View Full Version : Car Bombing Kills Six in Central Baghdad

05-06-04, 04:42 AM
Car Bombing Kills Six in Central Baghdad


BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide attacker blew up a car bomb Thursday outside the so-called Green Zone that houses the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad, killing five Iraqi civilians and an American soldier.

Twenty five people were injured in the blast at a checkpoint to the Green Zone, including two American soldiers. The bomb, hidden inside an orange-and-white Baghdad taxi, exploded outside of a three-foot-high concrete blast wall.

"There was a long line of cars. Fortunately, the blast barriers worked in this case," said Col. John Murray of the U.S. Army's Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division.

A suicide bomber also died in the attack, the military said.

The bomb attack came a day after U.S.-led forces launched their biggest assault yet against militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, raiding hideouts in several cities and clashing with gunmen. At least 15 Iraqis and a U.S. soldier were killed.

Moderate Shiites tried to persuade al-Sadr to back away from his confrontation with the United States _ a reflection of their growing concern.

The car bomb incinerated three vehicles, reducing them to hulks of twisted, charred metal. Another five cars were badly damaged, some turned on their side from the force of the blast.

The explosion was so strong that it hurled the engine of the car carrying the bomb some 15 feet from the site of the blast.

The American soldier who died was the 21st U.S. serviceman killed in Iraq in May. The injured included two U.S. soldiers and three Iraqi policemen, the U.S. military said.

Shattered glass from nearby shops littered the area. A column of thick black smoke rose from the blast site and drifted across Baghdad. Residents living in homes as far as 100 yards away from the blast reported shattered widows and doors becoming unhinged.

On Jan. 17, a suicide truck bombing at a Green Zone gate in central Baghdad killed 24 people and wounded about 120. Three U.S. civilians and three American soldiers were among the injured in the bombing at what U.S. soldiers call the "Assassins' Gate," an ornate gate leading to Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace compound, now the headquarters of the U.S.-led occupation.

Blast walls and dirt-filled baskets were erected at that gate and other checkpoints in the Iraqi capital following the January blast. Murray said U.S. military checkpoints for car and pedestrian traffic remain "security worries." The checkpoints are used by foreigners who live and work inside the Green Zone, as well as thousands of Iraqis going to and from jobs inside the zone.

Also Thursday, gunmen assassinated the head of the local Agriculture Department in the northern city of Kirkuk in a drive-by shooting that also killed his driver and wounded his wife, police said.

Najib Mohammed, a Kurd, was riding in his car when the gunmen opened fire from another vehicle, Gen. Sherko Shakir said. Insurgents frequently target officials working for the U.S-backed Iraqi government, accusing them of collaborating with Americans.

The heaviest fighting against al-Sadr's militia in the south _ part of the military's Operation Iron Saber _ came in the holy city of Karbala, where coalition forces raided a hotel, the local former Baath Party headquarters and the regional governor's office, where al-Sadr fighters had been stockpiling weapons, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said.

Troops came under fire in the overnight raid on the governor's office, Kimmitt said in Baghdad. He said 10 al-Sadr followers were killed.

The U.S. soldier died when a dump truck tried to ram a checkpoint in Karbala, the military said.

Outside the city of Kufa, U.S. forces attacked a van where Iraqis were seen unloading weapons. The vehicle was destroyed and five Iraqis were killed, Kimmitt said.

In Najaf, U.S. troops battled al-Mahdi Army fighters outside a cemetery near the Imam Ali Shrine, Iraq's holiest Shiite site. The soldiers opened fire with machine guns on militiamen who had ambushed them.

Iraqi Governing Council member Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum delivered a message to al-Sadr from a group of influential Shiites calling on his militia to disarm and leave Najaf, council member Raja Habib Al-Khuzaai told The Associated Press.

The message from the group _ made up of about 500 Shiites, including local council members, tribal officials and others _ represented the most public effort by Shiite leaders to push al-Sadr into making concessions to end the standoff, which began when his militia launched an uprising in early April.



05-06-04, 04:43 AM
Postcards from the front: Camp Pendleton Marines write to loved ones


FALLUJAH, Iraq ---- When Hayne and I took our last stroll through the house in Fallujah where we and about 20 Fox Company Marines have lived for the last three weeks of fighting, we knew we had something special to carry home.

We shook hands, slapped backs and promised the Marines we'd deliver the messages they scribbled, most of them on the sides of MRE boxes.

It was a goodbye message from the guys, and a way for us to say "thanks" to them for all they've put up with from we two nosy civilians in their midst.

As they've gradually gotten letters from home in the field, or spoken to their wives and parents on their short trips back to their old base, they've told us that their loved ones depended on the images and words we've sent from the field.

But we couldn't stay with them for their whole deployment, and we thought the newly won peace in Fallujah, however fragile, might be a good time for us to say goodbye.

So, those who had the time ---- around guard shifts, reconnaissance patrols and hard-earned naps ---- asked us to send you these postcards from Fallujah.

It was our pleasure. Thanks guys. And be safe out there.

Cpl. Jong Kim, 20, of Santa Clara was a quiet, serious noncom who was on his second tour in Iraq. He said that as soon as he returned from the invasion last year, his sister Sun Li, a 22-year-old Army soldier, deployed to Iraq. And this year, just as he arrived back in the country, his sister returned to their home in California. He said the war has given them something in common.

Navy HM-3 Michael "Doc" Meaney, 22, of Clearlake, Texas, was the corpsman who took care of Fox Company's 2nd Platoon. His quiet seriousness could easily have been mistaken for a chip on his shoulder ---- until one saw him with his Marines. He worked to save several lives in the heat of battle. Lance Cpl. Brad Simmons credits Meaney with braving a hail of bullets to save his life when he was wounded during an ambush.

Pfc. Philip Marquez, 21, of Coachella was a tough, young infantryman who always seemed to be in the thick of things. Like many of his comrades, Marquez said he was itching to "finish the job" and push into Fallujah.

Lance Cpl. Ayron Kull, 21, of Niles, Mich., was a radioman who could make light of even the worst days by poking and jabbing at friends and talking endlessly about what it was going to be like "when we get back."

Lance Cpl. Anthony Dilling, 21, of O'Neil, Neb., was a tough, young Marine whose courage was once questioned by a few foolish Marine leaders after he admitted to a reporter that Fallujah scared the hell out of him. What the stay-behind brass didn't stop to consider, however, was that Dilling was man enough to admit his fear and still go into the city time and time again to fight the insurgents. Even after watching his friend get shot, Dilling headed right back into the fight, no doubt making his Marine father and two Marine brothers proud.

Lance Cpl. Miguel Menchaca, 21, of Milton-Freewater, Ore., was a quiet giant of a radio operator who was promoted to lance corporal Saturday in the Iraqi home that he and other Fox Company Marines defended for three weeks.

Lance Cpl. Sean Cook, 21, of Cincinnati was Fox Company's combat cameraman who accompanied Fox Company's 2nd Platoon inside the city at night to ambush insurgents. He captured the Marines' "hit" on a DVD camera and helped the unit confirm its 11 kills.

Lance Cpl. Christopher Ebert, 21, of Forest City, N.C., was another one of Fox Company's Marines who had brothers fighting insurgents in other parts of Fallujah. He talked about fishing in his home state of North Carolina and eating his way through the massive care packages sent by his family.

Cpl. Jose "Col. Tapatio" Carbajal, 20, of San Diego was one of the rock-steady radiomen for Fox Company commander Capt. Kyle Stoddard. While he was on grueling, late-night shifts monitoring firefights and other developments over the radio, Carbajal studied Marine Corps leadership guides so that he could earn his sergeant stripes by the end of his Iraq tour.

Lance Cpl. Brad Simmons, 23, of St. Louis was shot during one of the first firefights in Fallujah, but he said he "got the guy who got me" before Navy corpsmen carried him away. Although he could have gone home, Simmons struggled to recover and eventually rejoined Fox Company last weekend.



05-06-04, 04:44 AM
Heavy equipment mechanics keep Marines on the roll <br />
Submitted by: 3d Marine Aircraft Wing <br />
Story Identification Number: 2004560132 <br />
Story by Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III <br />
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AL ASAD, Iraq (May 5, 2004) --...

05-06-04, 04:46 AM
Rapid Runway Repairmen pave the way in Iraq
Submitted by: 3d Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification Number: 2004555249
Story by Staff Sgt. Houston F. White Jr.

AL TAQQADUM, Iraq(May 5, 2004) -- With an assortment of air operations being conducted on a non-stop basis here, the ability to take off and land 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing planes and helicopters is paramount.

To ensure that runways remain accessible to aircraft at all times, the Marines of heavy equipment section, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd MAW, are available at a moment's notice to repair any destruction to the landing strips.

"Basically, our role is to take care of any damage the runways have," said Staff Sgt. Gary L. Stouffer, heavy equipment chief, MWSS-374, and Newport, Pa., native. "For instance, in case of something like a mortar attack, we have a crew already on standby, ready to go out and do an immediate fix on the runway."

"We use rock, sand and anything that can patch the surface in a safe manner to get that runway up and running as fast as we can," the 29-year-old added.

The rapid runway repair Marines received an opportunity to test their skills almost as soon as they arrived here in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, explained Stouffer.

"When we got here in February, one of the biggest things (3rd MAW) needed to get up and running was a runway that had a huge crater in it because of enemy fire," he mentioned.

According to Maj. Gen. James F. Amos, commanding general, 3rd MAW, the damaged taxiway was identified as a safer means of taking off and landing, which made its immediate repair critical.

"We had the main two runways in Taqqadum that all the big airplanes landed on, and then we had a cross taxiway, which was about 6,000-feet-long that ran perpendicular across both runways. We took a look at the threat, because the planes landing on the (main two) runways were getting shot at," he explained.

"We decided to use the taxiway as a runway so that we could fly in across (Lake Habbaniyah) and not get shot at, but first we had to fix the bomb crater left over from OIF I," added Amos.

Within days, the 20-foot-deep, 60-foot-diameter hole was filled and ready for action, due to the efforts of the rapid runway repairmen of MWSS-374 and the unique equipment they employ.

"We used excavators to move the materials we needed to fill the crater and a water truck, in addition to a roller to both compact the sand and wet it repeatedly as we mixed it," mentioned Stouffer. "At the end, we used a grader to make a nice level surface."

Apparently, the work performed by the rapid runway repairmen of MWSS-374 was so exceptional, that the 3rd MAW commanding general made the bold decision to fly aboard the first KC-130 Hercules flight to land there following its repair.

"The service those Marines provide is indispensable," Amos emphasized. "I wanted the Marines of MWSS-374 to know that I trusted their work on the ground and that I appreciated their great efforts. As a demonstration of that appreciation, I wanted to be the first person to land on the runway," he added.

The daring gesture shown by the 3rd MAW leader evidently made a lasting impression upon the Marines who repaired the runway.

"It showed that the general has a lot of faith in his Marines," said 26-year-old Lance Cpl Clint D. Short, heavy equipment operator, MWSS-374, and Wauseon, Ohio, native. "I think it made the whole section feel pretty proud."


The Marines of heavy equipment section, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, look on as a KC-130 Hercules carrying Maj. Gen. James F. Amos, commanding general, 3rd MAW, successfully lands on a runway they recently repaired in Al Taqqadum, Iraq, March 22. Amos was the first to test the runway, which was renovated due to damage caused by incoming rockets. Photo by: Cpl. Chance W. Haworth



05-06-04, 06:48 AM
Submitted by: Headquarters Marine Corps Media
Story Identification Number: 20045315395
Story by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

Washington(May 3, 2004) -- WASHINGTON, May 3, 2004 - A shipment of television equipment is on its way to Iraq to help Iraqi broadcasters offer more balanced news coverage than what is currently available in the region.

Marine Col. Robert Knapp, commander of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., thanks Spirit of America founder Jim Hake for the group's donation of television equipment to support U.S. military efforts in Iraq. Photo courtesy of Spirit of America

Members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq's Anbar province expressed concerned that extremely negative news coverage by the local media was stoking resentment toward the U.S. military and encouraging conflict.

They turned to Spirit of America, a nonprofit group committed to helping Americans serving abroad improve people's lives, to request television equipment to be used to offer more balanced news.

On April 29 - just three weeks after Spirit of America received the Marines' request - Spirit of America founder Jim Hake delivered $82,687 in television studio equipment to Camp Pendleton, Calif. The Marines packed the donated equipment and prepared it for shipment, and on May 1, the U.S. military flew it from March Air Force Base, Calif., to Iraq.

"This rapid turnaround makes a difference in Iraq," said Hake, who explained that the equipment, all donated by the American public, will be owned and operated by local Iraqi citizens.

Hake said the equipment will be donated to seven television stations serving local communities within Anbar province. The province includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.

Recipients of the donated equipment will be free to create their own news and choose their own programming, Hake explained. However, they must agree to prohibit "airing of anti-coalition messages that incite the local population," he said. The stations must also agree to sell airtime at a fair market price so the Marines can communicate their information efficiently and quickly when needed, Hake said.

Hake said the stations will provide "the full picture" of events in the region. For example, he said, recent broadcasts in the province showed images of a mosque in Fallujah damaged during fighting. Using the new equipment donated by Spirit of America, Hake said the stations also would have aired video provided by the Marines that shows insurgents firing on the Marines from the mosque grounds.

The stations also will broadcast news of reconstruction projects and humanitarian assistance that balances the news of conflict, Hake said.

Hake said the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force requested the television equipment to help dispel suspicion and mistrust generated by "negative, highly biased accounts of the U.S. presence" in Iraq.

"The lack of accurate news reports during this rebuilding phase undercuts the good work being performed throughout the majority of Iraq," the Marines wrote Hake when requesting the television equipment. "Instead, news is being passed by word of mouth and becomes more and more distorted as the tales are retold."

The Marines told Hake it is "essential to the success of the Marine Corps' mission in Iraq that the Iraqi people understand our sincerest desires to help them rebuild their country and lay the foundation for a viable and free democratic society."

Hake said the goal of the donation is "to improve understanding between Americans and Iraqis, build trust and reduce tensions."

The television equipment donation is just one of many Spirit of America projects to support initiatives by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information about Spirit of America or to make a donation, visit the organization's Web site.



05-06-04, 08:10 AM
'It Wasn't Supposed to Go Like This'

By Terry Boyd,
Stars and Stripes European Edition

BAGHDAD — Just before 10:30 a.m.
Thursday, 1st Lt. Nicholas Bradley crouched next to an Iraqi boy, telling him he’s going to live. The boy, about 12, was bleeding from shrapnel wounds in his back, near his spinal column, and his arm.

The boy couldn’t move his legs, couldn’t feel anything as Bradley probed his feet. But the platoon leader kept talking to him soothingly as medical help arrived. Bradley held the boy’s hand while repeating, “Hey, buddy. You’re good. You’re gonna be all right,” sounding like he believed it, too.

It wasn’t supposed to go like this.

Bradley and his Company A platoon from the Fort Hood, Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division’s 91st Engineer Battalion left Camp Blackjack on Thursday morning at 9:30 for a lightning daylight raid on a mosque in their sector of northern Baghdad. The brigade command ordered the raid after collecting intelligence from informants.

The mission was aborted after only a few minutes when soldiers saw the first roadside bomb and realized they were driving into a trap.

The battle for Baghdad, while not as sensational as Fallujah, is playing out on a much larger stage, with both sides refining tactics. It’s 21st-century urban warfare scale — ferocious, deadly and unpredictable, soldiers say.

Anything can happen anywhere, most of it bad.

The battlefield and the mission can change just like that. So, the raid turned instantly into a search for more roadside bombs.

Rolling through the Al Khadrah neighborhood just outside the Blackjack’s gates, Bradley, a 27-year-old from Salt Lake City spotted the fresh pile of dirt on the side of the road.

“The trash starts to look familiar, believe it or not,” Bradley said of the second nature scanning skills many soldiers learn.

So, his platoon pulled over to deal with a roadside bomb. With the area secure, bomb explosives soldiers from the 752nd Ordnance Company out of Fort Sill, Okla., arrived and prepared to detonate the bomb’s 155 mm artillery shell.

As they worked, locals gathered. Between turns at trying to unsnarl traffic, Bradley and his team — Sgt. Jeremy Lewis and Spc. Timothy Heim — talked about how this fit a recent pattern of attacks in which insurgents wait until bomb disposal teams arrive, then attack with mortars.

Seconds later, their fears came true.

Three mortar rounds landed only about 50 feet from their up-armored Humvee.

Miraculously, no soldiers were injured. But two small Iraqi boys lay dead. A third, older boy tried to drag himself to safety.

Bradley, Heim, Lewis and the rest of the soldiers somehow stayed almost supernaturally calm. Although they expected rocket-propelled grenades to follow the mortars, they rushed to check the bodies of the children, and to drag the wounded boy to safety.

“God, that’s horrible,” Bradley said quietly after the situation stabilized.

But from radio traffic, it became rapidly apparent that as bad as it was in Al Khadrah, worse attacks were happening simultaneously around Baghdad.

“They had us pegged,” Bradley muttered. “They had us [expletive] pegged.”

No matter how bad things get, soldiers don’t get to go home.

Hours later, as the team monitors yet another roadside bomb, Heim and Lewis reflect on staying calm under fire.

“There’s nothing you can really do,” says Lewis, a 25-year-old soldier from West Monroe, La. “It comes after being here awhile.”

Heim, 21, from Algonquin, Ill., finds a fresh hole in the rear of the team’s Humvee. He touches it and says simply, “That’s curious.”

Despite their outward nonchalance, Bradley, Heim and Lewis would like more than anything to fight the enemy straight up.

“We don’t want to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve to be hurt,” Bradley says.

Insurgents lobbing mortars into a crowded neighborhood “shows they don’t care,” he says. “IEDs, RPGs and mortars guarantee civilian casualties,” he adds.

“If they really cared, they would wait till we were in an open field, and say, ‘Let’s do it.’ But they’re terrorists.”

If they didn’t have to fight, they’d rather be helping. Bradley talks about the school his platoon has adopted, and their ambitions for it.

“We’ve been helping a lot of people,” he says. “Then days like this happen, and it changes our focus to total combat.”

Thursday was an especially bad day around Baghdad. But on the positive side, they found and destroyed two roadside bombs.

“If there’s any good that came out of it,” Bradley says, “that’s two IEDs that won’t blow up convoys and kill soldiers.”

In the process, they somehow held onto their humanity and to their morale.

Even after a day like Thursday, Bradley believes the conventional war with Iraqi forces is won, and the war on terrorism here winnable. But in Baghdad, the war on terrorism clearly is escalating, he says.

“Today was very coordinated; a very coordinated effort to go get us.”


05-06-04, 08:24 AM
I'm currently deployed in the Middle East and thought you'd like the
below letter that I received (forwarded to me) from a Chief Master Sergeant
stationed in Germany:

As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted
to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a
very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I
have not been able to visit all of you during my two week leave back home.
And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq
that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list
of things that has happened in Iraq recently (Please share it with your
friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing):
* Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever
in Iraq.
* Over 400,000 kids have up to date immunizations.
* Over 1500 schools have been renovated and ridded of the weapons that were
stored there so education can occur.
* The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be offloaded from ships
* School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
* The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
* The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.
* 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed compared to 35% before
the war.
* Elections are taking place in every major city and city councils are in
* Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
* Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
* Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
* Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with
US soldiers.
* Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.
* Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to
prevent the spread of germs.
* An interim constitution has been signed.
* Girls are allowed to attend school for the first time ever in Iraq.
* Textbooks that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time
in 30 years.

Don't believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I
have met many people from Iraq that want us there and in a bad way. They
say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their
children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone,
anywhere to dispute me on these facts. So If you happen to run into John
Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison,
Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me and very
disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this
to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.

Ray Reynolds,
SFC Iowa Army National Guard 234th Signal Battalion


05-06-04, 10:37 AM
Marines transition from fight to reaching out to Iraqi citizens
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification Number: 20045492723
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq(May 4, 2004) -- Marines repositioned forces in Fallujah this week, pulling back to the outskirts of the city. The move coincided with the formation of the 1st Battalion of the Fallujah Brigade, a new Iraqi force expected to be composed of former elements of the Iraqi army.

The new force will be led by Iraqi Maj. Gen. Mohammed Latif, a former Iraqi army commander who replaced Maj. Gen. Mohamed Jasim Saleh, a former Iraqi Republican Guard division commander.

Iraqi forces are already taking up key positions to secure and stabilize the restive city, positioned that days ago were occupied by Marines.

"Initially it appears that the transition...is working," said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commanding officer for 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment told reporters in Fallujah. "It's a delicate situation. (It) is the Iraqi solution we've all been looking for in this area."

Lt. Gen. James T. Conway countered critics that the repositioning of Marine forces was a withdrawal or retreat.

"Let me tell you that both of those are dirty words in the vocabulary of a Marine - and nothing could be further from the truth," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Marines in the 1st Marine Division already transitioned on their two-track approach in Iraq from the "no worse enemy" back to "no better friend."

Lt. Col. Paul J. Kennedy, commanding officer for 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment met with 51 Imams and other influential leaders in Ramadi to propose a plan to repair mosques. Kennedy's Marines saw some of the heaviest fighting in Iraq in early April fighting terrorists. The offer came with a reminder that Marines respect the Islamic culture and the proposal was a gesture of Marine goodwill.

The proposal would allocate $1,200 in repairs and renovations for each mosque and employ ten people at each of the mosques for about two weeks to make the repairs.

Marines also delivered oversaw the delivery of air conditioners, ceiling fans, refrigerators and desks to a school in Ramadi. The supplies were bought for the school to alleviate the summer heat for school children.

Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division, assigned to 1st Marine Division, met with sheiks in Khalidiyah to initiate a $21,000 road improvement project. Soldiers near that city already tuned over protection of key sites to the Iraq Facilities Protection Service, which has already identified improvised explosive devices and increased patrols in the area.

Sgt. Maj. Wayne R. Bell, 1st Marine Division's sergeant major, said he's been nothing less than impressed with the actions of the Marines on the lines, whether fighting the enemy or reaching out to the Iraqi citizens.

"I go around the battlefield and look the Marines in the eye and they tell me this is what they're trained to do," Bell said. "This division, under the leadership of Maj. Gen. (James N.) Mattis can do anything it is tasked to do. Although we've gone through a few weeks of heavy fighting, our division motto - no better friend, no worse enemy - remains the same. We will prevail in Iraq."


1st Lt. Joshua P. Batter, from Saint Paul, Minn., speaks with Iraqi children in their village outside of Fallujah, Iraq. Marines repositioned forces outside their city allow Iraqis to take over security for themselves.
(USMC Photo by Pfc. B.E. Loveless) Photo by: Pfc. B.E. Loveless



05-06-04, 07:06 PM
Abizaid Asks to Maintain Higher Force Level in Iraq
Submitted by: Headquarters Marine Corps Media
Story Identification Number: 2004561030
Story by Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON(May 4, 2004) -- WASHINGTON - An Army brigade and two Marine expeditionary units
will replace units of the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry
Regiment in Iraq, Defense, Joint Staff and Army officials said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters today at a DoD news
briefing that he has approved Army Gen. John Abizaid's request to keep the
number of U.S. troops in Iraq at between 135,000 and 138,000.

In April, Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, asked for additional troops.
DoD extended two brigades of the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Light Cavalry
Regiment in Iraq to give commanders a mobile reserve. The units are now
operating in the Central-South region headquartered in Hillah. The units
operate in and around Najaf, Karbala and Al Mahmudiyah.

Under the plan the units were set to spend not more than 90 days extra in Iraq
and not more than 120 days before getting home.

Now the 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y., the 11th Marine
Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the 24th MEU from Camp
Lejeune, N.C., will arrive in Iraq in the June/July timeframe. "That will take
us to a sustained level for now of around 135,000," said Air Force Lt. Gen.
Norton Schwartz, the Joint Staff operations chief. Before the Abizaid request,
planners estimated the number of U.S. troops in Iraq was set at 115,000.

The 10th Division's brigade is going back to a combat zone after about seven
months at Fort Drum. The brigade deployed to Afghanistan and arrived back in
December 2003. The Marine units will have spent a year at their home stations.

The Marine units will stick to their seven-month rotation plan, Schwartz said,
and the Army unit can spend up to a year in Iraq. All this, of course, is
subject to the needs of the combatant commander, he pointed out.

Schwartz also said that Rumsfeld has approved alerting more than 600 Army
National Guard and Army Reserve units as part of the deployment for the
Operation Iraqi Freedom 3 rotation. These units will not deploy until later in
the year.

This alert affects more than 37,000 soldiers in combat-service and combat-
service-support units. He said the units include the gamut of specialties -
among them aviation, transportation, quartermaster, signal, medical, military
intelligence, military police, explosive ordnance disposal, maintenance,
adjutant general, chaplain and engineer units. The forces could be in Iraq for
a year.

Officials said they know which active duty divisions will be part of the OIF 3
deployment, but they are waiting for the official announcement of proper
notification. "All of the units ... when we redeployed the OIF 1 units, were
given a certain timeline to reset for follow-on contingencies if required,"
said Lt. Gen. Richard Coty, the Army operations chief.