Monday, February 13, 2017

Interesting article: "Royal Marines With LAW Rockets Outfought Argentine Commandos"

       The article from War is Boring recounts a minor May 1982 battle (really, a skirmish) during the Falkland's war: the taking of a Top Molo House. The house, itself, occupied a position that was tactically significant because its vantage point allowed good observation of surrounding terrain, and would provide an early warning of the larger assault on the island. The soldiers in the house could also threaten aircraft with shoulder-fired Blowpipe anti-aircraft missiles.

       Nineteen Royal Marines were sent to take the house from the 16 Argentine soldiers of the 1st Assault Section, 602 Commando Company that occupied the house. The Royal Marines were delivered by helicopter to a location some distance from the target, and advanced on foot. The attack was a standard attack using a fire group to fix the target, and an attack by an assault group from one side. Both sides were fairly evenly matched as far as numbers, and even training and motivation. And reports indicated that the Argentine commandos responded quickly, aggressively, and effectively.

       What carried the day, according to the article, was overall superior firepower by the Royal Marines. The Royal Marines fire group had 6 men armed with bolt-action sniper rifles, two L1A1 semi-automatic rifles, and three Armelite rifles. But the deciding factor was probably the assaulting group's use of 40 mm grenade launchers, LAW rockets, and automatic rifles. According to one of the soldiers involved in the attack:
There were two M79s in the fire group and two in the assault group so the firepower was quite devastating. We assaulted in text-book fashion, the fire group firing in as we assaulted at right angles. The enemy came out of the house, and they seemed to be very well prepared — 95 percent had webbing on, all were carrying weapons, all had boots and jackets on. And they came out shooting, so at this point we had two guys hit, one in the upper chest, one in the bicep. 
The attack seemed to go in very quickly, all we seemed to be doing was running forward, diving for cover, reloading, up again, firing, running for cover — we seemed to be doing this all the time. I couldn’t see any of the enemy because all I was doing was concentrating on lobbing M79 rounds into the buildings. We swept round, cleared the position, and by this time the Argentines had surrendered under our superior firepower. We reorged (reorganized in a position of all-round defence) and made our ammunition and casualty reports before putting out sentries and clearing up.

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