Missile defenses, up-armored Humvees, body armor – sometimes defense can get costly and complicated.
Then there’s the recollection of Indiana Army National Guard Major Bradley Compton, who spent much of 2003 and 2004 in and around Iraq, mostly defending airfields, following the U.S. invasion a decade ago.
In a December interview with the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he stumbled upon what he thought was a much cheaper way of protecting his troops during the several months his company spent at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, about 20 miles south of Baghdad:
When we got up there, we took over the high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs) from the unit that had been there before. There were about 15 or 16 HMMWVs and they were all painted green. The Marine Corps units, which were also kind of in the same general area and ended up leaving about the time we got there, were also painted green.
Most of the other Army units that were in that area had sand-colored HMMWVs, so I would assume that most of the Iraqis thought we were Marines.
I would say that we were not shot at nearly as much as some of the Army units, and I don’t think there was anything to it other than the fact that we drove green HMMWVs.
That’s just my opinion, but I saw it with my own eyes, so I would just make the assumption that that is what was going through the Iraqis’ minds, and that you can make your assessment as to why they would not want to shoot at Marines versus Army units.