View Full Version : Texas Marine saved his unit from insurgent gunfire

07-21-04, 07:54 AM
Texas Marine saved his unit from insurgent gunfire

By Shia Kapos
Special to the Tribune
Published July 20, 2004

A laid-back Texan who dreamed of being a comedian but planned to work as a chiropractor died saving fellow Marines from gunfire.

As squad leader, it was Cpl. Daniel R. Amaya's job to check the safety of his unit's surroundings before it entered enemy territory.

On April 11, as his squad headed into a building in Al Anbar province, Iraq, Amaya stepped into the doorway and confronted insurgent fighters.

"He called out for the rest of the unit to get back," said his mother, Kacey Carpenter. And then, she said, he shoved the Marine closest to him out of the way, saving his life. Amaya, 22, of Odessa, Texas, was killed in the ensuing firefight.

Amaya, who earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, was killed during his second tour in Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force from Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Friends and family remember "Dan the Man" for his quick wit and for being "the family ham."

Amaya knew at a young age that he wanted to be a Marine like his father and grandfather, Carpenter said.

"He took it very seriously," Carpenter said, recalling how her son refused to chew gum to keep his ears from hurting on the plane trip home from boot camp. "He said, `I can't chew gum in uniform,'" she said.

"Forget the uniform, I told him. Just hug your mother," Carpenter said.

It's an order he followed.

Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune



07-21-04, 07:55 AM
Experienced, elite U.S. soldiers leaving for higher-paying jobs

By: PAULINE JELINEK - Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Just when the U.S. military needs them most, senior Green Berets, Navy SEALs and other elite forces are leaving for higher-paying jobs.

After getting years of training and experience in the military, they leave for other government jobs or for what defense officials said Tuesday has been an explosion in outside contractor work.

"What makes them so valuable to us makes them highly marketable on the outside," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert V. Martens Jr., senior adviser at the U.S. Special Operations Command, which also oversees equipping and training elite Army Rangers and Air Force special operations commandos.

Better salaries, retirement benefits and educational opportunities are among incentives that might help stem the problem, defense officials said as they met with lawmakers to discuss ways to keep forces who have become so crucial to the war on terror.

A soldier, sailor or airman gets $60,000 per year at 18 years of service -- a figure that includes housing allowance and some types of special duty pay. Troops who go to work for civilian contractors can make up to $200,000 a year, one official has said.

The military command that oversees the covert forces "is the nation's single best weapon in the global war on terror," said Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J. Saxton opened Tuesday's session before his House Armed Services Committee terrorism subcommittee, saying he fears the military is losing such troops faster than they can be replaced for a counter-terror war that "has no foreseeable end point."

Officials from the command based in Tampa, Fla., didn't give specific numbers but said the Army, Navy and Air Force are all seeing an increasing trend in which senior people are retiring at their 20-year mark, though they could remain on active duty for several more years.

Force Master Chief Clell Breining, senior adviser at the Naval Special Warfare Command, said there has been a decline in people staying beyond the 10- to 14-year mark since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"We are not looking to retain every single person to their 30-year tenure, but we are looking to retain a key experience base to lead our younger, less experienced troops out into the field into combat," Martens said.

It can take four years just to train a special operations soldier and another few years of field experience before he or she is top-notch.

Martens said troops are taking "the skills that we have trained them with" and starting second careers in the civilian sector or moving into other government agencies.

The special operations command has been working with the services and the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to identify incentives to keep senior people, Martens said. Worse retention problems can be averted, he said.

To some extent the government has helped create the growing market outside its doors. Both the Defense Department and the CIA have hired private contractors to cover their own manpower shortages, especially in skills such as linguistics and prisoner interrogation.

The military has contracted out some chores to save troops for soldiering duties. There are some 20,000 private security guards watching over U.S. officials, convoys and private workers in Iraq -- some under government contract and some hired by private companies.

The CIA often uses independent contractors who are hired for short-term assignments. While they sometimes are recruited by and work through a private company, they can also be contracted directly by the agency.

Some of the private companies have been started and are led by retired generals, other military officers and former CIA employees.

Overall spending on federal contracts increased about 42 percent from 2000 to 2003 -- from $205 billion to $291 billion -- according to a report issued in May by Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee. The Army, Air Force and Navy accounted for 55 percent of all federal contract spending in 2003, he said.

The work of the military's special operations forces has greatly expanded in recent years, with them playing a central role in efforts to hunt down, capture or kill terrorists and help train other nation's forces in the counter-terror fight.

Special operations forces played a crucial part in helping local Afghan forces topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001 and have figured prominently in the war in Iraq.

Since the war on terror started, the Pentagon has gotten extra money to fund additional equipment for special operations as well as to train more forces.

There are currently under 50,000 such troops, including reservists, and there are plans to increase the total by a few thousand over the next several years.

On the Net:

U.S. Special Operations Command: http://www.socom.mil/



07-21-04, 07:56 AM
Three U.S. Allies Face New Threat in Iraq


BAGHDAD, Iraq - New online statements by purported militants threatened attacks against three U.S. allies _ Poland, Japan and Bulgaria _ if they don't pull their troops from Iraq, a day after a Filipino hostage was released because the Philippines bowed to insurgents' demands and withdrew its tiny contingent.

Meanwhile, the death toll of U.S. forces in Iraq since the start of the war rose to 900, including two civilians linked to the military, when a roadside bomb struck a Bradley fighting vehicle in central Iraq, killing one soldier inside.

Maj. Neal O'Brien of the 1st Infantry Division said the soldier, whose name was not released, was on patrol in a Bradley fighting vehicle in Duluiyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad, when the bomb detonated shortly after midnight Wednesday.

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On Tuesday, the military said two U.S. Marines and two U.S. soldiers were killed in action in Anbar Province, a Sunni-dominated area west of Baghdad. The Marines were killed in separate incidents while conducting "security operations;" one soldier was killed Monday, and a second died Monday of wounds.

The five U.S. deaths since Monday came as insurgents were increasingly targeting Iraqi national guard and police, including a fuel truck bomb that detonated Monday at a Baghdad police station, killing nine people and wounding 60. Since the transfer of power to an interim government on June 28, 47 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.

At least 893 U.S. service members and two civilians linked to the Department of Defense have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq in March 2003, according to a count released by the Pentagon. The latest deaths would raise the toll to 900.

The new threats against Poland, Japan and Bulgaria were worrying signs that militants may be emboldened by their success against the Philippines. The United States and other coalition allies had criticized the government for agreeing to withdraw its 51-member contingent to save the life of truck driver Angelo dela Cruz, who was kidnapped two weeks ago.

The same group that kidnapped dela Cruz, the Khaled bin al-Waleed Corps, took aim at Japan. The group is the military wing of Tawhid and Jihad, the group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

"To the government of Japan: Do what the Philippines has done. By God, nobody will protect you and we are not going to tolerate anybody," said a statement signed by the group. "Lines of cars laden with explosives are awaiting you; we will not stop, God willing."

A Foreign Ministry official in Japan said Wednesday that Tokyo would not pull its 500 troops, sent here for medical and reconstruction duty. Japan refused in April to withdraw after three Japanese were kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents. They were released unharmed.

"Japan is in Iraq on a humanitarian mission," the official said on condition of anonymity. "The Iraqi people and government are grateful for its efforts."

The veracity of the latest statement could not be determined. A new statement signed Tawhid and Jihad on Wednesday cautioned readers to trust only statements posted on the group's behalf by Abu-Maysara al-Iraqi, the pen name of a frequent contributor to sites known for militant Muslim content. The threat against Japan was not posted by Abu-Maysara al-Iraqi.

While Tawhid and Jihad _ a name referring to the central Islamic tenet of monotheism and to holy war _ has claimed many attacks, it rarely issues threats or warnings. It earlier claimed responsibility for beheading U.S. businessman Nicholas Berg and South Korean translator Kim Sun-il.

An online statement from a previously unknown group that identified itself as al-Qaida's European branch contained threats to carry out deadly attacks in Bulgaria and Poland if the two countries don't withdraw their troops from Iraq.

The statement, signed by the Tawhid Islamic Group, appeared Wednesday on an Islamic Web site known as a clearing house for al-Qaida and groups linked to the terror network. The group identified itself as "al-Qaida in Europe." The authenticity of the statement and the group could not be verified.

The group said Bulgaria and Poland will "pay the price" just like the United States and Spain did, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington and deadly explosions on trains in Madrid in March.

"To the crusader Bulgarian government which is allying itself with the Americans and to the Bulgarian people we demand, for the last time, that you withdraw Bulgarian troops out of Iraq or we swear we will turn Bulgaria into pools of blood if you don't comply," said the statement.

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov said Friday he won't pull out Bulgaria's 480-strong infantry battalion from Iraq. Last week militants threatened to kill two Bulgarian truck drivers in Iraq, while the fate of the second hostage remained unclear.

The group's statement also had a warning to Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka: "Pull your troops out of Iraq or you will hear the sounds of explosions that will hit your country, at the time we choose."

The Polish Defense Ministry said last week that Poland would cut its troop levels from about 2,400 to between 1,000 and 1,500 next January.

Poland, which also commands a 17-nation force in south-central Iraq, is required by a U.N. resolution to remain in Iraq until the end of 2005, but Polish leaders haven't determined what role their country will play after that.

On Wednesday, Deputy Defense Minister Janusz Zemke said withdrawing troops from Iraq would be a "terrible mistake" that would only encourage terrorism.



07-21-04, 07:57 AM
Tears greet returning Marine
Submitted by: MCB Camp Pendleton
Story Identification #: 2004719103511
Story by Lance Cpl. Khang T. Tran

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. (July 13, 2004) -- Sgt. Andrew Mrozik, 28, of Chicago, receives an emotional homecoming greeting from his daughters Autumn Mrozik, 8, and Dakota Mrozik, 2.

Mrozik, an avionics technician assigned to the Pendleton-based unit Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, returned home after a seven-month deployment that took him to Iraq, Japan, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.

During Mrozik's overseas duty, he kept in touch with his family via phone and e-mail. This was his fifth deployment during his seven years serving in the Marine Corps. "It doesn't get any easier throughout deployments, in fact, it gets harder because your children start to realize you're gone," Mrozik said.

Mrozik said he was afraid his youngest daughter Dakota would not remember him since she was little more than a year old when he left for the lengthy overseas tour. "When the bus pulled up, she (Dakota) was the first one in my family to see me," Mrozik said. "I pushed my face up against the window and she yelled 'daddy.'"

Mrozik said his unit will receive a few days off before returning to work to unpack and get back to business. Mrozik said he plans to reenlist and serve as a recruiter.


Autumn and Dakota Mrozik cry as they reunite with their father, Sgt. Andrew J. Mrozik, an avionics technician, after a seven-month deployment to Okinawa, Japan, conducting flight operations with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369. During Mrozik's training overseas, he kept in touch via phone and e-mail. This was his fifth deployment throughout his Marine Corps career. "It doesn't get any easier throughout deployments. In fact, it gets harder because your children start to realize you're gone," Mrozik said. Mrozik's unit flew 72,000 hours without accidents participating in exercises through out Iraq, Japan, Phillipines, South Korea and Thailand. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Khang T. Tran



07-21-04, 07:57 AM
Reservist is called up for duty in Kuwait, ends run for Congress <br />
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By David B. Caruso <br />
1:29 p.m. July 20, 2004 <br />
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PHILADELPHIA – Congressional candidate Greg...

07-21-04, 07:59 AM
July 20, 2004

A soldier's view of Iraq

By Dan D'Ambrosio
Herald Staff Writer

IGNACIO - For Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew TwoCrow, the soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq are not numbers to be reported or debated. They are his friends and comrades.

TwoCrow, 22, returned to Ignacio on Thursday after four months of combat duty in the infamous Sunni Triangle, where he and his fellow Marines arrived in Fallujah the day after Iraqi insurgents killed four coalition workers, dragged them through the streets, and hung their mutilated bodies from a bridge.

He talked Monday about his experiences in Iraq while his 3-year-old son, Lakota, played in their home in the Northridge subdivision outside Ignacio. That first night in Fallujah, TwoCrow said, a sniper team led his platoon into the city, where they engaged in a running firefight with the insurgents.

"We went from house to house, looking for terrorists," TwoCrow said. "About 30 minutes into the city, all the fighting started. It was crazy. It was just shooting and running, shooting and running. That's all they did that first night."

About two weeks later, TwoCrow's platoon was ambushed.

"One afternoon there was a guy who was running back and forth and he kept shooting at us, so the platoon leader took my squad and we chased him," TwoCrow said.

In that ambush, one of TwoCrow's friends had both shins shattered by bullets and was shot in the face, the bullet lodging at the back of his neck. Another was shot in the head, through his helmet, and died two days later. Another was shot through his arm as he attempted to throw a grenade. The bullet passed into his body, severing the major arteries to his heart and killing him. Another was hit by a bullet that first went through a 7-inch concrete wall before striking him in the leg.

"The thing that saved him, he had a bandolier with all the bullets for his magazines," TwoCrow said. "The bullet exploded in his bandolier and shattered all his bullets and sent a bunch of shrapnel around."

TwoCrow said most of the insurgents they captured during his time in the Sunni Triangle were Syrians, not Iraqis, and that they also captured fighters from Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and Turkey.

"They were coming from all over," TwoCrow said.

But they all shared something in common: "They've been doing this for years and years," he said.

Consequently, the insurgents made for a challenging enemy.

"They're really smart, they know how to hide," TwoCrow said. "We'd be shot at and have no idea where we were being shot at from. The bullets would be impacting inches in front of us, inches from our heads."

TwoCrow said he and his platoon members finally figured out the insurgents were punching holes in the concrete walls of homes, inserting a long pipe in the hole and firing through it.

"They shoot at you all day and you'll never see the muzzle flash or the gun smoke," he said.

TwoCrow's friend with shattered shins is beginning to walk again after intensive physical therapy at Camp Pendleton, about 40 miles north of San Diego. Despite being involved in nearly nonstop combat for four months, TwoCrow himself was never wounded. He said he'll never forget what he saw and experienced.

"It's good to have friends there you can talk to when something's wrong," TwoCrow said. "We pretty much stick together. They told us, 'Try to be close to the Marine on your left and your right because you never know when your life might depend on him, or his life might depend on you.' That's what I was taught, which I found out is true."

Lakota TwoCrow lives with his mother, Trennie Burch, and Burch's parents, Alan and Estelle Rarick, who own the home in Northridge.

Burch was 16 when she and Andrew, who'd had a troubled childhood, had Lakota. The Raricks took Andrew in, treating him like a son.

"We're like his extended family. He calls us mom and dad," Estelle Rarick said. "We're very proud of him. We kept in touch with him when he was overseas."

Rarick said TwoCrow's decision to go into the Marines had everything to do with his son.

"When he left the (Southern Ute Indian) Reservation to be a Marine, he wanted to be somewhere where he could make a difference," Rarick said. "He's very proud of himself. That's the one goal he did have. I remember him telling me that goal was to make his son proud."

And has he made a difference? TwoCrow believes he has.

"I was glad to be there," TwoCrow said. "These people were living in fear. The terrorists were telling these people how to live their lives. I think we did a good job over there. I know a lot of people disagree with what we're doing over there, but I try not to let it get to me."

After serving his four-year stint in the Marines, TwoCrow, a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, hopes to return to Ignacio to work for the SWAT unit of the Southern Ute Police Department. And while he feels good about his service in Iraq, it doesn't mean he's itching to go back.

"It's something I'll never forget," TwoCrow said. "It will always be on my mind, something I never hope I have to go through again and that no one else has to go through."

Reach Staff WriterDan D'Ambrosio here .




07-21-04, 09:10 AM
Warner: New Report Backs Iraq WMD Claims
Associated Press Writer
Originally published July 21, 2004, 8:51 AM EDT
WASHINGTON -- An upcoming report will contain "a good deal of new information" backing up the Bush administration's contention that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass destruction, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., said.

The administration cited Saddam's hunger for such weapons as a main reason to invade Iraq last year.

"I'm not suggesting dramatic discoveries," Warner told reporters Tuesday, but "bits and pieces that Saddam Hussein was clearly defying" international restrictions, "and he and his government had a continuing interest in maintaining the potential to shift to production of various types of weapons of mass destruction in a short period of time."

The report is by the civilian head of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, who reports to the CIA director. Initially the report was expected to be done this summer, but instead it will come out in September, Warner said.

Warner said the new information covers "some weapons that predate the first Gulf War that are still around and were used at the time Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Iranians" as well as "remnants of what he was doing himself here in the last several years." He would not elaborate, saying he didn't want to pre-empt the report.

The senator made the comments after a closed briefing by Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, who updated the panel on the Iraq Survey Group's progress. Dayton returned from Iraq last month after giving up his post as the military head of the hunt for weapons as part of a routine rotation. Marine Brig. Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin became director of the Iraq Survey Group on June 12.

The intelligence community, meanwhile, hopes the trials and interrogations of "high-level detainees" by the new Iraqi government could yield more information about Saddam's weapons programs, Warner said.

"The Iraqi people are still concerned that some remnants of this program are yet to be found," Warner said.

A defense official speaking on condition of anonymity Tuesday, said the survey group has not yet found any new evidence of Saddam weapons. While there are "all kinds of documents" showing his intent to produce weapons of mass destruction, there is "no treasure map that shows 'Here is where the missing munitions are,'" the official said.

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press



07-21-04, 09:30 AM
Marines pitch in to refit battalion's gear lost in fire <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 200471772512 <br />
Story by Sgt. Jose L. Garcia <br />
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CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq (July 14,...

07-21-04, 10:22 AM
Issue Date: July 26, 2004

‘A soap opera with RPGs’
Marines facing hit-and-run attacks in ‘must hold’ Iraqi city of Ramadi

By Gordon Lubold
Times staff writer

RAMADI, Iraq — It’s this city’s most attacked observation point, but Lance Cpl. Kevin Miller loves the Ag Center. The 19-year-old grunt from Philadelphia is standing post on the balcony of the ornate white building that appears to be a former university; it’s now peppered with holes from sniper fire, mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades.
“It’s so fun,” says Miller, with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, as he stands behind a faded blue minaret at the building’s front. “These morons never learn. They can shoot us all they want, but they’ll never win.”

Miller’s exuberance about standing at a post where a Marine is sure to be shot at is typical of the attitude toward what the mission is becoming for leathernecks in Iraq. And it’s especially true for 2/4.

Accustomed to kicking in doors and taking the fight to the enemy, Marines have assumed a more defensive posture after the June 28 transfer of power to Iraq. Now they’re pulling back and encouraging the Iraqi police and other local forces to take responsibility for law and order.

Their changing stance reflects the complexities of Ramadi, a high-stakes mission with a high cost. The battalion has seen more casualties — including 31 killed in action as of July 15 — than any other Marine battalion in Iraq.

And much of what it’s endured has gone unnoticed in the shadow of more high-profile actions around the country.

When grunts with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, went on the offensive in nearby Fallujah following the March 31 slaying of four civilian security contractors, the eyes of the world turned to that fight. In the siege that followed, at least three infantry battalions joined the fray and pundits talked at length about that restive city being critical to winning the peace in Iraq.

But the fight for Ramadi, Marines here say, is a far more important — and dangerous — mission. This battalion has almost single-handedly maintained control in this city of about 400,000 on the Euphrates River. It is a strategic must-have as the seat of government for Anbar province and the nexus of Sunni Arab culture.

In a June visit to Combat Outpost, a small base here that has endured frequent attacks, 1st Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis made the city’s importance clear. Speaking to Marines gathered in a chow hall, Mattis was characteristically blunt. His message: “Ramadi must hold.”

Marines from 2/4 have conducted security patrols by vehicle and on foot in neighborhoods populated by former Baath Party members and Republican Guard troops, raided homes looking for weapons and insurgents, and continue to engage enemy forces in close combat. Marines here firmly believe that if Ramadi were to fall to the insurgents, the province — and, arguably, U.S. policy in Iraq — would fall along with it.

“If we don’t hold the government center, if we don’t hold the provincial capital,” Mattis was quoted as saying in a July 12 USA Today report, “the rest of the province goes to hell in a handbasket.”

The reality now is that the Marines can’t spend as much time on winning hearts and minds when a determined enemy is still complicating efforts to stabilize the country.

“Nothing is straightforward,” said Maj. J.D. Harrill, 2/4’s operations officer.

“I think we thought they would be more receptive to help, but it’s more like a soap opera with RPGs.”

‘The sixth’

When the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based battalion arrived here in early March for a seven-month rotation in country, they replaced an Army National Guard unit from Florida that had departed two weeks earlier, and although they expected a fight, they also thought handshakes and soccer balls would go a long way toward stabilizing the city.

The battalion’s four line companies each took an area of responsibility and hit the streets. They built sidewalks, painted schools and outfitted hospitals with new equipment.

But during routine patrols about a month later, the city simply broke loose.

Around here, when Marines refer to “the sixth,” or “the seventh,” they’re referring to those days in April when it seemed like everyone in the city was out to get them, when Marines saw some of the most intense close combat since Vietnam.

In a series of what are believed to be coordinated ambushes, hundreds of Iraqis began squeezing rounds from behind windows, down alleys and in the middle of the street. Staff Sgt. Damien Rodriguez, a 27-year-old infantry unit leader from Menifee, Calif., was pinned down in a small building for more than two hours. He calls it “the Battle of Easy Street.”

Other Marines call it “Black Hawk Down Without Helicopters,” a nod to the commonly referenced October 1993 battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, that left 18 service members dead.

“When this was taking place, two hours into it, everyone and their mother was shooting at us,” Rodriguez said.

On April 6 alone, at least 10 Marines were killed. Others would die in the fierce fighting that continued almost unabated in the days that followed. In the end, more than 200 Iraqis were dead and the enemy offensive had ground to a halt.

Waiting for the fight

Enemy forces have not mounted a similar assault since, but smaller, pin-prick hit-and-run attacks have continued as Marines re-engage in the city. They are conducting patrols, helping to guard the government’s headquarters building and manning a dozen or so other observation posts up and down Highway 10, the city’s main drag. Four Marines died defending one such observation post June 21; video footage of their bodies appeared on news channels around the world.


07-21-04, 10:23 AM
And as recently as July 14, Marines got a reminder of how hot Ramadi can be. After weeks of relative calm, the city again erupted in gunfire and a six-hour street fight ensued with a group of...

07-21-04, 10:54 AM
Saudis Say They Found American's Head

1 hour, 33 minutes ago Add World - AP to My Yahoo!

By ABDULLAH AL-SHIHRI, Associated Press Writer

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - The head of slain American hostage Paul M. Johnson Jr., who was kidnapped and decapitated by militants in Saudi Arabia last month, was found by security forces during a raid that targeted the hideout of the Saudi al-Qaida chief. Two militants were killed, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

The Interior Ministry said the head was discovered in a freezer in a house, although Johnson's body was not found and a further search was being conducted.

The spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Carol Kalin, said that Saudi authorities had informed the embassy of the discovery and that consular officials in Washington were in the process of notifying Johnson's family.

The Interior Ministry said the raid occurred in the King Fahd neighborhood of Riyadh. An earlier statement from an official at the ministry said authorities were holding the wife and three children of Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi, the man believed to be al-Qaida chief in Saudi Arabia, after the raid.

Johnson, a 49-year-old engineer who had worked in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade, was kidnapped June 12 by militants in Riyadh who followed through on a threat to kill him if the kingdom did not release its al-Qaida prisoners. An al-Qaida group claiming responsibility posted an Internet message that showed grisly photographs of a beheaded body on June 17. Later, video of the beheading was posted.

Hours after the pictures of the beheading appeared on the Internet, Saudi security forces shot and killed Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, alleged mastermind of Johnson's kidnapping and killing.

Last week, U.S. authorities announced the search for Johnson's body had been called off.

Paul Johnson III, reached by telephone in Washington by The Associated Press, said he has received no official confirmation about the discovery. The younger Johnson, from Port St. John, Fla., had flown to Washington for a news conference with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., at which they planned to press the Saudi Embassy for more information about the search for the body.

The elder Johnson was an engineer for Lockheed Martin who worked on Apache helicopters and grew up in Eagleswood Township, N.J.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said the discovery was made after a search of one of three locations following the late Tuesday raid. Weapons, including an anti-aircraft SAM-7 missile that appeared in previous militant videotapes, explosives, chemicals, video cameras and cash were among items seized.

One of the militants killed in the raid, identified by the Interior Ministry as Issa Saad Mohammed bin Oushan, is on the Saudi government's list of wanted militants. The statement declined to identify the wounded who are in custody.

Pan-Arab news station have reported that al-Aoofi, who is believed to have succeeded al-Moqrin, may be among the casualties.

A Saudi Interior Ministry official, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency, said three members of the security forces were wounded in the gunbattle that erupted when security forces came under "heavy fire" from hand and rocket-propelled grenades while inspecting a residence suspected of being used by militants.

Another group of militants fired on policemen engaging the first group of militants in an attempt to distract members of the security forces, the Interior Ministry official said. Authorities are still pursuing those gunmen.

Two more suspects were seized after security forces searched three other locations, the ministry said.

The shootout was the most serious since Saudi forces killed al-Moqrin.

King Fahd last month offered militants amnesty if they turned themselves in before Friday. He said he wouldn't seek the death penalty for those who surrendered.

Four militants have come forward, and security forces have stepped up efforts to capture the rest.

In the past year, Saudi Arabia has been rocked by suicide bombings, gunbattles and kidnappings targeting foreign workers. The attacks have been blamed on al-Qaida and sympathizers of the anti-Western terror network headed by Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden (news - web sites). Al-Qaida wants to topple the Saudi royal family and replace it with its own Islamic government.

A monthlong amnesty offered by Saudi King Fahd to militants who turn themselves in has failed to attract hard-core militants responsible for the killings of scores of Saudis and foreigners in waves of the attacks that began in May 2003.

Since the amnesty was announced on June 23, however, four wanted men have surrendered to Saudi authorities, including Khaled bin Ouda bin Mohammed al-Harby, a confidant of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, and 27 others have been repatriated from a number of countries. Under the amnesty, which ends Friday, the government pledged not to seek the death penalty against militants who turn themselves in.

Saudi officials have stressed that they have not let up on the hunt for militants who don't take up the offer.


Associated Press writer Mike Schneider in Orlando, Fla., contributed to this report.




07-21-04, 11:36 AM
Marines train Iraqi Border Police for duty <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 20047176182 <br />
Story by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr <br />
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CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq (July 14, 2004) --...

07-21-04, 12:32 PM
Fallujah council hesitates

Group suspicious of government, leader says


Editor's note: Patrick Peterson has just returned from his third reporting assigment in Iraq. He covers South Mississippi military affairs for your Sun Herald.

FALLUJAH, Iraq - The City Council is suspicious of the new government of Iraq, which took power on June 28, said the president of the Fallujah City Council last week in an exclusive interview with The Sun Herald.

"We want to watch until we are convinced they are new and good guys," Sheik Mahammed Hamed Sheihan said through an interpreter.

While the 20-member Fallujah council has no real authority, the appointed body, organized last year by the U.S. Army, has influence with citizens and insurgents. Its disapproval of the new national government could prolong the fighting and illustrates the potential problem of unifying modern Iraq, which was created by the British after World War I, and remains divided by tribal and regional loyalties.

Fallujah's leaders have traveled to Baghdad at least three times to meet with government officials, Sheihan said. However, city leaders remain resentful of the U.S. and the new Iraqi government.

They focus on a list of demands that includes a 400-bed hospital, payment of $9 million in individual damage claims and release of political prisoners from Fallujah, Sheihan said.

The defiant city has endured at least six air strikes targeted at terrorist safe houses. Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in Baghdad said Iraqis supplied information for at least one of those air strikes. Allawi approved the most recent strike.

In mid-April, U.S. Marines backed off from a siege of the city to pursue a politically oriented strategy. They have organized a city council, an Iraqi Police force and an Iraqi military to quiet insurgent fighters in the city.

Fallujah, as most of Iraq, has no government infrastructure, such as public works or sanitation departments. The police and army have been unwilling to confront the tribal militias, which often battle U.S. forces.

Armed insurgents have been reported driving through Fallujah, packed four or five to a car. They have threatened Iraqis who cooperate with Americans.

Nevertheless, dozens of Iraqi contractors from Fallujah and surrounding areas have signed contracts with Marine and Seabee engineers. They report they can work in and around the city without trouble from insurgents.

"There is a progress toward peace, and the city is quiet," said Sheihan, who denied knowledge of insurgents and how they operate.

"I don't know their numbers, and I don't know where they are," he said.

Sheihan also denied that foreign fighters are the main force destabilizing Fallujah.

"I have not seen any foreign fighters in Fallujah," he said. "I heard that a bunch of guys from Baghdad came to help Fallujah people after the Marines surrounded Fallujah.

"We refute terrorism," Sheihan said. "Islam is peace, and these terrorists are not representatives of Islam, even if they are Muslim."

Marine negotiators say foreign fighters unquestionably inhabit Fallujah and likely are there at the invitation of citizens.

Negotiations between the council and Marine civil affairs officers have often been tense, due to several issues.

Marines authorized $3 million in individual damage claims to Fallujah citizens but stopped paying claims when they detected a large number of false applications, as citizens presented repeated claims for the same damage. Money has been set aside to cover the $9 million in disputed claims, mentioned by Sheihan.

However, the money will be spent on public works that benefit all Fallujah citizens.

A tribal sheik without a profession, Sheihan is described as an "entrepreneur" who has solicited kickbacks from builders who signed contracts with the U.S. military to work in his neighborhood.

He has recently taken a larger role on the council and has been council president for about a month, a job he could lose in January 2005, when the first local elections are scheduled.

While he has no direct authority, Sheihan's power and value lie in his willingness to let both sides speak and then to push the discussion toward a compromise.

"All in all, he's a man we can work with," said Marine Capt. Ed Sullivan, an Arabic-speaking foreign area officer with Regimental Combat Team 1.

Marine negotiators are frustrated that Fallujah officials have made no progress toward fulfilling the three U.S. requirements set forth for halting offensive action in mid-April. Fallujah officials agreed to turn over the killers of four U.S. private security guards, force insurgents to surrender heavy weapons and turn in foreign fighters.

Sheihan said that agreement was made with the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi military, not with the City Council. He, apparently, does not feel obligated to work toward these goals.

"I didn't hear about this agreement until this moment," he said.

He gave an account of the murder and mutilation of the four private security guards on March 31. He said the unpremeditated killing occurred near a labor market, where uneducated, unemployed workers had gathered.

A vehicle carrying Iraqi civilians, obviously insurgents, fired on the U.S. security contractors and drove away. Then, a mob of the unemployed workers descended on the disabled vehicle, mutilating the security contractors.

"We are feeling what happened is a mistake," he said. "This kind of activity is not acceptable to our Islamic religion."

As a result of continued danger in the city, Seabee and Marine engineers have signed rebuilding contracts in the areas around Fallujah, but little work has been contracted inside the city.

Col. John Toolan, commander of RCT 1, said he hopes that if surrounding communities receive rebuilding contracts, Fallujah's citizens will be encouraged to cooperate.

Instead, Sheihan confirmed that strategy has created some resentment, and Fallujah residents feel they have been denied a share of the $100 million in rebuilding money handed out by the U.S. military.

"They didn't finish any projects in Fallujah," Sheihan complained. "There is no money for the city."

Fallujah has power shortages, a shortage of hospital beds and its schools need repair, he said. Additionally, safe drinking water is scarce, and the city of 250,000 has no garbage pickup or wastewater treatment.

Marines, however, do not feel they can enter Fallujah without a fight. Attacks from improvised explosive devices have not relented in al-Anbar province, even though Marines and Seabees have found fewer firefights and have endured fewer mortar attacks on their camps.

Uninterested in joining the new government, the Sunni residents of Fallujah, where unemployment is high, apparently want reconstruction money, which would boost their economy. But they also want the Marines to go away, leaving the city in their control.

"If there is real rebuilding, there will not be bombing," Sheihan said. "Peace is not a fruit of force. Where is the freedom?"

Patrick Peterson can be reached at 896-2343 or at pfpeterson@sunherald.com



07-21-04, 01:44 PM
Bracing for the next atrocity in Iraq

By Nathaniel Fick
Originally published July 20, 2004
AS A MARINE officer in Afghanistan and Iraq, I learned one of the Corps' cardinal rules: Marines don't leave their own behind.
This culture of selflessness is among the U.S. military's greatest assets - but leaves it especially vulnerable to the Iraqi insurgency's tactic of kidnapping and killing Westerners.

The beheadings of captured contractors and foreign aid workers have already been beamed around the world, but this horror would have truly strategic resonance if the target were an American soldier. The insurgents have not yet capitalized on this vulnerability, but they show every sign of learning quickly.

During the first week of the war in Iraq last year, a Marine sergeant was captured in the southern town of Ash Shatra. He was reportedly dragged through the streets and strung up to die in the central square. Part of my unit entered Ash Shatra to recover his body and avenge his brutal death.

We had battled daily in a netherworld of human shields, armed children, false surrenders and suicide bombers, learning to trust only one another. Despite all this, the sergeant's death rattled my Marines and me. The execution of one of our own fueled our most paranoid fears about the people whose hearts and minds we were supposed to be winning.

The next American serviceman or woman to be captured in Iraq will likely be exploited by an increasingly media-savvy insurgency. Consider the impact if viewers, over their morning coffee, were to confront the horror of a baby-faced 18-year-old Marine, or perhaps a petite female soldier, blindfolded and pleading for life.

Abu Musab Zarqawi's terrorist network specifically seeks to capture American military personnel, particularly one of at least 14,000 women serving in Iraq.

His organization's capacity for depravity surpasses anything we have yet seen, so the psychological value of such a prize is almost limitless.

Because U.S. policy rightly forbids negotiating with terrorists, we should expect to witness the televised butchering of an American soldier. The intent of this shock tactic would be twofold: to provoke an irrational response by our troops and to demoralize the American public.

Certainly we can all envision visceral and destructive reactions to publicized executions of Americans serving in Iraq. So what should the military - and Americans generally - do in response to this new type of warfare, fought less on the ground than in the psyche?

We can all learn something from the daily responses of our men and women in uniform. Soldiers and Marines in Iraq already know the costs of war. Each day, my platoon struggled to maintain its humanity in scenes too graphic for broadcast on the nightly news.

Despite the injustice and brutality, we knew that our enemies won whenever we responded indiscriminately. The best of our small-unit leaders know they must refuse to play into the hands of their provocateurs. Emotional responses to isolated acts of barbarity are no way to make policy.

And that's the lesson for the American people. The war in Iraq will be lost if hysteria or despondency gains the upper hand.

The insurgents cannot hurt us where we are strong, so they will hit us where we are weak. We must be ready for it.

On the third morning of the invasion, my battalion commander gave his officers advice that bears repeating: "Hope is not a method, nor is luck - hard work is."

We cannot merely hope the insurgency will fail to capture another American. Nor can we rely on luck to make it so.

Instead, all Americans must steel themselves for a new kind of work, girding our own hearts and minds against this latest horror.

Nathaniel Fick, a Baltimore native, served as a Marine Corps captain and is writing a book about his combat experiences.



07-21-04, 02:52 PM
Iraq intelligence probes prove Bush, Blair weren't fibbing

July 20, 2004


When President Bush and Prime Minister Blair agreed to official investigations into the intelligence failures in the runup to the war, they did so reluctantly. They had to assume that there just might be something in the files that, once exposed, would damage them. In fact, the two reports -- the Senate Intelligence Committee Report in the United States and the Butler Report in Britain -- have rescued both leaders.

What tipped observers off to the fact that the Senate report would help Bush was that Democrats on the committee began undermining their own report as soon as it was published. They had signed unanimously onto two conclusions that exculpated the president. First, that all the other intelligence services, including the French and the Russian, had believed Saddam Hussein to be building a WMD arsenal. And, second, that the Bush administration had not put pressure on the intelligence services to conclude that Saddam had WMDs. Democrats, such as Illinois's Dick Durbin, attached notes to the report, effectively retracting the latter conclusion. They advanced such ingenious arguments as the administration's public statements on Saddam constituted pressure on the CIA in themselves. Or that the administration should have pressured the CIA -- but been more skeptical of reports of Saddam's arms control violations!

These second thoughts, however, were too late. With the publication of the unanimous report, the Bush administration and the Senate Democrats were in the same boat. They had both voted for the war on intelligence that, even if it proved to be false, was the conventional wisdom of the entire intelligence world.

Following the Senate report, "Bush Lied" would have to be changed to the much less dramatic "Bush Was Sadly Misinformed (Just like Us.)" Even better news awaited Bush in the report of the senior British mandarin, Lord Butler, on the record of the British intelligence before the Iraq war. Butler's report is a typical British establishment product. It seems to exonerate everyone while making some extremely sharp criticisms under the mellifluous civil service prose.

Thus, the famous MI6 is praised for operations that revealed and destroyed the secret nuclear cooperation between Libya and Pakistan -- but damned for relying on single-source, dubious, out-of-date and thus false intelligence on Iraq.

Similarly, Blair is cleared of any deliberate exaggeration of Saddam's WMD stockpiles before the war, but implicitly criticized for treating highly uncertain intelligence data as definite and certain. (In the House of Commons Blair produced a brilliant riposte: How was it that critics thought that Washington and London were wrong to act on fragmentary and uncertain intelligence in the case of Iraq -- and wrong NOT to act on fragmentary and uncertain intelligence in relation to Sept. 11. It is a line Bush might want to memorize.)

But the main significance of the Butler report may be the degree to which it has defined exactly what the intelligence services got wrong about Saddam's WMD program. They were wrong to claim that Saddam retained substantial WMD stockpiles -- and Blair was wrong to claim that WMDs could be launched against Britain in 45 minutes. But that is the extent of their error.

According to Butler, Saddam had earlier built up WMD stockpiles. He had programs in place to reconstitute them. He was seeking uranium from other countries (including Niger so that, as Mark Steyn pointed out here on Sunday, "Bush Lied!" would have to be replaced by "Wilson Lied!"). And he would almost certainly have restored the WMD threat once the sanctions regime against him broke down or was abandoned -- as was happening in the period running up to the war.

These conclusions may be excessively modest. Saddam's restoration of his WMD threat would likely have been even faster than Butler thinks since, as we know from the U.N.'s Oil for Food scandal, the sanctions regime against Saddam was extraordinarily porous -- if porous is the right word to describe a system where the sanctions enforcers accepted a cut of the profits in return for assisting in the sanctions-busting.

And it may be the case that Saddam did possess WMD at an early stage of the crisis and that the intelligence services were not wholly wrong. Some new evidence suggests something along these lines. A report to the U.N. Security Council in June this year by the acting executive head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission claims that before, during and after the war, Saddam shipped WMD and medium- range ballistic missiles to countries in Europe and the Middle East.

U.N. officials say they do not yet have a full accounting of exactly what weapons passed out of Iraq in this way, but that entire factories were among the items transported abroad. If that is so -- and this report may turn out to be exaggerated -- then our current conventional wisdom will have to be overturned.

In recent times, it has become commonplace to assert that the war on Iraq was launched solely in order to tackle the imminent threat of WMD that we now know did not exist. That was never true. There were always several overlapping reasons for the Iraq war:

Saddam was a threat to his neighbors, and if he possessed WMD, to the wider world. He was a tyrant who was guilty of terrible crimes against his own people. He had invaded several of his neighbors without serious penalty. And he had violated innumerable U.N. resolutions and international law, not least the Gulf War cease-fire. None of those reasons depend on WMD stockpiles.

But maybe we have to qualify the belief that Saddam's WMD stockpiles never existed as well. As a result of two official investigations and recent U.N. discoveries, we have reason to believe that if Saddam did not possess WMD at the moment of the invasion, he had possessed them only months beforehand and was in a position to do so a second (or third) time if he had succeeded in bluffing himself out of trouble.

Durbin is right: the Bush administration should employ a little more skepticism on these matters -- but not just in the one direction.



07-21-04, 03:48 PM
Wary U.S. troops end patrols in Iraqi area

By Tom Lasseter

Inquirer Foreign Staff

RAMADI, Iraq - After more than a year of fighting, U.S. troops have stopped patrolling large swaths of Iraq's restive Anbar province, according to the top American military intelligence officer in the area.

Most U.S. Army officers interviewed this week said patrols in and around the province's capital, Ramadi - home to many who were military or intelligence officers under Saddam Hussein - had stopped largely because soldiers and commanders were tired of being shot at by insurgents who have refused to back down under heavy American military pressure.

Asked for comment, officials from the Marine battalion in Ramadi - about one-fifth of the forces in the city - provided a 21-year-old corporal who confirmed that Marines had discontinued patrols but said it was because of the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis.

While U.S. officials here would not provide exact numbers, there clearly has been a significant drop in patrols.

After losing dozens of men to a "voiceless, faceless mass of people" with no clear leadership or political aim other than killing Americans, the military has had to reevaluate the situation, said Maj. Thomas Neemeyer, head intelligence officer for the First Brigade of the First Infantry Division, the main military force in the Ramadi area and eastward to Fallujah.

"They cannot militarily overwhelm us, but we cannot deliver a knockout blow, either," he said. "It creates a form of stalemate."

Given the security situation, U.S. officials have all but abandoned plans to install a democratic government in the city and are hoping instead that Islamic extremists and other insurgents do not overrun the vast province in the same way they seized Fallujah, the region's most infamous city.

"Since Ramadi is the seat of the governate, we worry that if they could unsettle the government center here, they could destabilize the al-Anbar province," said Capt. Joe Jasper, a First Brigade spokesman.

The apparent failure of a long line of Army and Marine units to pacify Anbar - which stretches from Baghdad to the Syrian border - will be a major challenge for the new government and could be a tipping point for the nation as a whole. Increasingly, Iraq is a place in which cities or parts of cities have been taken over by insurgents and radicals.

U.S. officers in Ramadi, a city of 400,000, openly acknowledge that Iraq's national guard - the security force trained to take over the hunt for insurgents - has become a site-protection service so far unable and unwilling to conduct offensive operations.

When Anbar's governor left the city last month, the head of the national guard, since replaced, took part in an attempt to overthrow him. National guardsmen in Ramadi have refused to go on patrols either alone or with the Americans. The 2,886 national guardsmen in Ramadi so far have detained just one person.

To show how operations in Anbar have changed, Jasper sketched a map. Pointing to a neighborhood outside the town of Habbaniyah, between Fallujah and Ramadi, he said: "We've lost a lot of Marines there and we don't ever go in anymore. If they want it that bad, they can have it."

He pointed to another spot on the western edge of Fallujah: "We find that if we don't go there, they won't shoot us."

Marine Cpl. Charles Laversdorf, who works in his battalion's intelligence unit, said the Marines averaged just five raids a month and no longer were running any patrols other than those to observation posts.

The sharp reduction in patrols flies in the face of recent comments by a top military official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Any insurgent that... somehow thinks that after June 28 we'll be pulling back into base camps will be disappointed," he said. "This is a long-term program of handing over responsibility... . It's not going to take days nor weeks; it's going to be months and years."

More than 124 U.S. troops have died in Anbar since President Bush declared major combat operations over May 1, 2003.

Between the First Brigade's 4,000 soldiers, in Ramadi since September, and a battalion of 1,000 Marines that came in February, more than 80 have been killed and 450 injured.

Since the June 28 handover of sovereignty, 25 U.S. troops have been killed, 15 in Anbar.

The numbers grow more striking at smaller unit levels.

Capt. Mike Taylor, for example, commands a 76-man company in nearby Khaldiya. Eighteen now have Purple Hearts, awarded for combat wounds.

The Marines' Echo Company, with 185 troops, has lost 22.

"There's a possibility that we'll say we'll protect the government and keep travel routes open, and for the rest of them, to hell with them," said Neemeyer, the intelligence officer. "To a certain degree we've already done it; we've reduced our presence."

He continued: "I'm sure they are beating their chests and saying they drove us out, but what have they driven us out of? Rural farmland that's not tactically important... . If they want to call that victory, that's fine."

Looking up at a wall map, he flicked his laser pointer across the space between Ramadi and Fallujah. "We don't go into that area anymore," he said. "Why go there when all that happens is we get hit?"

The U.S. military has poured $18 million into reconstruction projects in Ramadi, but Neemeyer said the projects had not won over the people. "The only way to stomp out the insurgency of the mind," he said, "would be to kill the entire population."

The commander of a local national guard battalion, Col. Adnan Allawi, said he thought the situation would only get worse.

"If the Americans stay here, the same thing that happened in Fallujah will happen in Ramadi," he said. "If the situation stays the way it is now, the Americans will begin losing one city after the next."

Residents in Ramadi had long said the U.S. military underestimated the resolve of fighters in the area. Also, they said, U.S. forces made community support for the resistance stronger with each cultural misstep, from brusque house raids to cultural slights of tribal sheikhs.

Many interviewed in Ramadi recently said they would welcome a Fallujahlike insurgent rule.

Muhanad Muhammed, a pharmacist, said: "The Americans misbehave... . That's why I do not blame the mujaheddin when they attack them."

Capt. John Mountford, who oversees a central command office in Ramadi for local police, national guard, and U.S. officials, said that in retrospect the military should have paid more attention to what Iraqis were saying.

"We should have worked with the tribal leaders earlier," he said. "I just wonder what would have happened if we had worked a little more with the locals."

Battle for Ramadi | Photos and multimedia from the scene: http://go.philly.com/swanson

Contact reporter Tom Lasseter at tlasseter@krwashington.com. Special correspondent Omar Jassim contributed to this article.

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/breaking_news/9201778.htm?1c&ERIGHTS=7089153312379371346philly::moms_taxi2002@y ahoo.com&KRD_RM=3psmoqqollssosjjjjjjjjlnnm|E|N&is_rd=Y


07-21-04, 04:47 PM
Last update: July 20, 2004 at 8:33 PM
Nathaniel Fick: U.S. military does better without a draft
Nathaniel Fick
July 21, 2004 FICK0721
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 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 constitute 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 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. 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 U.S. 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. He wrote this article for the New York Times.



07-21-04, 06:11 PM
Up-armored vehicles offer 24th MEU convoys more protection
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 200471921021
Story by Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon

CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait (July 18, 2004) -- In a large warehouse outside of Kuwait City civilian contractors from more than 25 countries around the world work in two, 12-hour shifts seven days a week.

They are working around the clock in temperatures reaching 120 degrees to ensure U.S. Marines are protected from improvised explosive devices and small-arms fire during convoy operations by installing new panels, dubbed up-armor, to the gunner's turret, undercarriage and sides of their vehicles.

Beginning July 16, more than 60 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement seven-ton trucks and humvees from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit have been fitted with the new armor plates.

"Since February we have installed more than 5,000 kits on Marine Corps vehicles," said Chief Warrant Office 2 Eric Gilmer, who hails from Columbus, Ohio, and is a project team leader from Logistics Command, Marine Corps Base Albany, Ga. "The guys in my shop call this 'Operation Armor All.'"

According to Gilmer, the up-armor project began in February when Marine commanders wanted 100 percent side protection on their vehicles. Headquarters Marine Corps sent a request to Logistics Command to come up with a design for the new armor.

Within 28 days of the request, the new up-armor had been prototyped, tested, approved and installed on vehicles headed to Iraq from the I Marine Expeditionary Force.

After being installed, the new up-armored panels and gunner's shield offer the Marines in the vehicle 360 degrees of protection.

"This stuff really works," said Gilmer. "I have gotten a few e-mails from different Marines and they all said it works great. I have also seen photos, and in every instance no one has died - a few have been hurt, but no deaths."

Even the vehicle operators feel safer just having the armor on there.

"It is comforting to know that most anything can't get through it," said Lance Cpl. Jason Williman, 22, a Los Angeles native and motor vehicle operator from 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines. "Now we don't have to use so many sandbags and it feels a lot safer."

Pfc. Ryan Norstrom, 20, a Greenwich, Conn., native and motor vehicle operator from 1/2 agrees. "The new armor makes it pretty hot in there, but you definitely feel more protected, so I think it is a fair tradeoff."

"I would rather feel safe than comfortable," added Williman. " I have a wife to go home to."

The Marines also agreed they felt more protected from improvised explosive devices and heavy machine gun rounds.

"The survival rate with this armor is tremendous," said Lt. Col. Vincent Coglianese, 44, a Spring Lake, N.J., native and commanding officer of MEU Service Support Group 24. "I know the Marines feel more confident with it on there."

Armed with newfound confidence, the Marines of the 24th MEU will soon put their enhanced armored vehicles to the test as they move from Kuwait to Iraq.


Civilian contractors work to install a gunner's shield atop a humvee from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit at an armor installation facility in Kuwait July 17.
The gunner's shield is part of the new up-armor being placed on the MEU's vehicles. Up-armor offers the Marines in the vehicle 360 degrees of protection by covering the gunner's turret, undercarriage and side of the vehicle.
The MEU is currently in Kuwait conducting training and making final preparations for their deployment to Iraq.
Photo by: Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon



07-21-04, 07:54 PM
Marines battle back enemy after ambush in Ar Ramadi
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200471873336
Story by Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

CAMP HURRICANE POINT, Iraq (July 17, 2004) -- Sgt. John S. Anthony, section leader with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, said the city of Ar Ramadi was like a ghost town July 14, and that's never a good sign.

Anti-Iraqi fighters detonated an improvised explosive device near Saddam's Mosque in the city, hitting a convoy from Army's 1st Brigade Combat Team. Anthony and other Marines from 2nd Battalion's Mobile Assault Company and Company G were called to reinforce the soldiers.

"Devil 6," the 1st BCT convoy carrying the brigade's commander, was attacked with the homemade bomb at about 12:30 p.m. Shortly after, anti-Iraqi forces opened up on the soldiers with rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other small arms.

The attack occurred along main supply route Michigan, which is an important transportation route for Coalition Forces operating in and around Ar Ramadi.

"We were escorting our battalion commander to the hospital when we heard on the radio that Devil 6 got hit," said Staff Sgt. Michael P. Drake, platoon sergeant for Mobile Assault Platoon 1. "The commander wanted to go over there and see what was going on."

Drake and his 27-man platoon loaded up their vehicles and drove about a half mile toward the firefight, but they didn't make it to Devil 6 right away.

"There was no traffic,' said Anthony from Roseburg, Ore. "There were no people. It was just dead."

The lack of people in the city's busy industrial area was a telltale sign something was

Drake knew something "very bad" was going to happen as they approached Devil 6's location because the road had been blocked off with concrete blocks and tires.

"We knew we were about to get ambushed," the Charleston, Ill., Marine said. "We just didn't know where it was going to come from."

The Marines could hear gunfire coming from a little further up Michigan, but they couldn't see any enemy activity. They continued to push forward and that's when Drake said all hell broke loose. Enemy fighters began firing at the platoon.

"We couldn't tell where the firing was coming from because the sound ricocheted off the walls and buildings," Anthony said. "It was like it was coming from all around."

Immediately, the Marines set up a 360-degree security perimeter and searched for enemy positions on the rooftops.

"I pulled my vehicle off the road into a parking lot and about thirty seconds later, I saw seven or eight explosions where we had just been," Anthony explained. "That's when I saw two guys looking over a wall on a roof across the street."

Anthony used the scope on his rifle to make sure the men were armed. The two men were ducking in and out of a bunker fortified by sandbags.

The gunner on Anthony's vehicle aimed in with his .50-caliber machine gun and "lit up the building." As he sent a wall of lead to the rooftop fighters, the other Marines also laid down suppressive fire with their M-16A4 service rifles.

"They were firing from booby trap holes in the buildings," said Lance Cpl. Justin C. Hairston, heavy machine gunner. "They could see us, but we couldn't see them."

Hairston was manning an M-K19 automatic grenade launcher on top of a humvee. The vehicle's driver positioned the truck so Hairston could get a clear shot of the rooftop.

"It's pretty childish, but it's fun to shoot a Mark 19," he added. "It's cool to see things blow up and catch fire."

Still, Hairston said great power comes with great responsibility.

"When I sit behind the gun, that's a lot of power," Hairston explained. "I can take a lot of lives, so I have to be careful because I don't want to kill lots of innocent people."

But he had no qualms firing upon the rooftop, which was about 250 yards from where the Marines were positioned. The bunker was destroyed and the ammunition on the roof began to ignite.

As the Marines fought with anti-Iraqi fighters along Michigan, a platoon-sized element from Company G was making its way to the battle. The company was ambushed southeast of where Devil 6 was pinned down. At the same time, a quick reaction force from 1st BCT was also headed to the firefight.

"The worst of the fighting only lasted about thirty minutes," Anthony said. "Maybe it was only fifteen minutes. I really can't remember. Time seems to speed up when you're out there."

By the time the Marines from Company G arrived, most of the fighting had died down, but there was still firing coming from the same building across the street.

The Marines continued to engage the enemy fighters. The Company G Marines then cleared the building.

"Apparently when they went inside, the guys inside put their hands on their heads and gave up pretty fast," Anthony explained. "We put so much firepower into that building
they were scared not to give up."

The Marines detained 15 men who were holed up inside the building. They also found a large cache of weapons, computer gear, body armor and communications equipment.

Twenty-one enemy fighters were killed and four were wounded during the battle. The Marines and soldiers accomplished all of this without taking any serious casualties.

After the fighting ended, Marines and soldiers spent the next four hours clearing some of the surrounding buildings but found nothing.

They loaded up the detainees and seized weapons and headed back to the camp here.

"When we left that morning, I thought it was going to be just another day escorting the battalion commander around Ramadi," Hairston said. "The guys always hope for a little action when we go out, so it ended up being a pretty good day."


A Marine with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment provides security with his .50-caliber machine gun during a firefight with anti-Iraqi fighters in Ar Ramadi July 14. Terrorists attacked an Army convoy and Marines responded, killing and capturing the attackers.
(Photo courtesy of Lance Cpl. Louis Fuentes) Photo by: Lance Cpl. Louis Fuentes



07-21-04, 11:36 PM
Sense of Hopeful Future Being Felt in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2004 * Reports from Iraq indicate there is a sense of a hopeful future in Iraq, just 24 days after the return of sovereignty, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers called this a "positive sign of progress toward a more stable Iraq," during a Pentagon news conference.

Myers and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that the threat posed by insurgents, foreign fighters and regime remnants against the interim government and coalition remains very real. These forces continue their attacks, but are directing them against the Iraqi security forces and, increasingly, against innocent Iraqi civilians.

Rumsfeld said anti-Iraqi forces have adopted a strategy targeting Iraqis who are cooperating with the new Iraqi government. "They're attacking the Iraqi infrastructure," he said. "Their new strategy is proving them very visibly to be enemies of the Iraqi people, and they're losing; they're losing because hope is spreading and progress is continuing."

Myers said that since the transition of sovereignty in Iraq, insurgents have killed about 100 members of the Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians. About 250 Iraqis have been injured. "Government leaders continue be targets of attack, and yet … many brave Iraqis are stepping forward to fill those key leadership positions," Myers said.

The coalition will continue to support the interim Iraqi government as it strengthens the ministries and readies for elections at the end of the year. The new Iraq that is being formed is a far cry from the one under Saddam Hussein. "The Iraq that's rising today is not the one that the Saddamists envisioned, and it's not the one that will seek alliances with our most deadly enemies," Rumsfeld said.

"Today a country that once shared a common cause with terrorists is now an ally in the effort to defeat the extremists," he continued. "And the American people can be enormously proud of the young men and women in uniform and our coalition partners, who are contributing every day in a very difficult task but what will be a victory."