An anonymous person left the following comment in relation to Dick and Jon’s analysis of casualties in Fallujah. Such a lengthy comment has been rewarded with being posted – it adds to the debate at least.
Say you’re on the street in fallujah and a man of about 60 comes out with an AK-47 and begins shooting at you. You shoot him in the chest twice and he dies or is dying. What are you trained to do? You need to secure that corpse if you can get to him. So what do you do? You move up to his position, take the AK-47 and search him for intelligence. You are not trained to leave the weapon with him, at worst you take the ammunition and dispense of it and leave the weapon, but you’re not supposed to leave his weapon. Later on, with this 60 year old corpse laying in the street is hauled to the local hospital where it quickly becomes apparent that he is a civilian because he obviously didn’t have a weapon on him.
Unfortunately these people use kids and other young extremists as well. If you’re a marine and a 15 year old with an AK is firing at you, unfortunately you are in the situation where you must kill the 15 year old. Say you shoot him in the leg and he lives and your marine unit withdraws, the 15 year olds unit leader takes his AK and drops him off at the hospital, he is now one of the children that the big and ugly marines shot at. I’ve heard of this happening to kids even as young as 10 or 11 years old.
My points are this:
First, These people (Iraqi supporters of this battle) are not going to leave weapons and ammunition with the corpses, that would be a waste of very valuable resources and it adds to the illusion that our boys are running around fallujah like rednecks popping off civilians.
Second, Fighting age is entirely subjective in this climate. Just because someone is younger than 18 years of age doesn’t mean that he or she couldn’t pick up a weapon and kill marines. However, it does mean that once the marines terminate that individual, that his weapon will be removed from the corpse and he will be dropped at the hospital where he conviently becomes a mere child thus inflating the number of civilian casualties that observers (who didn’t observe the 15 year old firing the AK)are looking at.
Third, Old Iraqi women do not know what US Marine Snipers are. They don’t know the difference between 7.62 Nato Rounds, 5.56 Nato rounds, and 7.62 x 39 rounds are. They aren’t qualified to say who hit them with what. Iraqis firing off rounds from the hip (as every Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran says they shoot) are more likely to cause civilian and friendly fire casualties than a MARINE INFANTRY unit who are all qualified to 300 meters (barring the snipers who can hit targets as far as a mile depending on weapon).
Fourth, I would venture to say that the Spectre Gunships and bombing causes more civilian casualties than the marines on the ground. Think of the Gunships as a Steak knife and the Marine Infantry Regiment as a scalpel.
I am not a marine but I am in the Army and can tell you these things based off interviews with some of the veterans. I also felt compelled to talk a bit about the Insurgent strategy.