Bayonets Hit the Mark

I wasn’t sure my post from yesterday would garner such a reaction, but I’d say the pros outweigh the cons 10:1.

Many of you mentioned that the last known bayonet charge might have been executed by a squad of Brit troops in Basra back in ’04.

Well, a little Googleing and low and behold it turns out that bunch of maniac Scots from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders got ambushed by about 100 Mahdi militiamen near Basra, fought it out, and when they ran low on ammunition, fixed bayonets and went to town.

Based on an after-action report found at this link, the intimidation factor of the bayonet and the surprise such a charge caused among the enemy used to engagements at a distance were pivotal.

The bayonet charge by British troops in Basra achieved tactical success primarily because of psychological and cultural factors. It also shows that superior firepower does not guarantee success by either side. In this case, the value of surprise, countering enemy expectations, and strict troop discipline were three deciding characteristics of the bayonet charge.

And, reading the report, you can’t help but come away from it thinking that while the insurgent is courageous in a sense that he’s willing to commit suicide in an attack on his enemy, and that he’s cunning in his building and implementation of weaponry, and that he’s agile in his ability to move quickly in tight spaces and mingle with the population — in the end their internal propoganda that the coalition are wusses just doesn’t make sense.

Propaganda by Sunni and Shiite jihadists regularly advertised the perception that American and British soldiers were cowards. Similar rhetoric increased after the battles of Fallujah in April2004, perhaps to steady the resolve of militia fighters in the face of aggressive coalition attacks.

In addition, British convoys did not engage significantly during previous ambushes, which probably validated the narrative for many Mahdi militiamen. Because many of the Mahdi fighters were teenagers, it is also likely that the Mahdi army used these ambushes for training and recruiting. The attacks were an opportunity for young fighters to use weapons in combat with little risk of serious reprisal.

Who would you pick in a hand-to-hand standoff — in a eyeball to eyeball fistfight? A Scot highlander or a pencil-necked Mahdi bomb clacker?

I pick the guy who eats haggis. Like this dude…

“I wanted to put the fear of God into the enemy. I could see some dead bodies and eight blokes, some scrambling for their weapons. I’ve never seen such a look of fear in anyone’s eyes before. I’m over six feet; I was covered in sweat, angry, red in the face, charging in with a bayonet and screaming my head off. You would be scared, too.”

Corporal Brian Wood
Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

In the end, the Brit counterassault killed 35 bad guys and left three UK troops lightly wounded.

Keep the bayonets brother!

PS — And here’s another young Brit who had to resort to his rifle blade when the chips were really down:

— Christian

36 Comments on "Bayonets Hit the Mark"

  1. Project Thor | January 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm |

    Hmmmm, so much for the armchair "warlords" opinions. Leave it to my kinsmen to fix bayonets and charge like Bonny Prince Charles at Culloden Moor, except they won this one. Now the "know it alls" will start in about how this was just one time and the bayonet still doesn't have a place in modern warfare… and they are still waiting on Obama to pay their mortages & walk on water.

  2. Once again dam good reporting. Project Thor ROFLs thats it.

  3. Armchair Warlord | January 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm |

    I'm amused that World War One-era thinking is still this prevalent in the armchair community (and apprently in the British military). I'm also deeply grateful that my own organization, the US military, bases its training on the reality of combat instead of a macho fantasy of real men and cold steel that filled so many graveyards with fine young men in the past.

    Bayonet training is fine for instilling aggression, but realistic hand-to-hand combat training not only instills aggression but teaches you the skills needed to win in real combat against enemies who will stand their ground. After all, if the enemy will flee a charge why bother with bayonets? Just run at the enemy and scream, hoping they flee instead of shooting the easy, exposed targets.

  4. Scotch is drink, not a nationality. Good read though.

  5. Living in the area where the Argylls and Sutherlands traditionally recruit from I can understand the terror of seeing them charge with cold steel, it's not for nothing that one of their parent regiments won fame at Balaklava.

    Or, as my neighbour Alan would have said:
    Go on the Binos!

  6. I guess the idea of bayonet charges just doesn't appeal to the effete metrosexual male trying to get in touch with their feminine side. I guess it's(bayonet charges) just synonymous with getting downright mean & (gasp) dirty,& you know how that's just a big turn off. "Somebody could get hurt with a bayonet." Duh,that's the whole idea.

  7. I have been in an active duty infantry unit for 4 years now and have never even SEEN our bayonets, with the exception of 100% arms room inventories, much less trained with them or been issued them. I am also sure this is the same practice that is used at every other unit that I have interacted with in the last 2 deployments. Whats the point of training new recruits on a piece of equipment that is no longer issued to troops when most of the ones we get in from AIT/basic cant pass a PT test? (Yes i realize if they are in the arms room they have been “issued” to us at some point but I have never seen one issued out to myself or my fellow soldiers). Besides, we are just “dumb infantry” and would probably promptly stab each other with them if we ever did get them issued out to us. Wouldnt want someone to get hurt would we? Not in this man’s army…

  8. So we want to emulate the brit crowd control techniques which enraged the population they were suppose to be pacifying. This is truly stupid bayonets are useless and everyone who has actually worked the street in Iraq or afghanistan knows it. Thanks for the false controversy.

  9. id say its better to have and not need then need and not have.

  10. As a former U.S. Marine i can attest to the value of bayonet training. When out of ammo, out of touch or in close, it is best to have a bayonet than none at all. It is not archaic or a throwback to the past that the Marine Corps still trains with bayonets. It is not archaic that the U.S. Army and Marine Corps has an active hand to hand combat training program that includes knives and bayonets. For the military and the idiotic few who seem to think that a knife or bayonet or e-tool is an ineffective weapon of last resort then i hope they find themselves without one when the situation warrants it and see how their pucker hole squeezes shut. It will probably never happen because those who decry it's use the most have never even seen combat except on TV.

  11. Byron Skinner | January 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm |

    Good Evening Folks,

    One of my fondest memories of BCT in 1965 was the pugil stick pit, that came about in the middle of the training cycle. It was a great stress reliever and rather a lot of fun.

    I can see why the bayonet is out of favor, it’s basic purpose was to dispatch enemy wounded in an economical manner. Me thinks we don’t do that any more.

    ALLONS,
    Byron Skinner

  12. We don't even carry bayonets anymore and our weapons are slung in an unfavorable way for using them. We don't need it. We don't run out of ammo, and if it gets so bad that we may we are able to leverage air power and vehicles, and resupply. Not to mention, there is a whole range of fighting techniques that we learns now that uses the weapon as a melee weapon. As an active infantryman overseas three times it doesn't for a moment make me feel bad to see it go.

  13. doesn't matter, 'Bama brought peace on earth & chocolate in all the little kiddies socks….

  14. I dunno seems to me the Bayonet is still handy..Place it on your rifle when the chips are down and your out of ammo. At least your rifle can be used as a sword and a club.

  15. TTPs come and go. For right now bayonets may be marginalized, but just you wait. Some of you weak minded, limp-wristed bastards may one day hear "fix bayonets" and if you do, God help you because your lack of training won't. The US Army tends to be short-sighted on issues of compesition, training and equipment. This is a direct result of training for the last war. The trickle down of common sense takes especially long in the military because it's a trickle up effect where the guy on the ground has to say "Sir, that shit doesn't work here." and from CPT to LTC to MG it slowly un-asses itself. If we lose good men in close combat that might have been saved if only they had bayonets then DOD will play political ball and fix it. Sadly, it takes incidents like Wanat to happen before we question training, equipment, commanders' lack of common sense etc.

  16. Celtic Curmudgeon | February 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm |

    Well said, Thor!

    The bayonet is a terror weapon. More people have been demoralized than killed. A horde o' crazy Scots come howlin' wit dirks an ther riffles an ye'll see whit I mean, Laddy!

    Think a progression: Rifle marksmanship from 600 meters down to 40 meters
    Hand grenades down to 20 meters, pistols down to 2 meters, bayonets down to 0.2 meters, knives, e-tools, fists, feet, rocks and then teeth.

    Who wants gaps in your weapons effectiveness?

  17. Ron Burgundy | February 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm |

    "So we loosed a bloomin' volley
    An' we made the beggars cut,
    An' when our pooch was emptied out
    We used the bloomin' butt!
    Ho! My! Don't you come a-nigh
    When Tommy is a-playin' with the bay'nit an' the butt!"

    Plus ca change…

  18. Some of you said that we don't run out of ammo yes most of the time we don't although if we get into another full scale war. There is a high likelyhood that we will run out of ammo.

  19. What a bunch of crap.

    You ever heard the phase "don't bring a knife to a gun fight"? You know why they have that saying? If you keep running out of ammo, maybe you should carry more instead of wasting weight on a bayonet. Do you really want to train our soldiers to charge men with machine guns while yelling and waving a knife around? Is that the best we can do?

    I note the irony in the original post. "Their ridiculous propoganda says that our boys are cowards, those sissy pencil-necked geeks."

  20. Perhaps in the nouveau Army they can get tasers instead of bayonets on the end of their personal assault rifles and when the batteries run out they can use the batteries as kinetic weapons (throw them)

    Many military units world wide have bladed weapons and the psychological threat is enormous think Gurkhas and Kukri.

    The IDF trains its soldiers to use the M16/ Gallil/ Tavor as a weapon even without a bayonet – Krav Maga. There is an example of an officer who ran out of ammo killing a terrorist with his helmet facing a loaded AK.

    Problem is its just not PC to embrace violent ways of killing the enemy even if u r a soldier

  21. What a bunch of crap.

    If you're running out of ammo, maybe it's because you're lugging around a bayonet, when that weight you're carrying could instead be *more bullets*. You are seriously recommending that our men need to be trained to yell at the top of their lungs and run with knives at guys holding machine guns? Really? There's a reason the phrase "don't bring a knife to a gun fight" exists. Think about it for a few minutes.

    Why don't our guys carry swords? Big ass, gleaming swords. Like that one from Final Fantasy 7 that's like 8 feet long. That would scare the hell out of an insurgent. Oh wait, our guys don't do that because it's stupid.

    A bayonet charge may have a function. On rare occasion it might be what is needed to break an already shaken foe. But most of the time it just gets you dead. I note with humor the irony in the original original post. "Their ridiculous propoganda says that our guys are wusses, those scaredy cat pencil necked geeks."

  22. So, a bayonet isn't useless. But, if you want to use them, how should you cut weight instead of not issuing them, and what other kind of training should give way to bayonet drills?

    Should more soldiers get M4s instead of M16s to cut weight? Is a bayonet better than a bigger knife?

    While the Scottish have presumably been training with bayonets, the U.S. Army has been devoting a lot of time to sharp shooter practice, apparently with good results. Who made the better choice?

    Maybe the bayonet is a good choice, but usually one makes tradeoff decisions, not useful or not useful decisions. I'm sure that you could still use 18th century canons or horse mounted cavalry to good effect too, now and again, but we don't.

  23. In the magical world of the jihadi it is received wisdom that western troops won’t get down and dirty, preferring to kill from a distance. If for no other reason than that, a bayonet is a must, and if you carry it, you must have the skill, and will, to use it. The crusades are not settled.

  24. The Bayonet is as much a psychological weapon as a physical one. And whilst I applauad the Jocks on their actions, My local Regiment, the PWRR were there too, and they are English, so they share the laurels.

  25. Well if they get rid of the bayonet going to buy enough for my guys and make them carry them. (ah i wish it was that easy)

  26. Just so you all know, the Scottish regiments are all part of the BRITISH ARMY

  27. In the words of Corpral Jones from Dads Army " They don't like it up em!"

  28. i did a search for this bayonet charge after seeing "human weapons: usmc martial art program".
    wikipedia has more info on MCMAP including a new bayonet for the program.

    "The OKC-3S is part of a series of weapon improvements begun in 2001 by Commandant of the Marine Corps James L. Jones to expand and toughen hand to hand combat training for Marines, including training in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and knife fighting. After the decision to use the Multi-Purpose Bayonet was made in December 2002, 33 different knives were evaluated. The OKC-3S was chosen as it performed best, or next to best, in just about every category of the tests. Production and distribution began in 2003."

  29. Majuba-1879 The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Battle of New Orleans- 1812.

    Yep, the bayonet sure is a battle winner.

  30. NotoriousRoscoe | June 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm |

    Taking bayonets away from infantrymen makes just as much sense as taking guns off fighter aircraft — none.

  31. So the Army has time for "polical correctness" in training but not for bayonets? (note: I dont mean training regarding Arab/Muslim culture, there's an obvious reason for that.)

  32. Camille Fraering Jr. | July 16, 2011 at 3:54 am |

    Though I am a confererate synohasiozer At the last ditch it is alays the bayonette you can rely on. Ask the confederates at Goldsboro and Chamberlain at Gettesburg The bayonette saved his life and the position. The Rebls ran away when the yanks fixed bayonetts and Rebs did not run. The bayonette is your friend and for the last minute. Ask Col Millette about his medle of Honor in Korea.
    The qorst thing I ever saw was a trooper going into a house with a bayonette on hios rifle and the sheath was on it. What was he there for Tea and Crumpets? No wonder the insergentsd vall us cowards and gutless. The bayonette is to terrorize and intmidate and killing you will feel good after using it. We have too many dumb asses in charge.

    Camille M. Fraering Jr SFC retired

  33. Camille Fraering | July 16, 2011 at 3:57 am |

    Get some guts war is breaking things and killing people

  34. cAMILLE FRAERING | July 16, 2011 at 3:59 am |

    wAR IS ABOUT BREAKING THINGS AND KILLING PEOPLE

  35. Officers need swords too. And horses. And we shall train in the joust, the sweetest form of combat.

    Troops need close quarters combat training, but the bayonet is just one amongst many things. It isn't a magic panacea (as we all learned in WW1…the bayonet does not always make it through barbed wire, interlocking machinegun and tube artillery).

  36. I the like your stylus of writing, hold it up dandy.

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