A force of 40 or 50 insurgents successfully ambushed the convoy the MPs were providing security for a week ago. The ‘Minutemen’ were heavily armed with RPGs and automatic weapons. When the MPs moved between the convoy and the attackers, more insurgents opened fire from behind them. Textbook. The insurgents had the MPs right where they wanted them.
Then the Kentucky National Guard let loose.
When it was over, 27 of the attackers were dead, several more captured, and the rest scattered.
Not too shabby for National Guard MPs. Not too shabby at all.
Three of the MPs were wounded, two of them seriously.
These weapons and more were recovered. The caption reads
Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, from Bowling Green, Ky., a team leader with 4th Platoon, 617th Military Police Company, 503rd Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, stands in front of a captured weapons cache after her squad repelled an insurgent attack on a coalition supply convoy southeast of Baghdad on Sunday.
Women are barred from combat units, but, as we’ve seen, even if the unit doesn’t go to combat the combat sooner or later comes to the unit.
This incident was almost immediately overshadowed by the raid on a Tikrit insurgent base two days later in which 80 insurgents were killed, but it’s important that we don’t overlook the fact that US National Guard forces not only carried the day against a successful, determined ambush, but they pitched a shutout. (Pic found at Frontline Photos (3/25/05)).
UPDATE: Strategy Page has a first draft of the After Action Report for this engagement. It is a must-read. Here are some excerpts:
On Sunday afternoon, in a very bad section of scrub-land called Salman Pak, on the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad, 40 to 50 heavily-armed Iraqi insurgents attacked a convoy of 30 civilian tractor trailer trucks that were moving supplies for the coalition forces, along an Alternate Supply Route. These tractor trailers, driven by third country nationals (primarily Turkish), were escorted by 3 armored Hummers from the COSCOM (Corps Support Command, which takes care of supply). When the insurgents attacked, one of the Hummers was in their kill zone and the three soldiers aboard were immediately wounded, and the platform taken under heavy machinegun and RPG fire.
Along with them, three of the truck drivers were killed, 6 were wounded in the tractor trailer trucks. The enemy attacked from a farmer’s barren field next to the road, with a tree line perpendicular to the ASR (Alternate Supply Route, one of the main roads used for supply convoys), two dry irrigation ditches forming a rough L-shaped trenchline, and a house standing off the dirt road. After three minutes of sustained fire, a squad of enemy moved forward toward the disabled and suppressed trucks. Each of the enemy had hand-cuffs and were looking to take hostages for ransom or worse, to take those three wounded US soldiers for more internet beheadings.
News reports I read previously made no mention of wounded COSCOM troops or killed/wounded third-country nationals. These three wounded soldiers are not the same three noted in the news stories.
The MP Squad (Raven 42) had been trailing the convoy at a slight distance. When the convoy came under attack, they “arrived on the scene like the cavalry”.
They arrived on the scene just as a squad of about ten enemy had moved forward across the farmer’s field and were about 20 meters from the road. The MP squad opened fire with .50 cal machineguns and Mk19 grenade launchers and drove across the front of the enemy’s kill zone, between the enemy and the trucks, drawing fire off of the tractor trailers.
The MP’s crossed the kill zone and then turned up an access road at a right angle to the ASR and next to the field full of enemy fighters. The three vehicles, carrying nine MPs and one medic, stopped in a line on the dirt access road and flanked the enemy positions with plunging fire from the .50 cal and the SAW machinegun (Squad Automatic Weapon). In front of them, was a line of seven sedans, with all their doors and trunk lids open, the getaway cars and the lone two story house off on their left.
One of the MPs Humvees was hit by an PRG, knocking the .50 machine gunner unconscious. After this hit, the men in the Humvee immediately behind dismounted but were all wounded by machine gun fire. The soldiers in the hit Humvee see this and dismount. The .50 gunner comes to and gets back into the fight in a serious way, taking down a number of insurgents in the trench.
One of the soldiers who dismounted from the hit Humvee was described as a
team leader Sergeant with her M4 and M203 grenade launcher
This could very likely be the team leader in the photo. She
runs low on ammo and runs back to a vehicle to reload. She moves to her squad leader’s vehicle, and because this squad is led so well, she knows exactly where to reach her arm blindly into a different vehicle to find ammo-because each vehicle is packed exactly the same, with discipline.
As she turns to move back to the trenchline, Gunner in two sees an AIF (enemy- Anti-Iraq Forces) jump from behind one of the cars and start firing on the Sergeant. He pulls his 9mm, because the .50 cal is pointed in the other direction, and shoots five rounds wounding him. The sergeant moves back to the trenchline under fire from the back of the field, with fresh mags, two more grenades, and three more M203 rounds. The Mk 19 gunner suppresses the rear of the field.
Now, rejoined with the squad leader, the two sergeants continue clearing the enemy from the trenchline, until they see no more movement. A lone man with an RPG launcher on his shoulder steps from behind a tree and prepares to fire on the three Hummers and is killed with a single aimed SAW shot thru the head by the previously knocked out gunner on platform two, who now has a SAW out to supplement the .50 cal in the mount.
The team leader sergeant–she claims four killed by aimed M4 shots.
The Squad Leader–he threw four grenades taking out at least two AIF, and attributes one other to her aimed M203 fire.
Not bad…for a girl.
The gunner on platform two, previously knocked out from a hit by the RPG, has now swung his .50 cal around and, realizing that the line of vehicles represents a hazard and possible getaway for the bad guys, starts shooting the .50cal into the engine blocks until his field of fire is limited. He realizes that his vehicle is still running despite the RPG hit, and drops down from his weapon, into the drivers seat and moves the vehicle forward on two flat tires about 100 meters into a better firing position. Just then, the vehicle dies, oil spraying everywhere. He remounts his .50 cal and continues shooting the remaining of the seven cars lined up and ready for a get-away that wasn’t to happen.
That’s quite a day at the office.
Although I’ve excerpted quite a bit, you really should go read the rest. It includes a medic using an AT4 anti-tank rocket to take out a sniper who was threatening the wounded men the medic was treating. Why would a medic know how to use an AT4? Because he had been “forced” to familiarize himself with it the day before even though everyone knew he’d never use one. And another complaint about the shitty M9 pistol.
Remember, these are not only Military Police (not infantry) but they’re Kentucky National Guard citizen soldiers (not active Army). How’s that for getting the job done?
Really, go read the whole thing.