The Road Home:

Discussion in 'TV Forum' started by MikeK, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. MikeK
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    MikeK Gold Member

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    The Road Home is a new series running on the National Geographic channel. There is something about the action sequences, which are based on some of the U.S. Army's more notable activities in Iraq, and which I have found to be extremely troubling.

    I would be interested in discussing these sequences with others who watch this series -- particularly any who served in Iraq.
     
  2. ABikerSailor
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    ABikerSailor Platinum Member

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    Never served in Iraq, but spent 20 years in the Navy from 82 to 02. And yeah, I watch the show as part of my weekly viewing.

    Personally? I think that they stick pretty close to what things are like. And, showing what the wives and the Ombudsman go through while the spouse is deployed to a war zone is pretty accurate as well.

    What is it that you find troubling? The only thing I can think of that may cause problems is if a vet suffers from PTSD and watches it, it may set them off.
     
  3. MikeK
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    MikeK Gold Member

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    What I find troubling, in keeping with your observation that this production sticks "pretty close to what things are like," is the tactic employed by the trapped mobile infantry detachment. If this were a fictional production I could easily dismiss it as the fantasy of some imaginative but inexperienced screen-writer. But, as you've said, they are sticking pretty close to the reality of that event.

    The mobile detachment was ordered to pass through a main street lined on both sides with one and two-story stone structures, all having rooftops with three-foot high parapets, various windows, doorways, and other protective stone barriers -- all affording perfect positioning and cover for shooters to command the street below.

    The main body of the detachment was about two dozen soldiers packed into a troop-transport truck, squatted back-to-back, weapons at the ready -- with absolutely no cover. The two armored units had .50 machine-gun turrets manned by gunners whose only protection were a steel front-plates, leaving their backs, both sides, and their heads fully exposed -- and, as expected, both were shot.

    In the simplest terms, what we saw was a vulnerable mobile detachment directed to pass through what is best described as a shooting gallery in which their role was that of ducks.

    My question is who was responsible for that suicide mission? Which is exactly what it was. I believe a naval analogy would be to send a vulnerable, inadequately armed, slow-moving vessel directly into a known submarine alley.

    What are your thoughts?
     
  4. ABikerSailor
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    ABikerSailor Platinum Member

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    Well, to be fair, those people in the ME have been using guerilla warfare for a very long time, and setting up various ambush points wouldn't be that hard in that area.

    And, there is also the part of how they build towns and cities over there. Most places I've been in the ME or in Europe have had really narrow streets with tall buildings surrounding them.

    Not really much you can do to prevent an ambush in places like that. They do drone flights over the area to see if they have any roadblocks and plan for their missions that way, but they can't always tell if they have moved an ambush site or not.
     
  5. MikeK
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    MikeK Gold Member

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    One of the most basic elements of infantry unit leadership is to evaluate risk potential prior to and during all movements. I should have mentioned this in my initial comment. Because, as you've said, those people, many of whom are former Iraqi Army personnel, have been ambushing our troops from day one -- and it doesn't take a military genius to anticipate the potential of rooftop sniping when the backs and heads of the main component of your unit is exposed.

    I understand you were Navy, not infantry. But if you were the commander of a slow-moving, poorly armored vessel, would you have calmly aimed that vessel into an area known for mines and heavy submarine activity? I doubt it. So put yourself in the place of the officers and NCOs who served up that pathetically vulnerable mobile unit to a glaringly obvious potential trap. Would you not at least have radioed a sit/rep and requested standby air support, if needed? Simple, basic tactics. We have billions of dollars worth of Apache helicopters and A-10 gun-ships available for exactly such contingencies. One Apache helicopter with a Gatling and missiles could have wiped out that ambush in two minutes. But look what happened.

    I've been out of the Marine Corps since 1960 and my highest rank was E3, but I'd be damned if I would have led a vulnerable unit into a potential trap like that. So my question is what the hell is wrong with our contemporary military command levels?

    Suicidal actions, such as were common during the Pacific campaign, Iwo-Jima outstandingly, can be justified when circumstances demand. But no such circumstances existed in this example. There were ways around it. That entire operation was one huge cluster-fuck and the result of incompetence at the command level.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  6. ABikerSailor
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    ABikerSailor Platinum Member

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    Actually, because the buildings are so close together, it would be extremely difficult for an Apache to get a good sight on them. Additionally, you also have to think about the civilians in the area. That is one tactic that the terrorists have used to great effect...............human shields.

    As far as them knowingly going into an ambush? Did you also notice that in the planning stages of the mission they had three different routes selected, because they were aware that there could be rolling ambushes.

    And no..................an A-10 wouldn't work in that situation either. They move faster than Apaches and would have a VERY difficult time getting guns on target.

    The only effective way to cover them after the attack started was with the Bradley fighting vehicles.
     
  7. MikeK
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    MikeK Gold Member

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    I don't understand what you mean. Those buildings are connected in straight rows with their rooftops and terraces wide open.

    Two options:

    One; you totally avoid the encounter. As soon as the potential for ambush is recognized you turn around and leave, ensuring that human shields will then become standard guerrilla tactic -- meaning you lose. Period.

    Two; You ignore the hostages. As soon as the ambush commences you strafe those buildings with gatlings and light missiles, wiping out the snipers and imparting an awareness in the civilian population that allowing themselves to be used as human shields is certain death.

    There is no third option.

    The hanging question is having that awareness why wasn't standby air support made available, if needed?

    Apaches would be the better choice. But if unavailable an A-10's gatlings would be as effective in that situation as they were in the actual videos I've seen of them taking out VC emplacements in Vietnam, some of which were relatively small and uncomfortably close to our people who had asked for air support.

    The only awareness I have of the airborne gatlings is what I've seen in those videos and I couldn't be more impressed. I know the Apaches would be the better choice in our ambush situation, but if they are not available an A-10 would be a hell of a lot better than no support at all.
     

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