Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Iraqi SWAT training

"These guys are funny that way. Sometimes they act like 15 year olds in a 30 year body. "

"How do you mean?"

"Well, take for instance yesterday on the range. I was walking down the line looking at groupings and commenting 'tight group, or good job on that one' you know, that sort of thing." He says "And this one guy, see the one with the tan cammo t-shirt and cap? Anyway, he gets all defensive on me and basically says 'what about mine! Very nice, no? I am good shot!' So I had to make sure they all got complimented."

The Iraqi police recruit that felt left out was former Republican Guard, so he certainly has a reputation to protect. I somewhat empathize. I was talking to one of the special forces guys at the weapons range. Some medical personnel from the surgical team spent the afternoon providing medical coverage for the SF instructors as they took Iraqi police recruits through tactical weapons training.

As Ramadi continues to improve on security, it was felt that now is the time to give the police force extra training. The Ramadi police colonel was asked to go around the different substations and find his 'best' men to begin training for a possible Iraqi SWAT team. I spent the day out there with them as the trainers put them through the paces.
This afternoon was sort of a mixed bag: on one hand, I am witnessing the future of a Country. The success and our ability to eventually draw down our forces here hinges on their progress. And I saw some bright spots: a few with good range and weapon discipline. Of course, this is my own little microcosm of perspective. However, I also confess we have a ways to go. Waving your rifle around as you load a full magazine wasn't instilling any confidence, and I found myself creeping behind the Humvee at times. The penchant to shoot 'Rambo' style from the hip was eyebrow raising. They ended the afternoon shooting their U.S. Govt. issued Glock19s, some employing the SnoopDog 'wanksta' style of shooting, aka palm down. Although amusing, that got a few head shakes, too.

Also got an opportunity to shoot the AK-47 and a few other weapons in the special forces platoon. The rifle on the left is the M107. This is a .50 caliber long range scoped sniper rifle. The rifle on the right is a MK48 machine gun. Both were powerful weapons, but the M107 is the most powerful and largest rifle in the military's arsenal. Effective target range is 1400-2000 meters. Impressive. This weapon is said to have devastating 'target effect'; read: what it hits tends to disintegrate. It is also considered to be a 'target multiplier'; read: impact of the round destroys multiple targets that lie in close proximity. In other words, if you aim this at personnel, you wouldn't want to be the guy standing next to him either. Order of operations for the M107:
  • SF trainer sets the scope sight for an ammo can 500 yards away
  • He describes how to load, where the safety is, and how we have to keep our face at least 6" from the scope if we want to keep our nose intact; I break out of a heat coma as he immediately commands my full attention with that comment
  • Furthermore, we have to have our bodies lined directly behind the weapon to absorb the kick, and we don't want any skin or our face anywhere near the ejection port; people have lost their eyesight
  • I no longer want to go first, so I slowly creep behind Mark
  • Mark goes first, and not only survives but says "Holy blank, you gotta try this"
  • My turn: I load my round and begin to sight in the ammo can. I constantly remind myself that I have to breathe, too
  • I get sight alignment / sight picture and slowly squeeze the trigger wondering if I can still fly patients with a disarticulated shoulder
  • The first round goes off, and my world just went dark. I am aware of my surroundings again after a short 3 seconds
  • I fire three rounds total, stagger to my feet, and get a few chuckles as I stumble back with a sheepish grin from ear to ear
  • The ringing in my ears and the feeling like I'm talking in a tin can only lasts a few hours
  • Worth it.........


Bag Blog said...

"15 year olds in 30 year old bodies"

Your pics and story reminded me of when my kids were in 4H riflery. Older boys - bigger toys.

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/14/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Lisa-in-DC said...

Huh. Another reason I'll leave the weapons to those who know what the heck they're doing!

From another Soldiers' Angel enjoying your blog :-)

karin in tx said...

Hmm...having a secret affinity for target practice I can see where that would be the ultimate high...of course I do agree with Bag Blog---older boys-bigger toys-lol!!!

Bonnie said...

You fired a Barrett M107??? You should see what it can do to a concrete block wall. WOW! Designed and developed by a good ole Southern boy in Tennessee. Rednecks know weapons. :)

Todd said...

That is no potatoe gun. Sounds like a blast.. Glad you are able to have a little fun time...