American soldiers fighting a counterinsurgency. The enemy using hit-and-run tactics. Troops struggling at times to determine who was an ally or an enemy.
But we’re not talking about Iraq. Try a century and a half earlier, when soldiers fought off attacks by Indians at Fort Steilacoom.
The similarities between the two conflicts drew 30 members of the 402nd Brigade Support Battalion, a unit of Fort Lewis’ 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, to the grounds of the old fort – today Western State Hospital in Lakewood – on Thursday.
"Believe it or not, the stuff they’re using here – counterguerilla tactics – is not much different," said Lt. Col. Steve Allen. "It’s history, but we can take this and apply what we’ve learned here today to the conflicts we’re facing today."
Thursday’s trip off post began with a tour of the grounds and talks about the history of the fort and the tactics the soldiers used to combat the Indians.
The blurred line between friend and foe resonated with Capt. John Louch.
"There are some examples of how they had to deal with not necessarily knowing who the enemy is," he said. "Not all the Indians were enemies; many of them were friendly to them. You go over to Iraq, and it’s the exact same scenario."