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thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:13 AM
Iraq Bomb Finding Improving
Associated Press
January 6, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The number of insurgent attacks in Baghdad has dropped in recent weeks, and American forces are getting better at finding car bombs before they go off, a top U.S. general in Iraq said Wednesday.

In a wide-ranging news conference, Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli said that all of his Task Force Baghdad's 35,000 troops will be doing work linked to the Jan. 30 election on the day of the vote, and that the United States will be ready to help provide security.

"We will be out in force, in support of the Iraqi government, where they want us to be, and in consultation with them," he said, refusing to say exactly how many American troops would be on the streets.

Chiarelli, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, said Baghdad will probably see a spike in insurgent activity before the election but the capital will be safer than it is now before the vote. Insurgents who have waged a merciless campaign of attacks in Baghdad have threatened to sabotage the vote.

"While insurgent activity in Baghdad will likely spike as the Iraqi people approach their elections and the insurgents become more desperate, we will continue to focus on providing an environment in which Iraqis can conduct their elections without insurgent interference," Chiarelli said.




Chiarelli said that on average, for every car bomb that explodes in the capital, his troops find another one and defuse it. He refused to give details, but said his troops were getting better at finding insurgents' explosives.

Chiarelli spoke on a day when two car bombs killed 25 Iraqi policemen elsewhere in Iraq. A suicide attacker detonated an explosives-laden car outside a police academy south of Baghdad, killing 20 people, while another rammed a car bomb into an Iraqi checkpoint northeast of the capital, killing five.

In the capital, Chiarelli said attacks were down since the U.S.-led invasion of Fallujah, an insurgent stronghold, that began on Nov. 8. He said he was pleased that Iraqis have been calling a tip line and paying attention to billboards around the city asking them to report weapons caches or suspicious activity.

"All I can tell you is that we've got billboards all over the city, and I take great joy in the fact that I see the insurgents trying to tear them down, and we put them back up," he said.

Despite almost daily attacks on Iraqi security forces that have killed hundreds of officers, Chiarelli said Iraqis continue to want to join the National Guard and police force. There have been reports that many Iraqis were deserting their posts for fear because of the insurgent campaign.

"We're having no problems recruiting and keeping our units filled up, and that is a good thing, and it is truly amazing," Chiarelli said. "They want to get out there."

Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:13 AM
U.S. Marine Missing Again <br />
Associated Press <br />
January 6, 2005 <br />
<br />
RALEIGH, N.C. - The Marine charged with desertion after he claimed to have been kidnapped last year in Iraq was again declared a...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:14 AM
Marines will stay close to home for urban training
Unit to use downtown Toledo

By DALE EMCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER


The Marines will take over parts of downtown Toledo as sounds of gunfire will echo off buildings when training exercises are conducted next weekend.
A Marine Corps unit based in Perrysburg will stage the exercises from 9 p.m. Jan. 7 to about noon Jan. 9, Maj. Gregory Cramer said.

Major Cramer said most of the 130-member unit - Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines - will take part in the exercises.

"We're looking for an urban environment to do our training," he said. "Urban training is one of the proficiencies we're required to maintain."

Major Cramer said Marines will be dressed in green and will be carrying rifles through the streets, but the exercises should have a minimal impact on the downtown area. He said the Marines will be firing blanks and conducting operations throughout the area.

"The only request we would have of folks, if they happen to be near where an exercise is taking place, is to stay away as much as possible," Major Cramer said.

The exercise area roughly will be north of Monroe Street, west of the Maumee River, south and west of Cherry Street, south of Woodruff Ave., and east of Collingwood Boulevard.

Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre said military exercises have been conducted before in the downtown area with a minimal impact on city residents. He said city and police officials have been working with the Marines to help the exercises go smoothly.

"Training is extremely important, not just in our profession, but in the military too," Chief Navarre said. "We're not going to place any obstacles in their way."

Jean Atkin, administrator for the Lucas County Common Pleas Court, said the unit was granted permission to use the courthouse grounds. The unit, though, won't use the interior of the courthouse.

"We used to do this when we were kids - you know, running around the woods," Ms. Atkin said. "They're just going to use the downtown."


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:15 AM
Longview Woman Following Her Big Brother Into The Marines

Barry and Terri Higginbotham of Longview just recently said goodbye to their son, who was on leave from the military. K.J, as they call him, will soon be deployed to Iraq. But during their visit with their 20 year old son, another family member made a surprising announcement.

"I'm so proud of him," says Brittany Higginbotham as she looks at a picture of her big brother.

Earlier this month Brittany Higginbotham and her father got a much needed visit from her best friend, her big brother KJ. "I'm very proud of my brother. I'm very, very insanely proud of my brother," says Brittany.

KJ is currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan but will soon head to Iraq. That news was the center of conversation at the Higginbotham home when KJ was in town. "I'm very worried and concerned," admits Barry Higginbotham.

Knowing his father was worried, KJ shared with him the reasons he goes without fear. "He said well, the way I look at it is that I don't have a problem going over there because when I go over there I'll be relieving one of my brother marines to come home. He said they can come home to see their family to hug their brothers, their mothers, sisters and their dads," says Barry as he recalled the words of his son.

KJ's words reassured his father, but only for a moment. Then came news none of the family expected from his younger daughter Brittany. "She sprung it on us. She said, 'I'm thinking about going into the Marine Corps,'" says Barry.

19 year old Brittany enlisted immediately and will soon leave for the Marines.

"When I do this, nothing will ever stop me from doing what I want to do," says Brittany.

So in the midst of celebrating Christmas, the Higginbotham's also celebrated their children's bravery and desire to serve our country. "I'm very proud of both of them. They're doing something that's necessary for them and for our country," says Barry.

Brittany leaves for Marine boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina on January 3rd.

Amy Tatum, reporting. atatum@kltv.com


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:15 AM
Army Reserve Chief Criticizes Policies <br />
Associated Press <br />
January 6, 2005 <br />
<br />
WASHINGTON - The Army Reserve, whose part time soldiers serve in combat and support roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, is...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:15 AM
The View From A U.S. Chopper <br />
Christian Science Monitor <br />
January 6, 2005 <br />
<br />
LAMNO, INDONESIA - The thump of helicopters and the roar of planes have never sounded so good to the residents of Aceh,...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:16 AM
Marines Arrive In Sri Lanka
Dallas Morning News
January 6, 2005

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - The Marines have landed - quietly.

With little fanfare, an advance contingent of 17 U.S. Marines arrived Wednesday at Colombo's airport, along with 30 U.S. Air Force communications and technical experts.

Eventually about 1,500 U.S. troops are expected to be deployed around Sri Lanka, where the Dec. 26 tsunami killed more than 30,000 people and displaced 850,000 more.

Foreign governments are being careful with any military-delivered assistance in Sri Lanka, which has been roiled by a long-running war between the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and ethnic rebels. The separatist rebels control some parts of the country, including areas in the northeast that sustained major damage in the tsunami.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Chris Long stressed that the troops would be used only for humanitarian work. They are expected to help repair roads and bridges. Tsunami damage has hampered access to some stricken areas.

U.N. officials said the Marines brought heavy-lifting helicopters, bulldozers and generators, along with tons of food, water and medical supplies.




American forces have already been on the ground for several days in Indonesia, using helicopters to deliver desperately needed food and relief supplies and rescuing scores of people left injured, hungry and weak by the tsunamis there.

Secretary of State Colin Powell - himself a battle-hardened military veteran - flew over the devastation on the island of Sumatra on Wednesday and later said he was shocked by the destruction.

"I've been in war, and I've have been through a number of hurricanes, tornadoes and other relief operations, but I have never seen anything like this," the retired general said.

"I cannot begin to imagine the horror that went through the families and all of the people who heard this noise coming and then had their lives snuffed out by this wave. The power of the wave to destroy bridges, to destroy factories, to destroy homes, to destroy crops, to destroy everything in its path is amazing."

Workers broke ground Wednesday for four refugee camps on Sumatra, where an estimated 1 million are homeless.

Today, Powell will attend a summit in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, where world leaders will discuss how to best distribute aid to victims of the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunamis.

New pledges of aid came Wednesday. Australia announced a package of $764 million in grants and loans, making it the No. 1 single donor. Germany pledged $674 million.

Earlier, Japan promised $500 million and the United States $350.

In New York, the U.N.'s emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, said total pledges from donor governments had grown to between $3 billion and $4 billion, an amount he described as "just incredible."

Egeland also praised the United States for help he said only America could have delivered.

Egeland said the United Nations has now set up operations centers in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and other affected countries and asked that the world body be allowed to carry out its work in a coordinated manner.

U.N. officials on Wednesday raised their estimate of the regional death toll to 156,000 people - 50,000 of them children - in 11 countries. They added that an additional 1 million children were at risk of contracting disease or being victimized by people traffickers or pedophiles. The confirmed death toll was more than 139,000.

In Sri Lanka, UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy visited areas hardest hit by the tsunami and met with government, rebel and non-governmental officials.

"I am aware that there are parts of the country that have not yet been reached by relief workers and that the suffering among the survivors there is severe," she said.

Indeed, heavy rains slowed relief operations in some areas of Sri Lanka that sustained the greatest damage. A number of Sri Lankan military helicopters that had been airlifting food in eastern Ampara district, where more than 10,000 people lost their lives, were grounded by rains.

In much of the region, this is the start of the monsoon season. Officials said the rains and flooding also raise fears of waterborne disease, especially among children.

World Food Program trucks fanned out across the country, delivering aid to needy and unruly crowds who scrambled for food supplies in such hard-hit areas as Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Mullaitivu.

In camps for displaced persons, officials were trying to organize educational programs on sanitation, counseling sessions and social activities for children. A number of volunteers spent their time identifying children who had lost parents.

Reports circulated that aid distribution was a shambles in some areas and that some supplies were being stolen. The nation's armed forces stepped in and took control of the distribution system.

In Colombo, markets reported a run on chicken Wednesday as many residents, concerned about contamination, avoided fish.

Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:16 AM
U.S. To Launch Guantanamo Abuse Probe <br />
Associated Press <br />
January 6, 2005 <br />
<br />
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Investigators will look into allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay described...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:17 AM
1/23 Marines Disrupt Insurgents Around Ramadi
by Cpl. Paul W. Leicht
Marine Corps News
January 05, 2005

AR RAMADI, Iraq - The moonlit midnight hour only faintly illuminated the shadowy-team of Marines who crept across the muddy, fenced in yard around a drab farmhouse in the small Iraqi village.

With security in place, only a few muted cows looked on unobtrusively through the fog as the warriors stacked tightly one-by-one at the metal front door, ready to rapidly dump through like a belt-fed weapon.

Another Marine rushed alongside them and tossed in a flash-bang grenade before pouring inside with the rest of the team to the crack of his command, "GO! NOW!"

The grenade boomed. Voices barked and raised weapons swept each room as the occupants stopped in their tracks. Then the all clear was given.

The Texas and Lousiana reservists were conducting a nightly cordon and knock raid.





"The goal of this cordon and knock mission is part of a larger effort to maintain security and stability by disrupting the insurgency in our area of operations prior to elections," said Staff Sergeant Jesse A. Noriega, platoon commander, Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. "Our company's raids thus far have been very productive. We have done a good job of detaining high value targets and people with suspected terrorist ties as well as their weapons caches."

In addition to high value targets, any males of military age with suspected ties to terrorists are typically detained during the raids for questioning.

"Some of the detainees are just people in the wrong place at the wrong time while we go after specific high value targets," explained the police officer from San Antonio, Texas. "What we are doing is more surgical rather than wide sweeps. It's safer for our Marines and a more effective way to find insurgents."

In order to maintain good relations with innocent village residents and farmers, the Marines work with local leaders and explain what is going on prior to any special mission kick off.

Before doors were kicked in, the Marines convoyed to the general area, dismounting from their grumbling seven-ton trucks and Humvees on a dirt road that cut a nearby farm paddy, and then advanced on the objectives on foot using stealth, discipline and surprise.

"Sometimes all the wild dogs barking out here can be quite loud and can take away from the element of surprise," said Lance Cpl. Matt O'Connor, a machine gunner with "Bravo" Co.'s 3rd platoon and a 21-year-old bartender from San Antonio, Texas. "But the Iraqis normally pay them no mind."

Once at the objective, a cordon and knock first involves searching the entire area and sealing off the structure with suspected high value targets.

"After setting up our perimeter security, our leaders then recon to the objective before Marines stack at the door," said Lance Cpl. Gary Cremeans, machine gunner, 3rd platoon, Bravo Co., and a 24-year-old heating, ventilating and air-conditioning technician from Austin, Texas. "Then we dump into the house."

At all times the Rules of Engagement are strictly adhered to. Occupants are treated with dignity and respect, and shots are not fired unless suspects or targets show intent to harm Marines with a deadly weapon.

"Sometimes specific targets are not there despite the latest intelligence that we have," said Noriega. "Terrorist targets or insurgents, as well as any possible armed security they may have, will not always stay in the village or in a certain house. Many times they use people to hide weapons or (improvised explosive device) making materials before an attack."

While some Marines conduct a thorough search or secure detainees, Navy corpsmen attend to the elderly, women and children-if any are present-to calm them and give them basic medical care if needed.

Even though the Marines may return to their camp without their intended targets or confiscated weapons in tow, their cordon and knock efforts are making a positive difference.

"The detainees will be interrogated and if they check out, will be released back to their homes," said Noriega. "This time we detained the brother of one of our targets and a few others in addition to some electronic devices used for making IEDs, but hopefully we're reminding them that we are out here looking for them, keeping them on the run until we catch them."


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:17 AM
Marines, ING Clean Up Unexploded Ordnance
by Gunnery Sgt. Chago Zapata
Marine Corps News
January 04, 2005

AL UKHAIDHIR FORT, Iraq - So far, thousands of U.S. servicemen and women have been either killed or wounded by Improvised Explosive Devices here in Iraq. Where are Iraqi insurgents getting these explosives?

Unexploded ordnance left over from Saddam's regime is scattered throughout Iraq -- all the insurgents have to do is find it.

In one place in particular they are being denied the opportunity to find and use these explosives.

Two Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines from Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 11, 11th MEU (Special Operations Capable), a platoon of Marines with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th MEU (Special Operations Capable), and a platoon of soldiers from Company A, 401st Battalion, 51st Iraqi National Guard Brigade, spent the day sorting and separating ordnance that could be used to make IEDs here, Dec. 29.

Mortar rounds, tank projectiles and mysterious-looking pieces of twisted metal were piled haphazardly in reddish-brown rusted piles of metal and sand about 200 yards from a well-preserved eighth century medieval fort.





The ammunition, some spent and some active, had been sitting in those rusting piles since the early 90's, sometime after Operation Desert Storm, according to Master Sgt. Michael W. Snow, EOD chief, MSSG-11, 11th MEU (SOC).

"We cleaned up a pile of unexploded ordnance and ordnance residue that was near a (main road) and a culturally significant landmark, a Persian fort," said Snow. "We're picking it up for two reasons. It's dangerous for local residents who have a habit of messing with this stuff and we don't want them to get hurt, (but) the main reason is to deny the use of this material to people who would build IEDs with it."

Nearly 1,000 rounds of active ammunition were discovered -- white phosphorous 120 mm mortar rounds, 120 mm high explosive mortar rounds, a mix of different sizes of artillery and tank projectiles, and a handful of 122 mm rockets and 60 and 82 mm mortars.

According to Capt. Sean M. Roche, company commander, A Co., BLT 1/4, 11th MEU (SOC), previous intelligence reports had shown evidence that anti-Iraqi forces possibly used the ordnance piled here to make IEDs.

"It's suspected of being used to make IEDs; it's not confirmed but anywhere there is UXO out there there's a good possibility that the enemy can get to it," Roche explained. "If we can get rid of it before the enemy can get to it then we're only helping ourselves and the people of Iraq."

Marines and ING soldiers met at the fort, established security and vehicle checkpoints, and after a safety brief by Snow, together began going through the large piles of rusted metal, looking for active ordnance and putting it in separate orderly rows -- one of high explosives, another of white phosphorous and a small one of more rare, deadly or unstable ordnance.

The two EOD technicians later went through the rows of bombs and projectiles to ensure it was all fit for transport to the demolition range.

"I had fun doing this. I think it's good to have Marines come out and work with the ING and let them know that we're actually here to help them," said Cpl. Philip D. Doherty, artillery radio operator, Weapons Platoon, A Co., BLT 1/4, 11th MEU (SOC). "We all worked together to separate the rounds and then loaded them all up in the trucks -- it was a joint effort."

The ING also enjoyed working with the Marines and learned much they didn't know about the deadly ordnance.

"What we're doing with the Marines is very important because it is making it safer for the people who live here," said Pvt. Jassim Mouhamed, infantryman, 1st Platoon, 401st Bn., 51st ING Brigade. "What the Marines and the ING are doing is making (Iraq) more secure and helping to protect the Iraqi people. We don't want terrorists to use the bombs here to kill people."

During a brief the night before the mission, Roche explained the importance of leading by example when it came to working with the ING.

"This is the first time the ING have worked with the Marines in a while. I want you to put on your best face, I want you to be as hard as possible, to do the right thing," Roche said to his Marines. "I want each of you to be a leader. Just as lance corporals look at their corporal, (the ING) are all looking at you. They're checking you out, seeing how you react, seeing if you sweat, seeing if you're tired. Be tired back here, don't be tired out there."

According to Roche, the Marines and ING got along very well. Marines and ING soldiers were smiling and joking. They got the job done and worked well with each other.

"I'm glad we got rid of the UXO because overall it enhances the safety of the Marines and fellow servicemembers in the Iraqi theater," said Roche. "I also feel good about the fact that we're out here working with our ING brothers and we're building a good relationship with them."

The EOD team was at the same site last week and picked up more than 450 white phosphorous 120 mm mortar rounds, 18 120 mm high explosive mortar rounds and a handful of 60 and 82 mm mortars as well.

Snow said that what was done here will make a difference -- maybe not an immediate difference but over time every pile of ordnance that can be removed and destroyed helps coalition forces and helps the local residents.

"Some day some kids are going to play over here, or some day they're going to have tourists come here again to see the fort," Snow explained. "People are going to come over here where the UXO is, they're going to mess with it and someone's going to die. We don't want that to happen.

As much as we don't want the enemy to use it for IEDs, we don't want to have the local residents to have an explosive hazard in their back yard forever," Snow continued.

Marines and ING soldiers hauled everything that contained explosives to a captured enemy ammunition processing site near the fort run by a civilian contractor.

The EOD team did not expect to find so much ammunition out there and didn't have enough explosives to destroy it that day. They will return in a week or so and will use the demolition range there to destroy it by detonation, according to Snow.

"It made me feel good that we're actually making this place better than the way it was when we first got here," Doherty said. "That castle's been there for more than 12 centuries and the fact that we're helping get rid of this stuff is going to make a big difference to that piece of history."

Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:26 AM
12-30-2004 <br />
<br />
Training Failures Left Guard Unit Unready for Iraq <br />
<br />
<br />
<br />
*First in a Series <br />
<br />
<br />
By Nathaniel R. Helms

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:27 AM
“We have been called away from our homes and families for hostile operations. We are owed a chance to be trained properly and given the tools to obtain that objective. I, and all the soldiers resent...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 09:38 AM
Near Fallujah, Marine Metal Workers Weld Life-Saving Vehicle Armor <br />
by Staff Sgt. Jim Goodwin <br />
Marine Corps News <br />
January 03, 2005 <br />
<br />
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq - Standing on top of a Humvee, blowtorch in...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 09:58 AM
FROM A TROOPER WHO WAS THERE

Susie Stephens
Region I Coordinator
National League of Families For POW/MIAs

Rumsfeld Visit

To All,

This is a shotgun blast response to the media reports on Secretary Rumsfeld's visit to our Camp. I was fortunate enough to be there and even shake the man's hand. When the media reports were released concerning the event, I could not believe what I saw and heard. There are over 12,000 troops on our base. Only 2,000 or so had the opportunity to attend the gathering and I can tell you, those were hotly contested seats. Not as the media would have you believe, so we could voice our displeasure, but rather to have the opportunity to see and hear the man we admire. Mr. Secretary spoke for 10 minutes or so on the war in Iraq and what freedom meant to the people of Afghanistan. He was there for the recent elections and shared his wonderful insight. After his prepared remarks he opened up the floor for questions and made it very clear that nothing was off limits.

Folks, this is extremely unusual for a dignitary to do. Also we, as leaders, were instructed to not screen our soldiers' questions. They were to be honest and from the heart. Mr. Rumsfeld fielded a number of questions, took down notes for the ones he did not have answers to and genuinely enjoyed talking to the soldiers. Afterward, he spent over! an hour with the enthusiastic troops who literally mobbed him and would not let him leave. He smiled for all, shook hands and had pictures taken. It ended only when his security forced us away. He was applauded, he was given a standing ovation and he was loved.

He stood there like a professional, like a man, and he took the heat because that's what leaders do. And yet somehow, the American media turned that wonderful event into a"disgruntled troops meet with Secretary Rumsfeld" headline. Incredible. The morale is high, the equipment is good and improving daily. Disregard what you read and hear from the media and trust in the American fighting men and women to do the right thing. We have excellent leadership and are doing what we signed up to do.

1SG Timmy Rikard
FOB Marez
Mosul, Iraq


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 11:52 AM
1st FSSG Commanding General Adds a Star <br />
by Lance Cpl. T. J. Kaemmerer <br />
Marine Corps News <br />
January 03, 2005 <br />
<br />
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq - Brig. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich was promoted to the rank of major...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 12:17 PM
Marines, ING Clean Up Unexploded Ordnance
by Gunnery Sgt. Chago Zapata
Marine Corps News
January 04, 2005

AL UKHAIDHIR FORT, Iraq - So far, thousands of U.S. servicemen and women have been either killed or wounded by Improvised Explosive Devices here in Iraq. Where are Iraqi insurgents getting these explosives?

Unexploded ordnance left over from Saddam's regime is scattered throughout Iraq -- all the insurgents have to do is find it.

In one place in particular they are being denied the opportunity to find and use these explosives.

Two Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines from Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 11, 11th MEU (Special Operations Capable), a platoon of Marines with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th MEU (Special Operations Capable), and a platoon of soldiers from Company A, 401st Battalion, 51st Iraqi National Guard Brigade, spent the day sorting and separating ordnance that could be used to make IEDs here, Dec. 29.

Mortar rounds, tank projectiles and mysterious-looking pieces of twisted metal were piled haphazardly in reddish-brown rusted piles of metal and sand about 200 yards from a well-preserved eighth century medieval fort.





The ammunition, some spent and some active, had been sitting in those rusting piles since the early 90's, sometime after Operation Desert Storm, according to Master Sgt. Michael W. Snow, EOD chief, MSSG-11, 11th MEU (SOC).

"We cleaned up a pile of unexploded ordnance and ordnance residue that was near a (main road) and a culturally significant landmark, a Persian fort," said Snow. "We're picking it up for two reasons. It's dangerous for local residents who have a habit of messing with this stuff and we don't want them to get hurt, (but) the main reason is to deny the use of this material to people who would build IEDs with it."

Nearly 1,000 rounds of active ammunition were discovered -- white phosphorous 120 mm mortar rounds, 120 mm high explosive mortar rounds, a mix of different sizes of artillery and tank projectiles, and a handful of 122 mm rockets and 60 and 82 mm mortars.

According to Capt. Sean M. Roche, company commander, A Co., BLT 1/4, 11th MEU (SOC), previous intelligence reports had shown evidence that anti-Iraqi forces possibly used the ordnance piled here to make IEDs.

"It's suspected of being used to make IEDs; it's not confirmed but anywhere there is UXO out there there's a good possibility that the enemy can get to it," Roche explained. "If we can get rid of it before the enemy can get to it then we're only helping ourselves and the people of Iraq."

Marines and ING soldiers met at the fort, established security and vehicle checkpoints, and after a safety brief by Snow, together began going through the large piles of rusted metal, looking for active ordnance and putting it in separate orderly rows -- one of high explosives, another of white phosphorous and a small one of more rare, deadly or unstable ordnance.

The two EOD technicians later went through the rows of bombs and projectiles to ensure it was all fit for transport to the demolition range.

"I had fun doing this. I think it's good to have Marines come out and work with the ING and let them know that we're actually here to help them," said Cpl. Philip D. Doherty, artillery radio operator, Weapons Platoon, A Co., BLT 1/4, 11th MEU (SOC). "We all worked together to separate the rounds and then loaded them all up in the trucks -- it was a joint effort."

The ING also enjoyed working with the Marines and learned much they didn't know about the deadly ordnance.

"What we're doing with the Marines is very important because it is making it safer for the people who live here," said Pvt. Jassim Mouhamed, infantryman, 1st Platoon, 401st Bn., 51st ING Brigade. "What the Marines and the ING are doing is making (Iraq) more secure and helping to protect the Iraqi people. We don't want terrorists to use the bombs here to kill people."

During a brief the night before the mission, Roche explained the importance of leading by example when it came to working with the ING.

"This is the first time the ING have worked with the Marines in a while. I want you to put on your best face, I want you to be as hard as possible, to do the right thing," Roche said to his Marines. "I want each of you to be a leader. Just as lance corporals look at their corporal, (the ING) are all looking at you. They're checking you out, seeing how you react, seeing if you sweat, seeing if you're tired. Be tired back here, don't be tired out there."

According to Roche, the Marines and ING got along very well. Marines and ING soldiers were smiling and joking. They got the job done and worked well with each other.

"I'm glad we got rid of the UXO because overall it enhances the safety of the Marines and fellow servicemembers in the Iraqi theater," said Roche. "I also feel good about the fact that we're out here working with our ING brothers and we're building a good relationship with them."

The EOD team was at the same site last week and picked up more than 450 white phosphorous 120 mm mortar rounds, 18 120 mm high explosive mortar rounds and a handful of 60 and 82 mm mortars as well.

Snow said that what was done here will make a difference -- maybe not an immediate difference but over time every pile of ordnance that can be removed and destroyed helps coalition forces and helps the local residents.

"Some day some kids are going to play over here, or some day they're going to have tourists come here again to see the fort," Snow explained. "People are going to come over here where the UXO is, they're going to mess with it and someone's going to die. We don't want that to happen.

As much as we don't want the enemy to use it for IEDs, we don't want to have the local residents to have an explosive hazard in their back yard forever," Snow continued.

Marines and ING soldiers hauled everything that contained explosives to a captured enemy ammunition processing site near the fort run by a civilian contractor.

The EOD team did not expect to find so much ammunition out there and didn't have enough explosives to destroy it that day. They will return in a week or so and will use the demolition range there to destroy it by detonation, according to Snow.

"It made me feel good that we're actually making this place better than the way it was when we first got here," Doherty said. "That castle's been there for more than 12 centuries and the fact that we're helping get rid of this stuff is going to make a big difference to that piece of history."


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 01:20 PM
Lance corporal just wants to go home <br />
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- <br />
January 06, 2005 <br />
ANDREW deGRANDPRÉ <br />
DAILY NEWS STAFF <br />
<br />
Jonathan Soto is...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 01:25 PM
Young Marine from discovers brotherhood and pain of war

By GAIL SCHONTZLER
The Bozeman Chronicle
Jan. 6, 2005

Dustin Hoff turned 19 the day in March when his Marine unit crossed the border from Kuwait into Iraq.

Months after graduating from Bozeman High's Bridger alternative high school, Hoff was on a convoy heading north across the length of Iraq, up to Al Qaim on the Syrian border.

Hoff is slight, just 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds. Except for the dog tags he wears around his neck, taped together with a cross from his grandmother, he looks like any clean-cut Montana kid in blue jeans.

But there's a seriousness about him as he talks about the loneliness and boredom, the 115-degree heat, learning not to panic in a firefight, seeing friends wounded and comrades killed.

Hoff, the youngest of four children, hasn't talked much with his parents -- Dean, a carpet installer, and Faye, a Northwest Airlines customer service agent -- about what it was like during his seven months in Iraq. It's hard to describe, he said, and he didn't want them to be freaked out.

Since September, he has been back training at Twentynine Palms, Calif., with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division. He expects to be sent back to Iraq in August.

"I'm actually ready to go back," he said.

This week he'll drive to California with his best friend, Bill Tribley, from Flint, Mich., who was wounded in Iraq. Although Tribley suffered a dime-size hole in his cheek and lost a couple teeth in August, he went right back to his platoon.

"That's just who he is," Hoff said. "He realizes his friends are having a hard time. We care about each other. The brotherhood of war, I guess."

Hoff, a lance corporal, joined the service mainly because "I wanted to go out and experience things." He picked the Marines because he wanted to be with the best.

When they first arrived at Husaybah, a city of more than 100,000, in March 2004, his platoon was assigned to build a base, patrol and search vehicles at the Syrian border checkpoint. They did "hearts and minds" patrols, waving at everybody and handing out candy to little kids.

Things changed on April 17, when they were drawn into a 14-hour firefight. Five Marines were killed in that fight with 300 insurgents, the Associated Press reported.

Hoff remembered running through the streets, his lieutenant telling him to go toward gunmen firing on another squad and flush them out. He ran into a dead-end and found himself being shot at for the first time.

"It's like a huge adrenaline rush," Hoff said. "I didn't get scared. ... You just know your friends are getting shot at, so you focus."

His squad used a rocket launcher to blow up the gunmen's building. They arrested three unarmed suspects, blindfolded them, tied their hands and took them back to the base.

"It really makes you mad," he said. "You can't hurt these guys, (who may have been) just shooting at your friends."

The Marines flushed out the insurgents that day, but Hoff lost his trust of the Iraqi people.

"They can shoot at you, put down their AK47, go around a corner and wave at you. That's their best weapon -- they can blend in with the population."

Things escalated after that, with more roadside bombs exploding when Marines walked by.

The toughest day came in early August, when a couple squads were sent to investigate an Iraqi police outpost that had been blown up near the Euphrates River. It turned out to be an ambush.

"Our gunnery sergeant died that day," Hoff said.

A roadside bomb blew up, rocking Hoff in his Humvee, wounding six or seven with shrapnel. A half-mile away, another Marine was killed by a sniper.

"I'd say that was the worst day I ever had," Hoff said quietly.

An embedded Washington Post reporter wrote that was the 15th death for the 3rd Battalion, which also has 156 Purple Hearts -- a casualty count higher than that of any other unit in Iraq, except the Marines in Fallujah.

Hoff said he feels the Marines are making lots of progress. They've contributed money to build schools, made communities safe and trained Iraqi guards so that they now check cars crossing the border, instead of just watching them drive through.

The war has changed him a lot. He tries not to take for granted ordinary things, like showers and real meals.

"You just mature a lot," he said.

It's weird to come home and hear some people rattling off questions, asking if he killed anybody.

Yeah, Hoff said, probably he has. When you're getting shot at, you can't see them, but you've got to lay down suppressive fire to protect the guys in your squad.

Hoff is definitely glad he joined the Marines.

"I don't regret it one minute. I've met some incredible people I wouldn't have met, from all over the country.

"There's no way you could have the experiences if you don't go."


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 01:34 PM
Equal billing asked for Marines
January 06, 2005
CYNDI BROWN
DAILY NEWS STAFF

The Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy but that doesn't mean the Corps is subordinate to the Navy itself.

"They are one team, and the team should be equal," U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr., R-N.C., said. "Somewhere there should be some recognition in an official way."

Legislation introduced Tuesday by the Republican congressman who represents the state's 3rd District - which includes Camp Lejeune and the New River and Cherry Point air stations - would do exactly that.

Jones introduced HR-34, which, if approved, would rename the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps. Jones has attempted for the past few years a similar change, proposing to alter the secretary of the Navy's title to secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps. Although the most recent version cleared the House as part of the Defense Authorization Bill, it stalled in the Senate.

Jones sees improved chances for approval with the new approach since Congress has already established that there are four distinct military services - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

"That means all of them are equal, and they are," Jones said by phone Wednesday from his Greenville office.

"I really think we are going to get a great deal of support on this," he said, noting that he had 20 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors of the legislation less than 20 minutes after introducing the most recent version. "It's a symbolic but an extremely important step."

It's also a personal one.

Sgt. Michael Bitz, a Camp Lejeune Marine, was killed in a 2002 battle at An Nasiriyah in Iraq and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. Bitz's widow gave Jones a copy of the citation.

"Nothing in the official heading is about the Marine Corps," said Jones, describing the letterhead that includes the Navy flag and the heading "The Secretary of the Navy." "I think about his children or any Marine's children when they read daddy's order Â… wouldn't it be nice if it said Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps and included the flag of both services?"

Jones will go on the House floor later this month to make his case. With him will be an enlarged copy of Bitz's citation.

He already has the support of the oldest and largest professional military association that represents the sea services.

The Fleet Reserve Association at the national level strongly supports the change. The local branch is following its lead.

"There's a lot of support in the community," said Bill Hemmingway, who is on the board of directors for FRA Branch 208. "The Corps supports it, God knows they do. Living in a community such as this, I'm adaptable to the wishes of the Marine Corps.

"When I initially heard about it," he said, "I thought to myself, 'This is good legislation.'"

The retired chief hospital corpsman said those in the military understand how closely the Navy and Marine Corps work together, but those in the civilian world may not be able to draw a distinction.

"They've always been sort of a stepchild," Hemmingway said of the Corps' reputation when he enlisted in 1948. "I think the attitude has dramatically changed since I went in the Navy.

"The two do function so well together. They get along a lot better than most people realize."

W.C. Blaha, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, sees the title change as a mostly symbolic act designed to make the service more visible.

"It very may well be important to give the Marine Corps that status," he said. "Perhaps the Navy Department alone is sort of outdated.

"But am I in favor of it? I don't think it's going to make any difference."

Particularly since he doesn't think most people outside of military service even understand that the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy.

"I think people see the four separate services," Blaha said.

He credits that distinction to the Marine Corps becoming more independent, its commandant having a seat on the joint chiefs of staff and Marine Corps officers being assigned to and heading unified commands.


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 02:03 PM
1st FSSG Commanding General Adds a Star <br />
by Lance Cpl. T. J. Kaemmerer <br />
Marine Corps News <br />
January 03, 2005 <br />
<br />
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq - Brig. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich was promoted to the rank of major...

thedrifter
01-06-05, 02:31 PM
No. 011-05
Jan 05, 2005
IMMEDIATE RELEASE



National Guard and Reserve Mobilized as of January 5, 2005
This week, the Army and Navy announced an increase in the number of reservists on active duty in support of the partial mobilization, while the Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard had a decrease. The net collective result is 1,875 more reservists mobilized than last week.

At any given time, services may mobilize some units and individuals while demobilizing others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. Total number currently on active duty in support of the partial mobilization for the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 162,007; Naval Reserve, 3,462; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 11,654; Marine Corps Reserve, 10,349; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 967. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel, who have been mobilized, to 188,439, including both units and individual augmentees.

A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel, who are currently mobilized can be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jan2005/d20050105.pdf


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 04:13 PM
WHO SAYS THAT OUR YOUNG SOLDERS DONT LEARN SOMETHING IN BASIC

AETCNS 010505001 Jan. 5, 2005

Plunging In: Airman Saves Lives, Gains Fiancée

By Susan Griggs
81st Training Wing Public Affairs

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AETCNS) -- A Keesler Airman plunged into an icy river Dec. 23 to save a woman and her baby from a sinking car just minutes after proposing to his girlfriend.

While home in Kellyville, Okla., Airman Basic Joshua Johnson went to Tulsa to propose marriage to Brittany Campbell on a pedestrian bridge over the Arkansas River.

Moments after Airman Johnson’s proposal was accepted, the couple was returning to his truck when they saw a car swerve down an embankment and plunge into the river. Airman Johnson pulled off his coat and hat and dove in.

By the time the 18-year-old Airman reached the submerged car, only its rear window and trunk were visible. He tried the driver's side door, but it was locked. He banged on the roof of the car and told the driver, 34-year-old Detura Bills, to unlock it. When he helped her out, the car sank even lower. She screamed that her 2-year-old son, Brandon, was still buckled in his car seat in the back seat.

It took two more dives under the surface of the dark, frigid water for Airman Johnson to free the toddler from his car seat and swim to safety. Robert Ewens and Jerome Wade, who had also jumped into the water, assisted with the little boy.

Airman Johnson said he doesn't remember much of what happened once he got out of the water, except that someone took the little boy and he was taken to a car. Once out of the river, hypothermia shock set in. After emergency treatment at a nearby hospital, Airman Johnson was released to spend Christmas with his family and fiancée. Ms. Bills, Brandon and Mr. Ewens were also treated at area hospitals and released.

Throughout the ordeal, Airman Johnson clearly remembers focusing on saving the people inside the car. He considers himself a good swimmer, although he's never had any formal lifesaving training. He credited the Air Force with his quick "service-before-self" response to the crisis.

"All I was thinking was, 'I don't know who's in there or what, but I need to get them out,'" he said.

Airman Johnson arrived at Keesler in October for basic electronic principles training in the 332nd Training Squadron and is continuing his training in the 338th TRS ground radar course and was surprised by the attention he's received over the rescue.

"I did not expect this kind of recognition," he said. "I didn't do it for anything like that."

"I'm very proud of him," said his fiancée. "It was amazing. He didn't even hesitate."

Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 04:26 PM
January 06, 2005

Incoming rockets punctuate Iraqi army’s celebration

By Gordon Trowbridge
Times staff writer


TAJI, Iraq — The whoosh of incoming artillery rockets was not exactly the fireworks that planners had in mind for Iraq’s first Army Day celebration of the post-Saddam era on Jan. 6.
But not long after the too-close-for-comfort impacts scattered Iraqi soldiers from the parade ground, there was interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi watching as marching troops, new trucks and the ancient T-55 tanks of the country’s first mechanized brigade filed past the sprawling U.S.-Iraqi base here.

After the parade, Iraqi soldiers danced and chanted victory cries for the cameras of Arab TV networks.

“They had three 120mm rockets hit in here, and still they carried on,” said an approving Marine Capt. Tyler Fotheringill, a trainer assigned to a brigade of the Iraqi Intervention Force, the better-trained, better-paid portion of the new Iraqi army.

Critics might argue that such spirit has been lacking where it counts — on the battlefield. Increasing numbers of Iraqi forces have been touted for months by U.S. officials as signs of progress and the eventual ticket home for American troops. But their performance has been so spotty that in a January news conference, even President Bush admitted their shortcomings.

But Ali Fadhil Ata Alla, a sergeant in the intervention forces, said the American and Iraqi people will learn to trust Iraqi forces.

“We are ready,” he said through an interpreter. “We are so ready to get rid of these people, to fight the bad guys.”

It’s likely to be some time, however, before the Iraqi army’s parade grounds are beyond the insurgency’s reach.

Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 06:27 PM
January 05, 2005

New investigation, same result: Marine’s death called suicide

Gordon Lubold
Times staff writer


A new investigation into the death of Col. James Sabow concludes the Marine died at his own hand, confirming the military’s official finding of suicide 14 years ago.
The new report, which was delivered to members of Congress Jan. 3, attempts to discredit the dead Marine’s brother, David Sabow, who has long maintained that James Sabow was murdered.

“The review, experiments, and testing warrants the conclusion that Col. Sabow died from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the mouth, an action which clearly explains all his injuries and thereby explains his death as a suicide,” the report states.

The review, the last of five undertaken in the death of James Sabow, was completed in November by Jon Nordby, a criminal forensic analyst and death investigator based in the Seattle area. Nordby was contracted by the Defense Department last year after Congress ordered a new investigation into Sabow’s death.

James Sabow was found dead behind his home at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Calif., in January 1991. The military ruled the death a suicide, saying Sabow probably killed himself due to professional difficulties. He had been relieved as assistant chief of staff to the air station’s commander days before.

But David Sabow has always suspected that his brother was murdered in an attempt to cover up alleged weapons and drug-smuggling activities at El Toro.

Last year, David Sabow and others convinced Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, to demand a new investigation. Hunter, a Republican from California, inserted language into the 2004 Defense Authorization Act requiring the Defense Department to re-open the probe.

The investigation was completed in November and reviewed by Defense Department officials for several weeks before it was released to members of Congress, including Hunter.

Hunter’s office had no comment Jan. 5.

According to an executive summary of the November report, the investigation was difficult for several reasons, including the contention that David Sabow did not cooperate with Nordby. He failed to provide Nordby with the shotgun apparently used in Sabow’s death, the report said. Nordby also said that David Sabow attempted to pressure him into concluding that James Sabow was murdered.

The report says that while mistakes were made in previous investigations, none would cause them to alter their conclusion that it was a suicide.

But the investigation ignores more than a dozen experts who believe James Sabow was murdered, David Sabow said. Further, the report is full of “unprofessional criticism” of him that he said was inappropriate and misleading.

“This is classic smoke and mirrors,” said David Sabow, a retired neurologist, from his home in Rapid City, S.D., Jan. 5. “It was totally bizarre science.”

Sabow said he tried to cooperate with Nordby and spoke with him briefly four times over the course of the investigation. He said he could not provide the shotgun — owned by James Sabow’s widow, Sally — because he was concerned that it could be tampered with without him being present.

“Otherwise, I begged to cooperate, I begged to be included,” he said.


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 07:41 PM
The sympathy gap
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Clifford D. May
January 6, 2005

When more than 100,000 people have been killed, and thousands of others are in danger, the international community has a moral obligation to do what it can to limit the damage and reduce the suffering of survivors.

So why is it that the international community so rarely even tries? Oh yes, an unprecedented relief effort is taking place now in the areas of South Asia struck by last month's tsunami. That's laudable.

But when, in 1987-88, more than 100,000 people were killed in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, the international community turned a blind eye.

Those Kurdish victims were overcome not by waves of water but in some cases by waves of poison gas. Why should sympathy for those drowned on a beach be so much greater than for those choked in the streets of their village? More to the point, why should an act of God elicit more empathy than an act of man? The man in question, of course, was then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Having slaughtered the Kurds with impunity, two years later he attempted to wipe Kuwait off the map

Only because President George H.W. Bush determined that such aggression "would not stand" were Saddam's troops forced out of Kuwait. But then, in 1991, Saddam began slaughtering Iraqi Shi'a, and he intentionally destroyed the environment inhabited by the Marsh Arabs, an ancient people of southern Iraq, leaving tens of thousands homeless.

And, again, the international community shrugged its shoulders.

World leaders, led by the United Nations, also shirked their moral duty in Rwanda in 1994, when more than 800,000 people were murdered.

And more recently, in the Sudanese region of Darfur, Arab Muslims have been slaughtering and raping African Muslims. As many as 80,000 people have been killed and at least 1 million have been driven from their homes. Hundreds of thousands remain in danger.

An international effort to stop the carnage and provide relief for the survivors is under way - but it pales in comparison with the effort being made on behalf of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Politics is part of the explanation for this double standard. Governments and international organizations can do business with dictators like Saddam and with regimes such as that in Khartoum. Nobody can do business with a tsunami.

The media also contribute. Footage of bodies and mass graves along the Indian Ocean has been relatively easy to obtain and is being seen in the living rooms of millions of people around the world.

By contrast, pictures of the bodies and mass graves of Iraq were difficult for journalists to get and so few people saw such images on the evening news. (And Saddam made it clear what happens to journalists who displease him. In 1990, Farzad Bazoft, a British reporter, was executed for spying on Saddam's chemical weapons dumps.)

Beyond that, such intellectuals as Milton Viorst and Edward Said questioned whether atrocities such as the genocide of the Kurds even took place.

I've had personal experience with these phenomena. Twenty years ago, I was a young foreign correspondent in Africa when a famine broke out in Ethiopia. The old Africa hands told me the world would yawn. "Starving Africans," a world-weary colleague informed me, "simply are not news."

What's more, the dictator of Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam, denied that a serious tragedy was unfolding. Such allegations, he insisted, were imperialist slander directed against a Marxist nation. Most of the Western media were more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But a brave Ethiopian official by the name of Dawit Wolde Giorgis decided he could not turn his back on such suffering. He persuaded Mengistu to let him give the world a glimpse of Ethiopia's catastrophe.

The West could still be blamed, he argued, in particular the United States could be called stingy, reluctant to come to the aid of a country allied with the Soviet Union and Cuba. Several years later, after Dawit fled Ethiopia, he would tell me that he had known this was not true, but he also knew that his plan might save thousands of lives.

He was right: Film from the famine areas, taken by the late, great Mohammed Amin, a Nairobi-based Pakistani with a British passport, was soon on the BBC and then on America's televisions as well. Not long after there was an outpouring of sympathy. Bob Geldorf recorded "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Michael Jackson and friends recorded "We Are the World." A massive aid effort followed.

The world's greatest scientists don't know how to prevent natural disasters - tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. Any fool knows how to stop unnatural disasters such as the mass murders of ethnic minorities by brutal dictators. We just don't seem to believe that both sets of victims are equally deserving of our intervention.

---Clifford D. May is the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and a Townhall.com member group.


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 08:24 PM
Nine American Troops Killed in Iraq

By NICK WADHAMS, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A roadside bomb killed seven U.S. soldiers in northwest Baghdad and two Marines were killed in western Iraq (news - web sites) on Thursday, the deadliest day for American forces since a suicide attack on a U.S. base last month.


The bombing came as Iraq extended a state of emergency by 30 days to battle militants whose attacks have surged ahead of this month's elections. The prime minister warned the number of assaults would only rise as voting day draws closer.


Just three weeks before the Jan. 30 elections, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq acknowledged that security is poor in four of 18 Iraqi provinces. But Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz told a briefing in the capital that delaying the vote would only increase the danger.


"I can't guarantee that every person in Iraq that wants to vote, goes to a polling booth and can do that safely," Metz said. "We're going to do everything possible to create that condition for them, but we are fighting an enemy who cares less who he kills, when he kills and how he kills. A delay in the elections just gives the thugs and terrorists more time to continue their intimidation, their cruelty, their brutal murders of innocent people."


The soldiers with Task Force Baghdad were on patrol Thursday evening when their Bradley fighting vehicle hit the explosive, the military said in a statement. Everyone inside the Bradley was killed.


No other details were immediately available about the latest attack. But Iraq's insurgents have frequently targeted American troops with crude explosives planted in roads and detonated remotely as patrols pass.


The two other U.S. Marines killed in action Thursday were both members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and lost their lives in Anbar province, which is home to the volatile city of Fallujah.


The previous four days had seen a string of assassinations, suicide car bombings and other assaults that killed 90 people.


On Tuesday, five American troops were killed, including three Task Force Baghdad soldiers who died in a roadside bombing, one who was slain in Anbar, and another who died in Balad, north of Baghdad.


But Thursday's toll was the highest for the U.S. military in Iraq since a suicide bombing at a mess tent in Mosul on Dec. 21 killed 22 people, including 14 U.S. soldiers and three American contractors.


The latest deaths brought the number of U.S. troops killed since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003 to 1,350, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,063 died as a result of hostile action.


The military said the names of the troops who died Thursday were being withheld until their families are notified.


As militants continued with the attacks, Iraqi authorities made some grisly discoveries. Police in the southern city of Basra found two charred and beheaded bodies in a house used by election officials. Police also announced they found the bodies of 18 young Shiites killed last month while seeking work at a U.S. base.


The state of emergency, originally announced two months ago, was extended for 30 days throughout the country except for the northern Kurdish-run areas, a government statement said. The decree includes a nighttime curfew and gives the government additional power to make arrests and launch military or police operations.


Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said he expected the number of attacks would rise before the Jan. 30 vote and called the decision on prolonging the state of emergency a precaution. He blamed former members of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s regime for the continuing violence.


"Saddam's followers, who have intensely shed the blood of our people and army, are still in action clandestinely, allying with a bunch of criminals, murderers and terrorists who are the enemies of our people and our progress," Allawi said during a ceremony to mark the national Army Day holiday.


"Our army and police have become targets of these hateful forces that fear the formation of the people's army and police."





Allawi, a secular Shiite, is insisting the elections go forward, despite calls from some Sunni religious leaders for a boycott. Sunni Arab political parties have largely withdrawn from the race because of security fears, particularly in western Iraq. Some have sought a delay of the vote.

The United States strongly opposes a postponement. Metz acknowledged U.S. forces "continue to deal with violence and lawlessness in some areas," specifically citing Nineveh, Anbar, Salahadin and Baghdad provinces. But he said other areas were secure enough to allow the elections to go ahead.

Foreign ministers of neighboring countries issued a statement Thursday saying they "stood strongly behind the interim government of Iraq" and "urged all segments" of society to participate in the elections.

The election is expected to shift power to the Shiite Muslim community, an estimated 60 percent of the population that had been dominated by the Sunni Arab minority since modern Iraq was created after World War I.

The call was backed by Jordan, a Sunni-dominated neighbor that had previously supported postponing the election. King Abdullah II had also suggested the elections would produce an Iraq controlled by Shiites who would quickly align themselves with Iran, ruled by a Shiite theocracy.

But Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani al-Mulqi insisted the elections be held as scheduled.

"From this podium, I call on all factions of the Iraqi people, young and old, men and women, to go to the polls to choose their representatives and draw their own future," al-Mulqi said. Failing to do that "will leave the door open for others to choose for them."

The charred bodies of the two beheaded Iraqi policemen were found in a house in Basra used by officials organizing the election, police said.

In the deaths of the 18 Iraqis seeking work with the Americans, police said the insurgents shot the young men — ranging in age from 14 to 20 — on Dec. 8 after stopping two minibuses about 30 miles west of the volatile city of Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad.

Their hands were tied behind their backs and each was shot in the head, police said. All were Shiites from Baghdad who had been hired by an Iraqi contractor to work at a U.S. base in Mosul.

The bodies were discovered Wednesday, the day a suicide attacker blew up an explosives-laden car outside a police academy south of Baghdad, killing 20 people. A second car bomber killed five Iraqi policemen in Baqouba. Both attacks were claimed by al-Qaida in Iraq, the group led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Iraqi forces announced the arrest of Abdul Aziz Sa-dun Ahmed Hamduni, a leader of al-Zarqawi's group in Mosul.


Ellie

thedrifter
01-06-05, 09:24 PM
Used Body Armor Is Sought for U.S. Vehicles in Iraq

Thu Jan 6, 6:22 PM ET Top Stories - Reuters


By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - New Jersey is collecting used bulletproof vests for U.S. troops in Iraq (news - web sites) to use as armor for their vehicles, following complaints that soldiers were underprotected.



Acting Gov. Richard Codey on Thursday asked all local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in New Jersey to donate used vests that could be used to strengthen armor on military vehicles.


"We are establishing regional drop-off points at our National Guard armories to collect used bulletproof vests to give our troops every possible protection," Codey said in a statement.


The vests are intended for vehicles and not for individual soldiers, who already have personal body armor, the statement said.


The U.S. government has been accused in recent months of failing to properly protect its forces in Iraq where some 140,000 troops are fighting an insurgency.


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on a visit to Kuwait last month, was grilled by a U.S. soldier who said troops have been forced to protect their vehicles with any scrap they can find.


"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Army Specialist Thomas Wilson asked Rumsfeld, to cheers from some 2,000 fellow soldiers.


Codey's initiative was launched because he wanted to help an existing grass-roots appeal, said Sean Darcy, a spokesman for the acting governor. "This was something that was already going on, and he wanted to give it greater prominence," Darcy said.


The vest-collection effort could also give politically useful publicity to Codey, who took over as acting governor in November from the resigned Jim McGreevey. Codey is considering a run for a full term this year and would face a tough field of potential challengers.


Some vests are being collected by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, whose forces total some 25,000 officers. Even as the vests reach the end of their useful life for people, they can still help reinforce vehicles, said Mitchell Sklar, executive director of the organization.


"There are hundreds and hundreds of vests that we have no use for and, rather than dumping them, we feel that we are doing our bit," Sklar said.



Ellie

garryh123
01-06-05, 09:51 PM
Marines Track Down Insurgents in Afghan Valley
By Cpl. Rich Mattingly, USMC
American Forces Press Service
January 03, 2005

KORANGAL VALLEY, Afghanistan - U.S. Marines have been operating at the forward edge of Operation Enduring Freedom, often in isolated areas where support for insurgency against the Afghan government and coalition forces remains.

In late December, Marines from Company I, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment entered the Korangal Valley in Konar province with the mission to capture or kill terrorists suspected of conducting attacks against coalition forces while working to win over the trust of local villagers.

"We get intelligence that lets us know where the bad guys are," explained 2nd Lt. Roy Bechtold, commander of the unit's 2nd Platoon. "After we get grid locations, we work with our assets to plan the best way to go in and get them."

The Korangal valley is infamous for its inaccessibility and numerous defeats the Russians suffered there during their ill-fated campaign to control Afghanistan.

After "vertically inserting" in CH-47 Chinook helicopters, the Marines set up blocking positions along the roads and maneuvered into their positions.





"The best way to come in is on foot or by air," said Bechtold. "We have to leave as small a signature as possible in order to not spook the guys we're looking for into running. If you come in with vehicles, they'll be long gone before you have a chance." Bechtold admitted that Marines in the past have had difficulty getting into villages sympathetic to anti-coalition forces without having the targets flee.

Once in place, the company's mission evolved to house-by-house searches as the clock started ticking on how long the Marines had until it was unlikely their targets remained.

Up and down the bluffs and rocky faces that double as paths between the stacked-up houses of the valley, the Marines and their Afghan National Army counterparts talked to village elders, shook hands, and searched houses from top to bottom.

"It all goes back to attention to detail," said Sgt. Shawn Kelly, an acting platoon sergeant. "You can't skip anything. It could be that one cache or that one guy you miss that could help us stop an improvised-explosive-device emplacement or attack on coalition forces."

The unit's attentiveness paid off on the second day of the operation, as Lance Cpl. Sean Decoursey, a rifleman from Jacksonville, Fla., crawled through a small opening in a floor to find a cache of weapons and ammunition hidden under a pile of hay.

"I found the AK-47s and ammunition," said Decoursey, modest about the find. "I almost didn't look in that hole either. It looked like maybe it only went back about two or three feet until I crawled in there."

With the discovery of the weapons, the Marines held one Afghan man for questioning and confiscated his illegal weapons and ammunition. Their find was a good one. After being questioned, the man named several other anti-coalition militants operating in the area.

"It feels really good to be here and to be getting something done," said Decoursey,

thedrifter
01-06-05, 10:54 PM
No. 015-04
Jan 06, 2005
IMMEDIATE RELEASE



DoD America Supports You Web Site Links American Public with the Troops
On Nov. 19, 2004, the Department of Defense launched a nationwide program, “America Supports You,” and new Web site to showcase the many activities taking place across the nation in support of the troops. The Web site, which highlights organizations and individuals coordinating local and national support efforts, has logged nearly a million hits since its inception.

Individual citizens, businesses, schools, veterans groups and others have visited the site http://www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil to register their activities, send a message to the troops and identify programs of support in their own communities.

Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison, said that while the Department of Defense knew that many of these programs existed, “the ‘America Supports You’ Web site has proven to be a useful tool in helping to link people and programs, and more importantly, to share these stories of support with the people who need to hear them most – the men and women serving overseas. The feedback from our troops has been tremendous, just as the outpouring of support from the American people has been overwhelming.”

Americans can join “America Supports You” by visiting the site and registering their activities, large or small, in support of the troops. Everyone who registers receives an official “America Supports You” dog tag that people can wear as a visible symbol of support for the troops. The dog tags have been seen across the country, worn by celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, and Wayne Newton, and worn by every day citizens at national events, such as the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade, the Fiesta Bowl and the New Year’s Eve Celebration in Times Square.

Barber also suggests that businesses, schools, churches, corporations and individuals add the http://www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil link to their Web sites. “Service members and their families have told us how much they are inspired by the messages of support from all across the nation that are posted each day. Whether you post a message on the site, or team up with a local group organizing care packages, each and every activity sends the message loud and clear: ‘America Supports You.’”


Ellie