Real Ambush Video & Comments

I am posting this video because it illustrates a lot of points. I remember this happening back when I was working in Baghdad, and I saw the after action review at the time. My intent is not to criticize the actions of the team, but to make constructive comments.

Ambush Video

Now, I will state here that ‘it is not the critic that counts, but the man in the arena with blood on his face’. It is not my intent to criticise the actions of this team, but to use the video to make some constructive training points. It is also my understanding the one of the team members, James Yeager, has his own Internet presence and has been criticized for his actions by moving off the ‘X’ to the median. However, as I state below, it appears that team cohesive drills were lacking so individuals would have reacted both as that, individuals, and also as per their training and experience. It is hard to criticise: 

It is my understanding that this team was not well knitted and had not really been trained or rehearsed together in drills. They were heading from the Green Zone to the Airport (BIAP) along Route Irish, which is the BIAP road and extremely high threat. They had been forced to stop in the road because a US route clearance team was clearing an IED ahead of them, and behind them was the mass of Iraqi traffic that they had flagged and warned off to stay 100 meters away. They had adopted the staggered formation and were just discussing on the radio (the audio is very important on the clip) the idea of backing up and getting out of there because they were so exposed. At that point they were engaged with small arms fire from buildings about 100 meters to the side of the road to the right of the camera. The enemy was possibly two machine gunners with PKMs, which are the Soviet Bloc equivalent of an M60 or 240B, firing 7.62 x 51mm rounds (or .308 civilian equivalents).

The team does not appear to have any consolidated or rehearsed drills, with various members doing different things. Note the one who reacts by moving away from the vehicles into the cover of the median to the left, while others take cover behind the vehicles. I believe that only one of the vehicles was armored, the center one. Apparently they thought that at least one of their vehicles was immobilized on the “X” (kill zone), but it appears that one of the drivers may have placed the vehicle in neutral, got no response when he hit the gas, and thought his car was immobilized. This is a reaction due to adrenalin and tunnel vision in such a situation. The armor of the center vehicle may be why the passenger on the right of the center vehicle opens the door to return fire, thinks better of it, and closes it again.

You can hear on the audio that driver of the camera car is hit in the femoral and he actually bleeds out and dies. This could potentially have been prevented by the use of a tourniquet “high and tight”. He is at one point dragged out of the car by the guy you can see at the camera vehicle. The camera is knocked off aim and you can hear the US Army troops who have arrived to assist talking and asking about a white car that has pulled forward from the Iraqi traffic to the rear.

Unfortunately, they sat out in the open for too long and were engaged with a small arms fire ambush. Their vehicles were not actually immobilized but some of them thought they were, and others perhaps because they were static reacted by getting out and returning fire. So they did not conduct vehicle break contact drills and they remained on the X. Once dismounted, with the exception of the one guy who moves right to left off to the median, they stay in place, perhaps waiting for the support of the US Army (one guy waves to them from the center vehicle). They do have casualties and tend to them beside the vehicle rather than breaking contact and dragging and carrying the casualties away into better cover. There are many things that they could have done, but without being a rehearsed and tight knit team that were not coordinated enough to do them at that time. Luckily, military support was close by. Given that their vehicles were not immobilized they would have been better mounting up and extracting, getting the casualties to the hospital as soon as possible.

The video gives some idea of the effect and sound of a small arms ambush into a roadway and vehicles.