View Full Version : Wolfowitz: Marines understand role in Iraq

12-22-03, 03:29 AM
Wolfowitz: Marines understand role in Iraq
Submitted by: MCB Camp Pendleton
Story Identification Number: 2003121922563
Story by Cpl. Jeremy M. Vought

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Dec. 16, 2003) -- Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz toured Camp Pendleton Tuesday, telling Marines their upcoming deployment to Iraq remains as important as ever, despite the news of Saddam Hussein's capture.

"The biggest challenge remains... there is this hardcore group of people who for 35 years abused and tortured the people of Iraq and don't want to see those times change," Wolfowitz said.

"Obviously the capture of Saddam Hussein is a big deal to those people," Wolfowitz said.

"I think the level of cooperation hopefully will improve. It's been pretty good in many cases but the area the Marines are going to go to now is been one of the most difficult," he added.

More than 20,000 I Marine Expeditionary Force Marines and sailors are preparing for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, a redeployment to take over security and stability operations in Western Iraq. Wolfowitz spoke with Marines during lunch at a Camp Pendleton mess hall and watched Security and Stability Operation training at the base's Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility.

"Marines don't simply need a lot of encouragement," Wolfowitz said of his conversations with Marines. "They understand what the mission is about. We spent a lot of time frankly talking about very detailed kinds of issues, like how to make sure that when they are in the field they have the sort of resources that allow them to do the small scale economic development projects that we've found are absolutely crucial in winning this war.

"We talked about things like how you make sure that you have all the assets we can make available to give them awareness of the culture and people they are dealing with and how we can get more Iraqi Americans who are eager to help out to assist the Marines and maybe even deploy with the Marines," he added. "It was those kinds of issues."

Still, Wolfowitz admitted that the mission in Iraq is difficult. He said there are enemy forces who likely will seek to disrupt and undermine Coalition efforts to allow Iraqis to realize self-rule.

"The fundamental mission really does remain the same," Wolfowitz said. "In fact, in a sense the mission even in the phase of major combat was to get rid of this regime of sadist torturers who had abused Iraq for so long. And that still is the heart of the problem that we're dealing with.."

"They're now going to be trying to do that in a more difficult part of the country out west," Wolfowitz added. "The fact is that most Iraqis believe in that future for their country, but there are comparatively small numbers of people who are opposing it, but a comparatively small number can make a great deal of trouble when they use the methods of terrorism."

While Marines plan to deploy in the early spring for the first of a two-phased deployment, Wolfowitz reiterated the U.S. commitment to realizing a free and democratic Iraq and not be limited by timetables.

"We plan to stay in Iraq as long as that new Iraqi government wants us there to help," he said."I think it will make a big difference to the Iraqi people to understand that the mission is not to occupy the country, not to use it for our purposes, but to help the Iraqi people build a free country."


Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz talkes with Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marines at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility during his visit to the base Dec. 16, 2003. Wolfowitz said the Marines' upcoming mission to Iraq is crucial to security in the country. Photo by: Cpl. Jeremy M. Vought




12-22-03, 03:33 AM
Submitted by: MCB Camp Pendleton
Story Identification Number: 20031219223353
Story by Cpl. Jeremy M. Vought

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The news of Saddam Hussein's capture spread quickly throughout the nation and here around Camp Pendleton.

As soon as the news broke, friends, co-workers and family members ran to the phones to tell loved ones of the great news.

Many of those long distance phone calls made there way to the Marines and sailors of Camp Pendleton.

Disbelief struck many hearts.

"I got up Sunday morning, jumped on the Internet and there it was," said Lt. Col. Laurence Foy of 1st Force Service Support Group. "I couldn't believe it."

With Saddam's history of using look-alikes, some figured it just couldn't be him.

"I found out at 3 A.M. when my friend called me," said Lance Cpl. Chris J. Rousseve of 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion.

"I just figured it was an imposter," Rousseve said.

Because Saddam was such an evil dictator, many thought that no one would find him and if he were found, that he would go down in a great fight.

Neither proved true.

"My wife called me from work that morning and woke me so I turned on the news," said Cpl. David H. Estrada of 1st Marine Division.

"I was so excited. I never thought we'd get him alive," he said.

With Camp Pendleton based units already tapped for a second deployment to Iraq, some wondered what this would mean to the upcoming mission.

"I'm wondering if the missions will be the same and if the resistance will increase or now that their leader is gone they will back off," Rousseve said.

"It's a huge step, but it's still necessary for Marines to go back over," said Sgt. Domingo M. Govea Jr. of 1st Marine Division.

"(The violence) is not going to stop now that we have him because some people are still behind him," Estrada said.

"Hopefully it will swing some momentum on our side," he said.

"I think there's more to it than just Saddam," said Gunnery Sgt. Steven E. Rice Sr. of Marine Aviation Logistic Squadron 39.

"There still are many more things to be done to ensure a stable and secure country of Iraq," Foy added.

That scruffy bearded man flashed over many television sets evoked many reactions.

"I wasn't surprised at the circumstances of his capture," Foy said.

"The man was in a desperate situation. He looked just like a man who was on the run and in hiding."