View Full Version : New radar system brings the fight back to terrorists

07-04-04, 06:00 AM
New radar system brings the fight back to terrorists
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20047452058
Story by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

CAMP MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq(July 3, 2004) -- Nobody around 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment's command operations center likes it when Cpl. Wesley S. Fomin's handheld computer beeps. When it does, everything comes in the room comes to a halt. It means mortars are inbound.

It isn't a normal pocket-sized computer he holds in his hand, but the second piece of the Marine Corps' first line of defense against mortars - the lightweight counter mortar radar system.

The other piece is a 150-pound radar. The LCMR can pick up the arc of a mortar crossing its 7000 meter-span. It bounces seven signals on the object in the air in just a shade under a half a second, ensuring it is indeed a mortar and reports a 10-digit grid to Fomin's palm pilot.

The Marines in the COC hear "whump" of the mortar impact and are already getting ready to set up counter-fire. Fomin relays the coordinates to the Marines' 81 mm Mortar Platoon, who rotate their tubes and give the attackers a taste of their own medicine.

"Operation Iraqi Freedom II is the first time this thing has been used by a Marine Corps unit," Fomin, a 24-year-old from Oklahoma City, Okla., serving as a field artillery radio operator the battalion. "It's so new we just learned how to use it last week."

When the Marines here replaced the Army's 1st Armored Division earlier this month, they took over the LCMR. In typical Marine fashion, they improvised to stretch the capabilities of the radar.

"When this thing gets too hot it shuts down," Fomin said. "The Army couldn't use it during the hottest part of the day because of that."

The Marines fixed the problem by hooking the radar to one of their air conditioners.

"The AC keeps it cool enough to run 24 hours a day," he added.

The actual radar system operates sort of like laser-beam security system. The radar establishes a plane high above ground level. If anything breaks the plane, the system begins to track it.

"The great thing about the LCMR is it scans 360 degrees all the time, so we're not watching for a blip on the radar," said Lance Cpl. Dennis Aguiar, a 23-year-old forward observer from Chico, Calif. "We (forward observers) can't be in multiple spots at once, but the LCMR can. It can track mortars launched in separate spots shot in different directions."

This feature helps the Marines protect not only their own base camp but also their units in the field.

"If something is shot up within the 7,000 meter range, we can track it even if it's not being shot toward the radar," Aguiar said. "This means our units in the field also benefit from the LCMR."

The handheld computer system is similar to most, using a common and familiar operating system. The common-based programs make it easier for Marines to learn to us the protective radar.

"Your average Marine could pick this system up and be able to operate it a few days later," Aguiar said. "Even if you don't know what the 10 digit coordinates mean, you can still relay them to someone who can."

The system not only benefits the Marines tactically against their enemies, but also psychologically.

"When the guys shooting at us know we can track their position as soon as they launch a mortar, it will make it harder for them to stay alive," said 1st Lt. James C. Moore, a 31-year-old artillery liaison officer from Clinton, S.C. "The lightweight system was designed for the Special Forces but it would be an asset to any battalion."

The psychological impact also benefits the Marines, once they overcome their skepticism.

"When a staff sergeant asked me if the system worked, I asked him if he heard our outgoing fire after we were last mortared," Fomin said. "When he said yes, I told him he answered his own question."

Fomin said Marines around the battalion are learning to trust the gear and now when his computer beeps, it's only moments until Marine mortars start flying back.

"It's good to know we have this piece of equipment here," Fomin explained. "It's good to know we don't have to wait so long to fire back and when we do, it'll be a lot more accurate. And that's the whole goal, to find out where they're shooting from and kill the bastards."


It looks like an average handhled computer, but it does so much more. Cpl. Wesley S. Fomin, a field artillery radar operator with 2nd Battalion,. 2nd Marine Regiment from Oklahoma City, Okla., holds a receiver for the lightweight counter mortar radar system. The small item relays 10-digit grid cooridnates of where a mortar attack originated allowing the Marines to give attackers some of their own medicine with speed and deadly accuracy.
(USMC photo by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes) Photo by: Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes



07-04-04, 06:01 AM
Marines keep terrorists at bay on Iraq's borders
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20047444459
Story by Sgt. Jose L Garcia

AL QAIM, Iraq(July 1, 2004) -- It's unforgiving duty on the Iraqi-Syria border. Long, hot days drag under the beating desert sun. Endless patrols meander miles of empty road and dunes at night. And it's keeping would-be terrorists at bay.

Marines from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion patrol the western borders of Iraq day and night. The mission is to catch and destroy terrorist forces illegally entering Iraq.

Most of these are smugglers, a tradition of sorts for Iraqis. Smuggling has been around for thousands of years in this region. It's the latest crop of cross-border activity - foreign terrorism - that has Marines out on the prowl.

"We have to keep Syrians out or have Iraqis stop going into Syria and buy weapons," said Staff Sgt. Vince Peralta, 30, Weapons Company platoon sergeant from Los Angeles. "We have to stop them from using those weapons against Coalition Forces."

Not only are the foreign fighters a concern but also local Iraqis who attempt to cross the Iraqi border into Syria with stolen items and sell it for money or weapons. As odd as it sounds, sheep are one of the hottest commodities.

"Just a week ago we caught a sheep herder trying to cross the border into Syria with stolen sheep," Peralta said. "We have to stop bad people from stealing from Iraqis and make money that way."

The long patrols covering hundreds of miles each day take a toll not just on the Marines, but the vehicles on which they ride.

According to CWO 2 Richard Ortega, from Emmett, Idaho, and the battalion's maintenance officer, LAV crews patrol an average of nearly 6,000 miles a month in an area spanning 600,000 kilometers.

"Most of it through extremely rough terrain," Ortega said.

It's a job they couldn't get done with the relatively light, fast and armed vehicles. The LAR Marines credit their success to the mobility the LAVs have in covering many miles by driving up and down the border.

"With the mobility and strategic planning that we have, we can spot anyone coming across the border fast," Peralta said.

Patrolling the border is no easy task and danger lurks in the powdered desert land. Marines have taken a few hits by landmines and improvised explosive devices.

"Insurgents know we are up here," Peralta said. "We try not to kick out too much dirt so they don't know that we are here."

The schedule is nearly as brutal as the terrain for Marines. It's a non-stop mission. At the beginning of the deployment, crews would be out for a month and then would head back to headquarters for rest. The presence is still constant, but now they have changed to three-day rotations.

Despite the hot weather and rough terrain in the Iraqi border desert, Marines still relish the field.

"I enjoy being out here," said Cpl. Erik J. Orezechowski, 25, from Philadelphia, and a mortarman with Weapons Company. "It's what a Marine does - live in the field. I ask to come out here even when I'm not supposed to. It's an adventure day in and day out."

They do mounted and dismounted patrols throughout the day and night. The cycle keeps the vehicles ready and the Marines fresh.

"It's a good rotation," Peralta said, "I get to see my Marines relax, make phone calls, send e-mails and find out what's going on in the rear, but most important, do maintenance on our vehicles and clean weapons. We have to take care of our vehicles."


Marines from 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion keeps a close watch on an improvised explosive device found near the Iraq-Syria border. The Marines patrol the western borders of Iraq day and night.
(USMC photo by Sgt. Jose L. Garcia) Photo by: Sgt. Jose L. Garcia



07-04-04, 06:02 AM
Marine's gruesome death sparks strong feelings

By: LORELL FLEMING - Staff Writer

OCEANSIDE ---- Reactions in this military town ranged from sadness to shock and outrage Saturday in response to the news that a captured U.S. Marine, Lebanese-born Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, had been beheaded in Iraq.

Oceanside Mayor Terry Johnson took a moment from the community's Fourth of July weekend celebration when he heard about Hassoun's death.

"Our hearts, prayers and condolences go out to the family of this Marine," Johnson said. "We will continue to support our president and those over there in harm's way. Terrorism will be defeated. We will get the job done, and bring our military home safely."

The Iraqi militant group, the Ansar al-Sunna Army, posted a message on an Islamic web site stating Hassoun had been beheaded and that visual proof would be provided later. U.S. military officials reportedly spent much of Saturday trying to confirm the report.

Camp Pendleton officials declined to comment on the matter Saturday, referring inquires to the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters in Quantico, Va. Repeated calls to that office went unanswered.

Members of the North County Muslim community expressed their dismay upon hearing the news.

True Muslims do not engage in such things, said Mirza Beg of Escondido. Beg is a native of Pakistan who prays at and represents the Vista mosque at weekly interfaith meetings.

"Any human being ---- not just Muslim, but Christian or Jewish person ---- there is no justification for that. We don't support that."

Muslims are against anything that is unjust, he said, be it bombings in Palestinian communities or the taking of hostages, where innocent people are involved, Beg said. "It's something very basically wrong."

Imam Nader Dehani agreed, saying that any Muslim that abides by the Koran is against the killing of innocents.

"It isn't right what they're doing," he said of the hostage-takings and beheadings. "It's hurting all of us. It's hurting all Americans."

Sabiha Kahn, a spokeswoman for the Southern California chapter of the national Council of Islamic-American Relations, denounced the beheading, saying that "we condemn all the beheadings and killings going on in Iraq."

"People are losing their lives for no reason on both sides," Kahn said. "The latest is among the long line of exchanges going on."

Kahn said that she hopes that violence will decrease as the United Nations-led coalition takes more control in Iraq. The United States transferred power to Iraq's interim government Monday.

Hassoun's murder should not deter the U.S. government from continuing its military operation in Iraq, said a 25-year-old Marine corporal based at Camp Pendleton. Like several other Marines contacted Saturday, he declined to give his name. Young Marines are generally advised by their superiors not to talk to reporters about international policy matters.

"Everyone worries about the safety of military personnel over there," said the corporal. "But if the president thinks we need to be over there, then we need to be over there."

Retaliation was on the mind of another 25-year-old Marine stationed in Camp Pendleton: "Whoever did it should be punished," he said.

A civilian, Alejandra Lozano, 34, of Escondido, said she was saddened by the news of Hassoun's death. She and her family were enjoying the festivities near the Oceanside pier when she heard about Hassoun. Standing beside her was her son Eduardo, 9, who said he aspires to become a U.S. Marine. He wore a "Young Marine" camouflage uniform.

"He's too young to understand what happened," Alejandra Lozano said of her Eduardo. "But I understand."

The mother of two said she will not be scared if her son joins the military.

"It's difficult," Alejandra Lozano said. "But if my boy wants to join the military, I would be proud of him. And I would support him."

Eduardo's little sister, Lissette, 7, said she would worry about her brother if he joins the military. "He could die, and I might not see him again," the girl said.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, who is of Lebanese descent and whose grandfather grew up near Hassoun's hometown, declined to comment Saturday. The congressman said he would prefer to remain silent on the issue until the death is officially confirmed, according to Issa spokesman Frederick Hill.

Hill said Issa stands by statements he made about Hassoun's situation last week that vigils, letters or other pleas to the captors from the American community would probably do little good and could actually hurt chances of getting a release.

"They don't see him as a Muslim; they see him as an American. We don't reason with terrorists. We've learned it doesn't work," Issa said.

Staff writers Agnes Diggs, Jennifer Kabbany and Katherine Marks, and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact staff writer Lorell Fleming at (760) 731-5798 or lfleming@nctimes.com.



07-04-04, 06:03 AM
Battalion kicks off deployment with successful raid
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20047353119
Story by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

FALLUJAH, Iraq(July 2, 2004) -- After arriving in Iraq only a week and a half ago, the "Thundering Third" has joined the fight of restoring security in Al Anbar Province, conducting a battalion-sized raid July 1.

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment cordoned As-Serifah, a village east of Kharma. The raid proved successful. Marines detained high-value targets and uncovered stores of weapons and improvised explosive devices.

The battalion only recently arrived in Iraq to replace 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, scheduled to redeploy soon.

"We were fortunate to detain a number of suspected terrorists on our wanted list," said Lt. Col. Willard A. Buhl, the 41-year-old battalion commander from Los Gratos, Calif. "We also found the largest series of buried caches of IED-making materials that our engineer platoon has seen in Iraq since February."

A detachment of Marines from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, armed with metal detectors, discovered a large number of rocket-propelled grenades, crew-served and specialty weapons.

"Fifty-one 107 mm rockets, enemy sniper rifles and a silenced submachine gun were found," Buhl said. "We found 15 (rocket-propelled grenade launchers), a rifle and other weapons," added Cpl. Leon A. Rodrigo, a 21-year-old combat engineer with Company K from Pesmo Beach, Calif. "My team just gets on line with the metal detectors and start sweeping the entire area."

Rodrigo said that about 15 different weapons caches were discovered in As-Serifah.

The hamlet only appeared innocent on the outside populated with families, farm animals and plush green gardens and crops. That view changes when Marines began digging for munitions.
"The cluster of family dwellings was identified by people who were aware of terrorist activity in their neighborhood and wanted Coalition Forces to stop it," Buhl said.

The tip gleaned from local Iraqis was the key to the raid's success, Buhl said. It was that sort of intelligence that drove the Marines' training and which continues to drive operations.

"We received Intel about this place, and some of the locals have been real helpful pointing fingers," said Staff Sgt. Chad A. Luers, the 31-year-old Weapons Platoon Sergeant, Company K, and from Wayland, Iowa.

"This raid went very well because we confiscated many weapons that could've been used against our fellow Marines," said Pfc. Patrick C. McCormick, a 19-year-old radio operator from Faribault, Minn., with 2nd Platoon, Company K.

The battalion's Marines were excited to start off the deployment with a success. Buhl said his Marines and sailors are well trained, highly motivated and focused on mission accomplishment.

"There are people who would do harm to the new government and Coalition Forces, and there are many more who want peace and prosperity in Iraq," Buhl said.

McCormick said he was anxious and ready to capture more weapons and terrorists.

"It feels good to capture high-up insurgents and weapons because now there's less of a chance of our brothers being killed," McCormick added.


Cpl. Joseph J. Villa Gomez (left) and Lance Cpl. Roger L. Ogden, both combat engineers with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment carry a wood crate of rocket-propelled grenades to their humvee after discovering it in a cropfield at As-Serifah, Iraq, July 1. The battalion's Marines arrived in Iraq a week and a half ago to replace 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
(USMC photo by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen) Photo by: Sgt. Jose E. Guillen



07-04-04, 06:05 AM
Heat doesn't mean ops cool down for 1st FSSG in Iraq
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 200463013055
Story by Lance Cpl. Samuel Bard Valliere

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq(June 30, 2004) -- Like a blow dryer blast to the face, the summer months have swept across Iraq. Despite the sweltering heat, troops in Iraq, their skin aglow with a sweaty glaze, are still pushing through business as usual.

Even with the temperature consistently climbing into the triple-digits, operational commitments aren't going to change. Therefore, the Marines are taking extra precautions to make working in the heat less dangerous.

Highs from June through September are expected to average a scorching 110 degrees, while the predicted low rests at an average of 75 degrees during the night, said Gunnery Sgt. James M. Kubacak, 32, the 1st Force Service Support Group's chief weather forecaster.

Some units here have shifted working hours so Marines aren't burdened with as much manual labor between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., when the sun is high in the sky and the temperature is at its peak, said Kubacak.

The Marines still work during the afternoon, though, while the light provides enough visibility to get things done, said Maj. Jason Wallace, 34, the 1st FSSG's operations officer, who added that, "if it can be accomplished at night, it will."

The Supply Management Unit's Marines here, who work long hours outside preparing gear to be delivered to I MEF troops via 1st FSSG convoys, have already shifted their work hours toward the morning, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mike Naputi, 33, who helps to oversee the unit's operations.

The supply Marines try to get the majority of their work done around dawn to avoid some of the mid-afternoon heat, said the Murrieta, Calif., resident. Additionally, the unit's Marines have set up camouflaged netting to shield themselves from the sun later in the day.

Shade is not enough. Rising heat means troops consume more water and, therefore, more is needed, said Maj. John S. Meade, 36, Combat Service Support Group 15's operations officer.

The supply Marines are also responsible for receiving and distributing much of the bottled water I MEF troops drink.

Delivery of water to I MEF troops has been stepped up to accommodate the surge in demand. Everyday, CSSG-15 pushes between 12,000 and 18,000 cases of water to bases around western Iraq, said Sgt. Gustavo A. Terrazas, 22, the unit's assistant rations chief.

Each camp is supplied with a constant 10-day supply of water that affords each person six bottles per day, said Meade, a native of Greeneville, Tenn.

"I have nightmares about water," joked the Santa Ana, Calif., native.

Having that water available is paying off, said Lt. Cmdr. Tim Mott, 35, the chief doctor at the 1st FSSG's Headquarters and Support Battalion Aid Station.

The heat hasn't led to any overwhelming medical problems yet, he said. Only one person has been treated here for a minor heat stroke, and Mott doesn't expect many more casualties.

Mott credits a program which uses color-coded flags that fly throughout the camp, alerting troops of the heat threat and serving as a reminder to drink water. Every hour, the temperature is taken and flags are changed to reflect any change in the degree of heat.

The system has been effective, and leaders have been using its guidance when determining workloads for Marines, said Mott, a Queensburg, N.Y., native.

Being safe when it's hot is as much up to individuals as it is commanders, he added.

One of the gyms here was temporarily closed when the temperature inside the tent hit 118 degrees after its air conditioners went down. Before it was closed, Marines and sailors were still working out, said Mott, who added that Marines should step up their water consumption when exercising in such high temperatures.

The heat isn't just a risk to Marines, said Gunnery Sgt. Gregg A. Smith, 39, the base operations and utilities chief here. Generators that power the camp have also felt the effects of high temperatures.

The engines sometimes shut down when the temperature reaches about 104 degrees, cutting power to work areas and living tents where Marines rely on the electricity to run air conditioners and computers, said the Wahoo, Neb., native.

Some units have raised camouflaged netting to shade their generators and drip water onto the engines in an attempt to cool them.

The next wave of I MEF Marines arriving in Iraq to relieve those currently deployed can expect cooler days. Temperatures are expected make a 34-degree drop to an average high of 76 degrees in November.


Sgt. Gustavo A. Terrazas, 22, the assistant rations chief of the 1st Force Service Support Group’s Supply Management Unit, inventories cases of water June 19, 2004, at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq. With temperatures in Iraq averaging highs of 110 degrees during the summer months, the unit is stepping up delivery of water to the I Marine Expeditionary Force’s bases. Between 12,000 and 18,000 cases of water are moved throughout western Iraq every day, allowing troops six bottles each per day. Terrazas is a native of Santa Ana, Calif. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Samuel Bard Valliere



07-04-04, 07:14 AM
Iraq working on amnesty planfor insurgents


The Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq's prime minister, less than a week after taking power, may offer amnesty to insurgents and could extend it to those who killed American troops in an apparent bid to lure Saddam Hussein loyalists from their campaign of violence.

A spokesman for Iyad Allawi went as far as to suggest attacks on U.S. troops over the past year were legitimate acts of resistance — a sign of the new government's desire to distance itself from the 14-month U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

"If he (a guerrilla) was in opposition against the Americans, that will be justified because it was an occupation force," the spokesman, Georges Sada, said Saturday. "We will give them freedom."

Choking the brutal 14-month insurgency is the No. 1 priority of Allawi's government, and the prime minister is expected to make a number of security-related policy announcements in coming days. Besides the amnesty plan, those include the resurrection of Iraq's death penalty and an emergency law that sets curfews in Iraq's trouble spots, Sada said.

The amnesty plan is still in the works. A full pardon for insurgents who killed Americans is not a certainty, Sada told The Associated Press. Allawi's main goal is to "start everything from new" by giving a second chance to rebel fighters who hand in their weapons and throw their weight behind the new government.

"There is still heavy discussion about this," said Sada, interviewed in the prime minister's office. He said the U.S. Embassy has encouraged Allawi to try creative solutions to end the insurgency as long as they don't infringe on human rights.

Analysts say Allawi's plan is critical to ending a grinding rebellion in Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland that has shown no sign of bowing to the U.S. military. Especially worrying for Allawi's government is recent evidence that shows secular fighters — ex-members of Saddam's Baath Party — forming an alliance with radical Islamists.

Some type of amnesty is needed to coax Iraqi nationalist guerrillas to the government's side, while separating them from fighters using terrorist-style bombings, experts say.

"It's hard to imagine any way forward other than co-opting people who had previously fought against the United States, either as part of Saddam's army, part of the insurgency, or both," said Jon Alterman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Allawi needs to split the opposition into two groups: those he can co-opt and those he must confront."

Amnesties can be tricky. If the offer is too strict and few rebels accept, it will have little effect. But too lenient a deal could destabilize the government by bringing criminals and radicals into the government, said James Dobbins, a veteran diplomat who served as the Bush administration's special envoy for Afghanistan.

Amnesties have succeeded in many countries. Militants once considered outlaws landed top jobs in government. In Kenya, South Africa and Cyprus they even became president. Some landed the Nobel Peace Prize.

"Not to push the point too far, but George Washington led the American insurgency and went on to become our first president," Dobbins said. "If Allawi and his government can't assume the nationalist mantle in the eyes of the Iraqi population, they can't prevail against the insurgency."

Dobbins said he believed Washington would not block Allawi's pardoning of Iraqi insurgents, noting that there is plenty of precedent for such reconciliation. The United States never sought to prosecute surrendering Germans, Koreans or Vietnamese who had killed U.S. soldiers. He said he doubted the United States intends to prosecute the many Afghan and Iraqi prisoners it holds as enemy combatants.

Besides, there is wide acknowledgment that U.S. occupation chief L. Paul Bremer's disbanding of Iraq's army and security services was a mistake, and forced people into fighting the occupation for money and revenge, Sada said.

"Some people were cheated, some were misled. Some did this because they had no salaries, no food, no bread," Sada said.

There appears to be little controversy about pardoning rebels who were not actual killers of U.S. or Iraqi security forces. Sada said it was "no problem" to amnesty rebel financiers and those storing heavy weapons in their homes.

It remains to be seen whether many hard-core Iraqi insurgents, numbering around 5,000 according to a recent U.S. estimate, will take Allawi's expected offer. One former army officer who described himself as a "helper to the resistance" in Fallujah said Allawi's plan would find little traction because his government is seen as illegitimate.

"I do not want to return to the new Iraqi army and be put in a situation where I have to open fire on my countrymen in order to defend the Americans," said Mohammed al-Janabi, a former colonel in the disbanded Iraqi army.

"The goal of this offer is to divide the resistance. They want to isolate the honest patriots from the Islamic Mujahedeen — in other words divide and rule — and this is not going to happen," al-Janabi said. "As for Allawi and (President Ghazi) al-Yawer, they are taking orders from the new American ambassador after the departure of their former master, Bremer. They are helping the Americans steal our oil and they will be punished."

Such holdouts, Sada warned, face the full force of the U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces.

"He should expect to be killed. Those who continue fighting the government can expect anything ranging from prison to the death penalty," he said.

Last week, Allawi publicly warned Baathists to stop backing the insurgency.

One former colonel in Saddam Hussein's secret police said he and other former Baathists would welcome any amnesty. The man, now a Mosul taxi driver who asked that he simply be called Abu Hani, said the Islamist fighters would be unlikely to accept Allawi's offer.

"In my opinion, Allawi and al-Yawer are working to salvage the country from the ordeal. They are going in the right direction," Abu Hani said. "It seems that the new rulers of Iraq want to fix some of the mistakes committed earlier, such as the disbanding of the Iraqi army and the security bodies."


AP correspondent Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

AP-WS-07-03-04 1622EDT



07-04-04, 07:47 AM
Two Marine combat engineers receive Bronze Star for ensuring safe crossing for Iraq advance <br />
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<br />
By Juliana Gittler, Stars and Stripes <br />
Pacific edition, Sunday, July 4, 2004 <br />
<br />
On a pivotal night in...

07-04-04, 08:21 AM
Joe Galloway: Bremer Exits with Long Record of Bad Decisions <br />
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WASHINGTON - Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, the American proconsul, did a stealth hand-over of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government...

07-04-04, 09:16 AM
Marines Raise American Flag Over New U.S. Embassy in Iraq
Submitted by: American Forces Press Service
Story Identification #: 2004729486
Story by - Rudi Williams

WASHINGTON(July 1, 2004) -- U.S. Marines raised the American flag at the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad June 30, marking the first time an American flag has flown there in 13 years.

During a brief ceremony marking the occasion, the new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, John D. Negroponte, said, "It has been 13 years since the American flag was last lowered at the United States Embassy in Baghdad on a day as dark as today is bright. This afternoon we have the honor to once again see Old Glory back where she belongs. Wherever one is able to reopen an embassy, of course, it is a high privilege, but nowhere moreso than here in Iraq."

Negroponte said the past 13 years have been long and difficult, "and now there is a new Iraq to explore -- the likes of which has no precedent in the history of this ancient land."

The ambassador said the occasion marked a new beginning in relations between the two countries.

"Our presence, our outreach and our insight into Iraq's political life, its economy and its society, will be crucial to shaping a new era in bilateral relations," said Negroponte, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "We reopen the United States Embassy in Baghdad convinced that the spirit of freedom summons Americans and Iraqis to great acts of friendship and cooperation. This is the fundamental meaning of the act that we now perform."

Negroponte introduced Ambassador James Jeffrey as the deputy chief of mission. A decorated Vietnam War veteran, Jeffrey, the former U.S. ambassador to Albania, was the No. 2 diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. From 1969 to 1976, he served as an Army infantry officer, with assignments in Germany and Vietnam.

The new embassy in central Baghdad will reportedly be staffed by more than 900 Americans assisted by 600 to 700 Iraqis in the biggest American embassy in the world. The huge embassy is currently housed in a former palace of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. It will serve as the American Embassy until a site is chosen in Iraq's capital city as a replacement for the embassy seized by Iraq in 1970. Officials speculate that it will take two years to build a new embassy.

The temporary embassy is located in what's called the "Green Zone," a heavily guarded area in Baghdad that encompasses the main palaces of Saddam Hussein. It's surrounded by a wall of reinforced, blast-proof concrete and is guarded by tanks and helicopters.



07-04-04, 10:22 AM
Issue Date: July 05, 2004

Reservists mobilize, change jobs for war

By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer

It’s been more than 10 years since the Reserve leathernecks of 4th Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion got the call, and only a handful went to war.
But their time has come.

Nearly 400 Marines from the Pasadena, Calif.-based unit will join hundreds of other reservists mobilized in June for deployments to Djibouti and Iraq in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

The air defense Marines aren’t going to Iraq to target enemy aircraft with their Stinger missile-equipped Humvees — instead falling in as a provisional security battalion — but that hasn’t diminished their enthusiasm.

“Ever since 9/11, they’ve been wondering if they’d be deployed,” said Maj. Joe Borja, an inspector-instructor with the unit. “It’s been a challenge to keep people motivated during the wait. Now everyone’s excited.”

Along with the LAAD Marines, hundreds of other Reserve leathernecks were mobilized the week of June 21.

The Reserve has also activated one more infantry battalion than was planned, said Maj. Tom Nelson, a Marine Forces Reserve spokesman, an indication of how stretched the active-duty Corps has become.

Furthermore, most of the Marines are being called up to do jobs outside their military occupational specialties. This contrasts with mobilizations that came earlier this year, when about 3,000 reservists were tapped to join a force totaling about 25,000 Marines for the first of the Corps’ two planned seven-month rotations to Iraq.

Reserve officials declined to say how many reservists are being mobilized for the second Iraq rotation, but plans announced in January called for a contribution of about 4,500 reservists.

No cannons required

On June 21, the Corps activated 250 reservists from 8th Tank Battalion. The Marines, all volunteers from 8th Tank Battalion companies across the country, will deploy to Djibouti under the command of the Rochester, N.Y.-based Headquarters and Service Company. But the tankers aren’t going over to blast enemy armor. They’ll leave their M1A1 Abrams tanks at home and instead stand sentry duty, providing perimeter security for Camp Lemonier and its airfield.

The tankers will undergo a short pre-deployment training package at Camp Lejeune, N.C., then head to the country on the Horn of Africa for one of two planned six-month rotations of 125 Marines each.

And in another round of mobilizations four days later, a number of artillery units were called, some for cannoneer duty, others for duties outside their MOS.

A detachment of artillerymen from Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marines, will deploy to Iraq as two provisional truck platoons.

Marines from three companies will go through pre-deployment training at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and serve as provisional military policemen:

• Kilo Battery, 4th Battalion, 14th Marines, from Huntsville, Ala.

• Lima Battery, 4/14, from Bessemer, Ala.

• Papa Battery, 5th Battalion, 14th Marines, from Spokane, Wash.

In fact, of all the artillery units mobilizing for Iraq, only the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Mike Battery, 4/14, will pull artillery duty. The Marines of Mike Battery won’t be using their own howitzers, however — they’ll fall in on cannons left behind by the active-duty units wrapping up their own seven-month tours in the war zone.

And for the first time since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, reservists with the Pasadena-headquartered 4th LAAD Battalion are being activated. During Operation Desert Storm, one platoon from 4th LAAD was mobilized for duty.

The unit is expected to undergo up to seven weeks of pre-deployment training at various bases in California, focusing on its new security mission. Though it’s a bit different than the usual drill weekend defending the airspace over Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., unit officials are confident their Marines will be ready.

“We will be focusing on our basic ground skills — things that every Marine is required to know,” Borja said. “We consider ourselves the grunts of the air wing.”

The latest mobilizations follow a June 1 activation that saw two infantry battalions — the Encino, Calif.-headquartered 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, and the Houston-based 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines — called up for Iraq duty.

Previously, only 2/24 was expected to mobilize, but 1/23 was added to the list to replace 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based battalion that was called to deploy to Haiti for peacekeeping duty in early March. That nearly four-month stint of duty took 3/8 out of the batting order for Iraq duty this fall.

A detachment of Marines from the Bossier City, La.-based Bravo Company, 1/23, deployed to Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba, in November 2001 to guard the station’s fence-line border with Communist Cuba.

Christian Lowe covers the Marine Corps Reserve. He can be reached at (703) 750-8613 or at clowe@marinecorpstimes.com.



07-04-04, 01:08 PM
Independence Day 2004 <br />
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By Betsy Pisik and Maya Alleruzzo <br />
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BAGHDAD — Members of the 91st Engineer Battalion's Alpha Company were trying to fix a broken armored personnel...

07-04-04, 01:10 PM
Despite tangible progress in Iraq, there is little sense among troops that their job here is done. Both the transfer of authority and the public appearance of Saddam were conducted behind an impenetrable cordon of U.S. military security, far from the Iraqi people who need to believe that the old regime is finished and that it is now up to them to rebuild their country. Daily attacks on foreign targets, domestic infrastructure and even the Iraqi people continue to illustrate Iraq's instability. If martial law is declared, as appears increasingly likely, U.S. troops will be required to help enforce it. Rebuilding Iraq will require significant patience and a certain amount of trust. "Every morning, I wake up and ask myself why am I doing this?" says Spc. Randall Archie, also a member of Alpha Company, who has an eagle tattooed on his right shoulder. He looks at photos of his family and friends back in Raceland, Ky., and a previous generation of soldiers in his family. "It's what I feel I have to do, because of the guys in the past that did it for us. Really, there's only four things that matter to me: God, my family, my country and my friends."


Though U.S. troops are not allowed to wave the American flag in Iraq, Spc. Jimmy Boyd Israelsen, 20, will carry this flag tattoo with him always.