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In desperation, military suggests foot patrols can be safer than Humvees, tanks
Published: Friday June 22, 2007
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Top US commanders in Iraq have been encouraging soldiers in Baghdad to "get out and walk."

In fact -- they've been using those very words. According to Friday's LA Times, a counterinsurgency guidance memo "released last week by Army Lt. Gen Raymond T. Odierno, the commander of day-to-day military operations, urges Iraqi and American troops to 'get out and walk.'

"I would rather go out without any armor or gear," one soldier told the Times. "If an EFP hits the vehicle, you are dead anyway no matter how much armor you have. It can take out an Abrams tank; these 1114 [armored Humvees] are nothing."

The paper notes that the memo argues that although Humvees offer protection, "they also make units predictable and 'insulate us from the Iraqi people we intend to secure.'"

More to the point, according to soldiers interviewed for the article, walking is safer: "U.S. troops working the streets of the capital fear one Iraqi weapon more than others -- a copper-plated explosive that can penetrate armor and has proved devastating to Humvees and even capable of severely damaging tanks," writes the LA Times Julian Barnes.

"The power of what the military calls an EFP -- for explosively formed penetrator, or projectile -- to spray molten metal balls that punch through the armor on vehicles has some American troops rethinking their tactics," Barnes adds. "They are asking whether the U.S. should give up its reliance on making constant improvements to vehicle defenses."

The original draft of the memo, acquired by the Times, "notes that EFP attacks on Humvees damage them heavily. "Instead, these troops think, it is time to leave the armor behind, and get out and walk."

"Foot patrols, of course, are not a fail-safe method," Barnes adds. "On city streets, snipers remain a threat. And bombs can still kill dismounted troops. But when blasts occur in the middle of a foot patrol, the number of casualties are generally lower because the troops are more spread out."

Read the full article here.