Infantry skill horror photo

(First of all: This is not meant nation-specific.)

This is the infantry skill horror photo of the month:

It's the classic "spray and pray over an obstacle" firing stance, guaranteeing a waste of ammunition.There's no visible laser beam and little hope that he's just illuminating something.
No matter what exactly he does; he seems to believe that hostiles are within rang of his M4 carbine (effective to 150-300 m depending on your expectation of effect on target) and exposes himself very much to hostile fire. He's certainly not using his carbine for aimed fire.

It's even worse:
This disastrous photo made it into the public as an official army photo!

As seen through a night-vision device, U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph P. Khamvongsa returns fire against an insurgent attack on Combat Outpost Badel, Afghanistan, Aug. 25. 2010. Khamvongsa, a forward observer, is assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte
source, hat tip to Ken White

It's even a NCO, part of the NCO corps that's supposed to keep the individual and small unit skill level of the army high.

For comparison:
Third World untrained ragtag militia fighters, the laughing-stock of infantry-interested internet users.

I wrote about less extreme failures in a longer post "How to get yourself killed in combat against competent enemies" last year.

Let's hope that this soldier is a lone exception, along with the equally clueless photographer.

Sven Ortmann


  1. Most of the press shots that make it onto DoD media are highly staged. ie look happy playing with the locals, look focused, make sure you're lookin' fine and dandy, look like you're doing something cool. Still, considering that the US Army heavily draws from urban poor and does not allocate enough resources to range qualifications, I wouldn't consider it a rare occurrence.

  2. As an FO, he would probably be a cannon-cocker (artillery) and not infantry. No excuse though. FDChief would be outraged.

  3. It's possible he is indicating or marking a target or area or interest with an aiming device mounted on his weapon. I'd like to think so, anyway.

    Points against this theory are the fact that he is not looking through his NVG (which you'd need to do if you were using an IR aiming device), that his fingers appear to be inside the trigger guard and not with the trigger finger outside and the caption claiming he is indeed engaging the enemy.

    However, I live in hope that there is reason to this apparent madness!

  4. whoops - just realised I have said exactly the same thing that is on the SWJ forum discussion of this same issue. feel free to disregard my lost comment as it adds nothing new to the discussion.

  5. Its not quite as bad as the others, he at least has both hands on his firearm.

    He certainly doesnt seem to be "returning fire" in a competant manner,