19 December 2009

Show of Force

Some thoughts on the use of 'show of force' patrols in the current operations.

On the night before we started moving in concrete barriers to reinforce polling stations in preparation for the vote on the Constitution, our entire company drove around the city for 30 minutes in platoon sized patrols for three reasons: clear the routes in preparation for lightly armored vehicles that would enter the city the next day, retrieve covert 3-man OPs that were arrayed around the city and replace them with others, and a large show of force to reinforce the perception that security would be significantly ramped up during the vote.

Routes for each platoon were selected in such a way so if you were sitting in your house, anywhere in the city, you heard loud tracked vehicles rumbling around in seemingly in every which direction. One technique that we used for insertion/extraction of OPs was for a platoon to do a short halt, dismount all of the squads, and flood the area with so many Soldiers that the people couldn't keep track. In the choas, one team would extract and another would insert in a different location and nobody would notice - they'd just see Soldiers swarming in every which direction and then leave. After all insertions/extractions, patrols were timed to link up near the main supply route into our city and move as a company back to the patrol base.

Almost everyone in the city saw and heard significant activity for 30 minutes and could only guess at what was going on, as it was pitch dark. Many witnessed the dismounted choas during OP swap-outs and, again, could only guess. Most of the city was within earshot of tracked vehicles rumbling down the main route into the city and, again, could only guess what on Earth so many vehicles were doing entering the city.

Afterwards, each of our OPs gave several reports of "people acting weird" as curfew was lifted and cars full of "military-aged males" leaving the city. IEDs, mortars, and half-assed SA/RPG ambushes were a near daily occurrence, but we didn't have any IEDs or contact for 5 days, which was fine with us while we escorted thin-skinned vehicles and non-combat arms Soldiers throughout the city for the next week.

It's not 100% conclusive, but if there was no causal relationship, then it was one hell of a coincidence.

By: Brant

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