8.21.2004

Ambush tactics

A story is out concerning the criticisms the Bush campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans are having with Kerry's war record. In it, another swift boat commander who was on the infamous Kerry mission, William Rood, finally speaks out against the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks and basically backs up Kerry.

I'm not a Kerry supporter but it's obvious most of their activities are funded by the Bush campaign and are filled with lies and half truths. Their own statements often contradict each other. I remember one of these vets claiming Kerry didn't deserve a particular medal because nothing really happened on the mission he earned it for. Only thing is, that same guy got a medal of his own for that mission.

But I just want to clear up one lie that I found interesting in the article:
Before this day's mission, though, Kerry, the tactical commander of the mission, discussed with Rood and Droz a change in response to the anticipated ambushes: If possible, turn into the fire once it is identified and attack the ambushers, Rood recalled Kerry saying. The boats followed that new tactic with great success, Rood said, and the mission was highly praised.

In the book "Unfit for Command," Kerry's critics maintained otherwise. The book's authors, John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, wrote that Kerry's attack on the Viet Cong ambush displayed "stupidity, not courage." The book was published by Regnery, a conservative publisher that has brought into print many books critical of Democratic politicians and policies.
I have heard this "Kerry was a reckless commander" line of reasoning before. If you are still wondering if the vets attacking Kerry are telling the truth you need look no further than this simple point about ambushes. This is actually an excellent tactic that was pioneered by many units during Vietnam.

The Vietnamese would often count on units trying to get away from the ambush and would have something waiting for when they did. Infantry units who came under fire from the right side, for example, would often dive for cover on the left only to land in punji pits or be blown apart by mines or the dreaded Chi-com claymores.

I don't know much about swift boat tactics, but the Navy SEALs and Green Berets found that the best way to respond to ambushes was by bringing maximum firepower to the ambushers and charging them with all they had. This gets the unit out of the kill zone, keeps them away from any nasty surprises, gives them the initiative and shocks the ambushers. Often an ambush which should have slaughtered the US forces would turn into a total rout for the Vietnamese. It is no surprise seeing Rood say that the tactic was followed with great success.

Brown water units such as swift boats would often come under a small amount of fire only to turn around and drive their boats right past the main enemy force while trying to get away. The best response would be to turn into it and obliterate the enemy. This gives the enemy a smaller target (and I assume what little armor those boats had was up front) and gives the boat the ability to bring the heaviest weapons to bear on the target.

I tend to think Kerry is an asshole, but in this case the Swift Boat Veterans for the 'Truth' are lying and if Kerry did propose that tactic he was thinking along the same lines as some of the country's most elite soldiers of the day. I could criticize Kerry for many things but his service in Vietnam is not one of them and I can't stand when our draft-dodging, did-the-minimum president questions real veterans (McCain, Max Cleland, Kerry, etc).



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