Immature Arab Bravado, or the Norm?

This video of a Saudi backed rebel fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen demonstrates a degree of unsafe machine gun operation, lack of fire control, and complete disregard of life that I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. What you see is a rebel picking up a Saudi supplied 7.62x51mm NATO MG3, and proceeding to dump almost an entire belt directly over the heads of his fellow comrades in a ditch, then moving over to the road and continually sending rounds God knows where.

The footage first came online in early 2016 on multiple Turkish tabloid sites, making an appearance in an Italian news site, and now is entering the Western media circuit. But I’m glad that this has come to our attention at TFB because it illustrates a point that I’ve been looking into over the previous several months. Among many combat footage Youtube channels, and blogs, the point is continually made through these videos that Arab soldiers/insurgents/terrorists lack a completely fundamental ability to effectively employ their weapon systems. Whether it be a Kalashnikov or a rocket. Case in point, is this video here-

Now, I want to bring up four points here. First of all, there is most certainly a degree of killing and effective weapon system employment within the MENA region or else events like the current war in Syria or now in Yemen wouldn’t be lasting as long. Obviously there is a legitimate amount of killing/wounding going on, or else the toll from Syria wouldn’t be at 400,000 and counting. I know from my own experience in Helmand Province in 2013-14 that the Taliban could be extremely accurate at times. My own section leader, Sergeant Daniel Vasselian, was felled by a Taliban round from at least 300 meters away, in addition to two Marines in my company taking rounds to their Kevlars from similar if not longer distances (subsequently surviving). In another instance, an EOD tech also took a hit in the Kevlar, of which we reported on through TFB.

Leading to my second point, is that we aren’t examining the material we are ignoring. Funker 530 does a good job of getting combat videos up online, but the real juicy bits are all in Arabic and on numerous insurgent propaganda videos all over the internet. In them there are a multitude of instances where enemy combatants are conducting solid shooting fundamentals and are achieving effective hits on target.

Thirdly, I’ll put forth this myself. When a camera is rolling, young, impressionable men are much more apt to perform ridiculous acts. Marines and Soldiers are just as guilty throughout numerous barracks brawl videos and even into firefights on Youtube. It happens. To say that insurgents don’t have an inkling to perform with some bravado in front of camera is to ignore human nature. What we should be more concerned about, is what is happening off camera.

Fourth, and possibly the most important is that we can never underestimate our enemy. To do so is to commit to failure from the beginning. Passing around videos like this MG3 going off wildly degrades our enemies (although technically this rebel is allied with one of our largest allies in the MENA region, Saudi Arabia), and reinforces notions that Arabs can’t shoot, and are garbage soldiers. Maybe a trip down memory lane into how hard fighting in Fallujah, and dealing with IEDs during OIF, and to a non-Arab country Afghanistan should be in order to demonstrate that these “ragtag” insurgents aren’t somehow formidable.

But seriously, that MG3 is utterly unsafe, even to trained European soldiers-

The above sentence was sarcasm. The Rheinmetall MG3 is one of the more successfully used GPMGs in modern service.



Miles V

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the Middle East & North Africa, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, feel free to message me at miles@tfb.tv


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  • BattleshipGrey

    We’ll, first off, the MENA region (first time I saw that used but easily figured out in this context) doesn’t have much regard for firearm safety. I think I’ve either seen vids or read articles about at least three wedding incidents which resulted in accidental shootings while using guns in a celebratory gesture.

    Secondly, when Muslims fight other Muslims, they’re not really supposed to kill each other unless “god wills it” which is why they flippantly fire without aiming. But if they’re fighting infidels, they can use their sights to the best of their ability.

    • Ark

      Wonder if they could hit anything even if they did sight properly. You suppose ISIS or the Syrian rebels or some Shia militia has a quartermaster going through and properly battle sighting everyone’s rifles?

      • Tassiebush

        ISIS has or maybe had a good number of very experienced foreign fighters like Chechens and presumably former Iraqi military. I recall a police chief from Tajikistan defected to ISIS too. They also have a bunch from the west who would have access

    • Edohiguma

      These wars drag on for years without anyone really gaining the upper hand. Remember the Iran-Iraq war? Yeah, that one took a long time. Give them a sword, and they’re doing fine, as history shows. But as technology advanced, they ceased to be a factor.

      • KestrelBike

        I love that one video from I-I where the Iranian (I think? Might have been Iraqi… same difference) Shoots off an RPG, and his comrade was stupidly walking right behind him at the same time and literally got blown down the berm about 15ft.

    • Ron

      It has nothing to do with who they fight, but what they believe. They don’t have the equivalent of the concept of “gods helps those who help themselves” but instead everything is Allah’s will, Allah literally makes and unmakes the world ever second and everything that happens is his will. Many of them see things like planning, PM or evening using sights as almost blasphemy

    • No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Muslims not killing other Muslims, that’s been happening since the 700s AD. My point here is that much of what we see in the West is this stupid bravado stuff. If this bravado stuff were happening all the time, the amount of casualties and tactical advances that we hear about in the news wouldn’t be happening. There are alot of Arab groups that are fighting very well, but we don’t see it on camera because we are ignoring it unintentionally. My whole point here is that we can’t underestimate our enemies, especially in OIF/OEF.

      • BattleshipGrey

        I hadn’t thought of the pre firearm conflicts. Sorry I missed the point. I don’t know about the goofy vs. serious arab vids though. Sometimes you see video titles such as “ISIS gets it’s ass handed to it by Peshmerga” or some such. Without knowing Arabic I never know if the titles are accurate or not, but considering those are available to watch I wouldn’t say the west completely ignores the more serious ones. Perhaps it’s all in the viewing preference of each individual.

    • Tassiebush

      Nah shia and sunni muslims kill each other pretty happily.

  • Anonymoose

    It’s okay. Allah will guide his bullets to strike the infidels’ hearts.

    • Sam

      That last video hurt my feelings. The Marine behind the gun is clearly not familiar with belt fed weapons. He has a misfire and doesn’t do immediate action (POPS: Pull, Observe, Push, Sight In). Misfire occurs, live round is still in the chamber, and then the other idiot doesn’t give it the appropriate cool-down time. Hence the cook-off when he opens the feed tray cover.

      They are probably both POGs and their command thought it’d be a good idea to do some cross-training headed up by people that don’t know what they’re doing.

      • Ron

        I was a 31 prior to be commissioned and never heard of POPS, it makes sense but never heard of it and it is not in common Marine Corps usage. And by the way its Pogue, POG was made up un the early 2000s and ignores almost 80 years of Marine Corps history to include the whole of the 6th Marine Regiment getting titled pogey bait 6 at the beginning of WWII.

        • Generations change sir, whether you or I like it or not. Each generation of Marines has their own interpretation of what they’ve gone through. Not to say that we should throw away the history of our storied Corps, but something like Pogue and POG is more of a cultural/generational thing than any thing else in my opinion.

          • Ron

            Honestly, I think it fell into a case of people not knowing what they did not know, so they made up s**t and instead of acknowledge they were wrong they dug in deeper perpetuated a lie.
            Around 2000, HQMC grouped the ground advocates under the POG (PP&O, Operations, Ground) office code and around that time I started hearing a few junior Marines saying it was persons other than grunts (but some reason it was not spelt POTG?) .

          • Ron
          • n0truscotsman

            It is and another website-that-shall-be-unnamed made a hamfisted assertion on the Pogue versus POG debate….like they do pretty much everything else.

        • Sam

          I’m not sure when you were in but it sounds like it was a while ago, so saying it’s not common Marine Corps usage isn’t accurate. POPS was commonly taught when I was with 2/7 from 05-09, and taught at Machine Gun Leaders Course when I attended.

          And as Miles says, Pogue vs POG is a generational thing. Personnel Other than Grunts = POGs.

          • Bad Penguin

            POG = Psychological Operations Group.

      • Scott Connors

        Never heard of this, but then I was Army. I do have a lot of experience with belt-fed MGs, not just GI-issued ones but also my privately-owned MG42 and Browning M1919A4 and have fired thousands of rounds through them. I’m not clear on what the “Push” part refers to. Could you please describe what each part of that acronym refers to? Some are self-explanatory, others…not so much.

        • Sam

          If you have a malfunction while operating a belt fed, immediate action is to be performed. The acronym refers to:
          -Pull the charging handle to the rear (keeping positive control of the bolt)
          -Observe for ejection of spent casing/live round/links/anything else that could’ve caused a malfunction.
          -Push the charging forward.
          -Sight in.

          It’s important to distinguish the pulling of the charging handle back and keeping it back. The gunner should always maintain control of the bolt, both when clearing malfunctions and when clearing the gun after rounds are complete.

          Push the charging handle back forward, because you don’t want to start firing with the charging handle back because you can shear it off as it cycles forward (I’ve actually had this happen to me).

          There ya go, POPS. Immediate action is to be performed three times, then move to remedial action.

          • Scott Connors

            Thanks. That is precisely what I was trained to do, just not by that name. Useful acronym.

      • CavScout

        You’re wrong. When you’re shooting some other nation’s weapon, that you aren’t familiar with and have no time with, the smart soldier/marine doesn’t attempt to clear malfunctions. He takes all commands from whoever is controlling it, which would be a soldier trained on it.

        • Sam

          I’m wrong that neither person, the gunner nor the host/A-gunner, did what they should’ve done?

          Or that an Infantry Marine shouldn’t be trusted to clear a malfunction? It’s not like it’s your girlfriend’s-uncle’s-friend’s-second-cousin-who-has-never-shot-before named Sally.

          It’s an open bolt, medium machine gun.

    • Although a Marine did take that video, and was previously shooting the MG3, the soldier is Estonian on Camp Bastion in Helmand. I was a couple feet from the guy when it all happened, turned around and his whole top was covered in blood from the casing grazing his cheek. He survived though, probably has an awesome bar scar.

      • Sam

        Care the shed anymore light on the situation? What was the gunner’s MOS?

        • He didn’t have an MOS because he was Estonian. But he was a rear echelon guy admin guy. The Estonian battalion was putting on a charity shoot where you paid 20 bucks to shoot their stuff, and the money went to wounded Estonian soldiers back home.

          The MG3 had a failure to fire, he attempted to clear the malfunction, should have waited a little bit before clearing it in case of a cook-off, and thats exactly what he got, the round cooked off in his face. Or it could have been a delayed primer strike, but that’s highly unlikely with the modern ammunition they were using.

          • Sam

            Oh comon, man. The GUNNER’s MOS. As in the guy shooting. The Marine.

          • Shoulda specified! Haha. Nah, he was an 11 with us on that deployment. Different platoon than mine.

          • Sam

            An 11, eh? Clearly didn’t get hazed enough.

      • Anonymoose
      • Dude

        Wow! Ive seen this video before but i didnt expected at all you stood beside when it happened.

    • Bad Penguin

      Failed to extract and cooked off. It was probably the primer that cut his face.

  • Spike

    BREAKING: Untrained middle east Unprofessional rebels/soldiers don’t have weapons handling or discipline to western standards…. News at eleven…

    • ORCON

      And don’t miss the morning show: Water, wet?

  • VanDiemensLand

    Best…….intro……….ever!

  • Carl Nguyen

    inb4 racism

    My judgment is that its a combination of lack of training, concept of firearms safety, religious fervor in the extent that belief itself helps guides bullets, and lets not forget-

    ” World War II fire rates were also remarkably low: historian and US Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall reported that, during battle, the firing rate was a mere 15 to 20 percent; in other words, out of every hundred men engaged in a firefight, only fifteen to twenty actually used their weapons. And in Vietnam, for every enemy soldiers killed, more than fifty thousand bullets were fired.2″

    That’s from “Dave Grossman, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in war and Society. ”

    Its an established modern training concept that you have to inoculate soldiers to the hesitation to shoot another human being. While the rampant sectarianism and ethnic hatred of the region does bring much violence now and portend much violence for a while, for your average human being, as always, there’s a big difference from mouthing off about how those damn infidels who a few years prior were your neighbors deserve death-

    and actually doing it yourself. Indeed, its a modern training concept for a soldier to learn to kill impersonally, its just easier on the psyche that way. Civilians suddenly given arms they barely know how to use, even ones filled with demagogic hatred for one another, can only be expected to spray wildly, deep down hoping more to scare off the enemy and for “god” to do the rest.

    • Ark

      I dunno, man. No shortage of video on the internet of both sides rounding up and machine-gunning captured combatants on the spot. I don’t think they have any problems killing each other.

    • Joseph Smith

      “inb4 racism”

      Thanks for your concern, concerned commenter.

      • Carl Nguyen

        Thanks!

    • Mr. Privilege

      The way you virtue signal for bloodthirsty Arabs who hate America is quite commendable.

      • Carl Nguyen

        Thanks! Nothing like pissing off do nothing offendatrons to get my day started. :B

        • Mr. Privilege

          I’m sure it goes well with whatever cat or dog meat you happen to be enjoying for breakfast.

    • n0truscotsman

      Be very skeptical of Grossman.

      There are plenty of counter-rebuttals to his claims, and tbh, I think many of his most popular ones contradict actual human history.

      • Bill

        And SLA Marshall has been pretty much discredited.

      • jamezb

        He is of the opinion that he knows all there is to know. This has halted his ability to learn. He has lived the last 20 years with no knowledge of a skeleton in his own family closet. Some educated observer.

    • Bad Penguin

      Recently read something that said that was BS.

  • Caffeinated

    Clearly at least one of the fighters in the video must have been trained in Liberia and the Ivory Coast.

  • datimes

    The Saudi back rebel may have been shooting at aircraft….. No?

  • Tritro29

    Not a rebel but the puppet Yemeni National Armed forces. Which after the split is some dudes with guns taking Saudi money.

    This is clearly a guy who has moderate experience with the gun trying to get out of dodge as usually these end up badly for Saudi hired men. At least he didn’t score on any of his buddies.

  • Bryan King

    Is it the norm? Depends how many of his ancestors f’d their cousins.

  • Edohiguma

    Well, back in the days of running at someone with a sword, they were pretty good. They even took Spain and it took several hundred years to free it from them. But as technology advanced, they simply got stuck. What’s left of the “great” islamic empires of the past? Nothing.

    It’s a bunch of monkeys with guns, and that’s an insult to real monkeys.

    • Joseph Smith

      But those monkeys with guns seem to be smarter than the monkeys that run western governments lately.

  • pewpew

    b..b… but… alahu akbar :c??

  • Ron

    I cannot count the number times I saw Iraqi Army forces doing stupid stuff, its is mostly cultural. You get a unique perspective when you are embedded with them and even their educated officers to heart believe everything is Allah’s will.

  • German

    Im German, the Text under the video are DIRECT and intended lies to reshape public opinion, the comment section is disabled so that noone can disprove it.
    Ive reported the video for – intended fraud.

  • Wockbar!! Derka Derka Derka!!!

    And everyone of these videos they are screaming Walla oooowackbar!!! Major eye roll, as for “sending the rounds God knows where”. Allah knows, Allah knows.

  • valorius

    This video should be titled “how to expose yourself to enemy fire for absolutely no reason at all.”

  • Phillip Cooper

    “Maybe a trip down memory lane into how hard fighting in Fallujah, and dealing with IEDs during OIF, and to a non-Arab country Afghanistan should be in order to demonstrate that these “ragtag” insurgents aren’t somehow formidable.”

    I get the part right up to “during OIF”.. but what does “and to a non-Arab country Afghanistan should be” attempt to convey?

    • Ron

      We really did not try all that hard in either theater of operation, what we did was attempt to spend a lot of money, waste a few lives but not actually change anything.

      I believe much of this is because at the point the war kicked off we had 40 years being indoctrinated by multiculturalists in the western school system that all cultures and the worst thing you could be is a racist. We are unable to see the need to cause cultural change in order to win.

      I cannot count how many times we had actionable, multi-source intel but did not act because the GOFOs feared enraging the locals or getting criticized by the press.

    • Afghans aren’t Arabs and is neither apart of the Middle East and North Africa, but instead Central Asia. In comparing OIF and OEF, I make it a point to mention the differences between the two conflicts.

      • Ron

        The term “greater middle east” used by the US Government encompasses Central Asia, to include AFG and PK

        • Which is why we suck at winning wars in the region. Because as Americans, and especially within the Armed Services, we have little to absolutely no clue when it comes to the countries and cultures we are operating in, especially when it comes to COIN operations. That exact phrase you use, “Greater Middle East”, is grouping MENA and Central Asia together as if it was one homogenous language and culture, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq have about as much in common as southern California and deep West Virginia. Arabic versus Pashtu/Dari, rule of law, culinary traditions, etc… About the only thing that is similar is Islam and a patriarchal society, and even then there are vast differences between how those two topics play out in those two countries.

          I’ll give you a perfect example. Two summers ago I was attending an intensive Pashtu summer course taught at UW Madison. There were only three students, including myself enrolled. The other two were academics who have no commitment to U.S. policy overseas. So in the entire United States, there was only one intensive Pashtu course being taught with only three participants. Pashtu is classified by DLI and NSA as a “strategic language”, and is extremely important in dealing with the problems we face in the longest running counter-insurgency operation faced by the U.S. Military in modern times. And we can’t even get enough people to speak the local language.

          We wonder why we keep losing these conflicts.

          • Ron

            There are many reasons we keep loosing and it has less to do with language but instead we eye them with belief our western patterns of thought apply to them and hence design solution that we think are acceptable to us but don’t fit into the their non-western way of seeing the world.

          • palala

            Well in U.S defense everybody has lost against the afghans, and the vietnamese also have a formidable history against their enemies. It may just be a case of picking your battles. U.S should have just sent U.K and it’s commonwealth allies to kickbutt, they may not have won, but they would have made a big difference given their history of success.
            I don’t think the U.S has the culture to fight in major wars. You need the superiority complex of an island nation.

          • Widgt

            “I don’t think the U.S. has the culture to fight in major wars.” Really? Does your knowledge of the history of warfare begin in 1991? Go read some books and get back to us.

          • Tassiebush

            Man that skill and interest deficit is mind blowing! It really wouldn’t be that hard to pay some refugees for some language lessons. I’m sure some multi lingual Hazaras would be obliging if there was any reluctance or security concerns about it from the Pashtuns.

  • valorius

    In the 2nd video most of them are weapon malfunctions/failures. Hard to blame the individual Ali Baba’s for that.

    • Young Freud

      The one of the guy whose AK exploded I remember was an al Qaeda instructor making a training video who pushed his AK too hard.

      • valorius

        Nyet! AK impregnable to failure! 😉

  • John A. Smith

    Irregulars are sometimes…irregular?

  • Mr. Privilege

    No that’s not “Arab Bravado”. They really are that dumb and are terrible war fighters. They are absolute garbage in combat, that’s why they do sneaky terrorist stuff after they get let into your country by activist judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Scott Connors

    Looked like a cook-off or hangfire that they mistook for a stoppage.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    This looks like someone grabbed 10 random dudes off the street said here’s some weapons go fight this instant.

  • Charlie Victor Alpha

    Worst warfighters ever. They’re not even good at fistfights IME.

  • Dom Hogan

    ‘The war that never was’, an account of the British war in the Yemen has everything- Mauser equipped ten year olds who could shoot the kneecaps off of mosquitoes to drug-addled bandits using anti-aircraft guns against camel trains. Guys being dicks with guns predates video, though….

  • Aurélien Morel

    The guns blowing up makes me suspect something else.

    During the Algerian conflict, the SDECE (now DGSE) used to sell faulty guns and ammo to the rebels, made to blow up in the face of the user.
    Wouldn’t put it past them to do it again.

    • Sam

      Nah seems pretty clear there was a misfire, the gunner didn’t clear it properly which resulted in a round cooking off in the barrel.

      Not that what you are saying didn’t happen. Selling ammunition loaded with explosives instead of propellant is a well known tactic.

  • RickH

    I want one of those Toyota pickups……

  • .45

    I see Abu Whatshisface has a family member still at large…

  • int19h

    I don’t know how broadly true this is, but there’s certainly no shortage of anecdotes that seem to back that point. And it’s not just Arabs.

    One anecdote comes from my stepdad, who was a Soviet officer in Afghanistan in 1980s. He said that it was fairly common for them to do these kinds of mag dumps in your general direction without appropriate cover, and generally prefer full auto unaimed fire.

    Of late, there are also many personal reports from Russian military contractors in Syria. Based on those, this kind of attitude is prevalent among all armed forces in that region, including Syrian army (and of course all the rebels). One guy remarked ironically that if the war was left to the locals, it would never go anywhere and would continue for decades, because any breakthrough on any section of the front, in either direction, is carried out by foreign units – Russian, Turkish or Iranian soldiers helping the Syrians, or ISIS foreign units, mostly Chechen. The only local force he had any respect for was Kurdish Peshmerga; apparently these guys are pretty well trained and disciplined.

  • Jay

    Saudi Arabia is not your ally. It’s your master and your backstabber. US policies in the middle east do nothing but pander to this saudi savages. They own most of your politicians and most likely many generals.
    Saudi Arabia are the biggest terrorists in the middle east, yet you take pride in their actions.
    Anyone with a brain can tell that the saudis are doinv in Yemen is genocide.
    And you cover for this scumbags.
    They sure brainwashed you when you were in the military.

  • Eggcelent

    Good god, what a waste of .308

  • Tassiebush

    Yes he takes an alarming skill set with him!

  • Colonel K

    Are these the worst examples of weapons handling you’ve ever seen, or just
    the latest episodes of “My Favorite Jihad”?

  • Scot168

    I did notice on more than a few they did forget to say Allah Akbar when they pulled the trigger.

  • Bad Penguin

    I had a NG soldier training at my range almost get killed when he tried to clear and M-60 MG the same way after he was told not to do it. The weapon was red hot and a round cooked off before it fully seated (don’t ask me why the idiot hadn’t changed barrels). That was enough to cycle the next round which had no where to go. The tip of the bullet was bent backwards and the casing began to cook. Before anyone could stop him he leaned over and popped open the feed tray cover and the round went off and almost completely through his chest. To bad it dint hit him in his groin and preventing him from have kids.

  • jcitizen

    I’ve seen a few MG3 gunners knocked off their seat! LOL! I do like the weapon though!

  • Eric X Ericx

    I thought alcohol was illegal in the Saudi kingdom… this Haji was clearly drunk off his ass!