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[Warplan] TRIP REPORT - Fast Train VI - Wargaming Division, Marine Corps

Gordon Rottman rottmagl at
Wed Oct 20 11:09:59 EDT 2004

>From a friend.
Mr. John J. Braham, IV
Army Transformation Office
US Army Special Operations Futures Center
(910) 432-1543/DSN 239-1543
brahamj at at
"I have always regarded the forward edge of the battlefield as the most
exclusive club in the world".   Sir Brian Horrocks

MEMORANDUM FOR Director, Combined Arms and Tactics Directorate, US Army
Infantry School, ATTN:  ATSH-AT, Fort Benning, Georgia 31905-5000

SUBJECT: TRIP REPORT - Fast Train VI - Wargaming Division, Marine Corps
Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), Quantico, VA, 10 Sep 2004

1.  PURPOSE: To inform the Director of the topics and issues reviewed during
the USMC discussion on the nature and dynamics of urban warfare by examining
insights and issues from operations in Fallujah.

a. This report presents unclassified highlights of the Fast Train VI
discussion with the USMC at Quantico, VA.  The USAIS representative was MAJ
Lee Pearce, Doctrine Writer, CATD, US Army Infantry Center, Fort Benning,
Georgia.  All presentations and discussions were unclassified. The briefing
ran from 0830-1400, Friday, 10 Sep 2004.

b. The observations are those of the author.  Special attention is paid to
quotes and lessons learned from the USMC Operation Officers (OPS-O) and
Battalion Commander.

2.  The purpose of Fast Train VI was to better understand the nature and
dynamics of urban warfare by examining insights and issues from operations
in Fallujah.

a. Objectives were to examine the tactics, techniques, and procedures
(TTPs), operational objectives, and the course of recent urban fighting in

b. Finally, the seminar focused on the ramifications for urban operations in
the areas of:

1) Organization
2) Training
3) Equipment
4) Command and Control
5) TTPs
6) Information Warfare
7) Interaction with civilian population.

3.  Key points from the days' briefings, starting with the facilitator, Mr.
Bing West*.  Mr. West has made several trips to Iraq since the start of OIF.

a. The Unity of Command was broken once Ambassador Bremer arrived in
country.  Currently, we have 3.5 chains of command.  Ambassador Negroponte,
GEN Casey, LTG Metz, and LTG Petraeus.

b. Bottom-up training and force-build-up, like we did in Vietnam, will not
work in Iraq.  Iraq must be top-down.  "You show me an Arab who does not
have an agenda; I will show you someone who is not an Arab." Insurgency has,
"no organized leadership structure, unlike the NVA." "The insurgency still
puzzles us."  "Fallujah became an emotional TET." "Western media did not
have cameras in the city."  "The stories coming out that the Marines were
killing thousands of civilians, were not true."

c. Mr. West used maps to describe the AO in and around Fallujah.  Of the
250k-300k population, Mr. West believed, during April, the insurgency
totaled around 20k.  The town of Fallujah measures 3k wide x 3.5k long. He
stated that the average insurgent would come out and fire at the Marines 5
to 7 times per day.  Exposing himself for only 2.0 - 2.5 seconds. There were
10 to 20 groups of "Hard Core," or "Minute Men," with approximately 20
members armed with IEDs, MGs, lots of RPGs, mortars, and some anti-aircraft

d. The Marines divided Fallujah into 4 quadrants.  Order of Battle on 24
April consisted of 2/1 in the NW, 3/4 (ME) w/2 tanks in the NE, 1/5 w/6
tanks in the SE, and 2/2 w/4 tanks in the SW.  The Marines were supported by
AC-130 at night, F-15s and Cobra's in the day.  However, the Cobra's were
limited in their ability because of the threat from ground fire.  THE

e. No longer using 9 line for close air support---Using talk-on air.
Riflemen need ACOGs.

f. US TTPs: isolate via cross-streets, tanks, and back-clear. Insurgency
TTPs: hard points, vehicle QRF, IEDs, rigged houses, and melt away to fight

4.  Key points from the days' briefings, from MAJ Kevin Norton, OPS-O, 3/4.
MAJ Norton is an ICCC graduate and currently a student at Marine Corps
Command and Staff College.

a.       "We spent mega time on the CALL website before we left for OIF II".

b.      Sand bag roof tops to build them up for snipers and mortars.
Standard roof tops in Fallujah consist of a wall approximately 4 feet high.

c.       Sniper use was heavy.  Especially, as FOs and covering the long
axis of the roads. They became the ME once we got into a static situation.

d.      Average sniper had 31 kills (1 kill every 3-4 hours)

e.       Designated targets with mortars.  Limited designation ability
because of no lasers at platoon and below.

f.        Speed and momentum key in urban operations.  "So you take risks
and end-up doing back-clearing"
g.      "USMC is way behind the Army in technology"
h.      "PSYOPS teams were great." Used to "bait" the insurgents. Lots of
Metallica played.
i.        Bottled water is key! No need to worry about re-filling
camelbacks.  They never lacked supplies of water.
j.        Maps were not standardized at all levels, especially grid
designation.  OPS-Os were constantly worried that units were working off of
different maps.
k.      Platoons organized w/almost company strength.  Very much a junior
officer fight.

5. Key points from the days' briefings, from MAJ Pete Farnum, OPS-O, 1/5.
MAJ Farnum is currently a student at Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

a.       "We threw the book out the window"  "The Army writes doctrine and
uses it, we write doctrine to ignore it"
b.      "ROE cut and dry; just as OIF I" The Marines at all levels
understood what their ROE was and how they were to act.
c.       Iraqi police were reinforcing the insurgents and ICDC-giving them
d.      Red Crescent Ambulances dropped off ammo and weapons and then
picked-up bodies.
e.       Everyone had city graphics-down to fire team.
f.       No need for LNOs, as all USMC had internal lines of communication.
They would often meet face to face by leaving the city via their rear area.
g.      "God bless the AC-130s" Marines relaxed at night once they heard
theorbit of the AC-130.

6. Key points from the days' briefings, from LTC Bryan McCoy, CDR, 3/4. LTC
McCoy is currently a student at the Naval War College.

a.       "Thou shall not stack" "We stayed out of the fatal funnel"
b.      "Always had snipers in overwatch"
c.       Need more lasers at all levels for marking targets
d.      "We had no plan for night fighting"
e.       "I do not know if we were trained to clear a room under NODs"
f.       "Mk-19 is my favorite weapon in urban ops"

7.  In conclusion, a short yet, insightful discussion on lessons learned by
two operations officers.  Personal impressions of the discussion;
     1) A very frank talk by two officers who highlighted some short-comings
of their units,
     2) All agreed that their main strength was the 20 year old rifleman,
     3) The Marines have no formal system to capture lessons learned and
share with the rest of the Corps, and 4) MAJ Tom Goldner, CALL, plans to
post lessons learned on the CALL Website.

8.  Point of contact for this report is the undersigned. Email
pearcee at; Phone: Commercial (706) 545-1256 or DSN 835-1256,
Fax: 835-7500.

Doctrine Writer
Combined Arms and Tactics Directorate, USAIS

* Bing West served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International
Security Affairs in the Reagan administration. He was a member of force
recon team Primness, which ambushed a North Vietnamese battalion thus
initiating Operation Stingray, whose behind-the-lines tactics are the
backdrop for The Pepperdogs. His nonfiction book The Village (Pocket
Books) has received high praise for describing close combat. He was a lead
CNN military analyst during Desert Storm. Three generations of Wests have
served in Marine infantry and his firm, GAMA Corporation, conducts combat
training for the Marine Corps. He lives in Newport, Rhode Island, and
Washington, D.C.

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