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CALL Newsletter 04-13
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Chapter 2: Civil Military Operations - Civil Affairs
Topic D: MTOE Issues

Observation Synopsis

CA elements were faced with equipment challenges in the areas of communications, weaponry, and mobility.

Force protection requirements in most theater areas dictated that convoys possess at least two crew-served weapons. Not all CA direct support teams possessed a crew-served weapon. By MTOE, general purpose CA battalions are authorized only four M249s in total. Early in the operation, resourceful CA units obtained the consent of maneuver commanders to use confiscated or captured foreign weapons, specifically the AKMS and the AK-47. These weapons provided greater firepower in relation to M9s and M16s. CA commanders and team members believe personnel must be trained on the safe handling, operation and maintenance of these weapons. The weapons and ammunition are easy to obtain from the BCT for training on ranges. CA elements had to rely on crew-served weapons to be provided by the supported unit until additional M249s were shipped to theater from the Continental United States (CONUS). Until CA Soldiers could be familiarized with the weapon system, the handover of an M249 was inadequate. Supported units had to also provide gunners.

The suite of communication equipment provided to CA elements also proved inadequate. Specifically, only one multi-ban intra-team radio (MBITR) was issued per team. This arrangement prevented a team that was split between two vehicles from communicating since not all vehicles were outfitted with the single channel ground to air radio system (SINCGARS). Many CA teams relied on commercially-bought, unsecure two-way radios. The need for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, given the threat to direct fire ambush and improvised explosive device (IED), cannot be overstated. Equally imperative was the need for the CA element participating in a meeting to communicate with the CA element elsewhere in the building or outside with the vehicles.

The harm to both personnel and equipment from IED is greatly reduced when traveling in an up-armored HMMWV. The need for increased vehicle protection is a Coalition-wide concern. CA units in theater had their soft-skinned vehicles hardened. Steel doors and steel walls for the troop beds were retrofitted onto HMMWVs (Figure 1). The steel enclosures on the rear were designed with an open area at the rear base to allow for grenades to be kicked out (Figure 2). The availability and use of up-armored HMMWVs would significantly improve CA team force protection.

Figure 1. 4-seat HMMWV (side view)
Figure 1. 4-seat HMMWV (side view)

Figure 2. 4-seat HMMWV (rear view)
Figure 2. 4-seat HMMWV (rear view)

The M16A2 rifle had multiple disadvantages when carried and used by CA personnel. As a full length battle rifle, the M16 is seen as an offensive weapon by the civilians, non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel, and CPA personnel with whom the CA teams work in meetings and in street contacts. This often sends an unintended and undesired hostile message from the teams. In contrast, an M4, with its more compact size, is likelier to be viewed as a more defensive weapon and less intimidating. When the M16 is used in convoy defense from a HMMWV, it is difficult to move and aim within the confines of a vehicle. Likewise, in a dismounted scenario, the long profile of the weapon does not allow it to be rapidly rotated forward from a slung position.

Lessons Learned

  • The minimal number of crew-served weapons in CA units creates a force protection drawback. Soldiers need to be trained and familiar with the M249 SAW.
  • CA units lack enough intra-team radios.
  • The threat to personnel in light-skinned vehicles is great. Enhanced armored vehicles provided CA Soldiers increased protection.
  • The M4 carbine offers many advantages in comparison to the M16 rifle for the CA Soldier.

Table of Supporting Observations

Observation Title CALLCOMS
File Number
CA teams were under-equipped 10000-78432

Table of Contents
Chapter 2-Topic C: Cultural Issues in Iraq
Chapter 3: Engineer

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