Bad guy weapons:
1) Mostly AK47’s: The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like sh-t. Undisciplined “spray and pray” type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (from Iran, again)
2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogsh-t. The enemy responded to our up-armored Humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys..
3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Jordan ‘s area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155 mm artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone and the explosions are enormous. You’re not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated “shape charges” (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor.
Fact: Most of the ready-made IED’s are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That’s why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges, in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.
Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents show a high level of opiate use.
4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122 mm rockets (with an 18 km range) are becoming more prevalent. One NCO lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage “inside the wire.” A buddy’s base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (it did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul a** in a matter of seconds.
Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let’s just say they know better now.