View Full Version : 24th MEU's Army MPs capture weapons, suspected insurgents

08-16-04, 01:48 PM
24th MEU's Army MPs capture weapons, suspected insurgents
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 20048120598
Story by Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Aug. 11, 2004) -- After seeing a supply convoy ambushed early Wednesday, soldiers from the 118th Military Police Company (Airborne), under command of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, captured three suspected insurgents and recovered 11 weapons with ammunition.

The find came after the MPs, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., saw the convoy get hit while traveling south on Main Supply Route Tampa at about 1 a.m.

The MPs were positioned to the rear of the convoy behind a Marine patrol. When the convoy took fire, both the convoy and the Marines returned fire in the direction of the ambush. Once the fire ceased, the MPs pulled up next to the Marines and told them they were going to search the area from where the ambush had come.

"We drove around the ambush site for about half an hour," said Army Staff Sgt. Adam Shaw, 27, a Bangor, Maine, native and military policeman. "Then we spotted three or four guys in between two buildings. When they saw us, they started running."

The MPs quickly secured the two buildings and began sweeping and searching the area. During their search they found the weapons outside one of the buildings.

The weapons found consisted of three rocket propelled grenade launchers along with five rockets; 4 AK-47 assault rifles with more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, one RPK light machine gun; and three other machine guns.

After finding the weapons, they were put in a central location and the soldiers continued their sweep of the area.

Army Sgt. Domenic Lombardi, 22, of Torrington, Ct., led a team of two other soldiers and swept the area from west to east. During his sweep he found two of the three captured individuals.

"[Those guys] were hiding pretty well," said Lombardi. "They had their backs pressed up against the canal with long grass over the top of them."

Pressing further into the canal, the team found the third individual. All three detainees were brought back to the FOB for processing.

"This was a good find," said Shaw.

"There have been a lot of ambushes in the area between checkpoints ... over the last few weeks," added Lombardi. "I think we put a big dent in their operations."

The team agreed.

"It felt pretty good," said Lombardi. "We worked well together and just paid attention to detail. There are numerous canals in that area, so finding three personnel was really fortunate."


(left to right) Army Sgt. Domenic Lombardi, Army Pfc. Chris Connerley, Spec. Kenneth Griffin and Army Staff Sgt. Adam Shaw were part of the team of Army military policemen under the command of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit that captured three suspected insurgents and 11 weapons with ammunition in the early morning of Aug. 11.
Lombardi, 22, is a Torrington, Ct., native, Connerley, 18, is a Sarasot, Fla., native, Griffin, 21, is an Orlando, Fla., native and Shaw, 27, is a Bangor, Maine, native. All four are with the 118th Military Police Company, from Fort Bragg, N.C.
The 24th MEU is currently conducting security and stability operations in the Northern Babil province of Iraq.
Photo by: Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon



08-16-04, 01:50 PM
'Bats' take flight in war on terror <br />
Submitted by: MCAS Miramar <br />
Story Identification #: 2004813103918 <br />
Story by Sgt. Kristen L. Tull <br />
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08-16-04, 01:51 PM
Chaplain calls rocket attack survival a matter of faith <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 2004895630 <br />
Story by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen <br />
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CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Aug. 6,...

08-16-04, 01:52 PM
CSSB-1 builds base for land-locked 24th MEU
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 200489102210
Story by Sgt. Matt Epright

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Aug. 9, 2004) -- Like members of a construction road show, they move from camp to camp in western Iraq, making roads, laying gravel and building berms. By the time they get a new base built up, they must move and start all over again.

Marines from Combat Service Support Battalion 1 have spent more than a month working 12- to 20-hour days in the blazing heat to get this camp up to standards for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The MEU, which falls under the control of the 1st Marine Division, will be based here for the rest of its deployment. It will help provide security for the Iraqi people in the Babil Province, as they transition to a democratic society.

This is a major change for the MEU, as it normally operates directly from the naval ships it travels on and is not structured to support itself ashore when it comes to a major undertaking such as building a camp almost from scratch, said Maj. Steve A. Plato, the MEU's logistics officer.

The MEU Service Support Group, one of the elements of the MEU, is set up to directly support and sustain the unit for its typical short-term, smaller-scale missions, such as humanitarian assistance operations, aircraft recovery and evacuation of civilians from hostile territory.

While the MSSG is made up of Marines possessing a wide variety of skills, there are not very many people representing each skill, due to the space limitations on the ships, said Plato, a 34-year-old native of Orange Park, Fla.

"We don't have a lot of depth because we would not have the number of racks for them to sleep on," said Col. Ron Johnson, 48, the MEU commander.

Since The MEU does not typically spend six months as a land-based force, it is not built to conduct extended operations this far inland. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2003, the 24th MEU was only away from its ships for about 45 days, said Johnson.

With the new mission for this deployment in mind, the MEU's leaders found it necessary to adapt. They beefed up their support sections and added some borrowed construction gear.

However, the size of the ship's cargo hold limited how much gear the MSSG was able to bring to Iraq.

"We don't have the heavy equipment capability that exists in the CSSB," said Johnson, a native of Duxbury, Mass.

To compensate for these shortages, the MEU called on CSSB-1, which is part of the 1st Force Service Support Group, to lend its time, personnel and equipment.

"We had to build a landing field ... we had to build a command and control capability and we had to build tents and billeting for the ... Marines that are coming in here," said Johnson. "Some days, these Marines were working 20-hour days to make that work."

The camp looks a lot different than it did when CSSB-1 first arrived in early July.

The 3-foot berm that used to crop up intermittently around the camp is now more than four times as high and surrounds the entire base.

A walk from the living area to the chow tent used to produce its own sand storm from tromping though the pervasive Iraqi "moon dust." Now every trip is accompanied by the sound of gravel crunching underfoot.

That same gravel coats the ground under the newer tent area, as well as the roadways throughout the camp and the forward arming and refueling point, where helicopters of all types land to drop off and pick up supplies.

Most important, from a defensive standpoint, are the dozens of great, gray, concrete monoliths, known as "Alaska" barriers, surrounding the more sensitive areas of the camp.

Standing about 15 feet tall and weighing in at around 17,000 pounds each, the barriers are made to block flying shrapnel from mortars or rockets that the enemy might fire into the camp.

"These guys and gals were working in 125-degree heat, all day long," said Johnson. "Nobody complained."

The Marines of CSSB-1 didn't even stick around to appreciate the fruits of their labor. When they had put the final touches on their work, they packed up their tools, loaded up their bulldozers and headed back to their home base at Camp Fallujah, to be ready for the next call for support.

"Nobody cared that they were going to have to get in there and work these long hours and be able to do something for us -- not their unit," said Johnson. "I can't say enough for those Marines who were out there, and sailors, who worked morning, noon and night to get our camp ready for combat."


Lance Cpl. Paul G. Adams, a heavy equipment operator with Combat Service Support Battalion 1, spreads gravel in an open dirt field at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, on Aug. 6, 2004. Elements of the battalion, which is part of the 1st Force Service Support Group, built the base up, almost from scratch, for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which will be staying here for its entire deployment. Adams, 28, is from Miami. Photo by: Sgt. Matt Epright



08-16-04, 01:55 PM
Posted on Sun, Aug. 15, 2004 <br />
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Offensive resumes in Najaf, prompting desertions of Iraqi troops <br />
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By Hannah Allam, Tom Lasseter and Dogen Hannah

08-16-04, 01:55 PM
1/2’s Charlie Co. captures IEDs, suspect
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 200481663414
Story by Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon

FORWARD OPERATING BASE ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq (Aug. 14, 2004) -- Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit seized three improvised explosive devices and detained one suspect during a cordon-and-knock mission outside of the forward operating base here Aug. 14.

The Marines from Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, conducted the mission in hopes of finding IEDs and other weapons.

“This was a good find for us,” said Sgt. Randy Hawkins, 27, a Mosspoint, Miss., native and squad leader with Charlie Company. “Any time you can get some IEDs off the street, it is good.”

Charlie Company, together with a few attachments of Marines and an interpreter, secured the area around the suspected house then knocked on the door and announced who they were.

“The suspect was being very compliant with us,” said Hawkins. “He let us in and we started searching.”

After checking the living room and another room in the house, the Marines asked about entering a room that was locked. Once they gained entry, the Marines began their search and found the IEDs along with one hand grenade.

“He had that stuff pretty well hidden,” said Hawkins. “Found two of the IEDs and the hand grenade up in the ceiling panels. We found the third [IED] wrapped up in some clothes.”

The Marines then detained the suspect and called an explosive ordnance disposal technician to remove the items from the house.

“We just provided security for EOD until he was finished, then loaded back onto the vehicles and headed home,” said Hawkins.

The Marines from the 24th MEU continue to make their presence known in the areas around their forward operating bases. The goal of these missions is to help bring security and stabilization to the region by disrupting the flow of weapons and IEDs.



08-16-04, 03:25 PM
Najaf Battle Resumes After Lull
Two American soldiers are killed as U.S. forces try to squeeze Sadr's militia. Local police order journalists to leave the city or face arrest.

By Edmund Sanders, Times Staff Writer

NAJAF, Iraq — A day after peace talks collapsed, U.S. troops and the militia led by Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr resumed fighting Sunday, leaving two American soldiers dead and a wall near the sacred Imam Ali shrine damaged.

Fighting in the vast cemetery and in the Old City picked up roughly where it had left off when a cease-fire was declared Friday. U.S. troops moved to tighten a cordon they had set up last week to rein in Sadr's militia.

"The Iraqi government has asked us to squeeze them," said Maj. David Holahan, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in Najaf.

One pro-Sadr protester was reportedly killed outside the shrine by an explosion Sunday afternoon that broke a hole in a wall about 30 yards from the shrine, witnesses said. Sadr supporters blamed the attack on American tanks firing from the cemetery. Military officials said it was unlikely that they could have caused the damage.

Civilians in Najaf braced for renewed fighting. Mortar fire and explosions resounded through the day and night.

The Najaf police chief ordered all journalists to leave the city, saying authorities could not guarantee their safety. When some refused to leave, police officers threatened to arrest them.

At a camp just north of Najaf, U.S. military planners met with their Iraqi counterparts, including a general in the new army, to discuss ways to give Iraqi security forces a more prominent role in future operations.

"I was impressed by the questions they were asking," said Lt. Col. John Mayer, commander of Marine ground troops in Najaf. "They are absolutely up to the job." Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told U.S. officials Saturday night that he wanted Iraqi forces to lead, particularly on sensitive missions, such as attempting to remove Sadr's militia from the shrine.

U.S. officials are waiting for as many as 3,500 Iraqi troops to join them in Najaf, which could take a week or more. "I think they're sending the entire army," said Army Lt. Col. Myles Miyamasu, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.

As a result, U.S. officials delayed a major offensive they had planned for Saturday night.

Bringing in Iraqi troops was the latest in a series of shifts on the standoff. Initially, the U.S. said it was taking orders from Najaf's governor. Last week, military officials said the U.S. was taking operational control of all security forces in Najaf. Now the U.S. says it will provide support and backup to Iraqi forces.

"Everything we are doing, we are doing with the Iraqis," said Army Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of the 1st Cavalry, during a visit to Najaf on Sunday. "It makes perfect sense, particularly in this situation."

The standoff with Sadr is shaping up to be a litmus test for Allawi's new government. Violence has spread from Najaf to other southern Iraqi cities, and the issue was a key point of contention at a political conference Sunday in Baghdad to elect an interim national assembly.

Putting Iraqis at the forefront of the conflict may address some political sensitivities, but military leaders worry the delay will allow Sadr's militia to regroup. "It's less efficient this way," said Army Maj. Douglas Ollivant, operations officer of the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.

The delays have also frustrated the troops. In addition to trying to avoid damage to the Imam Ali mosque, soldiers have watched as several missions were scrapped over the last week because of political sensitivities and to allow for peace talks.

"It's hard not to have the capability to fire back," said Maj. Robert Pizzitola, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.

The deaths of two soldiers Sunday cast a pall over the base, where soldiers had just begun to relax a little after being told that they would begin playing a support role for the Iraqis. Then two Humvees came racing through the camp to deliver the injured men to the medic's tent.

"Hang in there, man!" one medic shouted as they rushed an unconscious soldier into the camp hospital. A second soldier, who had died at the cemetery, was covered with a blanket.

Within minutes, a rescue helicopter landed in the sand to evacuate the wounded soldier to Baghdad. But the chopper departed five minutes later without a patient upon receiving word that he too had died.

Identities of the soldiers were withheld pending notification of family members.

In the chow hall Sunday evening, the usual raucous atmosphere was noticeably quieter.

"These are not our first battlefield casualties," Pizzitola said. "We're soldiers. We'll continue to do our job until the mission is complete."

In Baghdad on Sunday, another soldier was killed by a roadside bomb. The deaths brought the number of U.S. troops killed to eight over the last 10 days in Najaf and 932 in Iraq since the invasion last year. Meanwhile, the Dutch Defense Ministry said one of its troops was killed by a gunman late Saturday in the city of Rumaythah.



08-16-04, 04:40 PM
Issue Date: August 16, 2004

A golfer’s paradise?
Developer looks to open a dozen Middle East courses in 3 years

By John Stearns
Gannett News Service

A golf trip to the Middle East? It may sound crazy to Americans, who tend to associate the Middle East with the war in Iraq, suicide bombings and terrorist training camps.
But if you’re missing the links while on deployment, it may be only a matter of time before you can hit a U.S.-style golf course in theater.

Provided you own a house in the Middle East.

Troon Golf, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based manager of high-end golf courses, is expanding its business in the region — while steering clear of trouble spots.

Calmer areas such as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates are popular for vacations, retirement and second homes, and that fuels the demand for golf.

But don’t put in your R&R request just yet. These courses will be part of planned, private communities.

Housing growth is the driving force behind the idea. Because using golf courses to help sell homes is a new concept there, it’s proving fertile ground for Troon to expand its international portfolio in a model similar to the United States, even in a region where being an American can be a liability.

“We know our limitations, and we know who we need to be for the safety of our employees and our clients, [and] we think we found the right mix and the right amount of caution versus expansion, and hopefully we’ll see good results,” said Dana Garmany, Troon’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Troon manages two golf course operations in the Middle East, in Qatar and the UAE. It has five facilities under construction or in planning stages in the UAE and Kuwait.

Troon opened an office in Dubai to oversee regional operations. It’s also looking at Oman and Bahrain as the company seeks to increase its facilities in the Middle East to perhaps 15 within three years.

The Middle Eastern growth will come fast as developers rush to build golf courses to sell homes, Garmany said.

It’s a fascinating region, he said, cautioning against an American tendency to paint it with a broad brush of danger and instability.

It’s no more accurate than the “French thinking everybody in America wears a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and talks loud,” he said.



08-16-04, 05:15 PM
Marines team up with Seabees to pass along construction skills
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20048845337
Story by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.

CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq (Aug. 6, 2004) -- Marines are getting a hand when it comes to rebuilding Iraq from some of the military's most-practiced construction crews.

Marines teamed up with Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14, based in Jacksonville, Fla., to run an Iraqi Civilian Apprenticeship Program to teach locals the construction skills needed to help Iraqis rebuild their country.

The sailors are shepherding a class of 20 Iraqis from nearby Baghdadi. The first project: build a schoolhouse for Iraqi Security Forces.

"These guys are the ones really helping them out," said 1st Sgt. Octaviano Gallegos Jr., a 37-year-old first sergeant for Company B, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, from Las Cruces, N.M. "They're training them how to do something other than kill."

According to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Graham, a 33-year-old instructor from Flagler Beach, Fla., the program has been going on throughout Iraq for nearly six months, but that this is the first in Al Asad.

"There are many buildings we're putting up here for the Academy," Graham said. "We've been working with them for nearly six weeks and won't be done until October."

The apprenticeship program is much different from the Marine-sponsored security schools, said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Gene Chomor, an instructor.

"We're not tough with these guys, they're just civilians," said 36-year-old Chomor, from Melbourne, Fla. "We take our time and ensure they know everything. We hope they take with them these tools to help in reconstructing their cities."

The students already made lasting contributions to the camp here. They helped build nearly a dozen tents and have since moved on to learning how to construct solid structures.

"We've put all sorts of different construction works into this building," Graham said. "They'll learn how to not only build the hard structure, but also know the electrical, plumbing and wiring works."

Upon graduation, the students will receive a variety of different tools to help them with job interviews and to give them a head start.

"Once they graduate, they'll get tool belts and all the tools they need," Chomor said. "When they show up to interviews... they'll already be equipped to work."

The two sailors with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion have different reasons for enjoying the work with the Iraqis.

"I think it's good, really good," Graham said. "Now they've learned a trade that can help them."

Graham added that the fact the Iraqis leave with valuable skills also makes it less likely they'll turn to being paid hands for terrorists.

Chomor was happy to pass on his knowledge to the Iraqi civilians.

"These guys learn really fast," Chomor said. "When we first got them they didn't know a hammer from a nail, but now they take over for us sometimes. It's just really great, I know they'll take these skills now and apply them to help themselves.

"We came over here to help them get back their freedom," he added. "To me, this is the best way. They are no longer trapped and unable to provide for themselves and the community."


Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Graham, 33, an instructor from Flagler Beach, Fla,, intructs one of his 20 Iraqi students on how to saw through wood while building a classroom at Camp Al Asad Aug. 5. Graham is one of two intructors for the Iraqi Civilian Apprenticeship Program here.
(USMC photo by Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.) Photo by: Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.



08-16-04, 06:30 PM
War wounds won’t keep Marine down <br />
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By KRISTIN SMITH , Ksmith@delcotimes.com 08/16/2004