NPR's Anne Garrels had this report today on the Kamikaze Al QaQa who blew himself up against a Marine convoy truck carrying several Marines. This reports points out the speed at which you have to go through your loops:OODA
ANNE GARRELS reporting: Marines are preparing for the offensive, wondering only when it will happen, not if. In addition to the daily bombing attacks on Fallujah, troops on the ground run regular reconnaissance missions probing the enemy to draw him out learn more about his tactics and keep him off guard. Over the weekend, Marines were returning from several days in the field when the company commander, Captain Gerald Garcia saw cars suddenly come out from behind a wall of some kind. Captain GERALD GARCIA (US Marines Company Commander): I looked into his face as I drove by. I looked at him, he looked at me, gave me a look I'll never forget and looked down into his steering wheel and then I--you know, everything came together--white suburban, multiple bullet holes through the windshield, you know, the only vehicle sitting around anywhere. GARRELS: As 35-year-old Garcia radioed to warn the rest of his convoy--a matter of seconds--the suicide bomber rammed into a seven-ton truck carrying several Marines. Cap. GARCIA: There was people jumping off of other trucks and jumping onto that truck as it was on fire and as it was melting. You know, with no regard for their own body and their own safety and pulling off Marines that were burning alive. We were carrying our ammunition and pyro so grenades were going off, rounds were cooking off. Marines didn't care, they just jumped up there. Our Marines, they're incredible. GARRELS: The Marines continued to come under attack in what was clearly a well-planned assault. Help arrived but eight Marines were dead, nine injured, three of them severely. These Marines have only been in Iraq for a couple of weeks. They were sent in specially to reinforce units for the anticipated assault, which will target insurgents' stronghold throughout Al Anbar province. Colonel MICHAEL RAMOS (US Marines, Battalion Commander): You have to learn fast in this environment. Marines are great at learning fast and adapting to the enemy. Techniques, tactics and procedures, that's what we're doing and we're going to be ready. GARRELS: Battalion Commander Colonel Michael Ramos says they've learned some painful lessons in the short period they've been here. Col. RAMOS: The enemy is willing to sacrifice lives. They're willing to martyr themselves for what they believe to be an important cause. The enemy studies the movements of our forces. They improvise as well. They are crafty and cunning. GARRELS: While the Marines are trying to keep the insurgents on edge, the insurgents are doing the same thing. As the new battalion of Marines was settling into its base of operations, the insurgents had a welcome present for them. Sergeant Major Michael Burgh(ph) says a rocket landed in their midst, wounding 10. Sergeant Major MICHAEL BURGH (US Marines): They'll kind of aim it in the general direction, shoot it off and they get out of there because they know our counter-battery fire, it's going to pinpoint right where they're at. So they'll get one or two rockets off and they hope they hit something. So, yeah, it's luck of the draw what they hit. They were real lucky that day. GARRELS: Most of the Marines who fought in Fallujah in April, before the Pentagon ordered them to cease fire, have rotated out. So for many, this will be their first big battle in Iraq. And for many, it will be their first real combat ever. They will be entering a city, which officers say is held by several thousand insurgents who've honed their skills since their last major encounter with the Marines in the spring. Captain Gerald Garcia says the commander of his regimental combat team believes this will be something entirely new for everyone. Cap. GARCIA: He told us, `If any of you were here before, forget what you know and what you thought you knew about what's happening here.' It's absolutely a different atmosphere. I don't think anybody has the upper hand on it.