Interesting read that was forwarded to me by one of my Marine buddies. Relayed from a MEF'er 1st. Sgt. (Marine Expeditionary Force) now en route to CONUS....... thought you might enjoy its content; in particular, pay attention to the sheer intellect, powers of observation, and talent for prioritization of the really important things on the part of the reporting NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) . What a guy.... a C.O. w/ him on his staff could count his blessings! Too many acronyms to explain them all - figure them out. After Action Report from IRAQ (unit level) A note from a First Sergeant with a Battalion that just pulled out of Iraq and is sailing home after 10 months at Sea and Iraq as part of a MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) . Should be mandatory reading for every NCO, SNCO, and Officer in the Army and Marine Corps. I had earlier asked the First Sergeant to make me a list of what he thought were the most critical AAR items immediately upon his returrn to the ship. Dammed fine piece of work. Definitely an infantrymans perspective written less than 48 hours after leaving Iraq. Sir, without making a big formal list at this time. Start a sleep plan before you go ashore and ensure your Marines sleep. No vehicle accidents because we made Marines sleep. SAPIE Plates in the flacks. Yes they are heavy but worked. Forced hydration works. "Stand to" morning and evening no matter what. Plan around these events if you can. MOLLIE LBV is crap. We put all of our gear on the flak jacket. Know how to read and do everything off a 1:100,000 map or even LAT Long. GPS does work. Use check points. We made maps of towns and routes by hand. Several NAMs going to LCpl's who drew copies of maps and routes at all hours. Great work! Field Hygiene. Marines got sick. Some pretty bad. Look at your Marines daily if you can. Ask questions. Marines will not tell you they are sick until they go down hard. They are a proud bunch. Know first aid. Make it a top training event. Get medical supplies and put them in each vehicle. We used a ammo can with pressure dressings and IV's. Teach your Marines how to give IV's. Logsistics drove operations. Ask the 4 before you do any event. We made some long moves, as long as 15 hours on the road at a time. Plan your supplies. Fuel was the key more than water. There is always room for some chow. NVG's work. Use them. All night devices worked great. Battieries can be an issue. Plan! A combat load is heavy on the Marines and the vehicles. Take only what you need. Always plan fire support. We held a major road intersection in the middle of nowhere. We used Mortars as security and out of the blue we needed Mortar fire. Plan for it. Lay guns in all four directions for 360 coverage. Plan on call targets. Plan for and use illum. Training in combat? You bet. Talk throught it, walk throught it. Use sticks and rocks. Get the Cpl up there to brief what is going on. He knows more than most. Immediate action drills for everything. MOPP gear is hot. Plan for it. Marines wore nothing under the MOPP gear to stay cool. Do NBC drills. Do NBC drills while driving. Study Convoy operations. If you have CAAT, JAV, or LAR put them in charge and have them run the convoy. You may be senior but they know how to do this and this lets commanders worry about the bigger picture. Brief your convoys. Never "just drive away". Give each vehicle a number, from 1 to the very end. Some convoys were big. We went from 1 to 75. Know the senior man in each vehicle. Know what is in you convoy. An avenger has FLIR. Use everything to your advantage. Forget call signs. Use the vehicle numbers. It worked! Plan to have no air on station. We had none. Plan for 81's hip shoots. Plan for a react force for any major event. Have that reserve ready. We used it several times. CAAT, LAR, JAV, even 5 trucks of HQ type guys with SAWS is better than nothing. Plan for vehicle recovery and brief it. Get more tow bars. Use tow straps. Spread you MT Mechs all over the BLT. These guys saved us everyday. Know how to re-trans VHF comm and plan for it. We talked 65k with it. Know HF and use it. PM everything as time permits. Our vehicles never ran better because the Marines did not want to get stuck on the side of the road. If a vehicel goes down in a convy give them 5 minutes and after that tow it. If several go down plan for mutiple tows. If the situtation is bad, plan to grab mission type gear and radios and blow the vehicle. You can get another vehicle if it prevents a fire fight. Use panel markers, IR Chemlites and STROBES to ID your vehciels and positions. Saves lives. Know how to enter and exit friendly lines on foot and in With and without comm. 3X2 with NVG's works. Use the LEATHENECK to let friendly units know when fire is outgoing. This really applies to mortars. Marines get really jumpy when mortars start going off. EOD is your friend. Don't blow enemy weapons on your own unless you have to. Mark it, get the grid and call EOD. Plan for medivac. On foot, vehicles and air. Don't count on the air. Look for LZ's at all times. Get your Marines mail to them even if it means shooting your way to them with LAV's. They get mail and they will do anything for you. Use the SAT Phone. Forget the cost. Grab a few young Marines when you can and let them call home. That Marine could lead the entire Bn after he talks to his wife after a fire fight. Never baby your Marines. Expect the world from them. Never back off. They want to show you they can do the job. When you think you need a SSgt to do the job, grab a Cpl or Sgt and he will do it better and faster. NCO's run the fight no matter how much you get on the radio. Sit back and listen to them. You might just learn something from them. LAV's rule the desert. Use them if you have them. Big convoy on the hardball? At night? Turn the lights on and go fast as the slowest vehicle. Point a few dozen machineguns outboard and drive like hell. LAV's and 7 tons can do 65 at night on the hardball. Tell you Marines to stay off the roads at night. Convoys will go by on short notice. It's better to be going fast and being able to see than trying to have 75 vehciles going 20 MPH on NVG's. Driving or walking ensure you are looking up, down, left and right at all times. A clean weapon is a happy weapon. Plan for it. Inspect them. Strip everthing off your vehicels that you don't need. Sandbag your vehicles. Carry as much ammo as you can. Strip highback vehicles down. Hang the packs on the sides and get as many rifles pointing left and right as you can. Take the doors off everthing except hardbacks and FAV's. Never let the a-driver attach the handset to his helmet strap. You need to be able to get out of the vehcile fast. Pistols suck. Bring and use every weapon. Shotguns are great at close ranges. Dig holes, dig many of them. Use demo if you have to. Dig down at all cost. Cant dig down? Use as many sanbags as you can to build up. Look at your sectors of fire. This really applies at night. Even if it is only two guys with pistols you need to ensure full coverage. Use snipers. They saved use many times. Give them a mission and let them go. If you have to stop and get out of the vehicles, find or make cover. Vehicles attract bullets. We had no problem with Marines usings lights at night because they did not use them at all. They will learn to do everything in total darkness. Even in combat you need to use ground guides around friendly units. Even if it is an emergency! We had no close calls because of this. Everything you put on a map or write down is classified. Burn it when done. Burn your trash when you leave a pos. Put it all in a fighting hole and put fuel on it and leave. Remember all the call signs. Remember every net ID. Know the call signs and net IDs of higher units. If other units are in the area but not part of your MEU ensure you can talk to them. Go through great pains to do this. It prevents accidents. Kids were everywhere. Don't throw anything out of the vehicles. Bring OC spray, yes even to combat. Works great on dogs, kids and POWS. Know how to do a real vehcile checkpoint. Stand off distance. Wire, obstacles, sandbags, dig holes. We used everything we could get our hands on. We used old cars for cover and used a forklift to move them. Cover your checkpoints with heavy fire. Know what to do if you suspect a IED on a vehicle or person. Marines are now experts at checking vehicles. Know how to search a vehicle and people day and night. Get the chaplin to your pos even if you have to fight your way to him. We did Easter service after stand to at 0300Z. Ensure you brief any attachments on everything that is going on. Nothing is too small to forget. Assign them holes. No one has too much rank to dig. Plan for where you put your heads. It's a big deal with over 200 Marines in a matter of hours. Talk to any units in the area. Ask questions. You will learn so much from them. Talk to the Army. They do good things also. A can of dip, cigar, pack of smokes and a hand shake go along way. A cup of coffee helps. Make a cup if you can and give half to a young Marine at stand to and he will remember it. Watch your Marines eyes. They tell you everything. Look at your NCO's eyes and you know what is going on. Buy a short waive radio and get the news. Write it down under a poncho at 0200. Get the baseball scores out to the Marines and you are a hero. Have all the e-mail addresses of your Marine's wives. Get to any HHQ and send a blanket e-mail to all of them. It's OK to allow the Marines to take their blouse off if it is hot. Their skins gets tough really fast. If it's really hot they can go around without blousing their boots. Don't worry SgtMaj, they won't do it in the rear. Promote your Marines on time if you can. We promoted a Marine in 81's to Merit SSgt in the field a few hours after a fire fight. Can't begin to put a price on that. If nothing is going on make the junior Marines sleep and you watch the radios for a few hours. Every Marine is a driver and should have a license. In Weapons Company, that needs to be every Marine from the CO down. Know what a "short count" is and demand you use them. Ensure your Marines write letters on anything they can get their hands on. MRE boxes work great. I put a ammo can on my vehcile for outgoing mail. Get the mail out. There is always a way. Pass if off to other units if you have to. Find a helo and give him your mail. Give him a can of dip to do it for you. Know how to do a range card on a piece of MRE box. Use the GVS-5. We got a distance to everything. Get the word out. If you stop to fix a vehicle close to a town, get the distance to a few points and get the word out. You will hear Marines making adjustments on their sights. Only hits count. Know how to esitmate range day and night.