Infantry: Shake a Leg To Save Your Life


June 21, 2007: Roadside bombs in Iraq now cause over 70 percent of the U.S. casualties. Moreover, most of the bomb casualties now are combat troops, not the guys and gals who run the supply convoys up from Kuwait, and to dozens of bases in Iraq. Those routes are close watched and well patrolled. The danger comes when combat troops move into a n new area and have to patrol a lot of roads that are not closely watched for people setting up bombs. Not only are there more bombs to be encountered in these areas, but the troops naturally spend more time looking for them as they drive around on patrol. They should be looking for the bad guys and suspicious activity, but self-defense must come first.

To lower the bomb threat, many infantry commanders are resorting to an ancient practice; walking. This eliminates nearly all contact with roadside bombs. Troops can't always accomplish their missions on foot, but many jobs can be done that way. If a raid is on a location a kilometer or so from the base, walking is no problem. Many such raids are usually carried out early in the morning, in order to take the suspects by surprise. Going in by foot in these situations is not a problem.

Another major activity, patrolling, is usually done in the vicinity of the base. You can see a lot more on foot, and have more opportunities to get information from the locals (who are increasingly willing to give it.) Even with all the heat, the troops appreciate the opportunity to amble about. Normally, the only work done on foot is frantic scrambling in combat, after dismounting from an armored vehicle. But whether the troops like to hike cross country or not, they all quickly come to appreciate the decline in roadside bomb casualties, or the anxiety that one may be just down the road.




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