marine recommends less shooting, more assaulting:

Fire Discipline and marksmanship fundamentals. Got to get your guys to buy in to only shooting at targets. I think we did a good job of this but there were some units who got engaged by an estimated enemy force of fire team size and managed to shoot 4 magazines per man for a platoon -- complete horseshit. I think everyone realizes that the enemy generally does a good job of selecting firing positions with a decent amount of cover and concealment. If 4 guys are shooting at you, probably not 4 or 5 guys from your side can identify the positions.  In addition, the guy who is waiting for a target will see a Marine shooting at a random bush or window and believe that's where the bad guys are and add his fires to the mix, next thing you know you have an entire squad/platoon dumping rounds into an empty bush or window and there is so much fire from your side of the canal, you don't know if or where fire from the other side is coming.

This boils down to training, unit discipline, and whether or not the individual Marines have combat action ribbons. Suggest you speak with the officers and convince your commander that if an incident appears where a platoon shoots a few thousand 5.56 and some rockets at an estimated 3-4 enemy, while rapidly turning in CAR requests a preliminary inquiry should soon follow with some punitive action.  The guys who only shoot at targets and employs his weapon systems to his advantage will overwhelm and defeat these clowns over here every time.  The guys who sit back and shoot a lot, while awaiting fire support, just make noise and waste money and convince the Taliban to continue attacking.      

Here CWO2/Gunner Keith Marine recommends less shooting, more assaulting:

Fire Discipline and marksmanship fundamentals. Got to get your guys to buy in to only shooting at targets. I think we did a good job of this but there were some units who got engaged by an estimated enemy force of fire team size and managed to shoot 4 magazines per man for a platoon — complete horseshit. I think everyone realizes that the enemy generally does a good job of selecting firing positions with a decent amount of cover and concealment. If 4 guys are shooting at you, probably not 4 or 5 guys from your side can identify the positions.  In addition, the guy who is waiting for a target will see a Marine shooting at a random bush or window and believe that’s where the bad guys are and add his fires to the mix, next thing you know you have an entire squad/platoon dumping rounds into an empty bush or window and there is so much fire from your side of the canal, you don’t know if or where fire from the other side is coming.

This boils down to training, unit discipline, and whether or not the individual Marines have combat action ribbons. Suggest you speak with the officers and convince your commander that if an incident appears where a platoon shoots a few thousand 5.56 and some rockets at an estimated 3-4 enemy, while rapidly turning in CAR requests a preliminary inquiry should soon follow with some punitive action.  The guys who only shoot at targets and employs his weapon systems to his advantage will overwhelm and defeat these clowns over here every time.  The guys who sit back and shoot a lot, while awaiting fire support, just make noise and waste money and convince the Taliban to continue attacking.      

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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