View Full Version : Iraq-deployed Lejeune battalion creates own fire truck

07-27-04, 05:21 AM
Iraq-deployed Lejeune battalion creates own fire truck <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 200472753030 <br />
Story by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes <br />
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CAMP MAHMUDUYAH, Iraq (July 25,...

07-27-04, 05:21 AM
Iraqi leader: No normalization with Israel until other Arab nations ready

By: SAM F. GHATTAS - Associated Press

BEIRUT, Lebanon ---- Baghdad will not make any moves to normalize relations with Israel before other Arab nations do so as part of a Mideast settlement, Iraq's interim prime minister said Monday.

The U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, speaking to reporters at a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, also dismissed Arab press reports that Israelis established a presence in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion.

"Future relations with Israel are determined by two issues: international resolutions and a just and comprehensive peace that has been adopted by Arab leaderships, including the Palestinian leadership. Iraq will not take any unilateral action on a settlement with Israel outside those two frameworks," Allawi said.

In Washington, deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the Bush administration would not comment on the decision.

"I think it's up to Iraq and the government of Iraq to determine how best to move forward with its diplomatic relations. And we'll leave it to them to do that."

Allawi described as "absolutely false" Arab press reports that Israeli intelligence agents were operating out of Iraq.

"We regretfully hear reports in the Arab press that there are 10,000 Israelis and stories that Iraq is being used as a base for Israeli intelligence ---- this is inaccurate and false," he said. "Iraq and its territory will not be a base for any action hostile to any Arab country."

Arabs in their media and elsewhere have long speculated that the United States invaded Iraq to weaken a state seen as a threat to Israel and to allow Israel to make inroads in the Arab world. Toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had been a vocal opponent of Israel and funded hard-line Palestinian groups.

Allawi also said an Iraqi government decision to remove the names of black-listed countries from new passports was misconstrued by the Arab press as permission to visit Israel.

"Our situation (now) is similar to any other Arab country," Allawi said.

Asharq al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily, reported in a banner, front-page headline Monday: "Iraq cancels ban on travel to Israel."

Allawi, who arrived Sunday as part of an Arab tour, discussed security and economic issues with Hariri at a meeting earlier Monday. His talks in Lebanon also were to include a meeting with President Emile Lahoud and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Although Lebanon has no borders with Iraq, some Lebanese have made it to Iraq via Syria to fight U.S.-led coalition forces during the American invasion. Many Lebanese also went to Iraq to try to cash in on the reconstruction projects.

Iraqi officials hope close security coordination with Arab nations can curb violence in Iraq, but Lebanese officials have made clear they are not considering sending troops.

The return of hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi funds deposited in Lebanese banks before Saddam's overthrow last year also was discussed.

Hariri said the money was a matter between Iraqi state enterprises and Lebanese banks.

The new Iraqi government has confirmed the signatures and names on the accounts in question, Hariri said, adding that "the matter is between the banks and Iraqi enterprises, and the Iraqi side is satisfied with this result."

Last year, a U.S. Treasury official said Lebanon had $495 million in Iraqi funds. Lebanon has acknowledged it has Iraqi money, but has not said how much. Before Saddam's overthrow, Iraq's government and Lebanese companies were major trading partners.

Hariri also said the two countries were ready to reopen a pipeline from Iraq to Lebanon that has sat unused since the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. But both sides said more discussions were needed with Syria, through whose territory the pipeline runs.

Hariri said the Iraqis expressed their "readiness and desire" to join a $930 million pipeline project connecting Egyptian Mediterranean gas fields to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and eventually Turkey and Europe.

He said Lebanon welcomes Iraqi gas into the network and the matter will be discussed with other Arab partners.

Allawi, on his first regional tour since taking office, has visited Jordan, Egypt and Syria and will later head to United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.



07-27-04, 05:23 AM
.S. Embassy, Marines meet with western Al Anbar leaders
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200472751850
Story by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.

CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq (July 20, 2004) -- Local civilian and military leaders met with Marines from 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment and America's U.S. Embassy representative for Al Anbar Province.

Keith Kidd, a 33-year-old from Dallas, joined Marines in the region's first meeting with an American government representative to discuss plans to further Al Anbar's role in Iraq's government and ways to improve the communities.

Local leaders expressed concerns over what they saw as disproportionate representation in the region with larger cities such as Ar Ramadi and Fallujah. Smaller western city leaders were concerned about the larger cities holding most of the council seats.

"I think we can all agree, life isn't fair," Kidd said. "Even in America, when we first started out as a country, not everyone was able to vote. It's going to take hard work and determination from the people of the region to get its fair share."

Many of the leaders asked Kidd to explain to the provisional government their concerns. Still, they were reminded Americans are only here as advisors and no longer hold authority over the country.

"We're here only as advisors now," Kidd told local leaders. "We made a promise to your government to stay for as long as it takes for the country to be able to run itself. But, after June 28 Iraq got its sovereignty back. It will be up to you and your people to make the changes happen."

Kidd will make trips to most of the region's major cities in hopes of learning some of their concerns and giving advice to fix the problems.

The meetings with the local leaders and Marines are a monthly event according to Cpl. Vipulkumar N. Patel, a 24-year-old from Nutley, N.J., serving with the civil affairs team.

"It was really good having Mr. Kidd here," Patel said. "It gave the locals someone new to speak too, someone from our government. Although he reinforced everything we've been saying for months, I think his visit was a success. They seemed to respond to him well."

Kidd ended the meeting with promises of more to come and offered a little advice as he did throughout the meeting.

"We're here to help guide you," Kidd said to the Iraqi leaders. "But it's up to the bright, hard working people such as yourselves to get what is fair and right for the people of this big region."


Keith Kidd, a representative from the U.S. Embassy to Iraq, speaks with local military and civilian leaders from western Al Anbar Province July 20. Kidd is the first U.S. State Department official to speak with the leaders since the transfer of sovereignty June 28.
(USMC photo by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.) Photo by: Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.



07-27-04, 05:23 AM
Soldiers who survive war struggle to combat effects
By MICHELLE TAN, The Associated Press
July 26, 2004 MNTopicPosttraumaticStress

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kurt Bellmont doesn't talk about Iraq very much.

Bellmont, 23, is serving in Iraq for the second time since the war began.

"He wants to spare us the horrible details," said his mother, Diann, who lives in Cold Spring. "The other part is, it's too horrible to share."

Diann Bellmont said her primary concern for her youngest son is how he'll be affected by what he's seeing, doing and experiencing in Iraq.

The U.S. Army's first study of the mental health of troops who fought in Iraq found that about one in eight reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The survey of 6,201 members of Army and Marine combat units was conducted a few months after their return last year from Iraq or Afghanistan. Results of the survey, which doesn't include soldiers who were severely wounded and others removed from their units, was published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related symptoms among soldiers are nothing new. The difference this time around is that more help is available to the troops.

"We've known this for the last 50 years," said Jim Tuorila, a psychologist at St. Cloud VA Medical Center. "You can't send people off to war and not expect them to come back without psychological problems. You can't train somebody to kill and not be bothered by it."

During World War II, psychiatric casualties outnumbered combat casualties, Tuorila said.

"More people were sent to the rear because of PTSD than because of combat wounds," he said. "Human beings are not designed to take that kind of stress, seeing people blown up in front of you."

Post-traumatic stress disorder is probably the most frequently diagnosed psychiatric disorder among troops who've been in combat, Tuorila said.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can include nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty forming close relationships, concentration problems, irritability and sleeplessness.

Kurt Bellmont has been in combat, his mother said. He's believed to have rescued a fellow Marine who had come under attack. On April 17, six Marines from his unit were killed in the fighting.

"Kurt said it's pretty ugly. It's pretty gruesome," Diann Bellmont said. "Kurt said they have to deal with things constantly, and they're being taught to have it talked out right away."

Diann Bellmont said she prays her son has the strength to deal with his experiences in Iraq.

"We're hoping that ... they can have counseling available to these young men that they didn't have for the Vietnam vets," she said.

The military has started to embed psychologists with troops so they can be treated in the combat zone, Tuorila said.

"That has helped tremendously," he said. "They can go to someone who was right there with them, fighting. That's going to make a major difference."

Officers also are trained to look for symptoms or warning signs in their soldiers, Tuorila said.

Some soldiers might resist seeking help, Tuorila said. For example, career military personnel don't want a letter in their files documenting any mental or physical illness. Others - especially those age 18 to 21 - might believe they don't need help.

"When you're that old, it's tough to admit that you have a problem," Tuorila said.

But help is available - even to veterans, Tuorila said.

The St. Cloud VA served about 25,000 patients during fiscal year 2003, which was Oct. 1, 2002, through Sept. 30, 2003, spokeswoman Cheryl Thieschafer said.

From May 1, 2003, through April 30, the VA served 1,635 patients who have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, Thieschafer said. Numbers on post-traumatic stress disorder from the 2003 fiscal year were not available.

Every veteran who goes to the VA for initial appointments is screened for certain symptoms or illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and pain, Tuorila said.

The secretary of veterans affairs recently sent a letter to all soldiers on active duty explaining to them their eligibility for care through the VA when they get home, Tuorila said.

"We want the troops to know we're here to help them," he said.

Psychologists who work with patients with post-traumatic stress disorder say it can't be cured, Tuorila said.

"The symptoms can be significantly reduced to the point where they're not interfering with your life," he said. "But you can't take away trauma and just erase your mind."

The biggest problem is many people don't understand post-traumatic stress disorder, Tuorila said.

"(They) tell the soldiers to get over it. You can't get rid of traumatic experiences by not thinking about it," he said.

It's important to support the troops, Tuorila said.

"We need to do everything we can to welcome them home," he said. "That's going to be the biggest aspect of their recovery and healing, is to know people care about them."

Norah Poepping's son and daughter-in-law recently returned from Iraq.

Jeff and Catherine Carlson, Army first lieutenants, are based in Germany. During their deployments overseas, Poepping of South Haven looked after their 1-year-old son, Andrew.

"I do worry about the effect that it will have on them the rest of their lives," Poepping said. "You worry about their trust level in other people, their ability to show affection for other people. I think that they're going to have to learn to do that again."

Even after returning to Germany, Jeff and Catherine Carlson would often look for their weapons, Poepping said. They'd have nightmares or wake up in the middle of the night and wander around their home.

Jeff and Catherine Carlson are doing better now, Poepping said. Being in Iraq together brought them closer than Poepping's ever seen, she said.

"They have an understanding between the two of them, emotionally, and nobody else could enter that or understand that," she said.

Jeff Carlson has at least a year before he could be sent back to Iraq, she said. Another of Poepping's sons, 2nd Lt. Brad Carlson, is expected to go in March to Iraq.

"As a mom, I didn't realize how stressful it was to have my son there until he came back," she said. "When he called and said he was back in Germany, it was almost like I became a different person inside. ... I almost felt like somebody told me my child was cured of cancer."



07-27-04, 05:24 AM
Medics take post in Ghazni
Virginia soldiers relieve Marines stationed in Afghanistan camp


CAMP GHAZNI, Afghanistan - A soldier had to be evacuated from here yesterday after suffering a noncombat-related injury.

Army leaders did not release the name of the soldier, who is a member of 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division. However, they did say he would be taken to Bagram Air Base for treatment.

"It went fast and smooth," Lt. Col. Thomas McCune, the company doctor, said of the medics' handling and loading of the patient into the chopper.

McCune, of Norfolk, said he was confident the soldier would recover.

It has been a busy week for the medics at Ghazni, where Virginia soldiers are relieving Marines that have been stationed here for the past month.

McCune, a father of three, will be the medics' new leader.

At home, the veteran guardsman performs kidney transplants at Norfolk General Hospital. Here, he will run an emergency aid station. McCune and the other medics treat Afghans and U.S. military service members.

Sgt. Jon Glasscock, 23, of Amelia, who works for McCune, said none of the injuries or illnesses he has seen so far have been life-threatening.

"I reckon that's a good thing," he said.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class John Williams, 24, of Norfolk, has been helping to train Glasscock and the other medics on base.

Williams has been here since May 1. Yesterday, he was packing to prepare for an upcoming mission. Inside his briefcase-size medic bag, Williams had all the tools needed to open an airway, treat a patient for shock and perform minor surgery.

His bag also included antibiotics and wound dressings.

"I am trying to teach them what to expect out there. We treated a guy with two gunshot wounds yesterday," he said, adding that the injured person was not a soldier.

He said the more common ailments he treats on base are upset stomachs and nausea.

He said most problems occur when "people get lazy on hygiene."

Soldiers live in tight quarters here and at Camp Tiger. They must not only share tents but also toilets that don't flush, faulty showers that sometimes run out of water and plastic piping used as urinals.

While there are hand-washing stations at the camps, sometimes they run dry. There is always hand sanitizer available.

McCune will be with the soldiers for 90 days. Then, another doctor will rotate in.

Yesterday, McCune and the other medics helped build a new aid station.

"It's different in a hospital where you have everything you could possibly want," McCune said. "Here you try to prepare for the most common complaints."

For example, he said, the base expects and prepares to run through a case of IVs a week. Dehydration is a big problem in this desert environment, he said.

"The guys here are stoic, they don't want to complain until the situation gets so bad," he said.

Yesterday afternoon, one of the military's translators complained of a toothache. McCune took at look at the man's mouth and found that one of Hamed Secondery's left teeth had turned totally black.

It looks like he needs a filling, McCune said.

"We can't treat that here," he said, advising Secondery to visit the hospital in Bagram.

To help relieve the pain, he prescribed ibuprofen.

"That should make it better," he said.

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArti cle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031776903544&path=!news&s=1045855934842


07-27-04, 05:25 AM
The widow of the first Tucson Marine killed in Iraq was in town this weekend to support someone in a similar situation.

Elena Zurheide's husband, Robert, was killed in April while fighting in Fallujah.

On Saturday, Zurheide was at the funeral of another Tucson Marine killed in Iraq, Jeffrey Lawrence.

Since her husband's death, Elena gave birth to their first child, Robert Zurheide III.

An emotional Zurheide told Eyewitness News that little Robby has kept her going during this difficult time.

"I don't care what happens to me, I don't care about anything as long as he's taken care of, he's my world," Elena says.



07-27-04, 06:25 AM
Pistol Training with the USMC:

Vicki and I just competed two, consecutive two-day defensive pistol courses with Marine and Navy personnel who are about to deploy to Iraq. Training took place at Camp Pendelton, CA. This is our fifth program with the USMC this year. Our students included a number of colonels, light colonels, Navy corpsmen, staff NCOs, and other NCOs. I now have an enthusiastic and accomplished cadre of instructors from previous courses who greatly enhance the program..

Assisting Vicki and me were Lt/Colonel Blish, Capt Wild, CWO4 Ross, M/Sgt Mitchell, Sgt Cervantes, Sgt Mkrtchyan, Sgt Saldana, and Sgt Taff, as well as Steve Camp, Steve VanMol, Tom Burris, and Pete Taussig.

It struck both Steve VanMol and me (both of us former Marines) that today we have a better Marine Corps than we had in the 1960s and 1970s when Steve and I were in. We surely had some great people in those days too, but our students last week were the best we've ever had. Enthusiasm and acceptance of the new training philosophy to which they were introduced was superlative. We were delighted and honored to be there.

Everyone used the Beretta M9 (92F) pistol, and all worked just fine. Ammunition was 9mm hardball, and each student shot in excess of eight hundred rounds over the course of two days. To their credit, the USMC had on hand all the ammunition we needed, and we made a joyful noise! The concept of a hot range was, once more, accepted immediately by all. Everyone got used to carrying around a loaded pistol. Most commented that this is the way all pistol training should be conducted. At the end of the day, no one wanted to unload, particularly when they saw that all of the instructors remained hot. Many years ago, all officers and staff NCOs carried loaded pistols all the time, on and off base. It was a point of honor. We need to get back to that practice. The first step is to convince all Marines that it can be done safely, and that it must be done, so that we will have the opportunity to handle our pistols daily. Handling a pistol once a year is not often enough to cement in place necessary gun-handling skills. It is "The Profession of Arms" is it not?

Several students had been instructed to carry the pistol with the decocking lever in the down (sterile) position. Others had been trained to carry it with no round chambered. Those foolish practices were quickly abandoned when students learned how fast they were expected to draw and fire. Within a short time, all were carrying loaded pistols correctly, with the decocker up (enabled).
Betterbilt's Rotating Steel Targets were, as always, a great challenge and kept students shooting at them, even during breaks. Most students had never shot at steel targets before. Much more exciting and versatile than paper.

Exercises included advancing from covered position to covered position, with loaded pistol in hand, transition from rifle to pistol and back, drawing and firing at close range, low-light shooting, and retention and disarms. These are all drills that are currently considered "too complicated" and/or "too dangerous" to introduce to the general body of skills and knowledge of Marines. Those stale, feeble excuses were swept aside. Everyone who attended the class is now convinced otherwise!
Several students approached us and said, "Why aren't we doing this throughout the system?" and "I enjoy going to the range and being treated like an adult" and "This is what being a Marine is all about!"

We are trying our best to start a trend that will change the entire small-arms training philosophy, within the USMC and eventually throughout all armed services. Just as there is a vast difference between a chef and a waffle-iron-operator, Marines have to start thinking of themselves as professional gunmen, not just occasional gun operators. I hope we're succeeding, and pray we succeed in time!


07-27-04, 07:32 AM
July 26, 2004 <br />
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Services should run paramilitary operations, commission says <br />
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By John J. Lumpkin <br />
Associated Press <br />
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One proposal buried in the Sept. 11 commission’s report is to make...

07-27-04, 09:21 AM
11th MEU arrives in Iraq
Submitted by: 11th MEU
Story Identification #: 200472613498
Story by Cpl. Matthew S. Richards

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DUKE, Iraq (July 26, 2004) -- Marines and sailors of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) arrived here and in other forward operating bases recently to conduct Security and Stability Operations in the An Najaf and Al Qadasiyah provinces.

To facilitate this mission in the south-central region of Iraq, MEU personnel will operate out of three different FOBs -- Duke, Echo and Hotel -- located outside the major cities of An Najaf and Ad Diwaniyah. The MEU’s aviation combat element will operate out of FOB Duke as well as Al Asad Air Base, located west of Baghdad.

A battalion of Army engineers, two platoons of Army military police, an El Salvadorian infantry battalion, and various other units will augment the MEU as they conduct SASO, which includes training elements of the Iraqi National Guard and Iraqi Police.

Earlier this month, the MEU offloaded the ships of the Belleau Wood Expeditionary Strike Group and conducted a week of training in Kuwait before traveling north to the three FOBs by vehicle convoy and military aircraft. The MEU will take responsibility of the two provinces from the U.S. Army’s Task Force Dragon-- made up of elements of the 1st Infantry Division-- once an official turnover between the two units is complete.

Task Force Dragon assumed control of the area of operations during the last month, relieving elements of the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, who had been extended twice in Iraq.

The provinces the MEU is taking control of aren't entirely new to Marines. After major combat was declared over, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, conducted SASO in An Najaf, and 3/5 had the same mission in Ad Diwaniyah.

The MEU is comprised of the Command Element; Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment; Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 (reinforced); and MEU Service Support Group 11.

The MEU's length of stay is currently undetermined.



07-27-04, 12:18 PM
Can Words Alone Force Australia Out of Iraq?
July 26, 2004


Al Qaeda is looking to exploit a possible rift in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and is using rhetoric to target Australia ahead of the country's general elections in the fall.


An online statement posted by the Tawhid Islamic Group, which calls itself al Qaeda's European branch, threatened to turn Australia into "pools of blood" if Canberra does not follow the example set by Spain and the Philippines and withdraw its military forces from Iraq. Australia, it warns, could see its towns hit by "lines of cars laden with explosives," turning "nights to mornings."

Although Australian voters might not be as adamant about a troop withdrawal as the Spaniards were, al Qaeda still is eyeing a potential rift in the U.S.-led coalition and is looking for an opportunity to exploit it -- at very little cost.

With general elections coming sometime in the fall, Australia is in a position somewhat similar to that of Spain before the March 11 Madrid bombings: A good portion of the voting public is upset with the government's choice to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and the opposition party is threatening to withdraw troops if elected. Al Qaeda affected a policy change in Spain with a series of bloody attacks and could attempt to do the same in Australia -- using only a propaganda blitz.

Australia's opposition Labor Party is in a tightly contested race with Prime Minister John Howard's conservative government. Labor leader Mark Latham pledged to pull Australia's troops from Iraq if his party wins, but backed away from that position after recent polls showed it was not resonating with voters. According to a poll cited by Reuters, two-thirds of Australians support Howard's commitment to keep troops in Iraq. Opinion polls before the Spanish election, on the other hand, showed 91 percent of Spaniards against the war.

Al Qaeda regularly issues vague threats before it strikes, using the public relations opportunity to justify the attack and attract attention to the group. However, it never telegraphs its punch -- that is something only a force with overwhelming military advantage, like the United States, can do.

Australian intelligence is investigating the authenticity and relevance of al Qaeda's July 24 warning, but Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said there is no current plan to raise the country's security alert level from its current "medium" status. Raised security level or not, Australian authorities have been tipped off and are on the lookout.

It is important to keep in mind that al Qaeda exists to achieve political goals, and it employs militant tactics to achieve those goals. The militant Islamist network conducts attacks to further its cause -- the creation of an Islamist empire -- not because it is frustrated and enjoys wreaking havoc.

If al Qaeda believes it can cause Australia's behavior to change simply by issuing threats, it will continue to do so. This would keep the situation tense and voters nervous, and -- in al Qaeda's view -- frightened enough to elect a government that will take the public out of harm's way.


07-27-04, 01:28 PM
August 02, 2004

Armor and flexibility

In the rush to add armor to Humvees and trucks bound for Iraq, the Marine Corps’ vehicles are looking a lot like something straight out of a “Mad Max” movie.
Some are wrapped in a cocoon of thick, factory-installed armor plate and bulletproof glass. Others are clad in steel armor either bolted on or attached with industrial Velcro.

It may not be pretty, but it works.

These makeshift innovations do more than protect Marines, however: They also offer a model for the mix of vehicles Marines should have in the future.

Before I Marine Expeditionary Force returned to Iraq this spring for occupation duty, just 1,000 of the Corps’ 19,000 Humvees were “up-armored.” And none of the 5- and 7-ton trucks had armor.

That was the right mix for a lightning-quick invasion. Additional armor limits a vehicle’s speed and mobility and limits the fields of fire for its occupants.

But such thin-skinned vehicles are a liability for an occupation force fighting an anti-insurgency campaign in which improvised explosives are the enemy’s weapon of choice and the difference between life and death can depend entirely on how well armored your Humvee is.

In the months since their return to Iraq, the Marines of I MEF have up-armored 3,000 vehicles with armor kits; by summer’s end, that number should reach 4,000.

For the long term, however, Marine officials recognize the need to develop a better mix of armored and unarmored vehicles.

Simply hanging another 700 pounds of armor on a Humvee or truck not outfitted with the heavy-duty suspension, brakes and other components necessary to bear such weight is not a viable option. Lighter vehicles aren’t built for that kind of wear and tear.

Yet the premium the Corps puts on tailoring units for the mission at hand means that the ability to be armored or not, at a commander’s option, adds valuable flexibility to the Corps’ fighting ability.

In striking a balance that ensures maximum flexibility for whatever the future brings, the Marine Corps should choose the middle path: More permanently armored vehicles, along with enough bolt-on armor in reserve to outfit the rest.



07-27-04, 02:57 PM
When Grozny comes to Fallujah

Do not be surprised to see three or four divisions of the Russian army in the Sunni triangle before year-end, with an announcement just prior to the US presidential election in November. Long rumored (or under negotiation), a Russian deployment of 40,000 soldiers was predicted on July 16 by the US intelligence site www.stratfor.com, and denied by the Russian Foreign Ministry on July 20. Nonetheless, the logic is compelling. Russian support for US occupation forces would make scorched earth of Senator John Kerry's attack on the Bush administration's foreign policy, namely its failure to form effective alliances. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the chance to make scorched earth of Fallujah is even more tempting.

In exchange for a troop presence in Iraq, Russia would obtain a free hand in dealings with the countries of the former Soviet Union. It would gain leverage against a weakening Turkey in the Caucasus and Central Asia. And it would vastly enhance its leverage in negotiations over the placement of oil pipelines. Most important, perhaps, it would assert its old status as a global military power against the feckless Europeans. In short, the arrangement would benefit everyone, except of course the population of Fallujah.

America's squeamishness in the face of large-scale civilian casualties mystifies the Russians, who know about such things. The remnants of the Chechen resistance have few friends, even among Arab governments. The General Assembly of the United Nations remained mute over the Chechen dead when Russia razed Grozny in 1999, killing or displacing about half of the population of 1 million. The Council of Europe, responsible for investigating human rights violations, suspended activity in Chechnya last year by agreement with Moscow. In January, the Saudis received the pro-Russian president of Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, who told alJazeera, "I think the most important factor is that Prince Abd Allah invited the leaders of the Chechen Republic. This is a definite recognition of the current authorities [being] friendly to Moscow."

Israel's apologists claim that world silence about Chechnya betrays the hypocrisy of a world community that marshals the General Assembly against the minor inconvenience of its defensive wall, but bites its tongue before the mass destruction of Muslim life. Islam, however, does not count lives the same way. More important than life itself is the integrity of Islam's promise. A re-established Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital on territory won from the former Dar al-Islam subverts Islam's promise, namely that it will supercede the false teachings of Christian and Jew. That is a humiliation that transcends the Muslim pain threshold, a dishonor too great to bear (see Horror and humiliation in Fallujah, April 27). By contrast, no Muslim expects an Islamic state to stand up to a power like Russia, even in its senescence.

President George W Bush has mis-defined the mission of US forces to the point that a deus ex machina (god from the machine) offers the best way out. "We did not come here to fight these people, we came here to free them," the commander of the 1st Marine Division told his men after withdrawing from Fallujah in May, the New York Times reported May 11. If the marines do not fight them, however, somebody will have to. In a recent series, Asia Times Online correspondent Nir Rosen reported on the surge in Islamist morale attendant on the US retreat. There are only two ways to reduce irregular forces that use the local civilian population as a shield. With sufficiently precise intelligence, the Israelis have shown, it is possible to kill off a sufficient number of leadership cadres to render the opposition ineffective. Poor intelligence capacity eliminates that option in Iraq (Why America is losing the intelligence war, November 11, 2003). The other option is to pursue the enemy regardless of the cost in civilian lives. Never have American ground forces done this. It is one thing to annihilate Tokyo or Dresden from the air, and another to direct artillery fire at civilian neighborhoods, as did the Russians in Grozny. For Americans, the horror of such encounters is overwhelming.

Deploying proxy forces who lack this kind of compunction is the obvious solution. Earlier I guessed (wrongly) that Washington would avail itself of the 75,000-strong Kurdish militias - peshmergas - to subdue the Sunni triangle. Turning the matter over to the Russians would be a masterstroke. If the United States takes Russia on as a partner in Iraq, as I predict, a profound change will ensue in US policy toward the Muslim world. Both the Bill Clinton and Bush administrations staked a great deal on support for Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims, by way of showing that the US was willing to bomb Christians in order to protect Muslims. In Russia's view, the US deliberately provoked war with Serbia. Clinton's special ambassador Richard Holbrooke, a likely secretary of state in a John Kerry administration, delivered an ultimatum to former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic at the February 1999 Rambouillet negotiations, with the intent of provoking war, in the universally held Slavic view.

The bombardment of Serbia, Washington hoped, would establish its bona fides among Muslims. "The terrorists we confront cannot deceive us by attempting to wrap themselves in Islam's glorious mantle. Islam's great leaders and scholars tell us otherwise. Our own history and experience tell us otherwise. We helped defend Muslims in Kuwait. We helped defend Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo," US Ambassador John Negroponte told the United Nations General Assembly on October 1, 2001. Serbia was a cheap sacrifice. Except for Ivo Andric, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961, no Serbian has won the attention of world culture in half a century. Andric's derogatory portrayal of Bosnian Muslims (written when Bosnia contributed a division to Germany's Waffen SS) proscribes him from polite company today. Devastated during both world wars and kept backward by communism, Serbia had no friends in the West, apart from a tiny emigre community, and poor capacity to tell its side of the story.

Whether one accepts the Slavic view of events or not, the Muslim world turned up its nose at the Clinton administration's attempt to buy its goodwill. The United States threatens the integrity of the Islamic world not by its policy, but by its nature; the creative destruction and cultural amnesia that define US society threaten to tear apart the sinews of traditional Islamic life. Along with Holbrooke and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, Clinton's national security adviser Samuel R Berger crafted this gambit gone awry. Berger's present embarrassment about documents he allegedly stole from the National Archives may have nothing to do with the prospective Russian-US arrangement, but it may set the events of 1999 in a different context. Allegations already are circulating in the media that the Clinton administration arranged for Afghanistan-based jihadis to travel to Kosovo in the service of the Albanian cause. One should not take such rumors at face value, but they do suggest that the Clinton administration's accommodative stance toward the Muslim world may be subject to a nasty sort of dissection during the US presidential election.

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact content@atimes.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.)



07-27-04, 04:32 PM
Report: Saddam Writing Poetry in Prison
Saddam Hussein Reportedly Writing Poems and Gardening in Prison

The Associated Press

LONDON July 26, 2004 — Saddam Hussein appears depressed and demoralized in solitary confinement, spending his time writing poetry, tending a garden and reading the Quran, according to a report published Monday in The Guardian newspaper.
One of Saddam's poems is about George Bush, though the report did not specify whether that referred to President Bush or his father, Saddam's foe in the 1991 Gulf War.

The newspaper quoted Bakhtiar Amin, the human rights minister in the new Iraqi government, who said he had visited Saddam's cell on Saturday. Amin said he did not speak to the former Iraqi leader.

Bakhtiar said Saddam appeared "in good health and being kept in good conditions," but he "appeared demoralized and dejected," The Guardian reported.

Saddam's air-conditioned cell in a U.S. military prison is 10 feet wide and 13 feet long, Amin said. Saddam is not allowed to mix with other prisoners.

Amin had little to report on Saddam's poetry. "One of the poems is about George Bush, but I had no time to read it," Amin said.

He reported that Saddam was being treated for high blood pressure and a chronic prostate infection, and was gaining weight after losing 11 pounds during a time when he resisted all fatty foods.

Saddam and other detainees get an MRE (meal ready to eat) breakfast, and hot food twice a day, Amin said. Dessert might include oranges, apples, pears or plums, but Saddam also likes American muffins and cookies, The Guardian quoted Amin as saying.

Saddam is not allowed newspapers, TV or radio, but has access to 145 books mostly travel books and novels donated by the Red Cross.

Amin said Saddam tends a garden during his daily three-hour exercise period.

"He is looking after a few bushes and shrubs and has even placed a circle of white stones around a small palm tree," said Amin. "His apparent care for his surroundings is ironic when you think he was responsible for one of the biggest ecocides when he drained the southern marshes."

Amin, a Kurd from Kirkuk, was reportedly the first member of the new Iraqi government to visit Saddam.

During his visit, Amin said he met Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali, who allegedly ordered the use of chemical weapons against Kurds in the late 1980s; Saddam's half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, a former intelligence chief who was Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva until 1998; and Saddam's personal secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti.

Amin said he was approached by al-Tikriti, who was standing next to Ali Hassan al-Majid.

"Minister, what am I doing here?" Amin quoted al-Tikriti as saying. "I am not like the others, I am not like Ali Hassan al-Majid." Al-Tikriti asked that the message be passed on to Kurdish leaders and to new Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

"I tried to control my emotions, but to be honest I wanted to vomit," The Guardian quoted Amin as saying.

"There before me were the men responsible for the industrial pain of Iraq mass murderers who were responsible for turning Iraq into a land of mass graves."



07-27-04, 09:05 PM
Last update: July 27, 2004 at 1:10 PM <br />
U.S. Embassy Warns Americans in Kuwait <br />
Associated Press <br />
July 27, 2004 0727AP-KUWAIT-AMERIC <br />
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KUWAIT CITY (AP) - The United States has warned...