Saturday, August 09, 2003


Some 1st Brigade soldiers toss out the Army playbook and write their own.
From the perspective of a soldier faced with clearing an Iraqi house, “the minute you walk in, you’re automatically facing a security nightmare,” Norris said.

The reason for that nightmare is architecture: “The houses out here are not set up the way we expected, which was separate rooms with hallways to connect them,” Hale said.

The mock-ups the Army uses at urban terrain training sites mimic an American or European house, “which, when you enter the front door, you’ll have either a staircase or a hall,” said 1st Lt. Greg Lee from Gaithersburg, Md.

But in the Middle East, including Iraq, “you immediately enter into a main room, which may have as many as four doorways leading to other rooms,” said Lee, who was scheduled to take the scout platoon from Hale on Thursday.

Normal MOUT doctrine calls for the most senior soldier in a four-man room-clearing team to be the third man to enter the room.

The reason, Lee explained, is because “the first man in the room is the most likely to catch a bullet in the chest.”

If that person is the team leader, the soldier behind him might naturally hesitate — and almost surely die as well. But because the rooms here are such labyrinths, the scouts have decided they need an experienced leader in first, not third, Norris said.

“You are required here to exercise so much more judgment and restraint that we put a decision-maker in the room first,” Norris said.

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