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PSDs – Lessons Unlearned

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This article was published a few days ago on The Ramsdell Brief. In it author Eric Parker discusses a four gun battle that occurred in Iraq in 2007 between Baghdad insurgents and contracted PSD (Protective Security Detail) personnel from the US Department of State as well as elements of the US military. In it Parker discusses how mistakes made led to the deaths of five men and the loss of an MD500 Little Bird helicopter.

It is an excellent cautionary tale that can be applied to more than just PMC operations.

“…On the day of the attack the insurgents struck with and IED explosion on the compound perimeter followed by heavy, accurate small arms fire into the venue. Our SOP was to call for Little Birds to extract the principals. The insurgents knew we would call in our air assets (we had done the same during the previous attack) and were waiting for them. The Little Birds made the same approach they had taken during the last engagement and as they made that approach they started taking heavy machinegun and rifle fire. They immediately started evasive maneuvers but on of the door gunners (Steve “G-Man” Gernet) was hit and killed. His pilot lost control or was shot down – it’s hard to say to this day but we had a bird down and teams in heavy contact…

…We launched our QRF which consisted of the duty Tactical Support Teams and a Counter Assault Team. We started taking small arms fire as soon as we cleared the Tigress River Bridge but we continued to move to the crash site in hopes of finding survivors. A Stryker unit got there first rolling up on the crash site to find Iraqi’s trying carting the bodies of some of our guys in wheelbarrows. When they saw the army they dropped the bodies and ran. We didn’t know they were out there until they jumped on the State Department Tac 1 push with a grid location of the downed aircraft. The QRF converged on the location

Helo DownThe Little Bird had crashed onto the the roof on one of the building the insurgents had ambushed us from. As soon as we arrived my fire team moved directly to the downed bird. We did not know the army had secured our KIA’s [sic] and were looking for them. The soldiers guided us to our fallen comrades; they had found five of them both outside and inside the building and some of them had been stripped…

…We lost five good men that day executing a mission that many of us were to be a bad idea. We do threat reporting for a reason and that is to protect the lives of our clients and our fellow operators. We learned that day there is a line we needed to establish with our client and not cross. There are American PSC’s doing the same mission in different countries now and more will be needed soon. If you are one of the cats joining these gigs remember to listen to and seriously evaluated your threat reporting. War game it based on current and potential future threat tactics and remember the lessons of the past. The job is risky enough without compounding risks by failing to appreciate what your threat reporting is telling you…”

If you'd like to read the story in its entirety you can do so right here.

Hat tip to Feral Jundi.

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