View Full Version : Marines help establish Iraqi Training Battalion

08-05-04, 07:01 AM
Marines help establish Iraqi Training Battalion
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 2004851822
Story by Sgt. Jason D. Gallentine

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan — (July 29, 2004) -- With the fall of the Iraqi Regime and the reconstruction of the country, allied forces are teaming up to help create an Iraqi national defense prepared and equipped to defend the new government.

In Kir Kush, Iraq, the U.S. Marines have joined in this effort by participating in the establishment of a staff noncommissioned officers academy, now known as the Iraqi Training Battalion.

Gunnery Sgt. Donnie L. West left Okinawa Feb. 10 to help establish the academy. As an instructor at the Career Course, Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy, Camp Hansen, he was a logical choice.

“I felt it was an honor to be selected and also to know I would be among other Marine academy instructors,” West said. “I felt it was something greatly needed in the Iraqi Army, and I think that it was a good choice to set up a staff noncommissioned officers academy.”

West worked with many instructors from SNCOAs across the Marine Corps, along with servicemembers from coalition countries, to create course materials and training aids, such as charts, to teach the first course, which began Feb. 28.

West said that when he first arrived at Kir Kush there were just the shells of buildings to work with, and the Iraqi Army was unorganized.

He added that the Iraqi soldiers were disgruntled about their leaders, and he believed it had to do with the old regime, which a lot of their leaders were once a part of.

“There was no leadership structure,” West said. “I could see they had a little fear in them of the unexpected. We knew our work was going to be cut out for us.”

The first course trained Iraqi soldiers to be instructors themselves, according to West.

“(This) was very important because it gave them their start in creating an effective military force so they are able to sustain themselves,” West said. “Leadership is a key ingredient to establishing a military. That was much needed.”

The first class of Iraqi soldiers graduated March 28 and went on to become instructors for other courses at the Iraqi Training Battalion. West said coalition forces also established a noncommissioned officers school and drill instructor school, as well as military occupational specialty schools.

“We were excited for them,” West said. “I knew they were ready and eager to go out and take on the responsibility of training their new army, and they look forward to helping their new government. They were motivated after being trained.”

Approximately 8,000 students have passed through the training battalion now, and the Iraqi soldiers are now conducting the training themselves, according to West.

West said he feels it is very important to continue to help the new Iraqi government, and the best thing is to continue teaching them because what is lacking most there is education.

West returned to Okinawa July 15 and said he feels he participated in something great while in Iraq.

“We left our footprint, and we knew we were creating history, and the Iraqis who we trained knew that they were creating Iraqi history,” West said. “They know that their success will
only happen if they keep in place what we taught them.”


KIR KUSH, Iraq -- The first class of the Iraqi Training Battalion here graduated March 9. Several coalition forces established the equivalent of the Marines’ staff noncommissioned officers academies for the Iraqi military to train its servicemembers. Approximately 8,000 Iraqi soldiers have graduated from the academy since its first class began Feb. 28. Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Donnie L. West


08-05-04, 07:02 AM
Marine tactics help prepare Japanese for Iraq duty

Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 200484232222
Story by Lance Cpl. Jonathan K. Teslevich

CAMP FUJI, Japan — (July 23, 2004) -- Marines demonstrated security and stability operations, like those currently in use in Iraq, for a contingent of Japan Self Defense Force officers here July 23.

The demonstration was conducted to help prepare the next group of JSDF soldiers for an upcoming deployment to Iraq.

According to Col. Ronald F. Baczkowski, 4th Marine Regiment commanding officer, Camp Fuji is an appropriate location for this historic moment in the history of cooperation between the Marine Corps and the JSDF. For years, both forces have shared the training ranges here and the SASO training will allow the JSDF to borrow the lessons learned in Iraq by Marines and integrate them into their own training.

The JSDF soldiers also saw what is becoming the norm for Marines in training and combat environments: the melding of active duty and reserve Marine units.

In this case, Marines with 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, and Combat Logistics Company-33, 3rd Force Service Support Group, supported the Marine reservists with 2nd Battalion, 23rd
Marines, who were already in place for their part in Fuji Integrated Training Program 2004.

The Marines first showed the JSDF officers the tent housing the combat operations center, which is maintained by 4th Marines, and explained its role on the battlefield.

“We can have the COC up and running in under one hour and then communicate real-time information on terrain, enemy and friendly force locations to the commanders in the field,” said 1st Lt. Robert A. F. Señeres, 4th Marines intelligence officer.

The officers then observed the first demonstration of SASO training, where the Marines reacted to an improvised explosive device during a convoy operation.

“In this scenario, a convoy commander recognizes a possible IED by indicators such as guardrails, a sharp turn or excess debris along the road,” explained Maj. Richard D. Doherty, commanding officer, Company E, 2/23. “The convoy dismounts the vehicles, sets up in a defensive posture, and two Marines are sent forward to investigate the possible IED.

“For this demonstration, we had the IED make casualties out of the two investigating Marines, and then the remaining Marines reacted as they were trained, by evacuating the downed Marines to a secure triage site or landing zone.”

“It’s common for a convoy or mounted patrol to move quickly, but speed is only effective against snipers or rocket propelled grenades,” Doherty said. “An IED is almost instantaneous so, when they are recognized, caution is the best defense.”

Regardless of speed, roadblocks can also threaten convoys, bringing them quickly to a halt. Doherty and his Marines showed JSDF officers how convoys and mounted patrols should react to these obstacles.

“Upon reaching a roadblock, the Marines immediately dismount the vehicles, sweep the surrounding area for hostiles and make a secure perimeter around the vehicles,” Doherty said. “All convoys or mounted patrols should have vehicles possessing chains or winches so that the roadblock can be dragged out of the way.”

The Marines then demonstrated how a foot patrol reacts to a sniper in an urban environment, another common threat in Iraq, according to Doherty.

The Company E Marines entered the simulated town surrounded by three-story squad bays serving as unsecured buildings in the scenario.

“When (Marines on patrol receive) fire from a sniper, they will immediately find available cover and concealment while returning suppressing fire,” Doherty said. “The Marines will then radio the situation to higher headquarters, close with the sniper and eliminate (him) or force him to withdraw.”

According to Doherty, every battalion must go through SASO training prior to deploying to a hostile theater of operations. To assist in preparing their own soldiers, the JSDF officers were given checklists on SASO procedures.

“The JSDF mission in Iraq will be defensive in nature, such as convoys from point (and) providing humanitarian aid,” Doherty said. “Witnessing these scenarios will help them develop their own standard operating procedures and successfully defend themselves.”


CAMP FUJI, Japan — A Marine with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, carries a wounded comrade during a demonstration of security and stability operations for a contingent of Japan Self Defense Force soldiers here July 23. The SASO demonstration is meant to prepare the JSDF soldiers who have joined the international effort to stabilize and offer humanitarian aid to Iraq. The Marines arrived here July 19 to participate in Fuji Integrated Training Program 2004. . Photo by: Lance Cpl. Jonathan K. Teslevich



08-05-04, 07:03 AM
Fighting in Mosul kills 12, wounds 26

By: SAMIR FADHIL - Associated Press

MOSUL, Iraq -- Fierce gunbattles broke out Wednesday between Iraqi police and militants in the northern city of Mosul, killing 12 Iraqis and wounding 26 others, officials said.

Dozens of masked men with assault rifles and rocket propelled grenade launchers moved through the streets in the Bab al-Toub area of the northern Iraqi city Wednesday afternoon, witnesses said.

Soon after, police headed to the area and a gunbattle, punctuated by explosions, broke out, witnesses said. Police blocked off roads in the neighborhood, and shopowners closed their businesses.

The U.S. military said the violence was part of a series of attacks in the city, including a grenade attack that hit a home, a shooting at a police station and a roadside bomb attack on a U.S. convoy.

The fighting killed 12 people and injured 26 others, according to Mahir Salam, an official at al-Junhouri Hospital in Mosul.

In response to the violence, the provincial government imposed a curfew on the city and banned anyone from shooting there without official authorization.

The afternoon gunbattle was sparked when "a group of thieves and terrorists who tried ... to attack a bank in the city," said Hazem Jalawi, spokesman for the governate of Nineveh, which includes Mosul. "The police and National Guard members confronted those armed men and killed some. Those armed men tried also to attack some government installations, but they were stopped by security forces."

In addition to the fighting, other attacks Wednesday in Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad, included a rocket-propelled grenade attack by militants that hit a home in the northern part of the city, said Capt. Angela Bowman, a U.S. Army spokeswoman in Mosul.

The was also a drive-by shooting at a police station in eastern Mosul, she said. And a roadside bomb targeted a U.S. convoy in the city center, she said. No U.S. troops were killed, she said.

Jalawi blamed the violence on people from outside Mosul who were trying to start "a wave of looting in the city."



08-05-04, 07:05 AM
Vigilance Pays Where Complacency Kills
Patrols Search for Bombs on Iraqi Roads

By Doug Struck
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, August 4, 2004; Page A12

ANA, Iraq -- The holes gouged from the pavement were a reminder, as if one were necessary, of the danger to Bravo Company as it rolled through the shimmering heat.

"Stop here," Lt. Vince Noble said quietly. His Humvee, guiding three others, eased to a halt 30 yards from a bridge. Noble, in the right-hand seat, peered through his field binoculars. He lingered, examining the dirt near the bridge with the care of an archaeologist. He was looking for a subtle change in color, scrape marks, any evidence of recent digging. Or, even more telltale, the wisp of the antenna of a walkie-talkie that would set off a roadside bomb.

Bravo Company's job this day, and every day, was to keep the roads open in this piece of western Iraq. Roadside bombs and kidnappings of truck drivers threaten to throttle Iraq, which depends on the steady caravans of trucks hauling in everything from food to fuel and furniture.

Insurgents know the roads are vulnerable. Last week, one group issued a videotape threatening to cut off the main highway linking Baghdad and Amman, the capital of neighboring Jordan. It did not happen, but truckers are nervous. Nearly a dozen have been kidnapped; more have been killed by roadside bombs. In the southern city of Najaf last week, more than 30 truckers refused to move without a large guard escort.

Louei Hatim Aris, the interim transportation minister, is creating a special police fleet to accompany truckers, with mounted machine guns in the front and back of each convoy; armed men would ride in every truck. But while that might deter kidnappings, it will not stop roadside bombings. That task still falls mainly to American forces such as Bravo Company, attached to the 7th Marine Regiment in western Iraq.

"We have to keep the civilian and the military convoys moving. We have to make sure whatever is on that convoy gets through," said Maj. Mark Winn, 41, the executive officer of the regiment's 1st Battalion. "We also have to show we are in control of the area. If you lose vehicles every day, pretty soon you are going to start losing civilian drivers who are willing to drive that route."

The effort might seem personal to officers here. In one 48-hour period, the top three regimental commanders were hit by roadside bombs, Winn said. All escaped serious harm, though Col. Craig Tucker, the top commander, spit shrapnel out of his mouth that came through his cheek, according to Winn.

The bombers prefer military convoys, adding to the toll of U.S. casualties by grim ones and twos, but they also target truck convoys. A top official of the interim Iraqi government argues that roadside bombs are a sign of the opposition's desperation.

"The terrorists have changed their tactics, from openly confronting the security forces to using kidnapping and bombs," Georges Sada, a spokesman for the interim prime minister, said last week. "For sure, it's a cowardly thing. But it's easy to take someone from the highway or set a bomb at night."

Many Iraqis assert that the spectacular suicide bombings that often kill by the dozen are being carried out by foreigners. "Iraqis don't kill themselves," said one government security official. But the roadside bombs, they admit, are probably the work of Iraqis who were loyal to ousted president Saddam Hussein and want to disrupt the new government.

For the U.S. military, the search is a deadly game of move and countermove. As the Americans change their tactics, the bombers invent new threats. U.S. forces used to see roadside bombs that were set off by a switch at the end of a long wire. But when they started tracking those wires and killing the triggermen, the bombers began using remote detonators: garage door openers, toy car remote controls, wireless doorbells and cell phones. A favorite is a simple walkie-talkie -- the kind that can be bought at a Radio Shack outside Iraq -- wired to a detonator. It can be set off from two miles away.

Noble, 26, a Naval Academy graduate from Philadelphia, said the bombers recently have begun leaving explosives in cars that blend in with the ubiquitous broken-down vehicles beside Iraqi roads.

On a recent morning, men from Noble's company kneeled around him as they planned the day's patrol. They already were sweating in the fierce midmorning sun. In the open-top Humvees, they got hotter and dirtier.

They rolled out of their camp near Haditha, past the sign saying "Complacency Kills," onto Highway 12, a major road that reaches through the brown desert from Baghdad to the Syrian border.

In the lead Humvee, Lance Cpl. Mike Riggle, 21, from Youngsville, Pa., steered to the center of the road, away from the right side, where bombs would be placed. He edged over only to let traffic pass. All eyes in the convoy swept the roadside for suspicious scenery.

"We've been up and down this road so many times we can tell what pile of dirt is new," said Sgt. Shawn Gianforte, 27, of Caledonia, N.Y.

Black-faced sheep and scrawny goats drifted into the road, chased back by shepherds with long switches. Noble's Humvee, the most likely to get hit because it was first in line, was enclosed in armor; those trailing had steel plates bolted to them. "In theory, they protect us from shrapnel," said Gunnery Sgt. Kristian Eckholm, 33, of Green Bay, Wis. That was in case the convoy "found one the hard way."

A trail of ragged holes in the highway showed the work of the bombers. At one spot, three craters 10 yards apart were evidence of a "daisy chain" -- bombs linked together to try to hit several vehicles in the convoy.

Bridges are favored spots for the roadside bombs, and Noble approached each one with caution. At one bridge, where two craters wrote the signatures of previous bombs, Noble ordered his men out of the Humvees to search under and around the structure. They fanned out quickly, and several of the Marines knelt and aimed their weapons at the brown ridges nearby. They peered through their scopes for any sign of a triggerman.

Scrambling along an embankment underneath the bridge, Cpl. Daniel Vella found no bombs but noticed Arabic writing on a steel beam, accompanied by a sketch of a truck. "We'll have to come back with an interpreter," Noble said.

Four hours later, Noble guided his men back to his camp, hot and tired. No bomb had been found, and he noted, "When it's quiet, it means we're successful."


Marine Lt. Vince Noble, left, listens to a report from Lance Cpl. Mark Roop while scouring for bombs along a road from Baghdad to Syria. (Doug Struck -- The Washington Post)



08-05-04, 07:06 AM
Marines working to defeat the enemy one leaflet at a time
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20048473833
Story by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.

CAMP RIPPER, Iraq (Aug. 1, 2004) -- A group of artillery Marines took a different approach to targeting for their deployment to Iraq. They're more into handing out leaflets than delivering earth-shattering barrages of firepower.

The small group of Marines formed up the Information Operations Cell, from Regimental Combat Team 7's former fire support control center. Their mission now deals with dispelling half-truths and lies spread by terrorists and spread the word about blossoming opportunities for citizens of Al Anbar Province.

"We distribute information to the Iraqis," said Gunnery Sgt. David E. Lee, 29, Information Operations chief from Lodi, Calif. "We simply give them the truth."

The team is quick to respond to any attacks, distributing fliers and posters to the battalions to pass out to the locals, according to Lance Cpl. William T. Titus, 20, an IO clerk from Nashville, Tenn.

"The most difficult thing is getting the posters, hand bills and magazines to the battalions," Titus explained. "When something happens, we try and have something out within 24 hours."

Lee said he believes he and his Marines were chosen to become IO Marines because artillery isn't in great demand during this year's deployment to Iraq. Closer to the truth, though, is their ability to adjust to changing missions rapidly.

"We're smart," Lee said. "We're used to finding ways to distribute information. The only difference now, is we're doing it to help people rather than kill them."

The unit is new to the Marine Corps. Coming to Iraq, many of the Marines didn't know what to expect. Only two of the more than a dozen Marines attended a two-week course to help give them a better understanding of their task.

Lee said one of the team's biggest challenges has been their ability to craft a standard operating procedure. Most of what they're doing is new to the Corps and what they do know now, might not apply to next week's situation.

"It's continually changing as we learn more," he added.

The Marines however have been successful in educating the local civilians on what really happens.

"It's important to get the information out to the people," said Staff Sgt. James W. Bellows, 26, an assistant chief from Riverside, Calif. "When we raid a house or something and take someone into custody, that guy knows what he did, but the guy down the street may not know. So it's important we inform them."

It's not easy to quantify how much effect the IO Marines have made in the region. Intelligence or tips being reported may have come from a leaflet they produced or simply because of a local citizen's frustration with warring terrorists on his property.

But there are incremental changes. Local newspapers are springing up in the area. Iraqis are discussing the coming elections and the impact they will have on their own future. Every time Iraqi Security Forces perform their mission, the IO Marines are there to remind the citizens it was their own force protecting them.

"We know what we do helps," Bellows said. "People at home don't see the good things we do over here, but we see it everyday. Knowing we're making a difference feels good."


Lance Cpl. William T. Titus, 20, an Information Operations clerk from Nashville, Tenn., helps unload bundles of Freedom Magazine from a humvee Aug. 1. The magazine is just one of a number of publications the IO Cell is responsible for distributing throughout western Al Anbar Province. The Marines work nonstop in an effort to inform the local populace, combating the flow of terrorist propaganda into the local communities.
(USMC photo by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.) Photo by: Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.)



08-05-04, 07:38 AM
Marines keep presence in Al Kharma
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20048562619
Story by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

AL KHARMA, Iraq (Aug. 4, 2004) -- Marines of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment are making it known. Marines aren't leaving any time soon.

Marines continue the daily work of moving through the city on foot. They want to be seen. They want to enemy to know they're in the city. They also want them to know that there's no room for terrorists.

"These are presence patrols, but most importantly we talk to people, or at least try to, to find out who likes us and who doesn't," said Sgt. Felix Garcia, a 30-year-old from Brownsville, Texas. "Most of them are happy we're here, but there's quite a few who want us to leave."

The Marines often find themselves walking through bustling streets and people traffic, a situation that keeps Marines on a constant alert, according to Garcia.

"We have to be careful because there's always somebody out there who wants to hurt us," said Pfc. Alejandro Rodriguez, an 18-year-old Los Angeles.

Changes don't come easily here. Al Kharma is a small city near Fallujah and some of the sentiments of the larger city spill over. Still there is progress.

Iraqis have gradually become more receptive. Scowls and sneers are giving way to waves and smiles, or at the very least, tolerance for Marines.

"Now we briefly joke around with the older males and they allow the children to interact with us as we walk by," Garcia said. "I think it's just a sign of trust."

Marines know that things here won't change overnight. There will still be crime. Corruption is rampant and not going away any time soon. But every step forward by the Marines is a step in the right direction. Every time they walk the streets, citizens here are reminded Marines are sticking around to make sure the job is done.

"We hand out flyers to remind them we plan on being here for a while and to not fear anyone," Garcia said. "We're here to take care of them."


Sgt. Felix Garcia hands out pens and pencils to kids during a visit at a local mosque while on patrol in Al Kharma, July 27. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment are maintaining a strong presence in the city, keeping terrorists at bay and reassuring local citizens Marines are here to protect them.
(USMC photo by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen) Photo by: Sgt. Jose E. Guillen



08-05-04, 08:15 AM
Lejeune-based Marines reportedly capture suspects in mortar attack south of Baghdad
August 04,2004
Eric Steinkopff
Freedom ENC

JACKSONVILLE -- A week after a Camp Lejeune-based Marine was killed by mortar fire south of Baghdad, members of his unit captured several suspects in connection with a similar attack.

Lance Cpl. Vincent M. Sullivan, 23, died July 23 from injuries sustained in the attack. He was a member of the reinforced 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

About 1 p.m. Friday, members of Sullivan's unit were attacked again by a half-dozen mortar rounds that landed near their position, according to a statement from the 24th MEU. Although there were no injuries, Marines took pursuit, it said.

Working with the Iraqi National Guard, Marines cordoned off the area from which the mortar attack was launched and called in aircraft from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263, according to the statement. Such a reinforced squadron typically includes AV-8A Harrier "jump jets" and four models of Marine Corps helicopters.

The pilots reported seeing three men running from bushes and then boarding a bus, according to the MEU's statement. A combined anti-armor team -- which normally includes several Humvees armed with .50-caliber machineguns, MK-19 automatic grenade launchers, a TOW antitank missile launcher, and -- went to the area to join the search.

Marines took three individuals into custody and found a hidden weapons cache complete with a mortar system, AK-47 rifles, extra magazines and grenades.

"We're pretty excited about it. Our boys did a heck of a job, and it was good to get an early win," Capt. Dave Nevers, a 24th MEU spokesman, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

"But there's no time for stopping," he said. "We have plenty more to do."

To locate the source of such attacks, Marines can use counter-battery radar, which detects incoming artillery rounds in a matter of seconds, and thus helps determine where it came from and where it's headed.

The system uses Doppler radar. It sends out a beam and detects what's there when a signal comes back, Nevers said.

"It's very accurate and very fast," Nevers said. "It allows us to return fire or engage the enemy in another way if that's appropriate."

Counter-battery radar was developed during the Cold War to detect Soviet-made weapons, Nevers said. Since insurgents are now using those same weapons to harass U.S. troops, it is an essential piece of equipment, he said.

The Marines are in the North Babil province, which is south of Baghdad. They are working from forward operating bases near Mahmudiyah and Iskandariyah. About 900,000 people live in the area, and a small number of insurgents appear to be testing the Marines who took over operational control there last week.

"If these punks think they can lob mortar rounds at us with impunity while we hide in our base camps, we've got news for them," said Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell of Jacksonville, a 24th MEU operations officer.

Members of the 24th MEU are busy getting to know the area and working to build relationships with the civilian community.

"We're doing patrols around the clock; it is a very aggressive robust security posture," Nevers said. "This is not a fortress. … We don't intend to hole up here. We're out in the community."

Col. Ron Johnson, the 24th MEU commander, said the community is not the safest place to be.

"It's a dangerous environment. There are thugs, criminals and terrorists who want to upset the progress that the new Iraqi government is making," Johnson said. "(But) the majority of Iraqis are fantastic people, (and) eventually they are going to be able to solve their own problems. This is a problem created over 30 years, but we will eventually prevail. We all need to be patient, both Americans and Iraqis."



08-05-04, 09:00 AM
August 3, 2004
Release Number: 04-08-12



MOSUL, Iraq - Iraqi National Guard and Multi-National Force Soldiers conducting joint operations detained three people suspected of terrorist activities and confiscated unauthorized weapons and munitions in the western Ninevah Province city of Avgani Aug. 2.

One anti-Iraqi terrorist was also confirmed killed during the operation.

Soldiers from the ING's 102nd Battalion, supported by Soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), conducted a series of cordon and searches to seize weapons and detain those suspected of terrorist attacks on Iraqi security forces, Iraqi citizens and Multi-National Forces.

The three people suspected of terrorist activities tested positive for explosives residue and were detained for further questioning.

ING and MNF Soldiers confiscated unauthorized weapons of varying types, including AK-47s, rocket propelled grenade launchers and rocket propelled grenades.

The joint operations were conducted in an effort to increase security for the citizens of the northern region of Iraq and to stop the terrorist attacks that have resulted in the death of several ISF members in recent weeks.

Since the transfer of sovereignty on June 28, Iraqi security forces have continued to assume a greater role and level of responsibility for the overall security of the region.

Supported and trained by Soldiers from Multinational Brigade-North, Iraqi security forces are conducting patrols and operations in the region.



08-05-04, 10:41 AM
Marine mom: It only gets harder second time around

Published in the Beacon News 08/05/04

I don't blame Debby Mohr for being upset.

For one thing, this mortgage broker from Sugar Grove — also a mom of four — threw a big party in June and no one bothered to show up.

The get-together was supposed to be a rousing send-off for her son, Pfc. Brant Bonifas, who was being shipped out for a second tour of duty in Iraq.

Mohr sent out around 300 fliers. To friends. Neighbors. Acquaintances. Anybody and everybody in the subdivision.

No one came.

No one sent an RSVP.

No one even bothered to call or e-mail.

It was a little different from the party she threw in the young Marine's honor last summer. Brant Bonifas had just returned from a harrowing six-month tour in Iraq, and everyone and their dog showed up, complete with hugs and kisses for the heroes welcome.

Certainly Brant Bonifas had much to be proud of.

Mohr says her son didn't like to talk a whole lot about his experiences on the front lines in Iraq. She knew he watched Jessica Lynch's tank blow up. She knew after one surprise attack, he was separated from his company for 24 hours.

She knew he had seen some of his best friends killed.

But the young man seemed to be OK with it all emotionally. He had no horrific nightmares, no changes in personality. He just didn't want to go into detail about all he'd experienced, and "I didn't want to press him," says his mother.

Then, one year and a day after he arrived back in the states — he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina — her son was sent back to Iraq. And on the day he landed at the Baghdad airport, his company was hit by a mortar attack.

From news reports, at least one Marine was killed.

To make matters worse, Mohr has not heard from her son since he arrived in Iraq. She only found out about the attack from a fellow Marine-mom, whose son was hospitalized.

"There are so many people that think since the war is over, then everything is over," she says. "Ribbons are gone. Flags have come down. People have stopped talking about it, sending letters, supporting the troops. But these kids are still dying over there and no one seems to care."

Like I said, Debby Mohr is upset.

She's also angry with President Bush. The war is over, after all. Saddam has been captured. No weapons of mass destruction were found. "Let them kill their own kids," she says of the troubled country. "But don't let them kill ours."

Of course it's not that simple. War never is. But that's difficult to explain to a mother who is scared her son is going to one day be among the bodies that continue to be flown out of Iraq in flag-draped coffins.

Most of those deaths don't make headlines; in fact, U.S. military casualties these days are usually buried somewhere in the seventh or eight paragraph of the wire stories from Iraq that cross my desk.

Two Marines were killed.

Five more were seriously wounded.

In spite of her own intense feelings about the mess in Iraq, Mohr says her son doesn't make a big deal about his second tour of duty.

"It's what I'm trained to do," he told her, "and I'd rather be over there than sitting on base back here."

Bonifas is serving on an emergency response team somewhere outside Camp Dogwood, which is near Iskanderia. Mohr contacted me because she simply wants to remind folks our hometown troops are still risking their lives; are still in need of our thoughts, our prayers, and yes, even our Wal-Mart supplies.

Bonifas gets plenty of contact from home: Mohr sends packages to him every few days. And he shares everything he gets, she says — from gum and candy to new underwear — with as many Marines as he can."

But so many of these young men and women get nothing from the states — no cards, no letters, no treats, no toiletries. So I'm including an address for his fellow Marines: BTL 1-2; Charlie Co.; 3rd PLT; Unit 73035; FPO-AE; 09509-3035.

"Lemon drops are nice," says Mohr, "but more than anything, they just want contact from back home ... they want to know that people care."




08-05-04, 12:15 PM
August 4, 2004
Release Number: 04-08-15



BAGHDAD - Multi-National Forces, at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government, began Monday conducting border enforcement missions along Iraq's Syrian border to disrupt the movement of anti-Iraqi forces into the country.

Operation Phantom Linebacker involves ongoing joint border patrols between the Iraqi National Guard, Iraqi Border Police and Multi-National Forces, and includes MNF training and mentoring of the IBP.

The patrols, which include checking documents and inspecting vehicles, are designed to prevent anti-Iraqi forces and those who support them from entering the country.

These missions are in support of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and the Department of Border Enforcement, and demonstrate MNF resolve to aid the Iraqi Security Forces' efforts to secure their borders against the illegal movement of fighters, funds and weapons.

Control of the Iraqi borders is essential to maintaining a stable and secure environment while promoting trade and commerce.



08-05-04, 01:22 PM
Al-Sadr militia fight U.S. and Iraqi forces

By Jamie Tarabay
6:21 a.m. August 5, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr battled fiercely with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the holy city of Najaf on Thursday and fighting quickly spread to other Shiite areas, threatening a shaky two-month-old truce.

"The cease-fire is over because of the actions of the occupation forces, and the situation has started to deteriorate," warned Sheik Abdul Hadi al-Daraji, a spokesman for al-Sadr in Baghdad.

Al-Sadr's men also fought with U.S. troops in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, shot at government offices in the southern city of Amarah and clashed with British forces farther south in Basra.

Combat in Najaf killed at least two people, and the U.S. military said one of its UH-1 helicopters was hit by gunfire and crashed, injuring the crew.

Also Thursday, a suicide car bombing at a police station south of Baghdad killed five people and wounded 27, the Interior Ministry said.

The fighting was the worst flare-up between authorities and al-Sadr's forces since a series of truces two months ago ended weeks of violence that began after the U.S.-led occupation authority closed al-Sadr's newspaper and arrested a key aide. The newspaper was recently allowed to start printing again, but tensions had been rising in recent days between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and Iraqi and U.S. forces.

People in Najaf said al-Sadr loyalists attacked a police station with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire early Thursday. U.S. Marines later entered the area, residents said.

The Marines intervened "to help the policemen protect the police stations and the city," Najaf Gov. Adnan al-Zurufi told the Al-Jazeera television station.

Al-Zurufi, who said two people were known killed, warned of "very bad consequences" if the militiamen did not disarm and leave the holy city.

Residents said busloads of Mahdi Army militants were seen entering the city.

The dome of the Imam Ali Shrine was slightly damaged in the fighting, witnesses said. Al-Sadr's followers announced over the mosque's loudspeakers that the dome was hit.

The intensely revered shrine, reputed to hold the remains of Imam Ali, the most hallowed saint in Shia Islam, was slightly damaged twice during fighting in May. U.S. forces have been careful to avoid damage to shrines in Najaf and other holy cities for fear of enraging Iraq's Shiite majority.

U.S. forces were about a half mile from the mosque, while al-Sadr's fighters were taking their injured into the mosque compound, witnesses said.

In Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, insurgents fired on a U.S. patrol, triggering a gunbattle, said Maj. Philip Smith, a U.S. military spokesman. There were no U.S. casualties.

Al-Daraji, al-Sadr's spokesman, said the fighting broke out in Baghdad because of the violence in Najaf and escalating tensions between U.S. forces and al-Sadr's loyalists throughout the country.

In Amarah, an appeal for Mahdi Army members to mobilize rang out from mosque loudspeakers and militants took to the streets, shooting at government buildings and blocking roads, residents reported.

Residents in the north of Basra reported a clash Thursday afternoon between Mahdi Army fighters and British troops that wounded three militants.

The Mahdi Army earlier had said it was taking up positions close to where British troops normally patrol after a noon deadline passed in its demand for the release of four al-Sadr supporters detained two days earlier.

The British had not received a formal ultimatum, "only rhetoric," said a British spokesman, Maj. Ian Clooney. He said the men in custody had been detained for questioning.

An al-Sadr spokesman, Sheikh Assad al-Basri, said the militant group "prepared 1,000 fighters in Basra to confront the British forces who failed to respond to our demands."

Meanwhile, in Mahawil, 50 miles south of Baghdad, a pair of gunmen dressed in police uniforms opened fire on guards outside a police station while a third sped toward the station in a vehicle filled with explosives and blew up, killing five people and wounding 27, the Interior Ministry said.

The blast damaged the gate of the station and a dozen nearby cars and left a 15-foot-wide crater.

"I was outside the building when I saw a car heading toward us. We started shooting. I'm sure we shot him but he managed to explode the car," said police Capt. Adel Omran, whose leg was hit by shrapnel.

The two gunmen escaped, said Sabah Kadhim, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

"What do these criminals want from Iraqis? They sometimes target the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Christians and other times they target the police and the army. They, however, do nothing to the Americans," said Zayd Hadi, a civilian who was outside the station and suffered wounds to his face and stomach.

Near the town of Samarra north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said it staged a series of raids on suspected insurgents and detained nine people. Operation Cajun Mousetrap II began early Thursday morning, targeting groups suspected of planning and financing attacks on Iraqis and coalition forces, the military said.



08-05-04, 02:09 PM
Rebel Cleric Declares 'Revolution' in Iraq
Moqtada Sadr's Militia Attacks U.S.-Led Forces, Shoots Down Marine Corps Helicopter

By Jackie Spinner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 5, 2004; 1:25 PM

BAGHDAD, Aug. 5 -- Rebel cleric Moqtada Sadr declared a "revolution" against U.S.-led security forces in Iraq on Thursday after a fragile month-long truce in the holy city of Najaf ended with clashes that brought down a U.S. helicopter.

Sadr's Mahdi Army militia claimed control of four southern communities, including Basra, Iraq's second largest city. Iraqi officials denied the claim. There was no independent confirmation.

Sadr's call for an uprising is his first significant test of Iraq's new interim government since it took office on June 28 and signals the end to the delicate peace that had settled over Iraq's long-oppressed Shiite majority in the south.

"This is a revolution against the occupation force until we get independence and democracy," Sadr's spokesman, Ahmed Shaybani said in a telephone interview.

The U.S. military and Iraqi police said the fighting began when suspected members of the Mahdi Army attacked a police station overnight.

"If they want it to be war, let it be," said Ghalib Hashim Jazaeri, Najaf's police chief. "We have enough men and equipment to defeat them."

Jazaeri turned to talk to other police through his communications radio. "We are inside the city," he said. "We are chasing them. They left, escaped." The radio crackled. "If you want support in your position call the guys. Let them send you vehicles."

Each side blamed the other for breaking a truce negotiated at the end of June after a two-month uprising in April and May that left hundreds dead.

Mahdi Army fighters could be seen in the streets of Najaf shooting off grenades and setting up roadblocks with mortar tubes and tires.

Shaybani denied that the Sadr followers had started the fight.

He accused the Iraqi police, National Guard and U.S. forces of conspiring to break the truce, which restricted U.S. coalition forces from entering parts of the city, including near the sacred sites.

Shaybani said the coalition forces surrounded the city around 2 p.m. local time Thursday. "We knew they wanted to invade it," he said. "We had and have to defend the holy city. We didn't want to violate the truce, and we are still committed to it. But they don't respect the word they gave. They want it to be war."

One U.S. soldier was killed and five were wounded in the fighting in Najaf. The Iraqi government said eight fighters were killed and 22 injured. Hussein Ali, a doctor at the Najaf Hospital, said four Iraqi security forces and six civilians were killed in the clashes, which wounded four Iraqi police and National Guard members and 18 civilians.

As a large plume of black smoke rose from the city, a black U.S. helicopter tilted to the side and chugged slowly to the ground at an angle before it hit with a loud boom. The U.S. military said two wounded crew members were evacuated.

In Basra, the British military said it fought a gun battle with the Sadr militia after being attacked by small arms fire. A military spokeswoman said two militants were killed.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, Iraq's Interior Minister Falah Naqib pledged to find Sadr and arrest him.

"We will not negotiate," he said at news conference. "We will fight these militias. We have power to stop these people, and we'll kick them out of the country."

Special correspondents Bassam Sebti, Omar Fekeiki and Saad Sarhan contributed to this report. Sarhan reported from Najaf.


A U.S. Marine Corps helicopter was shot down in Najaf Thursday by Shiite militia forces loyal to radical cleric Moqtada Sadr. The airship's crew were evacuated, the military said. (APTN via AP)



08-05-04, 04:29 PM
Reaping rewards of faster data retrieval

The Times of Trenton

August 1, 2004, 11:47 AM EDT

WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- In the treacherous cities of Iraq, where insurgents launch speedy attacks then disappear into their surroundings, timely information can save lives.

Reports from the war zone have focused largely on the need for more and better information.

Meanwhile, in an aging West Windsor laboratory, scientists at tiny Semandex Networks Inc. have focused on the need for instant access to that information.

The fruits of their labor arrived on the battlefield earlier this year, and the results have exceeded all expectations.

The U.S. Marines now retrieve data at record speeds, while executives at their privately held supplier hope to parlay their military success into commercial business.

"Using their older systems, Marine analysts spent between 70 to 80 percent of their time looking for information and just 20 to 30 percent of their time actually doing analysis," said Jaime Gomezjurado, the company's vice president of business development.

"Now, using the system we have developed for them, they say that they always save substantial amounts of effort and often save dramatic amounts of effort. In some cases, research projects that once took a week now take a day."

Rather than storing all its information at one site, the defense department maintains dozens of databases and links most of them via one big network.

Alas, differing software and differing operating systems prevent the databases from communicating effectively, either with one another or with the larger system that struggles to hold them all together.

Before Semandex arrived on the scene, Marine analysts who wanted data had to open each database in turn and perform countless separate searches. Not only did the process often drag on for days, it also caused analysts to miss vital information.

"The search functions vary from one place to another. A search command that gets the desired information from one site gets you nothing at other sites," Gomezjurado said. "Until now, every analyst had to memorize all the little tricks of all the different systems. Any mistake or any confusion could cause important information to fall through the cracks."

Semandex, which now employs 12 people, started with just two men, Daniel Reininger and Max Ott, a pair of engineers who worked at NEC's research facility in South Brunswick.

After drawing up a business plan, the duo took a short drive down Route 1 and pitched their concept for Semandex to executives at Sarnoff Corp. Not only did Sarnoff invest in their idea, it also found a home for Semandex at its sprawling complex in West Windsor.

Semandex opened in May 2000 _ just as the dot.com bubble burst and the majority of the nation's high-tech startups began their death spirals. Bigger companies, the ones that had been buying technology from companies like Semandex, soon slashed such spending. Still, Semandex survived, thanks largely to its association with Sarnoff.

"Sarnoff was doing a project for the Navy, and they realized that our core technology actually enhanced their technology, so they subcontracted a piece of the work to us," said Reininger, who now runs the company that he and Ott founded.

"Since September 11, we have worked almost exclusively on government contracts. We have done much of that work for Marines and the Navy, but we have done work for the Army and the Air Force as well.

"All of our systems use the same underlying technology. We only change the front-end design, the part that analysts see on their computer screens. That varies from one branch of the military to another, depending upon the needs and the habits of the customer."

In addition to translating different computer languages, the Semandex system lets users get new data much faster than typical search engines.

"If you put a new page on the Web, it will generally take hours or even days before it shows up on Google's index. That may be fast enough for most people, but Marines who are planning an attack against an enemy position need up-to-the-minute information," Reininger said. "Our system cannot quite recognize new information in real time, but recognizes it in minutes, not hours, and that makes an enormous difference."

Even on trivial missions, speed can make a difference.

Government regulations require Marines to make detailed plans each and every time they leave their base. Thus, before they do a routine patrol in an Iraqi city, the Marines must plan a route, check that the roads are wide enough for their vehicles, check that bridges are strong enough to hold their weight, check for potential ambush points and so on.

Less time spent on data retrieval leaves more time for better planning, but Semandex won't say exactly how many Marine analysts currently reap the benefits of the new system, and the Marines did not return calls for comment.

"All I can say is that they are using it at most of the key areas in Iraq where Marine analysts do planning. Specific numbers would help the enemy figure out how many planners the Marines have, so I'm not allowed to be specific," said Reininger, who revealed even less about the value of the contract.

"It is a multimillion-dollar contract, but it comes from a classified research program, so the details will not become public for a few years. Our company does not deal in intelligence, but the Marines are using our system for their intelligence networks, and any time you start dealing with the i-word, the government puts a lot of restrictions on what you can say."

Thanks to ever-increasing military work, Semandex plans to hire a handful of people during the next couple months. On the more distant horizon, Reininger expects to raise some capital to finance faster expansion, but he and Ott have yet to determine if they want to take the company public.

Before they make that decision, the pair would like to expand their customer base by attracting some business from corporate America.

"We'd particularly like to move into the health industry and into financial services," Reininger said. "Both of those industries store massive amounts of data and want to improve their access to the information that they have.

"What's more, both of them have major privacy concerns, which we think is good news for us," he said. "Not many other firms can say that their systems guard top secret military information."



08-05-04, 07:24 PM
Marined helicopter shot down over Najaf, crew survives
By Associated Press, 8/5/2004 05:29

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) A U.S. Marine helicopter was shot down Thursday morning during fighting in the southern city of Najaf but the crew survived, the military said, but the crew survived.

It wasn't clear how many people were aboard the UH-1 helicopter, but some were injured and were evacuated, military spokesman Spc. Justin McCue said.

The helicopter was shot down about 11:43 a.m. as militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fought with Iraqi and U.S. forces. The clashes killed at least two people and wounded eight, Health Ministry officials said.

Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army attacked a police station there with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire. U.S. Marines entered the area to assist the police, residents said.