View Full Version : Donating to research: Marines, Sailors get paid 'to go'

07-20-04, 06:13 AM
Donating to research: Marines, Sailors get paid 'to go'
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200472024054
Story by Sgt.

AL ASAD, Iraq(July 20, 2004) -- Naval Medical Research Unit 3, based out of Cairo, Egypt, arrived here with a team of examiners in order to collect and test stool samples to determine if behaviors or immune markers contribute to the way diarrhea affects different people.

The researchers explained that the study would be particularly beneficial to the military because diarrhea can debilitate combat effectiveness by causing dehydration, malnourishment and fatigue.

The dozen doctors, scientists and corpsmen from NAMRU-3 also brought their wallets with them for the experiment, paying anyone willing to participate in the study.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Marshall R. Monteville, medical officer, NAMRU-3, compensating servicemembers was a form of encouragement for them to participate in the study.

"We provide an incentive to the troops for providing a blood and stool sample," said the 35-year-old Honolulu native. "In this case study the incentive is $20 for their donation (of the samples)."

Monteville and his team arrived here with a good sense of humor because they have to solicit the goods they are here to analyze.

"One phase of the study is to interact with the troops and determine who is and is not seeking medical help when they develop diarrhea," he said. "We have to go out and ask the personnel if they will be willing 'to go' in a cup for $20."

Monteville did not expect the overwhelming turnout of volunteers the medical experiment received, even though money was being offered for participation.

"I have never had to call for reinforcements to have specimens collected," he jokingly said. "This was my best day ever because I have never had this many people show up for a research study."

One Marine who volunteered was suffering from diarrhea and participated to help science.

"I think it is great to help science and research," said Lance Cpl. Nathan W. Arras, security platoon, 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and 20-year-old Phoenix native. "When I am in the field or on my tower on watch, I do not have time to have diarrhea."

"I can't think of a better way to earn $20," added Lance Cpl. Gabriel I. Flores, security platoon, 3rd LAAD, and 22-year-old McAllen, Texas, native. "I did my part for science. Now every time I flush the toilet I feel like I am flushing $20 down the drain."

Lt. Andrew J. Stegall, NAMRU-3, explained why this type of research is important to the advancement and effectiveness of combat forces.

"Throughout history, diarrhea has been the leading cause of slowing troop movement and degrading the fighting force," said the 33-year-old Savannah, Ga., native.

According to Navy Capt. Ed Antosek, flight surgeon, Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, and Director of Aviation Medicine at Naval Hospital, Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, S.C., the study is integral to the advancement of research in a combat environment.

"This is an awesome experience for these people as researchers to be embedded with war fighters in a combat environment," said the 57-year-old Philadelphia native and former commanding officer of NAMRU-3. "This offers an opportunity for the researchers to interact with the line commanders, Marines, Sailors and soldiers who are out there dealing with the pains and fatigue of combat."


Lance Cpl. Nathan W. Arras (right), 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, gives a smile to Lt. Cmdr. Marshall R. Monteville, head of enterics department, Naval Medical Research Unit 3, as the procedure for using the stool sample container is explained to him at Al Asad, Iraq, June 21. Arras, a 20-year-old Phoenix native, is participating in a study to determine if behaviors or immune markers contribute to the way diarrhea affects different people. Photo by: Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III



07-20-04, 06:14 AM
Filipino Truck Driver Freed in Iraq


BAGHDAD, Iraq - A Filipino truck driver held hostage in Iraq for nearly two weeks was freed Tuesday, a day after his nation withdrew its final peacekeepers from Iraq _ a move that met the kidnappers' demands but angered U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Angelo dela Cruz was brought to the steps of the United Arab Emirates embassy at about 10:30 a.m. and told by the kidnappers to go inside, an embassy official said on condition of anonymity. Embassy officials said there was no coordination between them and the kidnappers.

"We were surprised this morning to receive the Filipino hostage in Iraq, Mr. Angelo dela Cruz, who was set free by his kidnappers and handed to our embassy in Baghdad," Hamad Ahmad al Shamasi, the Emirates' head of mission here, said in a statement.

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Philippine government officials arrived at the embassy and drove dela Cruz away about three hours later in a silver Mercedes. He will be sent to Abu Dhabi for a medical checkup, al Shamasi said.

Dela Cruz's family in the Philippines' Pampanga province reacted with joy.

"We're quite happy but we will be really, really happy once we see the president holding our brother. Thank you to everyone," said dela Cruz's brother Feliciano.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo went on live national television to confirm dela Cruz's release and say that he is healthy and well.

But while she said she was happy that Angelo dela Cruz is coming home, she warned that other "innocents" will not be so lucky if terrorists continue to mount attacks and kidnappings.

"It was a time of trial and a time of triumph," Arroyo said of the difficult negotiations that led to release of dela Cruz, who was snatched by insurgents near Fallujah on July 7.

She said she had spoken with dela Cruz, a truck driver and member of a family of eight who has become a national icon in a country that has more than 7 million citizens working abroad.

"To the family, Angelo is going home," she said.

Arroyo made no mention of the criticism she has taken from allies for meeting the kidnappers demand that she withdraw the Philippines' 51-strong troop contingent in Iraq early, saying only that she did not regret her decision. The peackeepers had been scheduled to leave on Aug. 20.

The United States and other nations have warned that the Philippine decision could encourage kidnappers in Iraq, and have said Arroyo's decision threatens to damage her nation's cozy links with Washington.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Sunday that Washington was re-evaluating ties with the Philippines. The Iraqi government has expressed disappointment with the Philippines' decision to remove its troops.

In another kidnapping case, an Egyptian truck driver held hostage was freed Monday evening and taken to his country's embassy. Alsayeid Mohammed Alsayeid Algarabawi was abducted from a truck he had driven from Saudi Arabia into Iraq.

Algarabawi's captors, who called themselves the Iraqi Legitimate Resistance, never threatened to harm him but made a series of demands on his Saudi company, including asking for $1 million ransom and insisting it stop doing business in Iraq.

The Al-Jarie Transport company refused to pay the ransom but agreed to end its business in Iraq, said Faisal al-Naheet, a subcontractor speaking on behalf of the firm.

Militants have used near-constant car bombs, sabotage, assassinations and kidnappings as weapons in their 15-month-old insurgency.

In the southern city of Basra, an Iraqi council member running for governor here was killed as he left for work Tuesday morning, along with his driver and bodyguard, an Iraqi official said.

Hazim al-Aynachi was pulling out of his driveway when gunmen opened fire on his car. Another person was injured, said council head Abdul Bari Faiyek.

Faiyek blamed the killing on opposition to elections for a local governor which were due to occur Tuesday, but were delayed in response to the shooting.

"Many threats have been directed to the eight council members nominated to the post," Faiyek said, adding that another councilman escaped an assassination attempt on Monday.

On Monday, a fuel tanker rigged as a massive bomb hurtled toward a Baghdad police station and exploded, killing nine people, wounding 60, and leveling a huge section of an industrial neighborhood.

The suicide bombing was the fourth in a string of deadly attacks on police and government facilities in the last five days. Since the new government took power June 28, at least 75 people have been killed in militant attacks.

In the holy city of Najaf, Iraqi police discovered a weapons cache including 230 rockets and 200 mortar shells Monday, police chief Brig. Hussein Mohammed said.

Police also arrested suspected oil smugglers breaching an oil pipeline that connects the southern and northern oil fields, in Bahr al Najaf, 31 miles west of Najaf city, Col. Mohammed al-Bahash said. He said three oil tankers were confiscated.

On Sunday, two car bombs in Tikrit killed two police officers and wounded five others.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has promised to crack down on insurgents and restore security. In his first foreign trip since taking office June 28, Allawi thanked Jordan's King Abdullah II for helping train thousands of Iraqi troops.

Associated Press writer Bushra Juhi contributed to this report.



07-20-04, 06:15 AM
Exchange serves Marines holding line outside Fallujah <br />
Submitted by: I Marine Expeditionary Force <br />
Story Identification #: 200472054535 <br />
Story by Sgt. <br />
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CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(July 20, 2004) -- On...

07-20-04, 06:16 AM
24th, 11th MEUs renew friendships
July 19,2004

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of a series by Daily News reporter Eric Steinkopff who is with Camp Lejeune's 24th MEU in Kuwait.

CAMP VIRGINIA, KUWAIT - For several decades the Marine Corps has used an established formula for sending out its Marine Expeditionary Units.

Each force has 2,200 troops, which usually travel on three assault ships. At any given time, the Camp Lejeune-based unit handles everything west of the Suez Canal and the West Coast MEU handles things east of that point. A unit from Okinawa, Japan keeps tabs on the Pacific Rim.

But times have changed.

The recent deployment of Camp Lejeune's 24th MEU to Kuwait, some on the USS Kearsarge, the merchant marine cargo ship USNS Charleton, and the rest by commercial flights was well out of the norm.

The 24th MEU deposited reinforced versions of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 at Camp Virginia, an Army facility in the Kuwait desert to train and get acclimated for a mission to Iraq.

Then the 11th MEU from Camp Pendleton, Calif., showed up. It swelled the population at Camp Virginia to about 4,000.

The additional troops packed billeting tents. A second chow hall opened. Long lines stretched from phone centers and the Internet café.

The place was just plain crowded, despite the best efforts of Army troops to keep the camp running.

"We've run into more than a few old friends," said 24th MEU public affairs officer Capt. Dave Nevers. "With so many devil dogs on the deck and since the Army has made us feel so at home, you might mistake this for a Marine base instead of an Army camp."

As with the 24th MEU's infantry battalion, which saw action at Nasiriyah during Operation Iraqi Freedom I, many in 11th MEU have seen combat.

"Well over half are Operation Iraqi Freedom I veterans," said 11th MEU public affairs officer Capt. Carrie Batson. "The skills and experience they have are beneficial, and they pass that down to younger Marines."

But the most unique thing may be that they can meet people they might have only talked to by phone or whose names they know only from a message or a roster.

"We never get a chance to see each other," Batson said. "The neatest thing about having two MEUs (in the same place) was the opportunity to meet face to face and exchange ideas and share information."

The sheer size of the group and lack of indoor facilities at Camp Virginia presented a challenge for 1st Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. Jim Mattis who couldn't address all 4,000 Marines and sailors at once so gave his speech five times to five different groups of Marines.

He said to keep open the lines of communication with the Iraqi people but also to be careful.

"I want you to be a friend one minute, one day, one week longer than they think you will," Mattis said. "Had we not made friends, you can bet there would have (more) casualties. We are no better friend and no worst enemy, but treat everyone as a friend at first."

He cautioned people to be careful when driving and working around heavy machinery that could produce deaths from "silly, stupid things." He also cautioned about attacks and told the troops to chase their attackers.

"We have an area to patrol larger than North Carolina," Mattis said. "If someone shoots at you, stop, hunt them down and kill them."

Troops were also reminded about the Geneva Convention and warned to treat prisoners in kind.

"The enemy will try to make you hate every Iraqi. You must not give them that opportunity," Mattis said. "You are the most radical dudes in the world. You're willing to pick up a rifle and go halfway around the world and protect our way of life. Wars like this end in little pieces (but) keep your sense of humor. It's like a flak jacket around your heart."

Contact Eric Steinkopff at esteinkopff@jdnews.com.



07-20-04, 06:17 AM
Chaplains work on the heart, soul and spirit
July 18,2004

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is part of an ongoing series by Daily News reporter Eric Steinkopff who is with Camp Lejeune's 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Kuwait.

CAMP VIRGINIA, KUWAIT - The days are hot in the Kuwaiti desert - 120-degrees worth - as commanders push Camp Lejeune troops through rigorous training steps before they actually deploy to Iraq.

Tired and sweaty, Marines and sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit trudge back to their "hooches" each day to discuss successes and failures before they clean up, grab some water, chow and what little rest they can.

It's all a buildup before the 2,200-member force moves to its real destination.

But as minds and bodies are honed by patrols, convoys and shooting practice, chaplains within the 24th MEU work on hearts, soul and spirit to guide troops the next seven months.

"Do this and you will live - the message is found within one's self," is the message from Navy Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Ben Brown, a 56-year old Catholic priest from Louisville, Ky.

Brown directly addressed the tougher aspects of war like patrolling, armor, tactics and training. He used the parable of the Good Samaritan to show how Marines must act, even in the worst of times.

The familiar Bible story is about someone beaten, robbed and left for dead. But a Samaritan -with whom Jews of the time did not associate - stopped to help. He did so after two other more prominent members of their society had passed earlier and done nothing.

Brown encouraged Marines and sailors to surprise others by their generosity.

"The Samaritan got over all his prejudices," Brown said. "We look upon each other as brothers. To live and come back healthy, we need to take care of each other. Even when things are tough, you are not alone."

Navy Chaplain Cmdr. Jim Hightower, 53, from Toccoa, Ga., is an Assembly of God liturgical protestant chaplain. He says a bond exists among Marines, and they must tap into both training and brotherhood to achieve.

"I find that there is a spiritual quality with the Marine Corps lifestyle and without a doubt they are the most disciplined service," Hightower said. "When I read the New Testament I find that Jesus called the 12 disciples - which comes from discipline. I find parallels every day between the Christian faith and the Marine Corps way of life."

The Marines pride themselves on bringing back all their people and they aren't often taken prisoner. The images of American hostages being executed by the enemy on television have made Marines more determined than ever.

No troops in the 24th MEU wants tell their commander or family that they let a wounded comrade be taken. The response that these Marines plan could conceivably be more than their enemy anticipates. It is an age-old tradition that Marines bring back their own.

Hightower said putting others before self has its roots in scripture.

"Their motto of no man left behind is like the parable of the lost sheep," Hightower said. "For the shepherd to leave 99 in the fold and go out into the wilderness to find the one who was lost."

Contact Eric Steinkopff at esteinkopff@jdnews.com.



07-20-04, 06:18 AM
It's a life of grime <br />
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Honored Marine signs on for another combat tour <br />
By David Hasemyer <br />
July 19, 2004 <br />
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The &quot;Marine of the Year&quot; is on his hands and knees...

07-20-04, 07:27 AM
Taking Power
A roundup of the past two weeks' good news in Iraq.

Monday, July 19, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

Another fortnight in Iraq, another fortnight's worth of news about terrorism, hostages, military and civilian casualties, faulty intelligence in the run-up to war, and the problems of reconstruction, as our mainstream media continue to focus overwhelmingly on bad news from the Mesopotamian quagmire. And yet, some still think that the latest coverage is actually too positive--as in this Reuters story: "Some U.S. news outlets are treating the 'transfer of power' to Iraqis as a new beginning for the country, even though the situation on the ground seems little altered, experts said." Some "experts" will remain "little altered" regardless of the actual situation on the ground.

And yet, there is good news coming out of Iraq, as this compilation of all the positive developments that you might have otherwise missed clearly demonstrates. I started looking out for good news from Iraq over two months ago, having gotten fed up with the unrelenting barrage of negative coverage, which focused almost exclusively on violence, failure and dashed hopes. The good news is much underreported and not always easy to find, but clearly it's out there. Taken together with the usual Iraq coverage, it paints a much more balanced and, dare I say it, nuanced picture of a country, which is still waking up from a three-decade-long nightmare and trying against many odds to become normal.

In many ways, it now falls to the political blogs to do the work one would expect from the mainstream media--to provide a fair and balanced picture of situation in Iraq. It's the blogs that dig up the information, disseminate it, and bring to everyone's attention the more outrageous examples of media bias or carelessness with facts. As John Leo wrote recently, "What's new about the press is that so many people who follow it with a critical eye now have an outlet to howl about inaccuracy and partisanship. The big media used to be able to shrug off critics like this. Now they can't."

So here's the latest good news:

• Iraqi society. A mixed, but generally encouraging, picture emerges out of the latest poll of Iraqis conducted the Iraqi Center for Strategic Research and Studies in seven major cities following the transfer of sovereignty:

Iraqi public has little faith in the new interim government of Ayad Allawi, with only 27 percent approving the formation of his cabinet. However, more than two thirds (81 percent) said they would like Allawi's government to disarm local militias or bring them under its control. . . . More than half believed that the forthcoming general elections would be "just and fair" while only 18 percent said they would be "unfair" . . .
66 percent of Iraqis objected to the presence of foreign troops while only 29 percent said their presence was necessary. An even lesser number--41 percent--said they would feel safe if the troops left. . . .

Regarding electricity, 64 percent agreed to a question that power supplies were worse than under the ousted leader Saddam Hussein. But 58 percent said the overall economic situation was better than before. . . .

The poll . . . reinforces results from earlier surveys that Iraqis dislike any system of government that is based on religious, sectarian or ethnic grounds.

Which is surely encouraging for the future. Not to mention rather underreported.

After the transfer of sovereignty, Iraq re-enters the world stage: "Iraq is preparing to name ambassadors to 43 countries around the world, including neighbors, like Iran and Syria, and Far Eastern and European states." This, according to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, will be a "major step towards the rehabilitation of Iraq's foreign policy." The new government hopes eventually to surpass the total of 77 embassies maintained under Saddam.
On the domestic scene, federalism--arguably the only political system that will make sense in Iraq--is winning converts, and not just in the Kurdish north. The four southern provinces, which produce much of Iraq's oil export income and electricity for domestic consumption, are considering their options in a struggle for better representation: "Why is federalism a dirty word?" asks Mansour al-Tamimi, a member of Basra's governorate council and newspaper editor. "The most successful countries in the world are federal."

In a related development, Iraq's interim president, Ghazi al-Yawer, has announced plans for a new national high court to adjudicate disputes between the central government and local governments of autonomous regions, mainly in the Kurdish north. The proposed Federal Supreme Court would "control the relationship between the central government and the governments of the regions of Iraq, as related to taxes, administration, resources" and other related issues.

Meanwhile, in the run-up to the next year's poll, the chief electoral officer and seven commissioners of Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission have finished a two-week study course in Mexico, where international experts and election officials tutored the Iraqi team on topics such as "the standards and principles of credible elections, approaches for dispute resolution . . ., voter registration . . ., the registration of political parties, voter education campaigns, and procedures for polling, counting and tabulating results."

Read also this profile of a Kurdish official Bakhtiyar Amin: "Iraq's new human rights minister may be the most potent symbol of post-war Iraq: a member of a long-oppressed minority who has a unique opportunity to prove that Iraqis can put aside ethnic and religious rivalries to come together as a nation."

Speaking of elections, one of the contenders in January's presidential poll thinks Iraqis should look to some unusual role models. Saad Janabi, vice president of one of Iraq's premier conglomerates, the Janabi Group, has this to say: "We need a business person in politics to rebuild Iraq like the Italian and Lebanese premiers. Stability and security are linked to the economy. We need to have business people in politics." His own personal inspiration: the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and the architect of Lebanon's post-civil war rebirth, Rafiq Hariri.

Before democracy, however, liberty. Freedom of speech revives in Iraq, not always in the tidiest of forms:

On the brick wall of the parking lot adjacent to one of the largest mosques in the city, several anonymous observers of modern-day Iraq have spray-painted their commentary in black and red. "Where is the mustache of Saddam?" asked one writer, who was insulting the deposed leader by using an Iraqi expression for challenging one's manhood. Another states that, "the killing of Americans is halal," or acceptable under Islamic law. And a third writer scrawled in English that the "USA Rocks!"
Under the former regime, tagging a wall with a controversial political message was punishable by a long jail sentence and, sometimes, execution. The walls of post-Saddam Hussein Baghdad, however, have become a canvas for political dialogue and colorful self-expression.

In related media news, according to a latest opinion poll, "more than half of people with access to satellite television in Iraq now watch al-Sharqiya, a new Arabic channel which specializes in Iraqi affairs. . . . 58 percent of viewers in Iraq trust what the new channel broadcasts regarding the situation in the country. . . . More people said they like the programs of al-Sharqiya more than those of any of the major Arab satellite television channels, including al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya. Al-Sharqiya was officially launched a few months ago and has attracted a large following in the country due to its concentration on domestic affairs. It is the first satellite channel with a purely local character. It reminds the Iraqis of their good old days and relays a message of tolerance and coexistence as it strives to depict most aspects of the country's diverse society." That's pre-Saddam "good old days."
In the world of education, academic cooperation is growing, both with the Western and neighboring countries. Read also this uplifting story about valuable assistance from the U.S.:

Biology professor Safaa Al-Hamdani wasn't expecting an avalanche of books when he asked colleagues at Jacksonville State University to help his alma mater in Baghdad restock its libraries. But donations have been pouring in from around the country. "I never thought it would get this big," Al-Hamdani said Friday.
It all began when JSU professors Bill Hug, Kelly Gregg and others joined the effort, collecting spare books off professors' shelves to ship to Baghdad University, which has been drained by decades of brutal dictatorship, war, and international sanctions.

A story about the book drive last month in The Anniston Star was picked up by other media outlets, and books started arriving from universities all over the country.

While we support and cheer on Iraqi academics, let us also remember the risks that those brave Iraqis who want to rebuild their country face every day. A new study has found that around 250 university professors have been killed since April 2003.


07-20-04, 07:28 AM
Meanwhile, and despite of this, the Ministry of Culture takes on the Herculean task of rebuilding the country's cultural base after decades of dictatorial ravage: &quot;Iraq's Minister of Culture says...

07-20-04, 07:28 AM
Iraqis living outside of Iraq are pouring $5 million a day into private enterprises in the country, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Some have launched small efforts: Yasir Shallal, a...

07-20-04, 07:30 AM
Sadr himself seems to have caught the democratic bug: "Since the guns fell silent in June, the group led by Muqtada al-Sadr has sought to distance itself from violence and rebuild ties with top clerics. And it is considering throwing its weight behind candidates in elections scheduled for January. 'We are undergoing a transitional phase,' said Abbas al-Robai, a close al-Sadr aide. 'We are taking a very close look at ourselves and our work.' "
Calm returns to many parts of Iraq that haven't been so quiet lately. This, in Baghdad's notorious Sadr City: "After 10 weeks of fierce combat, an odd sense of normality has returned to this capital's most embattled neighborhood. The break in running clashes between U.S. troops and Shiite Muslim militiamen loyal to outspoken cleric Muqtada Sadr has brought a tenuous peace to the sprawling district known as Sadr City. By most accounts, Sadr's declaration of truce two weeks ago was a collateral benefit of Iraq's return to a semblance of self-rule."

In other sectors of the capital, "there are signs, subtle and tentative, that Baghdad residents are cautiously emerging to reclaim normal lives. A new playground has been attracting children and their parents. A new auto-racing club has been holding weekly drag races. Bingo games have returned to the exclusive Alwiyah Club near Fardos Square, where Saddam Hussein's statue fell 15 months ago."

And a Christian Science Monitor reporter "sees brisk watermelon sales, and other signs of normalcy on a hot July night" in Baghdad: "Adnan, whose English is rough but effective, said he wanted me to witness the greater degree of optimism on the Iraqi streets since the US handover of power to an interim Iraqi government. Though there have been many attacks since June 28, the overall level of violence in and around Baghdad seems much lower. I've heard precious little gunfire or mortars launched in the evenings during the past week. The silence is so rare in Baghdad that it feels strange."

The Iraqi press also reports improvements in security situation across the country:

Local correspondents for Azzaman, the country's most influential newspaper, have been filing reports recently on how law and order is slowing returning to various parts of the country.
The newspaper's correspondent in Basra says shops remain open in the city until mid-night amid conspicuous presence of police and security forces. "Life and security are returning to Basra," Azzaman reported, saying that the city had seen no major act of sabotage and terror since the handover of sovereignty.

A measure of success is the latest imposition of customs rules on Basra's ports and the closure of several illegal export and import outlets. The authorities report that customs officials have collected more than 5 billion dinars in tariffs on goods entering the country in Basra in the past two weeks. The city streets are flooded with cars, nonetheless, Azzaman says, traffic police have managed to restore some order and traffic lights are working again.

In the northern city of Mosul, the security forces seem to be almost in full control following devastating car bomb attacks last month. The city is divided into security zones and latest sweeps have resulted in the seizure of scores of foreign fighters and huge amounts of weapons. Night life is returning to the banks of the Tigris River in the city and residents have started frequenting summer cafes and restaurants.

All this, as the activities of "insurgents" become increasingly unpopular among the Iraqi people. Still more tapes of masked men with guns and rocket-propelled grenades go air on Arabic TV, but this time the script is different. One, from a group calling itself Salvation Movement, has this to say to the al Qaeda terror master in Iraq: "The apostate, criminal Zarqawi and his henchmen must leave Iraq immediately." The second group, Seif Allah ("the double-edged sword of God"), also threatens to kill Zarqawi, accusing him of "treachery and allegiance to the (deposed) regime of Saddam Hussein" and vowing to "pursue Zarqawi and his supporters everywhere they go".
It's not just ordinary Iraqis who are sick and tired of being blown up by jihadis:

Tension appears to be rising between the homegrown Iraqi resistance and the foreign Islamist fighters who have entered the country to destroy the American military here.
Evidence has emerged in sniping between groups on Arabic television and Web sites, and in interviews with Iraqi and American officials, as well as from members of the resistance and people with close ties to it. All speak of rising friction between nationalistic fighters and foreign-led Islamists over goals and tactics, with some Iraqi insurgents indicating a revulsion over the car bombs and suicide attacks in cities that have caused hundreds of civilian deaths.

More on that here. Fallujah, too, provides the evidence of a shift in public sentiment:

In April, with anger swelling at the US occupation and a Marine-led assault on the Sunni city of Fallujah, thousands of Shiites provided assistance to their Iraqi brothers in the city. But the city west of Baghdad is no longer a sympathetic rallying place for a unified Iraqi resistance. It is now seen as run by intolerant and exclusivist Sunni imams who are seeking to turn it into a haven for Al Qaeda ideologues. . . . Many Shiites . . . have stopped supporting it.
Despite concern about civil liberties (itself a great sign of how much the things have changed in Iraq since last year), the new security measures introduced by authorities are meeting with general approval from the public. "We agree with any kind of procedures they take for the sake of security. We agree because Iraqis want only security--nothing more," says Walid Hassen, an engineer from Baghdad.
The change in public attitude is in large part due to the presence and actions of the new Iraqi security forces. Large numbers of Iraqis continue to volunteer to join, despite the obvious risks involved. Read their stories here. Women are also volunteering in increasing numbers. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has announced that families of security personnel killed in action will receive a lifetime wage on top of a one-off compensation payment currently in place.

There are some internal security successes already: In Baghdad, "Iraq's minister of the interior Falah al-Naqib announced that the Iraqi police detained 527 suspected persons in a vast mopping up operation by the security forces in Bab al-Sheikh, one of the Iraqi capital suburbs." the operation was largely targeted against kidnappers. Says Col. Adnan Abdul Rhaman, the interior ministry's chief spokesman: "This is the largest operation for the interior ministry since the fall of Saddam Hussein." As the article notes, "crime soared during the US-led occupation as convicts, released by former president Saddam Hussein, roamed free and a violent insurgency sprung up." As an Iraqi blogger notes, there is actually a connection between these two factors.

And in Kirkuk, the Kurds have captured 15 foreign militants, including a man believed to be Hemen Banishiri, the second-in-command of the al Qaeda affiliate, Ansar al-Islam. Overall, according to the Iraqi minister of human rights Bakhtyar Amin, the number of Arab and other foreign fighters currently detained in Iraq has reached 99: "26 Syrians, 14 Saudis, 14 Iranians, 12 Egyptians and 9 Sudanese . . . [as well as] persons of Jordanian, Yemeni, Tunisian, Moroccan, Lebanese and Turkish nationality."

It's not just about fighting the terrorists, though: "Security officials in Iraq say a sting operation has recovered hundreds of stolen artifacts destined for overseas black markets. The artifacts were illegally dug up from archeological sites around the ancient city of Babylon, about 90 kilometers south of Baghdad. A senior official in Iraq's interior ministry, General Muhssin Ali, says Iraqi police recently received a tip from an informant about a gang, which had been digging up Babylonian artifacts and trying to sell them to smugglers."

There are also external security successes: "Iraq's nascent border police have apprehended more than 60,000 foreigners in the past seven months. The foreigners, most of them Iranians, were trying to enter Iraq illegally, according to major-general Nadhim al-Haj, commander of Iraqi border guards." There's also movement on the Western border, as Syria and Iraq agree to work together to strengthen border security and prevent infiltration of jihadis into Iraq. Syria's sincerity is open to question, but it's a good sign that dictator Bashar Assad feels that at least he has to try.

Some old symbols also get a makeover: "The new Iraqi administration is trying to remake the image of Abu Ghraib prison, the notorious jail on Baghdad's western outskirts where a worldwide scandal began." The prison is now under Iraqi authority.

Last but not least, the new Iraq renounces any nuclear ambitions of its predecessor. In the words of the Prime Minister Allawi, "Iraq has no intention and no will to resume these (nuclear) programmes in the future. These materials, which are potential weapons of mass murder, are not welcome in our country and their production is unacceptable." Meanwhile, Iraqi weapons scientists are being offered jobs by the American government to keep them out of mischief of using their expertise for WMD proliferation.


07-20-04, 07:30 AM
And so, Iraq, July 2004: numerous challenges, but also determination to forge ahead; continuing danger and violence, but also increasing prospects for peace. And amid the sea of negativity on our TV screens and pages of our newspapers, more and more glimmers of good news to strengthen our hope for a better future for the long-suffering people of Iraq.

Mr. Chrenkoff is an Australian blogger. Previous installments of good news from Iraq can be found at chrenkoff.blogspot.com.



07-20-04, 08:43 AM
Issue Date: July 19, 2004

Remote-control robot debuts in war

By Gordon Lubold
Times staff writer

COMBAT OUTPOST NEAR RAMADI, Iraq — Cpl. Mark Mangio’s new gadget looks like a Tonka truck that was given a little too much Protein Plus.
The Dragon Runner, with its oversized rubber tires and flat-top chassis the size of a breadbox, is a $46,000 remote-control robot loaded with life-saving technology. The camera and infrared sensors allow Mangio to get up close and personal with suspicious-looking objects from a safe distance. Dragon Runner is the grunt’s version of the Dragon Eye unmanned aerial vehicle, only without the wings or the annoying buzzing sound.

“You can go anywhere with it,” Mangio said as he navigated the robot around a dirt lot.

In nearby Ramadi, where Marines patrol and run convoys every day, Marines constantly encounter suspicious-looking objects. Many are determined to be improvised explosives.

Designed by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab at Quantico, Va., the Dragon Runner may become one of the best — and safest — ways to combat the explosives, which have become an effective killer because they’re easy to make and hide.

Mangio, a 24-year-old infantryman from Los Angeles who serves as the administrative noncommissioned officer for Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, is learning how to operate the robot and hopes to use it in a “real world op” very soon. Ultimately, every platoon could have a Dragon Runner, said Mangio, who thinks the one he is using may be the only one in Iraq.

The vehicle’s camera sends video back to Mangio’s hand-held control panel. He then uses the image to navigate the machine around blind spots and toward objects. The rugged little robot can even be thrown up a stairway if Marines are trying to do a risk assessment on a house but don’t feel safe walking in.

“You can really put it through some abuse,” he said.

The robot also has infrared sensors that allow Mangio to see through walls.

Within a month, he said he expects to receive a special “dump” attachment for the robot that will allow Marines to detonate improvised explosives by dumping other explosives on them. It can even be rigged to sniff out explosives, Mangio said.

That comes in handy when Marines encounter objects in the middle of the road. It can be hard to determine if it’s a pile of trash, an abandoned gas tank or even a dead animal with explosives hidden inside.

Golf Company’s commander, Capt. Christopher Bronzi, said the Dragon Runner will give his unit another tool to combat explosives.

“What that affords you an opportunity to do is move in, take a better look at it and make a better decision if you should call [explosive ordnance disposal] or blast it in place,” said Bronzi, 31, from Poughquag, N.Y.

Bronzi said he is not yet familiar with all the capabilities of the Dragon Runner — the company received it a few weeks ago — but he is confident with almost anything the Warfighting Lab decides to field.

But it’s hard not to see the robot like a cute little toy as Mangio experiments with the Runner using a remote control panel that he said works just like a PlayStation 2.

“The controls are just like playing a video game,” he said.



07-20-04, 09:46 AM
Issue Date: July 19, 2004

It’s the environment, not the ammunition

By Jerry L. Mazza and Scott Allred

As would be expected, the war on terrorism, specifically the Marine Corps’ actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, has fostered numerous equipment enhancements based on the environment in which leathernecks operate. One such challenge focused on the lethality of the 5.56mm rifle cartridge, the M855 62-grain projectile.
Over the past several years, much has been written about the “stopping” capabilities of the M855. This dialogue, predominantly through online articles, has questioned the M855’s performance, generally characterizing the cartridge as woefully lacking [“Outgunned service members need round with more stopping power than 5.56mm,” Back Talk, June 15].

Many of these articles enjoy some level of technical accuracy. However, when assessing enhancements to munitions and the weapons required to fire them, the Marine Corps must do so from a holistic standpoint.

Lethality of the M855, verified by extensive testing by Marine Corps Systems Command in coordination with Weapons Training Battalion at Quantico, Va., clearly shows that the cartridge performs as designed.

When looking at all environments in which Marines may be deployed, the M855 stands out as the best all-around performer. From this perspective, it is not the M855’s lethality that is at issue. Rather, it is the combat environment in which we find ourselves employing it.

The M855 was designed for engagement of a larger body mass, body-armor protected, former Soviet Union bloc-type force at extended ranges. In this scenario, the M855 would be quite effective. However, we find ourselves in a more urban, close-in environment, engaging combatants who do not possess body armor or body mass conducive to optimize the M855’s terminal ballistics.

To ensure we had a clear understanding of troops’ concerns, we asked Marines, during a Systems Command assessment team visit to Iraq during April 2003, their opinion of the M855. The combat assessment team final report concluded that:

“[The] 5.56mm ‘definitely answered the mail’ and ‘as long as the shots were in the head or chest they went down’ were typical quotes from several Marines; many who were previously very skeptical of 5.56mm ammunition. Most of the interviewed Marines who reported targets not going down and/or could still fight were referencing non-lethal shots to the extremities. There were reports of targets receiving shots in the vitals and not going down. These stories need not be described, but are of the rare occurrences that defy logic and caliber of round. Some Marines did ask about getting the heavier-grained 5.56mm rounds, up to 77 grain if possible.”

Based on this feedback, Systems Command initiated procurement of a heavier 77-grain projectile for Marines deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and using the M4 carbine. The M855 will continue to support the M16A2/A4 rifle.

It is important that while supporting our Marines, we do not foster a perception that any one bullet has a mythical “one shot, one kill” capability all the time. There is no single answer on what the best cartridge is.

As this is not solely a Marine Corps concern, we are working closely with the other services in addressing the future of small-arms ammunition. There are various forums tackling this, including the Small Arms Systems Integration Product Team and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Lethality Integration Product Team.

The Marine Corps, in conjunction with the other services, is working closely with the product manager — Small Arms, Program Executive Office Ammunition at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. Important in this forum is the Joint Service Wound Ballistics Team’s goal of finalizing a “terminal ballistics” standard testing process and methodology to be used by all services. This will put everyone on equal footing when assessing terminal ballistics/lethality.

Recognizing we may be asking a weapon, vehicle or round to perform in an environment for which it was not developed or designed does not make it a poor-performing piece of gear.

The fielding of the heavier 77-grain projectile to leathernecks will allow the Marine Corps to assess its long-term plan for the critical small-arms ammunition family.

Jerry L. Mazza is program manager for ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command. Scott Allred is a staff engineer for the program.



07-20-04, 12:35 PM
Don't Dumb Down the Military

Published: July 20, 2004

WASHINGTON — I went to war as a believer in the citizen-soldier. My college study of the classics idealized Greeks who put down their plows for swords, returning to their fields at the end of the war. As a Marine officer in Afghanistan and Iraq, however, I learned that the victors on today's battlefields are long-term, professional soldiers. Thus the increasing calls for reinstating the draft - and the bills now before Congress that would do so - are well intentioned but misguided. Imposing a draft on the military I served in would harm it grievously for years.

I led platoons of volunteers. In Afghanistan, my marines slept each night in holes they hacked from the rocky ground. They carried hundred-pound packs in addition to their fears of minefields and ambushes, their homesickness, loneliness and exhaustion. The most junior did it for $964.80 per month. They didn't complain, and I never wrestled with discipline problems. Each and every marine wanted to be there. If anyone hadn't, he would have been a drain on the platoon and a liability in combat.

In Iraq, I commanded a reconnaissance platoon, the Marines' special operations force. Many of my enlisted marines were college-educated; some had been to graduate school. All had volunteered once for the Marines, again for the infantry, and a third time for recon. They were proud to serve as part of an elite unit. Like most demanding professionals, they were their own harshest critics, intolerant of their peers whose performance fell short.

The dumb grunt is an anachronism. He has been replaced by the strategic corporal. Immense firepower and improved technology have pushed decision-making with national consequences down to individual enlisted men. Modern warfare requires that even the most junior infantryman master a wide array of technical and tactical skills.

Honing these skills to reflex, a prerequisite for survival in combat, takes time - a year of formal training and another year of on-the-job experience were generally needed to transform my young marines into competent warriors. The Marine Corps demands four-year active enlistments because it takes that long to train troops and ensure those training dollars are put to use in the field. One- or two-year terms, the longest that would be likely under conscription, would simply not allow for this comprehensive training.

Some supporters of the draft argue that America's wars are being fought primarily by minorities from poor families who enlisted in the economic equivalent of a Hail Mary pass. They insist that the sacrifices of citizenship be shared by all Americans. The sentiment is correct, but the outrage is misplaced. There is no cannon-fodder underclass in the military. In fact, front-line combat troops are a near-perfect reflection of American male society.

Yes, some minority men and women enlist for lack of other options, but they tend to concentrate in support jobs where they can learn marketable skills like driving trucks or fixing jets, not throwing grenades and setting up interlocking fields of machine gun fire. African-Americans, who comprise nearly 13 percent of the general population, are overrepresented in the military at more than 19 percent - but they account for only 10.6 percent of infantry soldiers, the group that suffers most in combat. Hispanics, who make up 13.3 percent of the American population, are underrepresented at only 11 percent of those in uniform.

The men in my infantry platoons came from virtually every part of the socio-economic spectrum. There were prep-school graduates and first-generation immigrants, blacks and whites, Muslims and Jews, Democrats and Republicans. They were more diverse than my class at Dartmouth, and far more willing to act on their principles.

The second argument most often advanced for a renewed draft is that the military is too small to meet its commitments. Absolutely true. But the armed forces are stretched thin not from a lack of volunteers but because Congress and the Pentagon are not willing to spend the money to expand the force. Each of the services met or exceeded its recruiting goals in 2003, and the numbers have increased across the board so far this year. Even the Army National Guard, often cited as the abused beast of burden in Iraq, has seen re-enlistments soar past its goal, 65 percent, to 141 percent (the figure is greater than 100 because many guardsmen are re-enlisting early).

Expanding the military to meet additional responsibilities is a matter of structural change: if we build it, they will come. And build it we must. Many of my marines are already on their third combat deployment in the global war on terrorism; they will need replacing. Increasing the size of the active-duty military would lighten the burden on every soldier, sailor, airman and marine. Paradoxically, a larger military becomes more sustainable than a smaller one: fewer combat deployments improves service members' quality of life and contributes to higher rates of enlistment and retention. For now, expanding the volunteer force would give us a larger military without the inherent liabilities of conscription.

And while draft supporters insist we have learned the lessons of Vietnam and can create a fair system this time around, even an equitable draft would lower the standards for enlistees. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was chastised for saying Vietnam-era draftees added no value to the armed forces. But his error was semantic; the statement was true of the system, if not of the patriotic and capable individuals who served.

The current volunteer force rejects applicants who score poorly on its entrance aptitude exam, disclose a history of significant drug use or suffer from any of a number of orthopedic or chronic injuries. Face it: any unwilling draftee could easily find a way to fail any of these tests. The military, then, would be left either to abandon its standards and accept all comers, or to remain true to them and allow the draft to become volunteerism by another name. Stripped of its volunteer ideology, but still unable to compel service from dissenters, the military would end up weaker and less representative than the volunteer force - the very opposite of the draft's intended goals.

Renewing the draft would be a blow against the men and women in uniform, a dumbing down of the institution they serve. The United States military exists to win battles, not to test social policy. Enlarging the volunteer force would show our soldiers that Americans recognize their hardship and are willing to pay the bill to help them better protect the nation. My view of the citizen-soldier was altered, but not destroyed, in combat. We cannot all pick up the sword, nor should we be forced to - but we owe our support to those who do.

Nathaniel Fick, a former Marine captain, is writing a memoir of his military training and combat experience.



07-20-04, 02:27 PM
Issue Date: July 19, 2004

Helo squadron cuts its teeth in Iraq combat
‘Moonlighters’ went nearly five decades without war-zone action

By Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writer

When the “Moonlighters” reached the dusty Iraqi airfield that once housed that country’s finest combat air fighters in March, the Southern California squadron logged a first since their unit was created half a century ago.
They had flown into a war zone.

Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764, a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter squadron activated in January for combat duty, hasn’t actually seen combat in the nearly five decades since it was established in 1958. Although activated for the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Moonlighters — half of whom are reservists — didn’t deploy.

The call-up for Iraq duty meant intense combat and weapons training, quite different from the heavy schedule of community relations work back home.

“Our mission at home is a lot different than this stuff,” said Gunnery Sgt. Dan House, 38, of Santa Clarita, Calif. “When we got activated, we had to change our mind-set.”

The squadron shelved its plans for the Reserve’s Toys For Tots program and weekend static displays near its desert home of Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles. Instead, the members grabbed their rifles and machine guns, and spent countless hours preparing their twin-rotor helicopters for war.

The Moonlighters are part of Marine Aircraft Group 46’s Detachment B and are assigned to MAG-16, the active-duty air group from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

The Moonlighter leathernecks dug in their heels to haul passengers and cargo. At times, they’ve carried the wounded and dead, as well.

Squadron members have learned to cope with the ever-present threat of missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, which limit daytime flights despite upgrades that improved the helicopters’ radar and countermeasures.

After one flight, the squadron commander, Lt. Col. Mark “Tony” Bowen, saw a soda can-sized hole in the belly of his helicopter. A possible rocket dud, he said, but “no one can determine what hit us.”

In April, the Moonlighters sent half the squadron to Camp Taqaddum to join the initial offensives into Fallujah in the wake of the March 31 slaying of four civilian security contractors there.

During the peak of the Fallujah fighting in April, military leaders avoided putting large numbers of transport helicopters in the air, officials said.

But the Moonlighters stayed busy, hauling spare parts, food and water to Marines operating at far-flung camps. At least 36 have earned their combat air crewman wings so far.

True to their name, the Moonlighters often pull night missions. On one typical flight in early May, two Sea Knights carried passengers and supplies to a half-dozen camps, then flew into Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi, two landing zones in downtown Baghdad and Baghdad International Airport. The crews’ eyes constantly scanned the horizon, watching for lights and movement on the ground. Muzzle flashes flickered in the distance. At one point during the five-hour series of flights, a crew chief said the helicopter was “painted” by radar, possibly by insurgents.

That flight ended quietly, but every flight crew prepares for the worst.

“The nature of the assault in urban warfare … is that in a few short moments, you can land and drop off Marines and, unfortunately, the bad guys can fire back, especially being close to Fallujah,” said Sgt. Maj. Daniel Townsend, 46, of Parker, Colo., the squadron’s senior enlisted Marine.

So they rehearse missions and drills, which has paid off during the rare firefights they’ve encountered.

“A lot of times, you can’t role-play every scenario,” Townsend said. “You have to rely on the individual, the capability of each Marine.”

The desire to play an important role in the Iraq mission is what drives many Moonlighters. Master Sgt. Ralph Gonzalez, a 48-year-old maintenance chief from Chino, Calif., is one of 26 squadron members who voluntarily extended his contract to make the deployment. A reservist for 27 years, Gonzalez said he doesn’t regret the decision.

Senior leaders are aware the military’s increased reliance on reservists could spell trouble down the line, but volunteers lined up to join the Moonlighters’ rotation.

“We had lots of reservists and people coming off the [Individual Ready Reserve] just to go with us here,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jim Dorsey, 36, the squadron’s career planner.



07-20-04, 04:15 PM
Uneasy Peace in Tikrit, Where Hussein Is Still Loved <br />
<br />
By Doug Struck <br />
Washington Post Foreign Service <br />
Monday, July 19, 2004; Page A10 <br />
<br />
<br />
TIKRIT, Iraq -- The twin Saddam Husseins that galloped...

07-20-04, 06:51 PM
MSSG-24 prepares for operations up north with convoy training
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 200471673739
Story by Sgt. Zachary Bathon

CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait (July14, 2004) -- As the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepares to move up north, one thing that has been on the mind of all the unit's commanders has been convoy operations.

With that in mind, Marines from each of the MEU's major subordinate elements has spent a lot of time and effort making sure their vehicles and Marines are prepared to face the dangers involved with conducting convoys in Iraq.
One of the units, MEU Service Support Group 24, completed a three-day convoy operations training package, which culminated with a live-fire exercise at Range Eight here July 13.

"Convoys are the most dangerous thing going up north," said Lt. Col. Vincent Coglianese, 44, a Spring Lake, N.J., native and commanding officer of MSSG-24. "We have known for months that we would be deploying to [the U.S. Central Command Area of Operations] and that convoys would be a challenge, so we dedicated a lot of time towards them."

Prior to conducting this exercise the leathernecks of MSSG-24 spent several days preparing their vehicles for the many dangers they will face in Iraq. Armor and bulletproof windshields were installed on all the vehicles as well as added gun mounts in the bed of humvees and bars protruding from the front of the vehicle to give gunners protection from decapitation and other facial and head injuries.

"Before these guys had no protection," said Coglianese. "This armor builds their confidence and makes them more prepared."

The vehicle operators seemed very pleased with the modifications made to their trucks. "The new armor definitely gives us more of a warm fuzzy," said Lance Cpl. Michael Marshall, 20, a Hudson Falls, N.Y., native and motor transport operator. "Not only does it boost our morale it is also a time saver. Now we don't have to spend so much time putting sand bags in our vehicles."

Once the vehicles were ready to roll, the "Super G" Marines packed up for their three-day course and headed out to Range Eight.

During their time on the range, the warriors of MSSG-24 went over tactical convoy tactics and procedures. They received classes on how to use global positioning systems and practiced several aspects of marksmanship including close quarters shooting techniques and crew-served weapons employment from atop their vehicles.

They also spent time working on vehicle recovery procedures and what to do in case a vehicle breaks down.

But along with the classroom work, a large portion of the training was dedicated to immediate action drills.

These drills allow them to practice reacting to different combat scenarios such as what do if the convoy is ambushed from the left or right, and what to do in case of a sniper or if someone fires a rocket-propelled grenade at the convoy.

They also went over what to do in the instance of an improvised explosive device.

The drills came into play later in the training when the unit conducted its live-fire portion of the course.

"During our live-fire, we engaged targets of opportunity, this is something we don't get to do back at Camp Lejeune," said Capt. Eric Adams, 30, a Greenville, Mich., native and Transportation Support Detachment commander. "Normally we just roll up to a berm and start shooting over the top."

The targets of opportunity include pop-up targets along the roadside that would force the Marines to react during the different scenarios.

Adams also said this was the first time many of the Marines had the opportunity to shoot from a moving vehicle, a skill that is difficult to hone.

"It's quite a challenge to hit targets from a vehicle on the move," said Adams. "It is tough to shoot when you are bouncing up and down over rough terrain."
But the attitude of the Marines during the training was very positive.

"This training was beneficial to everyone," said Marshall. "We have been able to get a lot closer to each other out here. That helps you learn to trust everyone and be more comfortable with them."

The camaraderie built during this exercise may be another tool that keeps these Marines safe as they work to complete their missions of providing combat service support to the rest of the 24th MEU.

"Because we have spent a lot more time conducting convoy training, IA drills and live-fires, we are a lot more prepared this time around, as opposed to when we were here last year," said Pvt. Kenneth Stahl, 21, a Tiffin, Ohio, native and motor transport operator.


Cpl. Adolfo Acosta, 21, an Oxnard, Calif., native with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, looks out into the Kuwaiti desert behind a MK-19, machine gun, which has been mounted on top of his seven-ton truck, before beginning a convoy live-fire in Kuwait.
Acosta is a network technician with Communications Detachment, MEU Service Support Group 24.
The MEU is in Kuwait to begin acclimatization and further training before departing for their destination in Iraq.
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Beavers



07-20-04, 08:47 PM
Ala. Doctor Reactivated for Iraq War at 68
By Associated Press
Originally published July 19, 2004, 7:19 PM EDT
DECATUR, Ala. -- At 68, many people are slowing down. Not John Wicks: He's going to Iraq. Wicks, a psychiatrist, has been called out of military retirement by the Army to fill a shortage of mental health experts needed to help soldiers cope with combat. He could be gone as long as a year.

The Army hasn't told Wicks what his exact assignment in Iraq is, or where in the country it will send him.

"I believe that the morale in general is not that good since the scandal at that prison," he said, referring to the allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. "When morale is high, you have fewer of these kinds of problems. And when morale is low you have more."

Wicks, who is beginning a week of training in Texas, will have the rank of colonel. His previous military experience includes two years active duty with the Marines and 18 years in the Alabama National Guard.

Wicks is a veteran of the U.S. war with Iraq in 1991, but his wife said things are different this time.

"In Desert Storm, he was in the 109th Evacuation Hospital and they had drilled together for years," said Jan Wicks. "He felt good about going with this team that he knew. He doesn't have that support this time."

Wicks figures he will be among the oldest U.S. soldiers in the Iraq war. Martha Rudd, a spokeswoman for the Army at the Pentagon, said she has no way of knowing if Wicks would be the oldest. She said she had heard of one other doctor who was 68 and went to Iraq.

Wicks' latest assignment started with a postcard the Army sent last fall that explained the need for specialists and asked if he felt he was fit to serve.

"I stuck the thing in my pocket and carried it around for several weeks agonizing on how I should respond," he told The Decatur Daily in a story Sunday. "The truth is I consider myself fit to serve, so that's how I marked it and sent it back."

"My wife said 'You'll never hear from them.' Well, it was no time at all till I heard from them," Wicks said.

Wicks said recruiters initially hinted he could go to Europe or a stateside base to relieve a younger psychiatrist who would go to Iraq. The Army even gave him three choices should that scenario play out, and Dr. Wicks chose Italy, Germany and England.

"Well, I now wonder if this was just to get me hooked. Because there's no way I'm going to Italy or any of these places," he said. "I'm going to Iraq."

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press



07-20-04, 08:49 PM
Mirror-Image Wars -- Iraq and the Phillipine Insurrection...
by GyG (Login Dick Gaines)
Forum Owner
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 18, 2004

Mirror-Image Wars

By Harry Levins, Post-Dispatch Senior Writer

Now that the formal U.S. occupation of Iraq has passed into military
history, some military historians are likening it to an obscure campaign
that flared and then faded more than a century ago.

"Iraq has many more similarities with the Philippine Insurrection than with
any other American experience," says Jerry Morelock, editor and senior
historian of Armchair General magazine.

Jerry Cooper, a professor emeritus of military history at the University of
Missouri at St. Louis, agrees.

"The Philippine Insurrection is as good as history gets in teaching about
dealing with an opponent who has a different culture, a different language
and a different physical setting - and who deeply resents your presence,"
Cooper says.

Historian Brian M. Linn of Texas A&M University has carved an academic niche
out of that long-ago campaign, with two books to his credit. He sighs that
the lessons of the Philippines have been largely ignored.

"With the exception of the Marines," he says, "nobody studies these little

The little war in the Philippines came about largely by accident, and as a
sideshow to a somewhat bigger little war.

In April 1898, the United States went to war with Spain over Cuba. On the
other side of the world, on May 1, Adm. George Dewey sailed into Manila Bay.
There, his ships sank a fleet from Spain, then the colonial owner of the

Dewey sent out a call for U.S. soldiers to seize the islands. The Army
rounded up 10,000 men, many from the National Guard. Within a few months,
the Americans had beaten the Spaniards. After that, things turned sour.

The Americans had allies - Filipino rebels who had been chafing under
Spanish rule. The Filipinos thought the Americans had arrived as their

But in December 1898, the United States bought the Philippines from Spain.
Now, instead of being the Filipinos' liberators, the Americans were the
Filipinos' overlords.

In February 1899, things boiled over into war. The shooting ran on until
July 4, 1902, when President Theodore Roosevelt declared an end to major

Although sporadic violence would persist until 1913 in the southern (and
largely Muslim) islands, "Roosevelt had it pretty well right," says Texas
A&M's Linn. Except for the Japanese conquest of WWII, U.S. forces would
remain in the Philippines into the 1990s.

Even a skimming of Linn's "The Philippine War 1899-1902" can widen a
reader's eyes with the parallels between the Philippines then and Iraq
today. In both campaigns:

Military officers on the scene thought Washington was stingy with manpower.
The long deployment of National Guard soldiers stirred grumbling back home.
In addition to hostile gunfire, American soldiers faced environmental

The fighting soon shifted from conventional combat to guerrilla warfare.
Even after American soldiers captured the enemy leader (Emilio Aguinaldo in
the Philippines), the enemy soldiers kept fighting.

Americans had to cope with the confusing complexity of fighting an ethnic
hodgepodge of a foe.

When a civilian proconsul arrived (in the Philippines, it was William Howard
Taft), he got along edgily with the military chief (in Taft's case, Gen.
Arthur MacArthur, the father of Douglas MacArthur).

American newspapers bannered stories of the abuse - even torture - of enemy
captives. Some Americans groused that the press coverage was harming the
U.S. effort.

The American public stood divided. Backers said America was giving the
natives the gift of democratic civilization. Critics called it American

Technology gave the U.S. forces a huge edge in mobility and firepower
(thanks to gunboats in the Philippines, and helicopters and attack jets in

Sovereignty came only incrementally. The Philippines got commonwealth status
only in 1935; independence had to wait until 1946.

The similarities extend to the most minor of matters. Nobody agrees on a
name for either war.

The Pentagon calls the campaign in Iraq "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Others
call it "Gulf War II," or simply "the war in Iraq."

The Army still calls the business in the Philippines "the Philippine
Insurrection." But Filipinos call it "the Philippine War of Independence."

Scholars like Linn settle on "the Philippine War."

A two-glove approach

Despite the hardships and ferocity in the Philippines, the Americans
prevailed, and rather quickly.

What went right?

Civic action, mainly. The Americans built up as much as they blew up.

"The Army of the Philippine Insurrection wore two gloves - one iron, one
velvet," says Cooper. The velvet glove built roads through jungles, erected
schoolhouses and pulled the Philippines into the 20th century.
Linn says that civic action "was incredibly significant." Then again, he
says, the Army of a century ago was incredibly different.

"Today's Army sees itself as war-fighters, not peacemakers," Linn says. "But
the Army back then was accustomed to civic action from the Old West." At
many times and places in the Old West, the U.S. Army was the only government

Cooper says: "After the War of 1812, the Army's assignment was
nation-building - and the nation was the United States. The Army built roads
and cleared rivers. And even though Indian reservations belong to the
Interior Department, the Army often ran them, in effect."

James Davis teaches military history at Washington University in St. Louis.
He says that in the Philippines, "Local commanders adjusted to reality,
devised new tactics and began to take 'pacification' seriously."

The scholars say the Army of a century ago was blessed with more mentally
nimble officers. "They were more flexible than today's bunch," says Cooper.

"They weren't bound by hard-set tactical doctrine."

And today's Army? "They're geared up for fire and maneuver, or shock and awe
- and that's all they know how to do."

As an example of flexibility in the old Army in the Philippines, Linn cites
Maj. Gen. Elwell S. Otis.

To the extent that Otis is remembered at all, history remembers him
unkindly. One critic called Otis "the Philippine war's answer to George
McClellan, without the latter's good looks."

Still, Linn notes that Otis went to the Philippines with a law degree from
Harvard - and used his schooling to write, all by himself, an interim
criminal code for the archipelago.

Says Linn: "Tell me a general today who could do that."
Lessons forgotten

The Army expects its officers to get a grounding in military history.
Promising young majors must take a military history course as part of their
schooling at the Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort
Leavenworth, Kan. When they're lieutenant colonels, they revisit the terrain
in courses at the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.

So why has the Philippine experience apparently faded from military memory?
From 1989-91, UMSL's Cooper spent a year at each Army school as a visiting
professor. He says that back then, the schools stressed big wars - the Civil
War and World II.

"Students would get maybe four hours just on Gettysburg and four hours just
on the Battle of the Bulge," he says. "And they got just one lesson on the
Philippine Insurrection."

Editor-historian Morelock was an Army colonel when he ran the history
department at Fort Leavenworth from 1994-99. He concedes that the Philippine
experience got little more than a nod. "But that one lesson is part of a
series on America's small wars," he says. "It's a thread woven into a larger

Today, says Fort Leavenworth spokeswoman Janet Wray, the course of study has
changed its focus. In the history course that all students must take, the
emphasis has shifted from the big wars and onto the 1920s and 1930s, the
years between the world wars.

"That was a time of transformation for the Army," she explains, "and today's
Army is also in a period of transformation."

But Wray insists that nobody has forgotten the Philippines. "It's part of
our elective courses on insurgency and counterinsurgency," she says. Still,
she adds, "There isn't a specific lesson that teaches just the Philippine

To which Cooper says, "It's terrible when they erase corporate memory."
Linn calls campaigns like the Philippine Insurrection "far more common than
wars against major conventional opponents. And they require just as much
skill from the military, and just as much support from the public."
Morelock concedes that an in-depth knowledge of the Philippine Insurrection
would have come in handy for anybody dealing with today's Iraq.

But he says, "I doubt that anybody planning for Iraq looked at the history
of the Philippine Insurrection. They were too busy writing operations

Harry Levins writes about military and historical matters for the