Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Speaking of Combat Films

Through an arrangement with Combat Films & Research (see previous post), eDefense Online will be posting video shorts of interest to our readers. The outfit is run by a man with the appropriate name of Dodge Billingsley. He founded Combat Films in 1997 and since then has covered conflicts around the world. His new film, Close Combat Attack -- Operation Anaconda: D-Day describes combat helicopter operations during a key engagement early in the war on terror that should serve as a wake-up call for all militaries so engaged. In fact, apparently the film (in pirated form, unfortunately) has become something of an unofficial training tool for units around the world that use the AH-64 Apache. It's an important, apolitical look at combat helicopter operations in the modern world. Dodge also wrote a feature story on Operation Anaconda for eDefense Online entitled Choppers in the Coils.

Dodge is publishing a Combat Films blog called The TOC that is worth your time. Unlike many commentators on war, Dodge actually goes out into the field, getting his hands dirty and risking his life alongside the troops he covers. Dodge's military eye is keen, his instincts for what is important to soldiers is acute, and his work is respected by armed forces around the world.

Here is an observation Dodge made on IEDs in response to the destruction of a US Marine amphibious armored vehicle in Iraq that killed 15, inluding 14 marines:

Last year while in Mosul, I recall seeing photos of a suicide bomber's attempt to blow up a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle during OIF1. The insurgent's body was everywhere and the only damage to the Bradley was a large red stain of blood. Those types of zealous but ineffective bombings are more and more a thing of the past in Iraq. No doubt attacks like those demonstrated to the insurgents that they would have to come up with alternatives to penetrate the armor that the coalition possessed. For awhile at least most of the insurgent IEDs targeted the supply column--vehicles that were not armored or lightly armored and were more likely to be damaged, destroyed, and inflict casualties.

The IED that flipped the Marine AAV, may have diminished the importance of the race to up-armor all the soft skin vehicles operating in Iraq, Humvees and trucks. The Iraqi insurgent's IED capability has escalated to diminish the importance that up-armor may have afforded a humvee or truck eighteen months ago. This isn't to say that up-armor will not help against the casual, crude or misplaced IED, but against the more sophisticated and powerful kinds of bombs increasingly used by insurgents, it will not stave off occasional disaster. The Marine AAV is not the first Infantry Fighting Vehicle to be destroyed by an IED. At least one U.S. Army Bradley infantry fighting vehicle was struck by a "lollipop" IED, with enough force to split it from underneath.

Interesting how the clamor to "up armor" everything has resulted in the insurgents using shaped charges to blow through the armor. For more on US efforts to counter IEDs in Iraq, see Shutting the Bomb Factories.

Go check out The TOC. And if you have a mind to, buy Close Combat Attack.


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