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Apache back to Iraq with new tactics

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It is interesting to see the Apache returning to Iraq with the lessons of Vietnam relearned, i.e., the use of rapid maneuver and firing on the move over a battlespace that has hostile, massed ground fire. Just as armor works with mech infantry on the ground, the Apache will work with ground forces as well as with a Kiowa in a hunter-killer team. The Kiowa is a much slower helicopter so one can expect the Iraqis to exploit that differential in sorties outside of urban areas. Still, the duo will be able to operate in a much more autonomous manner than heretofore permitted. Also of note, the lessons learned by Apache helped cancel the Comanche program as it was realized that the newer craft would demand substantial overhaul in order to survive in such an environment. If we learned all those lessons from the Apache in Iraq and Kosovo, it was cheap at the price:

Heading Back to Iraq for Round 2
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
March 1, 2004
New York Times

FOOT HOOD, Tex. — During the American military's push to Baghdad last spring, attack helicopters from the 1-227 Aviation Battalion had one of the war's roughest missions. The unit's AH-64D Apache helicopters were sent deep into Iraqi territory searching for enemy armor only to run into a wall of small-arms and antiaircraft fire.

Of the 30 helicopters that took off on that mission March 23, 2003, largely without benefit of reconnaissance or support from warplanes, virtually all suffered some battle damage and one was shot down, its two pilots captured. That mission proved to be a shock to Army leaders, and the service has been rethinking its helicopter tactics ever since.

Snip

War is a process of constant adaptation… And the Americans have been adjusting. The First Cavalry's commander, Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, has studied British experience in counterinsurgency operations and taken American officers to Austin, Tex., to get a sense of what it is like to try to manage a large city, a skill set that the American troops who captured Baghdad had to learn on the fly.

The 1-227, however, has some unique experience to draw on — its own. While turnover is a fact of life in the military, more than 70 percent of the battalion have participated in the war in Iraq. The unit has also studied recent downings of American helicopters there to develop new tactics that it has practiced on training ranges in the United States.

Gordon Housworth



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