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(courtesy Facebook)

Our current military policy in the Middle East: arm and train our friends to do the fighting for themselves. Which begs the question: who the hell are our friends? And another: is that even possible? TTAG’s Jon Wayne Taylor will tell you that America’s Afghani pals are trainable, but that doing so to the scope, scale and proficiency needed to protect our geopolitical (read: economic) “interests” ain’t gonna happen. So the next time you hear a member of the Obama administration – or their Republican antagonists – talk about arming the good guys in the Middle East or Afghanistan, remember this image and the comments below.

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  1. Don’t laugh too hard, Dad knew a couple of guys who did the same thing with an M1 Garand after being pinned down in a foxhole by an MG42.

  2. Our “friends” who aren’t motivated to fight won’t fight no matter how much training they receive. Insurgents who are motivated to fight will fight no matter how little training they receive.

    As far as I can tell, our only friends who are willing to fight are the Kurds. Unfortunately, our “friends” the Turks hate the Kurds and will bump them off under the guise of fighting ISIS.

    So, in reality, the US is nobody’s friend, and nobody is a friend of the US. Well, what do you expect from Arabs and Turks?

  3. Come to think of it, in the book Roll Me Over, Sherman tank machine gunners were not too much better going through enemy held villages than some of these guys.

    • Ripley , the US government has a sizeable investment there , we can’t just nuke it . Let’s go boys , ass holes and elbows , rise and shine .
      Anyone who believes that these guys we are training today won’t take a knife to our neck tomorrow is a moron .

  4. Wow. A lot of armchair quarterbacking from TTAG readers who have never seen a millisecond of combat.

    this is what a counter-insurgency gunfight looks like. This isn’t act of valor out there. You get fire superiority immediately, then you worry about fixing the enemy positing and destroying them. You cannot allow the enemy freedom to maneuver. I have done this, and every single man I served with has done this. Sometime you just gotta put rounds out and keep their heads down. That is a 6 foot wall. If they want to aim down their sights, they aren’t shooting at all. And when you are being attacked, “not shooting” is “not an option”. A caveat to that, is that you do not want to do this for an extended period of time. I have definitely seen conventional forces do that, and it is frustrating, especially when you are fighting a counterinsurgency. The locals know when we are being obscene with our firepower. It doesn’t help. But based on this photo you have NO CONTEXT to what is going on. There are spent cases and empty ammo boxes everywhere. Is that from this firefight? or is this position attacked often? Are these SOF forces assigned to this location, or are they just there for an op? Are these even local nationals? They could be NGA’s. That is some very serious gear they have, and we don’t just give that to anyone.

    Based on the gear and the secure radio, these are not run of the mill Afgahn/iraqi forces (there is no way to tell in this picture who this is). They are special operations forces of one of those two countries, and their possession of that MBTR radio likely means they have embedded US forces with them. We do not just give out M4’s with M320s and M249s with paratrooper stocks and M240s to conventional Afghan/Iraqi units. The high quality american made stuff goes to the elite units, not the joes. They get the old M16s and broken M249s from Deserrt Storm. Not the latest and greatest. I have fought with Afghan SF. They are legit. They are better trained than the average US Infantryman and a hell of a lot better trained than 99% of the TTAG readership. They have seen more gunfights than you have seen range days. John Wayne Taylor is right. These guys are VERY trainable.And they understand combat very well. The conventional police/military are a bit tough to work with, but that is more of an internal discipline problem than a capability issue.

    The point is, context is everything, and this photo lacks it.

    • Good point. There is no context. It makes sense to have one team laying down some sort of cover fire, even if it is only a bunch of noise and aimless bullets flying in the air, in order to distract the enemy while another team maneuvers to a better position. This is not an unusual tactic. Now, if these guys are firing bullets aimlessly in the air without an underlying strategy, then we can possibly start questioning their ability. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell from this photo what is happening elsewhere on the battlefield.

    • Yawn. Another veteran here to show up the keyboard commandos and tell ’em what’s what. That bit gets tired.

      Sure, you have a good point: only a few guys in here have seen combat. Still, nobody needs the holier-than-thou attitude. After all, virtually every war has as its tops generals men who are veterans from prior conflicts and who have seen extensive combat themselves. Yet, virtually every war is considered FUBAR by onlookers, both inside and outside of the military.

      So much for the “I’m the military expert on everything, fresh from Kandahar, and you’re a cable news watching nobody, fresh from Cabela’s” myth.

      • There is definitely no “holier than thou” mentality coming from my side. My true intent is to point out that a lot of inexperienced, uneducated individuals criticizing an activity which they do not understand, is ridiculous. My primary intent was to point out that without context, nothing useful can be derived from that photograph except a hint of the level of support those forces enjoy.

        I am no military expert, I can only comment on my own experiences and make inferences based on those experiences.

    • Cg123, Happy to agree with a lot of your post, but I do want to point out that in 2009 we started equiping the ANA in Zabul province with brand new NATO weapons, including 240s and 249s. I was one of the range instructors for the 3-2 205th when we pulled the brand new 240Bs out. I remember being highly jealous of their brand new guns.

      • I do recall seeing a few newer 240s, but their SAWS and M16s (and their one M24) were in rough shape. They definitely weren’t decked out with sweet ass optics or a 320 lol. And we sure as shit didn’t give them an MBTR lol.

        It definitely amazed me how differently we chose to outfit the different units, both within the ANA and throughout the other agencies. AKS/RPGs/PKMs to the police, american weapons to the army, high speed shit to the SOF, and I don’t even remember how they outfitted the ANCOP.

      • Doesn’t matter who we fight for or why, likely they will all fall on one side of the dance card or another withen your lifetime, and nearly guaranteed through history.
        And combat vets are worth that ribbon, and they probably carry a few lifetimes worth of that experience to the grave. But, you could be friendly fired into the club without getting a CAR. You could be a KBR cook that buys it because a 3rd country national walks into a DFAC and detonates a bomb vest. You could be a ‘never deployed (to someplace tense)’ military recruiter who texts his girlfriend while playing two-way range at work in TN. The point is the technique and tactics are obvious desperation. The point is The enemy of my enemy, IF NOT MY OUTSPOKEN FRIEND, is also MY ENEMY (if being my friend makes it tough for my friends to get along with their friends they need to tie a pirk chop around their neck because that is their dog). The point is, everyone I was overseas with would thank every civilian and military that remained here, for their holding down the fort for there being an AMERICA to come back too (every military historian and strategist ever, would tell you that you CANNOT PUT A FORCE AFIELD, without having an equal, or greater force at home, and one that can withstand a complete reversal of fronts – a/k/a Germany in WWII [plenty of those fu<kers in Bolivia]). Point is, (American) TTAG'rs are the Battalion that we may put our Company's, Platoons, and Squads together from, and if you push hard for yourselves (regarding your arms, and your right to keep and bear them, then) I would fight alongside you and yours to save America, while She remains worth-it. Armchair warriors here all, you (we) are still in-the-fight for what we are fighting for, keep yourself schooled in your extremely perishable skills, and don't think for a second that any of your rights hinge on your 'experience'.

        • I would never ever suggest that ones rights hinge on their experience. I firmly believe all human beings have the right to armed self defense, with whatever weapon they deem/feel is appropriate. The TTAG readership is one of the single most active and dominant forces in second amendment rights out there, which is why i have, and will continue to, read this blog religiously.

          However, it is a far cry from “rights don’t hinge on experience” to “look at these jokers in a picture without caption or context. They must be completely ate up”. There is simply no way to make that statement, and it is quite pretentious to attempt to do so, especially with no experience to back that up. The rights don’t hinge on experience, but an informed analysis sure does.

    • Thanks.

      Guess neither having to pay for one’s own ammo, nor be “held accountable for every round,” does open up a few tactical possibilities unavailable to us regular CCW Joes… Even NYPD officers at least try to hit something….

      • The minute that the average CCW Joe (or the NYPD) has to worry about an ambush from multiple positions with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades (not to mention the threat of a complex ambush with buried IEDs), by an indigenous insurgent force, they can start criticizing these guys for doing what they are doing. This isn’t a DGU. This is a firefight, in a war zone. This particular image shows three individuals in a defensive posture, with thousands of rounds already expended and a less than ideal shooting position. yeah, they’re going to sling lead, and they’re not gonna expose their dome to take accurate shots. This is how infantry combat looks, and has looked, probably since the advent of the machine gun.

        Also, they are trying to hit something: Something located within 180 degrees vertically and horizontally of their current position. ‘Murica

        • “Also, they are trying to hit something: Something located within 180 degrees vertically and horizontally of their current position.”

          So, no different from the NYPD then. I stand corrected ๐Ÿ™‚

          I’m not criticizing them at all. I quite liked your explanation based on actual experience. It’s just so far from what even militia types, generally understand as the “proper” way to conduct a firefight.

          It’s definitely a tactic that is dependent on the presence of solid supply lines. But that is true for most uses of fully automatic weapons.

    • CG123’s point is absolutely valid. I’ve seen many of our soldiers do the same thing under certain circumstances (for suppressive fire). We have no context about the tactical situation on the ground there or how long they were doing that for, who was attacking them, etc. I’m not going to sit here from my keyboard and say I wouldn’t have been doing the same thing in that position. + 1 for CG123 telling it like it is with a little dose of truth.

  5. Also, not shocking at all that Farago authored this post. When it comes to being out of touch with the military and combat, he definitely leads the pack.

      • That he does. And dang it there’s no H. Its a family name.

        That’s said, that pic reminded me of one time I was shooting over the hood of our 1151, and I kept seeing sparks. I yelled “fu()k I’m just shooting the hood!”
        My ncoic yelled back “keep shooting, you’re wearing a groove through it!”
        Good times…good times.

        Jon Wayne Taylor

    • There are some articles posted here that are very silly and illogical, unfortunately. They detract from what otherwise is a great website.

    • I don’t think RF every claimed to be the military expert, cg. If you have been reading here much, you know his style is snarky at times, and he will often post something with a somewhat “attention getting” lede, and let the article speak for itself, and depend on the commenters to add to the opinions, by the benefit of their own experience.

      Thanks for your feedback, and your service, if you are inferring you have real-world operating expertise. I’m one who enjoys learning from those who know more about the subject, including the main point:

      “Which begs the question: who the hell are our friends? And another: is that even possible? ”
      and the validation by JWTaylor, who has been there done that.

      Its a pretty timely question, given the absolute meltdown in foreign policy and US credibility that is the Obama legacy. I am not an isolationist, but at this point, stepping back and let the regional actors have at it, is probably the sanest course of action, after Obama squandered the lives and treasure invested in Iraq, to begin to establish a democratic state, only to turn it over to our sworn enemies in Iran.

      • I clarified in my initial post that I am not, nor have I ever been SOF. Definitely not an operator. I served in direct combat in Southern Afghanistan as an infantryman, and that is the basis for my point of view and observations. I worked directly with Afghan National Army, National Police, Local Police, ANCOP (can’t remember what the hell it stood for) and Afghan SOF (albeit on only a handful of brief occasions). I continue to work for Uncle Sam in a different capacity as an officer, still in a direct combat role. I would be happy to relay my experiences and observations, from both points of view, at any time.

        To be totally clear, I agree with the basic tenet of this post. We have a disastrous foreign policy track record of supporting the “enemy of our enemy” and hoping they stay our friend. We are so desperate to get an “in”, without putting our own reputation or troops at risk, we cut corners and make disastrous deals.

        My issue is with this photograph, and the implications of the post, is that it suggests that the manner of combat demonstrated in the photograph is somehow indicative of poorly trained or inexperienced fighters. That their “failings” demonstrated in this photo is proof that we are wasting our time and money funding and training these individuals. When in reality, some of the very best trained and equipped forces have been known to do this from time to time. My further issue follows with the incessant comments of individuals blindly following that logic, thinking “this is how amateurs fight, I can do way better than that”, or “I’d just shoot through that wall”, or whatever ridiculous unsubstantiated thought that happened to pop into their head. It contributes nothing to the conversation, and only detracts from the intended point. I think that the consistent agreement of fellow combat veterans to my point, is proof that this is the case.

        I for one have welcomed the addition of Jon as a regular TTAG contributor. His piece about field trauma care is without a doubt the best on the topic I have read. His perspective is spot on, and he brings verified credentials to the table. My opinion? Let him handle the pieces dealing with our military’s interactions overseas. As you say, he has “been there, done that.” He’s got the t shirt. I have thoroughly enjoyed many of RF’s pieces, particularly those relating to legal battles and infringements on our rights. However, it seems whenever he gets on the topic of the military, he misrepresents himself while trying to make a valid point. You’ve got Jon. Use him for stuff like this.

        As to the question of “who are our friends?”, that is a debate so far above my level and expertise I can’t even begin to tackle it. RF’s assertion is correct, we cannot simply keep arming and “training” the Iraqi’s and hope they suddenly “get it” and stop ISIS. As to what we actually need to do, I can’t make that call. I have my opinions, but I will keep them to myself.

  6. I think our good friends and Allies, the Mujahideen, are quite capable of being trusted with top notch training and weapons.

    Sorry, I thought it was still 1980.

  7. Might be surprised how often that method of slingin’ lead has been/continues to be used even by U.S. forces. How about if you were told to “pick one…the military or jail” and your good friend Mr Murphy decided to do a “buddy-enlistment” along with you and next thing you know, you both find yourself hunkered down in some shit-hole country cut off and outnumbered, bullets snapping overhead, your position in real danger of being overrun and no viable avenue of retreat?
    If by some miracle, all the good guys happen to be using the right radio crypto that day and you successfully sent out formal invitations to come crash your little party to which your new best friends with the newfangled whirlybirds promptly RSVP in the affirmative and are “only” 10 mikes out, Laying down a little selective suppressing fire in this manner might be just enough to keep the BG’s honest and maybe take a few extra minutes to reconsider their evil ways and rude intentions for your body. Sure beats letting the BGs use your noggin to play whackamole every time you pop your head up to return carefully aimed fire while you anxiously wait for the Cavalry to arrive, who btw are now “ONLY” 8 mikes out ๐Ÿ™‚
    Not sure exactly what the gomers in the pic are up to, just happy everyone honored the No Cameras Allowed policy at my own
    party ๐Ÿ™‚

      • If I was at the other end of that barrage of misplaced lead and happen to have a nice ‘ high caliber ‘ rifle , I think I would concentrate my careful aim about 3 feet up on that mud wall just below the point where this guy is playing heat the barrel . Ballistic tip HV 30.06 ammo from my new Noreen BN 36 would make a pretty nice hole at 500 yards in that wall . I think what you see here is a battle between beat up 30 year old AKs that probably couldn’t contact their target if one could take aim . You probably didn’t see this kind of thing in the war that took place in the Baltics in the 1990’s , Those guys were using high powered hunting rifles and ammo and much like the boys plucked from the Appalachians in the American revolutionary war , Civil war , WW I , WW II
        and every war since , they were skilled marksmen . No need to sling 30 rounds of 7.62 or 5.56 when you can shoot the gun out that guys hands with a well placed 180 grainer splitting the air at over 2500 FPS .

        • well for one, thats not a mud wall, thats concrete.

          two, if it WAS a mud wall, there is nothing you can legally own that will penetrate it lol.

          I have seen .50 cal, RPGs, AT4s, Recoilless Rifle rounds, rockets, 30mm, 40mm grenades and straight up C4 barely dent those things. I dunno how they do it, but you damn near need a hellfire or a GBU to get through that shit. though i will say, the 84mm recoilless round they built for tanks worked pretty nicely on those walls. That delayed fuse haha

    • Top brass don’t give a d__n about these peoples freedom , the plan is now and has always been , keep them fighting each other . They always seem to oblige too . They do the same shit with Dems and Repubs , Tea party and progressives , liberals and conservatives , Christians and pervs , and once again , blacks and whites . If they can keep everyone fighting each other , they won’t turn on them , the string pullers .

  8. Dang. That’s 3 crew served weapons and at least one m4 for 3 dudes. Assuming they have ammo off camera, they came to play.

    • I also love how they all have the paratrooper stock and the 240 has the collapsible buttstock. We thought we were hot shit when we got that stuff

    • Scouts? During my (brief) stint with a scout team we had 3 M60s, 3 M16/M203s and 3 M16s for 9 guys. We had lots of firepower. For about 120 seconds. And, because of the mission, if we were in a position to use small arms we were compromised (ie, screwed).

      • Our standard squad load out was 3 M4/320s, 2 SAWS and the rest M4s. Maybe an extra 320/203 in there if we had extras. Towards the end we subbed in a Gustaf for one of the 249s. Because 84mm recoilless Murica

  9. An article written by a guy in air conditioning about dudes killing each other is not bound to make a difference in my opinion. A good friend used the same over the head firing into a compound and did it long enough to stop the fire we were taking from said compound to move. ROEs stopped us from even having grenades, so we made due.

  10. Seems to me that I remember Marines in Hue doing the same thing during the Tet Offensive, the question is, is it effective and in mission parameter’s?
    We have here a bunch of armchair typee espousing upon they know not what, or think they are all experts without credentials

  11. Hard to know without any context. But ill say this.

    If it kept the enemy’s head down at all, for any period of time, I will call it effective.

    If someone is shooting at them, and they are shooting back, Ill call that within mission parameters.

  12. Sorry, I only have experience of watching film from 3rd world insurgency and counter revolution type combat from Africa and suchlike places. The only type of firing visible from the camera man’s POV was the blind fire over the head style depicted here. I saw no carefully aimed squirrel hunt type shots at all. All were using AK47s or similar, and as said before, aimed fire is wasted on those. It is the weight of fire that counts. Unless hyped up on stimulants, putting one’s precious carcass in the way of enemy fire is a rare tactic.

    I understand that the Marine standard “up and at ’em” charge is taught and maybe practised in some places, but when everybody has a machine gun the results must be less than certain. We should be grateful that people are sending ordinance downrange at ISIL, and that we are not forced to defend our own homes against them. (I originally typed “hoes” but that may be disrespectful).

    In sum, rather them than me. Would I do any differently? Maybe not.

  13. Looks like suppressive fire, anti-Shia style.

    Maybe the same highly trained unit as this one:

    If there is an operating operator who can opine, I hope these US trainers weren’t the same who trained the guys in Jordan, who turned sides and became Al-Nusra, a couple years back. Seems like we aren’t really prepared to understand who is who in the zoo over there.

    A few bulk c-130 bulk loadouts of AK47s, PKMs, and the ammo to go with them, delivered to Kurdish territory would be a better investment than those poodle shooters, no?

        • Problem is they aren’t super willing to fight outside their AO. Not that I blame them. The Iraqis aren’t likely to repay the favor in any way whatsoever


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