Haditha Sequence of Events

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 11 months ago

Newsmax has a good writeup entitled New Evidence Emerges in Haditha Case, and yet another good one entitled Pentagon Leaders Distorting Haditha Facts.  Both articles should be studied, and the last one shows that there is (gasp!) a problem in the Pentagon.  Someone there is a turncoat and wants to see the Haditha Marines hung out to dry.  But turning our attention to a different issue, it dawned on me that even a rudimentary sequence of events has not been published by anyone.  There is various prose out there in the MSM, but I thought I would try to boil it down to a more strict “sequence of events” using both the Newsmax links above and the posts in my Haditha Roundup category.  I’ll start the sequence much earlier so that you can get a little bit of the flavor of the Haditha area (see also my posts in the Haditha Roundup category, in which I show how troublesome Haditha was to U.S. forces).

Six Marines become surrounded by insurgents in Haditha arrproximately six months prior to the alledged incident.  These six Marines die.  IEDs, RPGs, and small arms fire from insurgents are part of the daily routine for the Marines in and around the Haditha area.

On November 19, 2005, Staff Sergeant Wuterich’s unit left Firm Base Sparta at 0700 hours on a daily mission to drop off Iraqi army troops at a nearby checkpoint.

At approximately 0715 hours, an IED exploded and severely damaged the last of four Humvees, instantly killing Lance Corporal Terrazas, the driver of the vehicle.

Wuterich stopped the convoy and he and the other Marines got out of the vehicles.

While evaluating the scene, the Marines noticed a white unmarked car carrying four men lingering near the bomb site.  The Marines ordered the men to stop, and rather than stop, the men ran from the scene.  Following SOP, the Marines fired on the men.

Wuterich began briefing the Platoon leader, and AK-47 shots were heard from residences on the south side of the road.  At this point, the squad took defensive positions around the Humvees.

A Corporal with the unit said to Wuterich that he saw the fire coming from a specific house.

Stop sequence of events.  Editorial comment: A Marine fire team consists of four members, including a fire team leader (usually a Lance Corporal, Corporal or Sergeant) who carries an M16A2 with a grenade launcher (the fire team leader is the grenadier).  The main suppressing fire is laid down by the second member, the SAW gunner (Squad Automatic Weapon, or M249).  The other two members carry M16A2s (or M4s if the combat is expected to be primarily MOUT, or Military Operations on Urban Terrain).  In order properly to effect room-clearing procedures, the fire team prepares first by throwing in a fragmentation grenade (unless there are too many rooms such as in Fallujah, in which case the fire team cannot carry enough grenades and is restricted to use of firearms).  After the grenade, the team gets into a formation where each team member is aligned front to back so close that it is called a “stack.”  As I have commented before on The Captain’s Journal, this procedure is designed to save Marine lives and kill the enemy.  Once a room is designated an enemy zone, there is no protocol and no procedure for delineating friend from foe.  In fact, if the Marines redesigned the procedure to attempt to ascertain friend from foe prior to clearing the room, and the enemy learned of this revised procedure, this information would lead to the deaths of many Marines.  Hesitation kills in this procedure.  There is no provision for hesitation, nor can there ever be.  End of editorial comment and return to sequence of events.

Wuterich’s fire team then went to the house from which they had received fire, kicked in the door, and found a door to a room with people rustling behind it.  They kicked in that door, threw in a fragmentation grenade, and followed the grenade by clearing shots (Editorial comment: I am speculating that these shots were from an M249, but I have not seen any report on this.  It is noteworthy that the M16A2 can only fire in three-round bursts, and is not fully automatic).

The Marines noted that the people in the room were men, women and children, but they noticed a back door ajar and believed that the insurgents had slipped to a nearby house.

They moved to this house, kicked the door in, and then used a fragmentation grenade and more fire to clear the room.

Upon noting that they had not found the insurgents, Wuterich ordered the Marines back to the Platoon to reassess the situation.

Finally, K company was ministered to by civilian pastors of one of the Marines in that unit who were on a church-funded missions trip soon after this incident.  This pastor has said that the Marines talked very openly, and made no mention of any guilt over any alleged intentional massacre of civilians.  This fact is likely very significant, although the MSM will not tell it to you.

End of sequence of events.  Since I have a son in the Marines, I have been following this issue closely.  I know that the most undesirable outcome of this whole affair would be a revised set of rules of engagement in which the Marines have to ascertain friend from foe.  In such a condition, there will be many more dead Marines.

Tony Snow said from the White House podium that the entire report would be released.  I am counting on it, and look forward to it with eager anticipation.  When it is, I will read all 1000+ pages of it.  If these Marines are charged, I will dissect, parse, and otherwise rip apart the report and discuss my findings on TCJ.  Pentagon, you are on notice.  Take it under advisement.

You are currently reading "Haditha Sequence of Events", entry #255 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Haditha Roundup and was published September 4th, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

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