5 Harrowing Stories of Hand-to-Hand Combat in Iraq and Afghanistan via Task & Purpose

By Vicky Osborn February 13, 2019

Click on the image to access the article via Task & Purpose.

Modern warfare is increasingly fought from a distance - using long range weapons, unmanned drones and intelligent targeting systems. Most believe this is a trend that will continue. You might be forgiven for believing that the bayonet session is out of date, and should be binned in favour of other things.

But behind the drones and the distance are stories of brutal, hand-to-hand combat that has taken place in the last 15 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. These tell a very different tale: one of the blade, bare hands and a fight to the death.

This article by Task & Purpose describes the heroic actions of five Marines who, when they were unable to use their service weapon, survived by not backing down in a fight. Through sheer brute force, determination and instinctive training they took lives to save their comrades. All of them received gallantry awards as a result.

After reading the article, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does our current training prepare soldiers to engage in hand-to hand combat? Do we need to do more?
  • What would you do in a similar situation? Do you have the knowledge, skills and attitude to defeat an enemy in a close fight?
  • Is this just training for the infantry and special forces, or could anyone on operations find themselves in this situation?
  • Does the trend towards using long-range weapons dehumanise the act of killing?
  • How much do you think you can control your fear and emotions when confronted with a situation like this? Can you condition yourself to control adrenaline?

How can we better prepare ourselves for the possibility? Leave a comment and tell us what you think. Even better, hit 'contribute' and write us a short blog on your thoughts.



Vicky Osborn

Vicky Osborn is an Education Officer posted to Headquarters Forces Command, Directorate of Professional Military Education. Previous postings include the Army Knowledge Centre (ALPC) and Army Logistics Training Centre.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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