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For one thing, there’s the glare off the rocket guy’s watch. Feel free to add tactical analysis, mindful that armchair warriors worry about stuff they’d probably forget in the heat of battle. Then riddle me this: what are we doing continuing to engage in a shooting war in Afghanistan when our supposed allies are busy calling us invaders?


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  1. I’ve never been in a firefight, and I know “shit happens,” but at 2:45 when he fired right over the gunner’s left shoulder, and the gunner immediately grabbed his left ear and exclaimed, “Ah, shit!” it made my ear hurt

    • I cringed as well, I wonder if it was muzzle blast or the noise. Probably both.

      Aren’t soldiers issued foam ear protection inserts? I’m sure most opt not to use them, but I bet this guy wishes he had used them.

      • The gunner had Peltor Comm headset that have hearing protection. Brass from the guy fell on the gunner neck.

        • Here is why you are all wrong.
          1. They arent using at-4 they are using SMAWS
          2. They arent wearing ear pro at all because hearing is the lease of your worries there
          3. They are on a op and took contact and therefore the was no ied
          4.Actually an m4s EFFECTIVE range on a point target is 500 meter and on an area target 600 and a max range of 3600 meters and add being on the side of a mountain will add a couple hundred meters
          Another thing is are you really concerned about a watch in the middle of a firefight? The taliban pretty much know wherever you are going anyways except at night. They watched us the second we were out of the wire. Feel free to say what you want and call me wrong about everything i just said cause unlike i was actually there with these guys and in fact this is my platoon so i know what we did so all you idiots sitting here acting like your hot shit just makes me laugh.

        • 11b… sorry but i think you outed yourself as a poser.
          1. they are firing AT4s. the SMAW is such a drastically different looking weapon from the AT4 that, if you were “actually there” i can’t justify how you would make that mistake. seriously.. wut…
          2. ear pro is pretty important now, especially since your disability will get denied for hearing if it turns out you didn’t even try to wear ear pro downrange. all my dudes carried ear pro, even if they didn’t use it. they have those cool ones with the little gun that you twist around based on if you need impulse protection (gunshots) or general protection (loud engines, etc). though i do remember a rocket hitting about 40m from me and my ear “blanking out” – i didn’t see or hear the explosion and actually thought it had flown right over us until i got up and saw the smoke.
          3. what about an ied? who said anything about an ied?
          4. why would you bring up the maximum range? 3.6km is not what you can hit something with, it’s basically just how far the bullet would go if you pointed your rifle 45 degrees and fired.

          finally, why go an insult people who said they obviously weren’t there? why would you claim to be one of the guys in this video? you obviously weren’t, because you don’t even know that they were firing AT4s. there’s no excuse for that, those things get inventoried and checked constantly, and it’s not like you could really make that mistake. i would say at best you were an infantryman deployed recently somewhere in the north where you didn’t see anything but wanted desperately to appear to be one of those guys who was “in the shit.” more likely you were at bagram or KAF ticketing people for not wearing their reflective belts on the way to the green beans.

  2. Confusion. Things haven’t changed. The glare off his watch isn’t as bad as skylining themselves on that ridge. Wonder when this vid was shot?

    • Backblast area clear…

      You really don’t want to fire one of those with something the blast can bounce off behind you or in an enclosed space. Some contractors killed themselves that way my last tour – they fired an AT4 from inside the passenger compartment of an SUV. Did not end well.

      • Wouldn’t want to fire one from inside a vehicle, but the AT4CS is supposed to prevent the operator from being killed by firing from a confined space.

        • Confined space being relative Mark. The upgrade was designed so they could be fired from inside a building where you still have a relatively large room to absorb the overpressure. NOT the interior of a vehicle.

      • > We didn’t have AT4′s in my time.

        Back in my day, if we wanted an AT4, we had to duct-tape four AT1s together. And we liked it. Now get off of my lawn…

  3. Camera is angled, poor composition. Is it really Afghanistan, and not maybe a studio green screen?

  4. Hard to tell without a backstory. They are sky-lining and seem to have poor cover. This fire fight appears to take place after an IED det, the crater with the burlap sack @ 1:37. A lot of gloves are thrown around the ground. You wouldn’t take those off in a firefight, but you would to treat a casualty. You wouldn’t see too much blood on the ground (dirt soaks and covers that stuff up fast), trust me, I had to treat a few casualties and was one myself. Oh and their antennas are pretty much an arrow point at them individually.

    • That wasn’t an IED crater…. ssheesh.
      Looks more like someone had started working on digging in a defensive position.

  5. I have seen any number of these vids, and maybe its the cameras used to shoot the action, but other than hearing the gunfire, I have never seen the enemy, who always seem to be far far away. Is it different when you are there? Can you see what you are shooting at?

    • If you have netflix, I recommend watching the documentaries Restrepo and Armadillo, both named for the forward operating bases they were filmed at. The engagements look sort of like this, unseen enemies at great distances.

      • +1 Restrepo. Great documentary, though at times, gut-wrenching. You really feel for our young guys out there…

      • mlopitato – Regarding “Restrepo”- great documentary that was made by multi-tasking writer/ journalist Sebastian Junger, who to his shame gave the world the phrase “perfect storm” which is used by lazy editors to describe any story that grew out of a couple of coincidences. Anyway, “Restrepo’ was a side project Junger did as an embed with the 173rd, which resulted in the incredible book “War.” Far and away the best book written about A-stan that I’ve read, and deserving of all the comparisons to Herr’s “Dispatches.” For a trilogy of thought-provoking books with similar titles, tackle “War,” “One Soldier’s War” by Arkady Babchenko – a horrifying memoir of two tours in the Chechen War – and “The War After Armageddon” by novelist and former Army officer Ralph Peters, which is a very disturbing novel about longterm effects of the rise of the religious right in the US as a response to Islamic fundamentalism. All three very recommended to anyone who still has illusions of the glory about war.

      • Interesting that you bring up Restrepo. In the Marine Corps, we use that as an example of what not to do. It starts with the Co cmdr saying he didn’t read anything about the Afghans because he wanted to be a clean slate, and it’s all downhill from there. I wonder what Sun Tzu (as it were) would say about that.

  6. I have pretty much the same question as Mark N. I saw nothing that I could identify as a human target, nor did I see any impacts from the AT-4. Is it standard practice simply to spray rounds in the general direction of an unseen enemy? Finally, what is the effective range of those rifles and machine-guns?

    • AT-4 effective range 300m. What are they firing at? Leave rifle WELL/WAYYYY out of arms length while fire at AT?

    • The M4 has an effective range of 300m. So why are we shoooting at enemies we can’t see with pea shooters? Why can’t we use mobility to get up close and personal, the environment for which these rifles were designed? Albeit I have no knowledge of AR sighting systems, my understanding is that the Eotech sight is not magnified–isn’t it pretty useless at these ranges?

      • It looks like the baddies are camped out inside those walled compounds, nice cover, view all around, surrounded by nice flat open areas. AT4 lets them take out baddies and cover at the same time without having to run down a hillside and through a bunch of coverless plain, taking fire all the while. If Bill’s correct about taking a casualty, they may not be in a position to assault right now.

        Or I could be full of it.

  7. former usmc grunt here. cant watch the video on my phone so just commenting on the pic. looks pretty stylized to me. AT4 has a massive backblast. actual DB rating is north of 100db. its easy to flinch firing it. normally to prevent hearing loss you have everybody “get on line” whwn you take rocket shots. even then it’s easy to “get bit” by the backblast. from thw picture…I tend to think that much backblast and you see the rocket leaving the tube too.

    • the AT4 is not a rocket, it is a recoilless projectile that is shoulder-fired and single use. The reason why you don’t see it leaving the tube is that the video probably only records at 30 frames per second and even if you slow the video down or still frame it, you will miss it leaving the tube. The backblast (which is the propellent that propels the projectile forward and counters the recoil by blowing back, hence “recoilless”) is captured at the height of it’s burn in the picture. Also for everyone now saying about the backblast danger area, yes always be concerned, but they now have updated AT4s designated at “CS” or confined spaces that use saltwater to damped the backblast so it can be fired inside and reduce the violent overpressure of the backblast. However I don’t think this is one of those. -retired EOD tech.

      • For some reason the Ammo Systems do classify them as rockets in their LIN and nomenclature the ones were running now are on my books as “Rocket 84mm HEDP”. and Rocket 84mm C/S. But the C/S is a smaller back blast but were not about to try it in an MRAP.

  8. I would guess it’s authentic. As a videographer, there’s nothing that indicated green screen. I would also guess the camera is a HeroCam or variant. Technology has made video ubiquitous – it’s no surprise that battlefield footage is showing up. I am concerned about operational security, however. I bet there are regulations against posting this type of video (retired USAF enlisted).

    While some of the Taliban tactics have roots with the Viet Cong, such as suicide bombers, the war on terror is vastly different than the jungles of Vietnam. High ground is prime real estate, in most cases.

  9. “Then riddle me this: what are we doing continuing to engage in a shooting war in Afghanistan when our supposed allies are busy calling us invaders?”

    Heroin (Opium), Lithium, Copper, and other natural resources. Not to mention Afghanistan borders Iran, which makes it a perfect launching pad for the next move of the chess board.

  10. That was my thought too, who is gonna see his watch when he has 8 feet of flame coming out the back of that tube?

  11. A few notes based on my experience. A few have mentioned the sky lining of some of the soldiers. Most of the soldiers not in the prone are the leaders, who need to see what is going on and the AT4 gunners, who aren’t in an area conducive to firing from the prone. Don’t know when the engagement ended, but I’m guessing the enemy ended up running away.

    AT4’s are difficult to aim. When I was in Afghanistan, my team got a bunch of them to fire. Bad lot numbers on them and they had to be fired or otherwise destroyed. About ten of us fired at a connex about 350 meters from our firing position and only one of us scored a direct hit. The AT4 is designed as an anti armor weapon, good for punching through a collat wall if you can hit it.

    The M4 has a max effective range of 500 point, 600 area, The M249 has a max effective range of 600 point, 800 area on the bipod. These are achievable with iron sights. The SAW has the MGO on it. It’s a 3x scope with a machine gun reticle in it. It makes a huge difference when engaging targets beyond 400 meters.

    I don’t think the video does the human eye justice. Not being zoomed in the we can’t see what’s really going on. There does seem to be some confusion as to which collat to fire on. Some soldiers had a clearer view of where the enemy was. The guy running around with the camera was probably a squad leader. Trying to keep suppressive fire on that enemy. If they had been taking effective fire from the enemy, they probably would have kept lower. You would have seen the SL doing a a lot of crawling or 3-5 second rushes instead.

    The Army issues combat earplugs to all soldiers in theater. They have a small hole in them so you can hear voices, while blocking out louder gunfire. Most soldiers don’t wear them unless someone makes them. Not all leaders enforce this. Someone mentioned gloves. I’m a glove hater. The Army also issues fire resistant gloves and expects soldiers to wear them. I keep them off as often as possible. I’m in the minority on this one, it’s just my preference.

  12. Why are we Monday morning QB-ing a firefight when none of were there? Especially you Robert Farago? Love hearing more criticism from someone else who never wore a uniform.

    When did this website get so far from its stated purpose? Why are we delving into up international politics? More and more the content of the website is just hot garbage.

    I’m sure my comment will eventually be deleted as a “flame”. Only the Second Amendment lives here; not the First Amendment, unless you agree with RF

    • Well somebody has a stick up his ass… have you considered lubricant? In the same post you criticize him for exercising his first ammendment right to say what he wants and then criticize that he may delete your comment? If it’s good for the goose….

    • Well, this is Robert Farago’s site, so I guess it’s his call as to what gets posted. As for those of us who have questions about what’s going on in the engagement video, what does whether or not we were actrually there have to do with it? And are you so sure that all the critical commentators have never worn a uniform? I take it, btw, you really meant, “have never worn a military uniform.” In any event, if the critical posts bug you, please except my invitation not to read them. Or, better yet, rebut the critical posts with observations from your vast, and I take it, fiirst-hand experience, of fire-fights.

  13. What I noticed as well was the MG was kicking up all kinds of dust in front of it. If a BG was looking for a point of aim for his RPG, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the guy running the gun. We toted a mat or a poncho to put under the front of the gun to help disguise the muzzle blast in dry conditions. RPG’s suck!

  14. I know, I know…armchair generals and such, but don’t they appear to be way out of the effective engagement range for their weapon systems? At least based on where I see them aiming their fire.

    • It’s hard to tell from the video exactly how far away the enemy is. As I noted above the M4’s max effective range is 500m against a point target, 600m area target. The SAW on the bipod ups that 600m point, 800m area.

      • I think you’re right. Just re watched in 720p. I think it is well within range for a soldier shooting from the prone. I can see the impact of both AT4 rounds. While the round itself can travel 2100m (I had to look this up), the max effective range is only 300m.

  15. anyone get a sense this is a training area? most of the walls surround empty courtyards… and the bottles of water lying around…

    • I don’t think so. It looks like Afghanistan, not Fort Irwin. All their water would come in bottles. They have Camelbacks, but are more than likely carrying extra water. Also they were using live ammo and AT4’s. I can even see the AT4 impacts in 720p. Two way training ranges would be a definite no go. Still can’t see any people on the video, but the BG fire sounds like it’s coming from out there somewhere. We obviously can’t tell where that somewhere is though. Building walls is like a national pastime over there. The compounds without buildings may have fallen into disuse or are used seasonally for livestock and such.

  16. BG’s showing up on the vid doesn’t mean shit. MAYBE if you had a full on motion picture camera, you could see them. But without crazy zoom, you aren’t going to see a damn thing at that distance.

    If we just dump the country, the whole thing turns right back into what it was under the taliban, and every bit of the last ~ten years was completely in vain.

  17. Well a couple things-
    – There sure are a lot of people trying to point things out who appear to have no idea what they’re talking about.
    – Cameras always make things appear further away, especially when they have wider fields of view to capture more of the scene, like almost all dashcams and helmet cams. Watch a russian dashcam vid and maybe you can realize how different it would look “in real life” compared to the video.
    – Pretty much everyone can easily see a person 2-400m away and up to a km away in even terrain, with the naked eye, just go to a mall or something and look. Video resolution and field of view means that they look much smaller to the point of not being able to pick them out at all. I had thought that this was common knowledge.
    – max effective range on an m4 is 500m on a man sized target, or 600m if you are attempting to suppress a group of enemies. 300m is simply the furthest distance in a standard rifle qualification fire, and is easily hit with iron sights. with an acog, i’ve hit a man-sized target at 700m, though that was in training on a well stabilized platform.
    – this engagement was probably out to 400 or so m, maybe a bit more, it’s hard to tell with the camera. but if you couldn’t see the explosion (most viewers can), you probably shouldn’t be complaining about not seeing the people 🙂
    – even outside the point range, you can still suppress. this isn’t hunting for doe, you know. the 5.56 is designed to penetrate a steel helmet at 600m, but that doesn’t mean it won’t screw up a dude past that range, and they know that. the 7.62 out of a m240b will mess you up out to 900m.

    – oh geez, and i completely forgot – that snapping about midway through the vid was unmistakably incoming fire coming close to the camera’s position. so that should give you some indicator about range, seeing as they use AK’s.

  18. As someone who grew up watching WWII combat footage when it was virgin stuff, I don’t see that this footage has anything out of the ordinary for combat video. Go back and look at classic WWII footage and you will see what I mean. I think the tactical critics are confusing movie action with the real thing.

    The AT-4 is an interesting weapon. It is basicly a $10K bazooka. The original weapon ran about $100 which translates into maybe $1500 today. Where did the extra $8.5 K go to?

    • Lighter platform, improved warhead, lower signature – plus let’s not forget the difference in the value of the dollar (inflation) between 1944 and 2013. That’s where the 8.5k comes from – technological improvement in the warhead and inflation. 🙂

  19. The 3.5″ (88mm) Bazooka is about as effective as an AT-4 which is 84mm, effectively the same size. Neither warhead will penetrate ceramic armor. They are both the same weight. I also stand corrected on the cost. It’s about $1500 so my guess of what it should cost is what does cost. I think I was confusing it with the Javelin.

    The main difference in cost is that the M-20 was a reuseable weapon while the AT-4 is a throw away.

  20. For all the question about ” aren’t they out of their effective range” and such. What we do not know is weather these guys are providing supporting Fires for another element or in the process of backing out (retrograding under fire) or if they are just holding the asshole still waiting for air to be on station. Squads do not go out by themselves anymore. Rules dictate minimum amounts of Troops out of wire to be more than a squad. ** I can not tell you because MOVCON is sensitive*** But I can tell you getting to higher ground is pretty much the norm. Also moving into Afghan living areas to fight without Afghan troops to lead gets scrutinized heavy now. In fact every engagement gets looked at at more than it ever did before, by brass that is usually not a War Fighter. The reason you do not draw in to enemy is because they are known to pre position IEDs and firing points on areas that would be attractive to MRAPs or dismounts. Commonly you get harassing fire just to bring you in for that reason. They have learned a lot over a decade, some of them know our practices better than we do. So depending on mission it sometimes best to back off, hold them down and let air do its thing. Or let the Afghan troops man up and clear the compound once they come on scene. But one view angle will never tell the story. That has been the one lesson I have learned here.

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