Air conditioned flack jackets and X-ray vision glasses

Secret Weapons That Work (Jan 23 2004 post)

Strategy Page has a great post about the strategies and tactics of the ongoing fighting in and around Baghdad. Go read it.

One part discusses how American troops are wiser and more capable of dealing with Iraqis than the media usually suggests:

There was some culture shock, but not as much as you think, for American troops have been training in Kuwait, and dealing with Kuwaitis for over a decade. So when the Iraqi preference for outrageous rumors (that American troops wore air conditioned flak jackets and sunglasses that gave them X-ray vision, Etc.) got in the way of collecting information, many troops just agreed with the Iraqis and implied that there were even more fantastic devices being used, so resistance was useless.

It seems to be working. And it reminds me of something I read in The March Up recently. I don’t have the book anymore, and I don’t remember where this happened, but the story was related that a Marine tank pulled up to the edge of a crowded market square in some Iraqi city. I think the tank was ahead of the rest of the unit, and as it sat there waiting, the gunner noticed a guy running across the square with an RPG or an AK-47. A short burst from the coaxial machinegun took the guy down and scattered the crowd. It didn’t take long for the crowd to return to the market, though. Some Iraqis took the body away.

Soon, another armed Iraqi tried to cross the square. Again, a quick burst from the machine gun took him down. This time the crowd flinched but didn’t flee, and the body of the dead fighter was again removed in a matter-of-fact manner. Later, another armed man ran across, and again the gunner took him out. This time, though, the crowd more or less carried on as if nothing had happened.

Later, when the city was secured and the strange story was told to superiors, someone looked into it. When asked why they didn’t flee the square after those men had been shot down, the Iraqis just shrugged and said “The Americans only kill the fedayeen. We’re not fedayeen, so we’re safe.”