Rockets, IEDs, and Small Arms Fire

Finding the balance

2 July 2005

This morning was full of events. A rocket was fired 100m from our dismounts. They ran away from the location it was fired from. We had to drive around to get near it. As we were chasing them they fired at us with Ak’s. They quickly disappeared into the crowded market.

In just 3 minutes of the rocket launch, we had the bradleys, 2nd platoon, and Viper (AH-64 Apaches) swarming the area. I’m pretty sure this put a little fear in them. The apaches flying circles overhead is rather intense. No luck catching the guys though. Damn!

We left the area, but 2nd platoon and the bradleys stayed in the area. Not long after we left a bradley got hit with an IED. It was completely destroyed! The 2nd platoon dismounts got hit too. Then the battalion commander’s gun truck was hit with an IED!

Rocket attack, small arms fire, and 3 IEDs within a 25-minute window and a 3-block radius. Feels like they baited us in to the area with the initial rocket. Talk about well planned. Except, we didn’t have any major injuries! Only sad part is that we didn’t have any detainees.

I sort of predicted something like this might happen. Just glad we are all okay. Tomorrow we have a company cordon and search, so I need to get some sleep. Night shift sleep schedule is rough. Especially when we have these extra missions.

Got word the CO wants to put together one 4-man recon/sniper team from each platoon. I’m definitely putting my name in the hat for that. I want to take the fight to them, instead of waiting for them to attack us!

~ DC

The after thoughts…

The action was starting to pick up in our sector and we had to step up. Let’s talk about the enemy. They had watched us for a month now and likely saw how ‘friendly’ we were with the Iraqi kids and families. They haven’t had much of a chance to see our fighting side. This day’s attacks were well planned drawing us into the area to hit us with the IEDs. They also had an excellent escape route, blending in to the large crowds in the market. This would be a challenge for us during our entire deployment. Our enemies didn’t wear a uniform and could hide in plain sight.

We set out and built excellent relationships with the local civilians. We got to know each other and we would help them every chance we got. It didn’t take long to see things through the local’s eyes. They were tired of the insurgents, explosions and shooting. Imagine driving to your local store for groceries and having to worry about being blow up or caught in the crossfire.

The more the locals saw and trusted that we were there to help them, the more they would step up and help us. We found this was the best way to ID the insurgents.

At the same time, we were being friendly, we also had to keep our guard up and be ready to step into fighting mode. This balancing act got easier as time went on. I would bring this approach to my role as a campus police officer. Community policing and building relationships were vital while patrolling campus. Yet at any moment you might have to flip the switch into ‘cop mode.’ I can remember having a conversation with some students and 1 minute later I was running after a guy who had a .45.

As the police face, more and more targeted attacks and the community members voice their frustrations, this same balance between building relationships and staying ready to act is vital. It is human nature to raise your guard when you think you are going to be attacked. It’s also natural to pull back or speak out when you feel trust in a relationship has been violated. This poses a big challenge for officers. They must balance staying tactically ready and being purposeful about rebuilding relationships. I know it isn’t easy, but it is possible.

What are some ideas for officers to build stronger relationships with you and your community?

Feel free to drop a comment below and let’s chat.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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