Fire in the Hole

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The New York Times account of Saddam’s capture includes this detail: “The soldiers yanked at the mat, and it came up to reveal a styrofoam slab with handles. They pulled on them, and the plug came loose from a shaft leading into the ground. They were prepared to throw a grenade into the gloomy depths, when two hands suddenly appeared….”

Could one of our military tacticians explain if this is standard operating procedure when discovering an unknown cave, bunker, or hole? Are search-and-destroy personnel not trained to check for documents or other intelligence information, unexploded ordinance, or civilians before throwing in a grenade?

12:49 pm on December 15, 2003