View Full Version : IO Marines fight insurgency through interaction

01-10-05, 08:00 AM
IO Marines fight insurgency through interaction <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 20051106953 <br />
Story by Cpl. Randy L. Bernard <br />
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FALLUJAH, Iraq (Jan. 9, 2005) -- Since...

01-10-05, 08:00 AM
Local Marines on way to Iraq

By Sam Kusic
Monday, January 10, 2005

You would cry, too.
Yes, the Marines are supposed to be the proud. The brave. But you try putting your life on hold for nine months to go fight in a war.

And you, for the last time, hug your father or kiss your wife goodbye without squinting a tear.

You would cry. How couldn't you?

Many of the Marines of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division did Sunday. Company K is a reserve unit based in Moundsville, W.Va., and it's ultimately bound for Iraq.

Yesterday was the last day the company's 150 soldiers had to spend with their friends and family before leaving.

Its first stop, though, is Twentynine Palms, Calif., where it will receive about a month and a half of additional training.

They don't know where in Iraq they'll wind up, but they will be in the thick of things -- clearing houses, running checkpoints, providing security details.

It will be a tough task, but not as hard as giving the last goodbyes, said Sgt. 1st Class Darren Cook.

"This is the most difficult part of this whole thing, this day," he said.

Yesterday was a mix of ceremony, speeches and stolen moments.

The Young Marines, a youth organization, led the soldiers and more than 750 friends and family in the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem.

Dale Seigler, a chaplain for the local Marine Corps League detachment, said a prayer for the company.

"God be with you. God keep you. God protect you and bring you back," he said.

Company commander Maj. Christopher Douglas told the audience that he wished he could promise that he'd bring everyone home safe.

"I can't," he said.

He said they should, however, take some reassurance in knowing that the Marines are well-trained and that their safety is his top priority, along with completing their mission successfully.

Marines from several states, including Pennsylvania, comprise the unit. Many of them are from western Pennsylvania.

Among them is Cpl. Dan Kelly. He's a 25-year-old from North Huntingdon Township.

This is his second tour in Iraq. He was there during the initial invasion, assigned to a different unit.

He came home in the summer of 2003. He thought that was it.

"When I crossed that border, I thought I'd never cross back," he said.

Lance Cpl. Daniel Bradley, of Adamsburg, has never been to Iraq or on any other overseas deployment in his two years.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks drew him into the service.

He's leaving behind his fiance, Monica Loughner, and her 1-year-old daughter, Alexis. Bradley said he plans to marry Loughner after he returns.

"I'm proud of him for being a Marine," she said. "But I wish he didn't have to leave."

Yesterday, that time came around 6 p.m., when the Marines were ordered to fall in and board the buses that would take them back to the unit's base.

Lance Cpl. Carl Perry Jr., of Hempfield Township, hugged his family one last time and walked away.

"This is the hard part," he said.

But, he added, it's behind him now.

Sam Kusic can be reached at skusic@tribweb.com or 724-836-6077.


01-10-05, 08:01 AM
Local Marines Head to Africa

Some local Marines left on Sunday to help fight the War on Terror. 67 marine reservists left Mattydale for Africa to replace marines already on the ground. The marines could be deployed for up to 2 years. These marines will join a US lead coalition task force already working to defeat terrorist in the northeast corner of Africa.

01-10-05, 08:01 AM
Graner May Testify <br />
Associated Press <br />
January 10, 2005 <br />
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FORT HOOD, Texas - In his quarter-century working in military courts, the attorney for Spc. Charles Graner Jr. can count on one hand the...

01-10-05, 08:02 AM
Baghdad Deputy Police Chief Killed
Associated Press
January 10, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq - At least six police officers were killed, including Baghdad's deputy police chief and his son, in two separate attacks Monday, as insurgents stepped up their attacks three weeks ahead of the country's landmark elections.

Over the weekend, U.S. troops opened fire near a checkpoint south of Baghdad after their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, and a hospital official said Sunday at least eight people were killed.

On Monday, Brig. Amer Ali Nayef and his son, Lt. Khalid Amer, were killed by machine-fun fire sprayed from two cars driving parallel to the chief's as he and his son drove to work, police said.

In a separate attack, a suicide car bomb exploded in the courtyard of a police station in southern Baghdad Monday, killing at least four officers and injuring 10 others, police and witnesses said. A fake police car packed with explosives was used in the attack.

The explosion took place at 8 a.m. in the Zafarniyah district, police commissioner Abdul Khaleq Hussein said. Witnesses said the explosion happened as policemen were changing shifts. An Associated Press photographer saw a number of bodies inside the courtyard that was cordoned off by police.

The killings were the latest in a series of attacks against ranking Iraqi security force officials and policemen on the eve of a landmark Jan. 30 election that insurgents are trying to disrupt. Last week, gunmen killed the governor of Baghdad, Ali al-Haidari, and six of his bodyguards.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials said they had no information about the checkpoint shooting, which occurred overnight Saturday. Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said a roadside bomb hit a U.S. convoy near a police checkpoint in Yussifiyah, nine miles south of Baghdad, and troops opened fire, killing two police officers and three civilians.

Dr. Anmar Abdul-Hadi of al-Yarmouk hospital said eight people died in the attack and 12 were wounded.

American commanders recently announced a change in response to roadside bombings. Rather than pushing on after the blast, they now stop and try to engage the perpetrators, who may have detonated the explosives remotely.

Hours before the attack, the United States acknowledged dropping a 500-pound bomb on the wrong house during a search for terror suspects outside the northern city of Mosul. The military said in a statement that five people were killed.

The house's owner, Ali Yousef, said 14 people died when the bomb hit at about 2 a.m. Saturday in Aitha, a town 30 miles south of Mosul. An Associated Press photographer at the scene said the dead included seven children and seven adults. The discrepancy between the death counts could not be reconciled.

Such attacks are exactly what the United States does not want prior to national elections scheduled for Jan. 30.

In other violence Sunday, a U.S. soldier assigned to Task Force Baghdad was killed by a roadside bomb, and a Marine was killed in action in the volatile Anbar province.

Seven Ukrainian soldiers and one from Kazakhstan also died in an apparently accidental explosion at an ammunition dump south of Baghdad.

Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked on ABC's "This Week" how he would define success in Iraq's election, and he acknowledged concern about what will happen after the vote.

"Success is putting in place a government that is really elected and represents all of the people of Iraq ... and creating an Iraqi security force that is able to protect the country and protect the people of Iraq," he said.

Unknown assailants on Sunday shot Samarra's deputy police chief, Col. Mohammed Mudhafir, as he drove alone, Samarra police Maj. Raed Ahmed said.

Elsewhere Sunday, Iraq's most influential Sunni group said it will abandon its call for a boycott of the elections if the United States gives a timetable for withdrawing multinational forces.

The Association of Muslim Scholars relayed its request to a senior U.S. embassy official at a meeting Saturday, a group spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Bob Callahan on Saturday confirmed the meeting, which he described as an "exchange of views."

The first democratic vote in Iraq since the country was formed in 1932 is certain to see the Sunnis lose their dominance to the Shiites, who comprise 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million people. Sunni leaders have urged a postponement of the vote, largely because areas of Iraq where they dominate are too restive for preparations to begin.

In other developments Sunday:

- British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain and the United States will send a team to Iraq to reassess security in the face of spiraling violence. "In the key area around Baghdad there is no doubt about it at all. We have got to deal these people a blow," Blair told British Broadcasting Corp. TV.

- U.S. forces released about 230 Iraqis who had been detained in Abu Ghraib prison, according to a military statement.


01-10-05, 08:03 AM
Father-Son Marines Head For Iraq

AP) During his 2003 tour in Iraq, Maj. Christopher Phelps sent home a picture from Baghdad, showing him standing in front of a bombed-out building and holding a handmade sign that said, "Dad, wish you were here."

The Marine Corps is about to oblige.

Both 34-year-old Phelps and his 57-year-old father, Kendall Phelps, have orders to report to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for training, then deploy to Iraq for a seven-month tour.

They'll serve in the same unit, helping Iraqi officials rebuild their nation.

Both men will leave families behind, Kendall Phelps in Silver Lake, a small town northwest of Topeka, and Christopher Phelps, in Shawnee, a Kansas City suburb. Asked about each others' safety, both said they trust their fellow Marines.

"In the Marine Corps, every Marine watches every Marine, whether it's your father, a son, whether it's a brother, whether it's just a friend," Kendall Phelps said.

Still, Kendall Phelps' wife, Sherma, remembered her husband's concerns early in 2003, during their son's first tour. She said he wanted to replace his son there, or at least be with him to provide protection.

"Now they're both going to be there, so I can just worry about both of them," she said.

The Marines don't keep records on how many fathers and sons serve in the same unit, but it's rare, said Capt. Jeff Landis, a spokesman for the Corps in Quantico, Va.

As part of the 200-member 5th Civil Affairs Group, the Phelpses will help Iraqi officials restart school systems, re-establish local governments, train police and repair infrastructure, said the unit's commanding officer, Col. Steve McKinley. That job can't be done until an area is reasonably secure, he said.

"I've got the Phelps family counting on me to bring everybody back alive," McKinley said.

Christopher Phelps has four sons, aged 18 months to 6 years. The youngest, Taigan, was born shortly after his father's return from his first tour in Iraq.

Wife Lisa said she's proud of her husband and thinks he's giving his oldest sons an appreciation of the sacrifices necessary to maintain the American dream. But she acknowledged, "It makes me just scared to death for his children and myself."

"I'm a Marine Corps wife," she said. "I get up and get my kids out of bed, and I'll be strong for him."

Kendall Phelps, a retired master gunnery sergeant, has two daughters and three sons, including Christopher, aged 19 to 34. Josh, 21, is living at home while he attends Washburn University in Topeka, and said he has mixed feelings about his father's departure.

"It's good for my dad, I think, because he loved the Marine Corps so much," Josh Phelps said. "But it's also kind of scary."

Kendall Phelps joined the Marines straight out of high school in Rock Island, Ill., with six of his buddies. He served 13 months in Vietnam and remembers facing mortar fire on his first day.

He left active duty in 1968 but later joined the reserves, hitting 30 years' total service in 1999, when retirement was required. He also became a teacher, spending most of his career in Silver Lake, where his home is across from the high school.

His decision after Sept. 11, 2001, to put his name on a list of retirees who wanted to return to active duty didn't surprise Principal Larry Winter.

"He lives and breathes it," Winter said of Phelps' feelings for the Corps.

Christopher Phelps said: "It's pretty hard to argue with that, with a guy who wants to stand up and make a difference. In a lot of ways, I felt the same way."

Christopher Phelps also joined the Marines out of high school, serving in his father's reserve unit while attending the University of Kansas. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1994, he spent five years on active duty. He went back into the reserves until the terrorist attacks led him to again seek active duty.

That led to his 2003 tour in Iraq and his joking photo to Dad. Christopher Phelps said he meant it as a greeting, similar to what tourists put on their post cards, but, "Now, it's kind of ironic."

By John Hanna

01-10-05, 08:03 AM
US marines land in Indonesia's Meulaboh for first time

MEULABOH, Indonesia: US marines arrived in Meulaboh for the first time on Monday, bringing water, rice and timber to the remote Indonesian town where more than 28,000 people were killed in the tsunami disaster.

"This is the first time we are landing here. We are bringing the items to assist in the humanitarian effort," Liuetenant Colonel Jay Hatton of the 15th Marine Expedition Unit said as his men unloaded goods on the beach at Pasir village.

As the marines' hovercraft made its way to land on the beach, three US Chinook transport helicopters flew in close formation overhead, along with a reconnaissance helicopter.

The hovercraft came from the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme-Richard, which is stationed in Meulaboh port.

US forces have played a major role in delivering supplies to the most isolated and worst-affected areas in Aceh since the December 26 disaster, which has left more than 104,000 people dead in the province.

Navy Seahawk helicopters have been flying from the provincial capital of Banda Aceh along the west coast and dropping off relief supplies for over a week.

Meulaboh was one of the worst hit towns by the floods and remains cut off by land from Banda Aceh with destroyed roads and bridges yet to be repaired. - AFP


01-10-05, 08:04 AM
U.S. Navy ship arrives in Sri Lanka with more than 100 Marines, helicopters and aid equipment
An American Navy ship, the USS Duluth, carrying more than 100 U.S. Marines arrived Monday off the southern coast of Sri Lanka as part of the U.S. military's relief and rebuilding efforts in tsunami-struck areas.

The ship brought three military helicopters and one landing craft, all with capacity to carry large amounts of equipment and personnel. In Sri Lanka, more than 30,000 people were killed and another 800,000 have been displaced.

A large amount of earth-moving and engineering equipment will be deployed in relief efforts, according to a U.S. military official who declined to be named.

Some 300 Marines are currently on the island and the number is likely to go up 600 in the coming weeks, he said.

The ship will be anchored off the coast of Galle for approximately a week before heading to Iraq, he said.


01-10-05, 08:05 AM
Marines Mobilize for Overseas Duty

Some of our state's Marine Reservists will mobilize Saturday morning for deployment overseas. But on Friday, members of the E Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marines spent time with their families as they packed and prepared for their call to duty.

The Battery, made up of 106 members, will perform motor transport operations in the Middle East. They say it's tough to head off into the unknown, but their families are supporting them 100 percent.

"With the child coming, it's hard, especially on her," says Lance Corporal Terrance Barnes, referring to his fiancee, Robin Akins, who is eight months pregnant. The couple already have a 5-year-old son together. "I can probably handle myself, but it's just being away from her," he says.

"Being deployed I (will) have a brother there, we will be able to reminisce on old times back at home and have something to look forward to," says Corporal Clifton Watkins. His he will be deploying along with his brother, Corporal Willie Watkins. "Sometimes it might be a distraction knowing he's always there to push me in the back, or do something crazy, but it will be fine," Willie says.

The Marines will first train for several weeks at 29 Palms, California, then head overseas.


01-10-05, 08:18 AM
Marines prowl streets of downtown Toledo <br />
City hosts urban warfare exercise <br />
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Mark Lehmann was absent-mindedly walking down Jefferson Avenue yesterday when he...

01-10-05, 09:31 AM
January 10, 2005

Marines provide relief after tsunami devastation
15th MEU, ESG-5 diverted to area

By Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writer

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Instead of ringing in the New Year over the weekend in Guam, more than 2,300 Marines and sailors were diverted to joint relief efforts in countries in Southeast Asia devastated by the Dec. 26 tsunamis that killed more than 100,000.
Leathernecks of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, along with 2,500 Navy personnel on the seven ships of Expeditionary Strike Group 5, were joining a growing U.S. Pacific Command humanitarian assistance force.

The 15th MEU and ESG-5 will fall under Joint Task Force 536, led by Lt. Gen. Robert Blackman, who commands the Okinawa-based III Marine Expeditionary Force, Navy officials said. The task force is based in Utapao, Thailand.

“U.S. forces are moving rapidly to provide the needs and services requested by the governments of the region,” Blackman said in a Dec. 29 statement from III MEF. “Our primary concern is to prevent further loss of life and to conduct sustained disaster relief operations.”

The Camp Pendleton-based 15th MEU, which left San Diego on Dec. 6 on a scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf, will join relief efforts in Sri Lanka, officials said Dec. 29.

Three Humanitarian Assistance Assessment Teams headed to Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka in advance of the main relief force. The Navy also is providing six P-3C Orion patrol aircraft, which will help in communications, search and rescue, surveillance and assessment in the massive affected area, which ranges from Somalia to Thailand and Jakarta, Indonesia.

The relief mission prompted the 15th MEU, which had trained for a likely combat tour in Iraq, to shift gears quickly. Humanitarian assistance operations are familiar ground for Marines, however, because MEU predeployment work-up cycles include training for such missions.

“We’re trying to figure out as much information as possible before we land,” Capt. Jay Delarosa, a 15th MEU spokesman, said by satellite phone from the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard Dec. 29, a day after it left Guam.

Marines and other U.S. forces expected to deploy for the relief mission include medical personnel, engineers, security forces and transport crews.

Along with its 2,300 Marines, the 15th MEU has 24 helicopters, including the CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopters. Navy landing craft, boats and SH-60 helicopters assigned to ESG-5 also could be used in the efforts.

The new mission was not unexpected, since many troops on the ships had been watching news reports about the tsunami damage. “We knew it was a matter of time before we got the word,” Delarosa said.

By late afternoon Dec. 28, the Marines and sailors on the Bonhomme Richard prepared to sail from Apra Harbor, after a hectic day of loading supplies, refueling and making last-minute runs across the street to the exchange and McDonald’s, Delarosa said.

Gidget Fuentes is the San Diego bureau chief for Marine Corps Times. She can be reached at (760) 677-6145 or gfuentes@marinecorpstimes.com.


01-10-05, 10:07 AM
15th MEU gives HA supplies a "lift" aboard BHR

by Lance Cpl. Scott L. Eberle
5th MEU

MEDAN, Indonesia -- Shortly after the sun peeked over the horizon, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)'s helicopters roared to life on the flight deck of USS Bonhomme Richard for another day of service offering relief and humanitarian assistance to thousands people recently left devastated after the Dec. 26, 2004 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis.

The CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters' mission was to collect aid that needed to be transported to the other side of the island, and the massive storage space of USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Duluth were perfect for the job.

After filling their helos with external lift supplies, they section of aircraft flew to warehouses filled with supplies at the Polonia Airfield here. The cargo was palletized and brought to Expeditionary Strike Group shipping where it will be delivered to some of the harder hit areas of Sumatra, the hardest hit island of Indonesia. This mission was perfect for 15th MEU (SOC) because their specialized six-month training package focuses on those missions.

Supplies from all over had been consolidated here in Medan, a city on the eastern boarder of Sumatra. Medan was virtually untouched by the tsunami, but its location and condition of local roads makes the transport of the supplies to the western side of the island difficult.

After plans of flying the supplies to more affected areas had been cancelled due to high mountain ranges in the middle of the island, it was decided that the 15th MEU (SOC) would load all the supplies onto their ships and transport them to the other side.

An group of logistical experts from the Bonhomme Richard flew out first thing in the morning for assessment and suitability of areas for more military transportation vehicles to land in the city of Medan. Once it was declared suitable, a working party of Marines was flown in to start building pallets full of all the supplies to be flown back to the ship.

The Marines worked late into the afternoon building pallets as helicopters continued to fly them out to the ships. Once the helicopters dropped the cargo on the flight deck, Combat Cargo Marines worked vigorously to store the gear inside the ship and clear more room for cargo to come aboard.

The following day brought the same story for all the Marines and Sailors. The Polonia airfield was a buzz of constant activity as Marine and Navy helicopters consistently flew in to pick up more supplies. Lifting supplies both internally and externally, the 15th MEU (SOC) transported humanitarian aid from shore to ship as quickly as possible.

As the quantity of supplies aboard the Bonhomme Richard constantly rose, the lump of supplies in the warehouse began to dwindle. With the hangar bay of the Bonhomme Richard almost full of aid, the troops aboard get ready to make their way around the island and distribute their cargo to the victims.

The aid will be greatly appreciated to the Indonesians who have already had to endure great loss and suffering. The 9.0 earthquake that devastated many regions, which according to experts was the largest since 1964, erupted in the Indian Ocean about 100 miles west of Sumatra sending a massive wave directly into the country's west coast. Costal areas on the northwest side of the island have completely vanished off the map.

Immediately after the huge waves hit hundreds of shorelines, scores of Indonesians were left homeless, in need of food and clean water and other basic supplies. The 15th MEU (SOC), which deployed from San Diego on Dec. 6, was in the Western Pacific when tsunami struck, and was soon after called upon to assist with humanitarian aid.

Despite all the devastation that lies so close to 15th MEU (SOC), the Marines and Sailors remain in high spirits and are anxious to help all the victims. "I am happy to be part of such a driven unit. Right now we are 100 percent focused and really making things happen," said Maj. James Shore, the safety officer for the Aviation Combat Element.

With exact locations and procedures of the 15th MEU (SOC) still pending, the troops stay prepared for anything.


01-10-05, 11:13 AM
In Fallujah, Marines try a new tactic
Image-building is latest mission
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times | January 9, 2005

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- As he navigated his Humvee through rubble-strewn streets, Lance Corporal Sunshine Yubeta articulated a question that is key to the Marines' mission here.

"I wonder," said the 23-year-old from Madras, Ore., nodding toward several sullen men on a corner, "if they hate us or like us."

It is a dilemma at the heart of the US policy in this Sunni Triangle city, which was once the center of Iraqi's insurgency. Having routed the guerrillas late last year in combat that left much of Fallujah in ruins, the US military needs the cooperation of residents who once fled the fighting.

To keep the insurgents from reestablishing a headquarters here, the United States knows it will need information from residents about the movement of fighters back into the neighborhoods. In addition, US officials hope for at least a modicum of participation from Fallujah in Jan. 30 elections that might bolster the credibility of the Iraqi government.

At five heavily guarded entry points to the city, military interrogators selectively ask residents returning to Fallujah if they have heard of the upcoming election and, if so, which candidate they might support.

The goal, officials insist, is not to influence how the Iraqis might vote. It is to get an understanding of how well residents of this culturally and politically isolated city understand the changes in their country since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in April 2003.

Inside the city, the Americans have established several relief centers to provide food and water to residents and toys to children. By some estimates, the United States has earmarked $150 million for the city. The Iraqi government plans a compensation program.

In addition to the humanitarian assistance centers, Marine patrols drive slowly through the streets, talking to residents, handing out water, fruit juice, cigarettes, crackers, cookies, and breakfast cereal, and asking for information about insurgents. Some of the food had been sent to the Marines by their families.

Posters have been plastered on walls offering rewards for insurgent leaders, although there have been few reported takers.

Outside the assistance center tents, Iraqis stand for hours to receive water and packets of food stamped with a US flag and the words "A Food Gift From the People of the United States of America." Hands are marked to prevent a return for seconds.

One center is just blocks from the spot where a mob killed four US contractors last March. Now Iraqis gather not only for aid but for a chance to work in the assistance program, which pays about $8 a day.

Many of those in line on Thursday were hungry, cold, and seemingly dazed by events that made their city, untouched by the US-led invasion in 2003, into a battlefield against the insurgency.

"I didn't do anything wrong, but the Americans destroyed my house," said Sami Fafaj, 49, holding two bottles of water and two food packets.

"I want America to rebuild my house and give me money for what they have done," agreed Allah Abdullah, 37, collecting food for his seven children. "Sometimes I wish they had never come to Iraq."

While public expressions of anger directed at the Americans seem rare, a widespread feeling appears to exist of having been wronged by US forces.

While older residents might seem fatalistic, the younger ones show signs of impatience.

"We are not free to move in our own city," said Maged Haraj, 20. "We want to be free."

The young Marines say they are confident that residents will come to accept that the destruction was necessary to rid Fallujah of the insurgents who had controlled the city.

As the patrol vehicles prowled the streets, children ran after the Humvees begging for anything available. Adults asked for rice, water, or cigarettes.

Some told horror stories of months under insurgent control.

"I have a nephew that they beheaded," said a truck driver, Adnan Mohammed, flanked by two children. "You are our destiny."

But other Iraqi men remained on the curb, offering no smiles and returning no waves. One gestured in disdain. Some refused to ask for handouts but sent children to do their bidding, particularly for cigarettes.

The residents who have returned are living a meager existence. In this western sector of the city, no stores have reopened, although a black market is said to exist. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed.


01-10-05, 12:19 PM
Britain to send extra troops for Iraq election

LONDON (AFP) - Britain said it was sending 400 extra troops to Iraq (news - web sites) to beef up security ahead of the January 30 election, a politically risky move given increasing war wariness among the British public.

The soldiers from the 1st Battalion Royal Highland Fusiliers will be sent "soon" to southern Iraq ahead of the polls, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said in a brief statement to parliament.

"On the recommendation of the General Officer Commanding, we will soon be deploying the ... 1st Battalion The Royal Highland Fusiliers, from Cyprus to Multi-National Division (South-East) for a limited period of time in support of election security in Iraq," he said.

Britain already has around 9,000 soldiers in Iraq, according to Ministry of Defence figures, largely based around the city of Basra in the relatively peaceful south of the country.

The announcement brought immediate condemnation from opposition lawmakers.

The fact that Hoon had announced the move in a routine question period in parliament, rather than making a formal statement, was "outrageous", said Paul Keetch of the Liberal Democrats party, which opposed the war.

Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) saw his popularity badly hit by his decision to back the US-led war in Iraq of March 2003, and opinion polls show the conflict has become increasingly unpopular among British people.

This makes the deployment, with its inherent risk of further British military casualties, a risk for Blair ahead of a British general election widely expected in early May.

On Sunday, a British newspaper reported the troop deployment in advance, also quoting an unnamed senior army officer as saying the additional troops could be moved to more dangerous areas such as Baghdad if needed.

"It will be very dangerous and, unfortunately, casualties are expected," the officer was quoted in the Sunday Telegraph as saying.

However, in response to an MP's question, Hoon insisted Monday that the extra troops would stay in the south.

"There are no plans whatsoever for British forces to operate outside their current area of operations," Hoon said.

In October, 850 troops from Britain's Black Watch regiment were redeployed to a base southwest of Baghdad to assist US soldiers before American and Iraqi forces launched an assault on the rebel Sunni stronghold of Fallujah.

Critics in Britain saw that redeployment, barely a week before US elections, as a sop to President George W. Bush (news - web sites) by Blair.

The regiment lost five men during its mission, four in attacks and one in an accident.

In all, 74 British soldiers have been killed in combat or accidents since the war began. The Royal Highland Fusiliers have already served once in Iraq, with the death of one soldier.


01-10-05, 12:37 PM
Beached Marines ready to return to the water
By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, January 10, 2005

HADITHAH DAM, Iraq - After months of patrols and countless firefights in Iraq, the only Small Craft Company in the Marine Corps has been temporarily beached after suffering its first combat death.

But the Marines who man the boats say they are eager to get back onto the water and continue their mission, which has taken them from hot spot to hot spot along the Euphrates River in Anbar province.

"Once we started proving ourselves as an asset, it just hasn't stopped," said Sgt. Andrew Vasey, a 29-year- old 4th Platoon Marine from Olsburg, Kan.

"We've been used as a recon tool, to conduct security patrols up and down the river, a transport for personnel, to go on raids and draw contact … we've been a medevac, too."

Small Craft Company, normally based at Camp LeJeune, N.C., is currently operating with the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment at Hadithah Dam, northwest of Fallujah. The unit has seen action in Fallujah, Ramadi, Habbinayah and numerous other locations since arriving in Iraq.

And it has been been the first to test the Small Unit Riverine Craft, or SURC, which replaced previous vessels used by Marine small craft units. The 39-foot boat, armed with a Gatling gun and several other heavy weapons, carries a crew of five, along with up to 15 ground troops.

With its speed and maneuverability, the boat can overtake anything on the waters, Marines say. And with its relatively flat bottom, it can beach itself on shore and deliver ground troops at sites Humvees or other vehicles can't reach as quickly.

In November's assault on Fallujah, the unit patrolled the Euphrates River on the west side of the city. During the aborted assault on Fallujah last April, several high-ranking insurgents were believed to have escaped the city via the river. Small Craft Company's role this time was to cut off that exit.

The unit has also worked with combat engineers, Army infantry units and Iraqi special forces. It has recovered weapons caches and intercepted smugglers heading downriver from the Syrian border. At one point, it found three large weapons caches within 1,500 meters of one another along the riverbanks.

Despite its success, the Iraq mission will likely be the last operational deployment for Small Craft Company. Marine Corps officials plan to disband the unit, as early as this summer.

Members of 4th Platoon say they will be disappointed if that happens. Part of that reluctance is because the unit believes it has proven its versatility and durability in Iraq. The first elements of Small Craft Company arrived in March; they were relieved by other platoons in September.

"We've been in more gunfights than we care to talk about. Everywhere we've been, we've had at least two or three serious engagements," Vasey said Friday as he perched on a SURC tied up near the Hadithah Dam.

Sgt. Anthony Czerwinski, who was wearing a black watch cap Friday emblazoned with "Amphibious Raid Instructor" in gold lettering, served three years as a small-boat tactics instructor at the Special Operations Training Group. He believes the performance of the SURC crews far exceeded what the doctrine had anticipated.

"No training can take the place of doing it for real. You couldn't ask for a better group of guys, but you couldn't prepare them for what they'd see here," said the 29-year-old Painesville, Ohio, native. "They've shined since we got here, and I credit a lot of that to the leadership of the platoon."

And the boats have been better than advertised.

"They've saved our asses more than once," Czerwinski said, of the Gatling guns and the boats' other weaponry.

Over the course of its deployment, 4th Platoon has watched their enemy's tactics evolve.

"At first, it was small arms fire from the shore and then they'd run," Vasey said. "Then they upgraded the ambushes, and they've thrown in mortars, [rocket-propelled grenades], medium machine guns. Pretty much anything."

The Jan. 1 ambush that grounded the boats was well planned, 4th Platoon Marines said. It began when a routine patrol was fired upon from an area of shoreline just outside Hadithah city. The crews fired back, then returned to base to pick up more Marines.

"This time they stayed and waited for the ground element. They stayed and waited for us to come back," Vasey said. When the ground teams landed, an explosion - nobody is sure whether it was an improvised bomb or a mortar - hit them almost immediately. That was followed by small arms and machine gun fire.

One Marine, a 19-year-old coxswain, was killed. Several others were severely injured, including an engineer who lost part of his right arm.

Vasey and Czerwinski estimate that the first ambush was carried out by fewer than five attackers. When the Marines returned, some 15-20 insurgents laid in wait. The firefight lasted around 20 minutes, they said.

The Marines of 4th Platoon admit the incident has taken its toll, but say they want to get back on the river. Even then, though, they expect more.

"It's started getting silly," Czerwinski said. "It's a surprise every time we get hit. It's never the same scenario twice."


01-10-05, 12:41 PM
Covering Iraq Too Risky?
Jan. 10, 2005

Tom Fenton covered the major news events in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and Africa during his 34-year career as a CBS News correspondent. He writes about world affairs from his Listening Post in London and other locations around the world.

How bad do things have to get before you decide that covering Iraq is no longer worth the risk to journalists' lives? That's a question that some news organizations are now agonizing over.

One world leader has already made that decision. French President Jacques Chirac warned in a speech at the Elysees Palace: "French authorities formally advise against sending journalists to (Iraq). It's a question of responsibility ... At present, the security of our press correspondents cannot be assured." A French reporter, Florence Aubenas of the daily newspaper "Liberation," had just disappeared. She and her Iraqi interpreter had not been heard from since they left their Baghdad hotel two days earlier.

French reporters used to believe (or hope) they were less likely to be killed or kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents because of the French government's strong opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Now they know their country's foreign policy is not an insurance policy.

France has just lived through the three-months hostage crisis of two other French reporters, who were held by a group calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq. After their release, one of the two reporters, Georges Malbrunot, advised other journalists to stay out of Iraq: "It seems to be extremely, extremely risky, especially given the work conditions now. Not going out of a hotel room, is that really getting informed?"

And that is the most troubling part of the equation for organizations which have to assess the risk/results ratio in sending reporters to Iraq. If journalists are too scared, or prudent, to leave their hotels and safe houses in Baghdad to do actual reporting, is it worth endangering their lives to be there?

Most of the American reporting from Iraq these days is done by journalists who hole up in their hotels and find it too risky to venture out much, except to attend press conferences in the heavily protected government "green zone" of Iraq. And even that is dangerous. There is always the risk of a car bomb at the entrance to the zone.

Traveling to hostile towns in Iraq on your own - even with armed guards and an armored vehicle, or disguised as locals in an old car - can be a suicidal mission. So the real choice is to stay in the hotel and rely on local fixers/interpreters/cameraman to go out and do the reporting, or get in bed with the American military.

Embedded journalists, who volunteer to be embedded and are assigned to work with an Army or Marine unit, get a chance to see the insurgency up close and personal. Their reporting of the battle to regain control of Fallujah was dramatic, and often risky. CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer had several close calls.

The drawback for news organizations is that embedded journalists usually see only one side of the story - through a gun sight, so to speak. They rarely see the people on the other side.

What they see are American soldiers and Marines performing courageously in a very difficult mission. What the public back home sometimes misses in their reports are the harrowing consequences for Iraqi civilians who happen to be in the line of fire. In Fallujah, the Marines used the urban warfare technique of entering a suspect house and throwing a hand grenade into each room before checking it out for "unfriendlies."

To borrow Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's famous phrase, in battles "stuff happens."

The question for foreign news organizations in Iraq now is whether half a story is better than none. For the moment, most think it is.


01-10-05, 02:20 PM
Iraqi Body Not Yet Exhumed In Drowning <br />
Associated Press <br />
January 10, 2005 <br />
<br />
FORT HOOD, Texas - Despite a judge's order, the Army has taken no steps toward exhuming the body of an Iraqi who...

01-10-05, 03:35 PM
Marine deployment
Updated: 1/10/2005 9:08 AM
By: News 10 Now Staff

It was a night of goodbyes for about 65 marines from Central and Northern New York.

They packed their bags Sunday night to head to the horn of Africa for Operation Enduring Freedom. The soldiers will work with the local community to try to discourage terrorists from operating out of the region.

This deployment is scheduled for one year, but some think they'll be back home in six or seven months.

"The Marines are excited. This is what they come in every month and train for, and so when they get a mission they are to go and do it. For the family members, there is a lot of apprehension, having their Marine be away from home, and not having that daily interaction," said Captain Dennis Kuhl, 8th Tank Battalion.

The Marines head to North Carolina for about a month of training before they go to Africa.


01-10-05, 05:36 PM
Marines Get Emotional Sendoff In Akron

It was an emotional goodbye Saturday as 140 Akron Marines prepared to go to Iraq (news - web sites).

They are part of the last Marine Reserve Infantry Unit in the county to be activated. They could be gone for a year.

Friends and family showed up at Akron's North High School gym for a big sendoff.

"I wish I could kidnap him and keep him home. But I'm proud. I'm really proud of him," said Cheryl Eckard, mother of Michael Lafferty.

Mothers and fathers spend special moments with their kids before they have to leave.

The Marines will train for a few weeks in California before leaving for Iraq.


01-10-05, 07:23 PM
Rumsfeld ready to send in Iraqi hit squads
By Francis Harris in Washington
(Filed: 10/01/2005)

The Pentagon is considering plans to train Iraqi hit squads to quash the Sunni-led insurgency and may sanction clandestine raids into Syria led by special forces.

Anxious about the course of the conflict in Iraq, the Pentagon is urgently considering extreme measures to counter the effective guerrilla campaign being waged against allied forces, senior military officials told Newsweek magazine.

"We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents," said one senior officer. "Right now, we are playing defence. And we are losing."

The scheme is one of a number being considered as Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, tries to ease the pressure on his overstretched forces.

American casualties are approaching 1,500 dead and there are worrying signs of strain in crucial back-up formations such as the reserve and the national guard, while overall recruitment is falling.

The "Salvador option" would let US special forces train those elements in Iraq who traditionally oppose Sunni dominance of the rest of the country.

It would draw on the Shias' and Kurds' battle-hardened guerrilla units, which once fought Saddam Hussein's regime.

The option is apparently inspired by memories of the Reagan-era fight against Left-wing rebels in El Salvador, which was won with the help of US-trained "death squads". They killed not only guerrillas, but also many civilians believed to be offering them support.

One military source said: "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists. From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."

The squads would also seek to kill or capture the former Saddam aides believed to be leading the insurgency and would be Iraqi-led. Newsweek says the interim administration of the prime minister, Iyad Allawi, is pressing for this more ruthless approach to Sunni guerrillas. Raids into Syria would also include Iraqi forces, but would be American-led.

An investigation by The Telegraph found that large numbers of Syrians were crossing the border to attack American forces.

Washington is angered by apparent Syrian assistance to the Iraqi guerrilla movement. The Weekly Standard, the journal of the Washington neo-conservatives, described Syria as "a hostile regime" and said: "It's time to get serious about dealing with Syria as part of winning in Iraq."

There are other signs of growing urgency in the Pentagon as the situation in Iraq worsens. Last week, Mr Rumsfeld dispatched a highly regarded four-star officer, Gen Gary Luck, to Iraq to review the entire military strategy.

Tony Blair said yesterday Britain would send a team to join the Americans in reassessing security, though it was not clear if he was referring to Gen Luck's mission. "In the key area around Baghdad there is no doubt about it at all, we have got to deal these people a blow,'' he said.

"President Bush and myself have agreed to send a team there to review the situation because the key thing is to build the capability of the Iraqi security forces."

Newsweek also said US special forces are considering greatly increasing their intelligence-gathering role, against fierce opposition from the CIA.


01-10-05, 07:59 PM
Iraq Insurgents Increase Explosives' Power

By NICK WADHAMS, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A roadside bomb destroyed a second heavily armored Bradley Fighting Vehicle in less than a week Monday, killing two U.S. soldiers, wounding four others and indicating that insurgents have increased the power of the explosives they are using against American troops.

The blast came hours after gunmen in a passing car assassinated Baghdad's deputy police chief and his son while they drove to work, part of a campaign to target Iraq (news - web sites)'s security forces. Al-Qaida in Iraq, the group led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility.

American officials have cautioned that insurgents will escalate attacks in a bid to scuttle Jan. 30 elections. After a roadside bomb struck a Bradley on Thursday and killed seven soldiers, the Defense Department warned that militants were increasing the size and power of their bombs.

The attack Monday on a Bradley in southwest Baghdad followed the same pattern.

"It's fair to say that they are afraid of the elections, they are afraid of what the outcome will be and they want to do everything they can to derail that process because that's just one more step toward their demise," U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. James Hutton said. "This is probably an indication of their increase in effort and investment to derail the vote."

The attack was one of several acts of major violence Monday.

A suicide attacker detonated a bomb in a fake police car at a police station courtyard in Baghdad, killing at least four officers and wounding 10 during a shift change, police and witnesses said.

A roadside bombing killed three Iraqi National Guard soldiers and wounded six during a joint patrol with U.S. troops in the restive northern city of Mosul, said Maj. Andre Hance, a U.S. military spokesman. He said there were no American casualties.

In a suggestion that the insurgents were looking for new ways to intimidate voters, a militant group posted threats in at least two towns warning it would deploy "highly trained" snipers to target voters around Iraq during the elections.

The statement, signed by the previously unknown Secret Republican Army, said 32 snipers will stalk voters outside polling in Wasit, a largely Shiite province south of Baghdad that includes Kut, Numaniyah and Suwaiyra. It did not say how many would be sent elsewhere.

Sheik Fassal Raikan al-Gout, the governor of Anbar province, said he was aware of the circulated posters but dismissed their importance.

"We do not care about such statements," he said. "We will continue to do our best and what we see fit to maintain security."

Sunni Arabs, who make up about 20 percent of Iraq's estimated 26 million people, say the country is far too dangerous for the vote later this month, and many are refusing to participate. Failure by the Sunni Arabs to participate in the vote would undermine the election's credibility.

But the United States rejected a request by Sunni Muslim clerics to spell out a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq in exchange for calling off their boycott of the elections, U.S. Embassy spokesman Bob Callahan said.

The leader of Iraq's largest Shiite Muslim political group said in an interview broadcast Monday that "if elections were postponed, this will lead to a serious legal problem because Iraq will be without a legitimate authority."

"No legitimate authority has the right to postpone the elections because this will lead to more problems," said Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He was referring to the interim constitution and a U.N. resolution that says elections must be held before the end of January.

A number of election officials and government leaders have already fallen victim to brutal terror attacks, and many have received death threats. The most prominent victim in recent weeks was the governor of Baghdad, Ali al-Haidari, who was slain with six bodyguards on Jan. 4.

On Monday, attackers shot and killed Baghdad's deputy police chief, Brig. Amer Ali Nayef, and his son, Lt. Khalid Amer, also a police officer. They were slain in Baghdad's Dora district while traveling in a car on their way to work, Interior Ministry spokesman Capt. Ahmed Ismail said.

Gunmen sprayed machine-gun fire from two cars driving parallel with the police chief's vehicle close to his home before fleeing, police said. The two were alone in the car.

The government sought to strike back against the insurgents with its own media campaign Monday. Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said authorities have captured 147 suspected insurgents in Iraq, including the new leader of an insurgent group.

Allawi identified the man as Raad al-Doury, who just days earlier had taken over the top post of Jaish Muhammad — Arabic for Muhammad's Army — from a man detained in November. Allawi has accused Jaish Muhammad of killing and beheading a number of Iraqis, Arabs and foreigners in Iraq.

"Every day the terrorists name a new leader we capture him and they will stand trial," Allawi said.

Soon after, the Al-Arabiya television station showed footage of four Iraqis confessing that they had carried out killings and beheadings of Iraqi intellectuals as well as members of Iraq's security. The four said they were forced to do the job or otherwise get killed.

Also Monday, the U.S. military said its forces accidentally killed a 13-year-old Iraqi girl and wounded a 14-year-old boy near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

"This is an absolute tragedy. We do not know at this time what the children were doing in the area," said a military spokesman, Maj. Neal O'Brien. "An investigation into what happened is under way."


01-10-05, 08:26 PM
January 10, 2005

Bush to rely heavily upon armed forces during second term

By Pauline Jelinek
Associated Press

The military will have plenty to do in the four years of a second Bush administration. While the war in Iraq figures to dominate all else, as it has the past two years, other potential hot spots could demand attention.
And overshadowing all will be the questions of whether the military has enough troops — and money — to do everything the administration has planned.

“Conventional wisdom says that most of our assets are going to be involved in Iraq,” said Peter Brookes, an assistant defense secretary for Asia at the start of President Bush’s first term.

“But you’re just not sure what sort of things are going to develop ... flare up,” the Heritage Foundation analyst said, wondering about the possibility of issues arising with China, Taiwan and North Korea.

Consider the tsunami in Asia. The Pentagon is devoting more than 13,000 troops, an aircraft carrier and dozens of aircraft to humanitarian relief.

As for new combat operations, the seeds of possible military conflict have been germinating for some time in Iran, Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, analysts said.

Right now, some 150,000 American troops are trying to stabilize an increasingly violent Iraq, with no time table for when they can leave.

“At the Pentagon, policy-makers are utterly absorbed with Iraq,” said analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.

The military also must anticipate and plan for increased China-Taiwan tensions; troubled diplomatic efforts to halt suspected Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs; and the struggles by Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to hold his nation together while he allies himself with U.S. counterterror efforts in the face of violent disapproval from domestic Islamic fundamentalists.

Massive tasks that can’t be finished but on which defense officials need to make headway in the next four years include the transformation of the military and its weapons systems toward a more modern force, the moving and closing of some overseas bases, and another round of closings of domestic military bases.

“What happens is that they have all these things on their plate ... things being nudged along like a peanut with your nose, and then there’s a fire you have to put out,” Brookes said.

Defense officials are trying to figure out how to offset the unexpectedly high cost of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among cost-saving ideas being discussed are retiring one of the Navy’s 12 aircraft carriers and reducing the Air Force’s purchase of F-22 stealth fighters, officials say.

But it could cost an additional $3 billion a year to expand the 512,000-strong Army by 30,000 soldiers, something a senior Army official this week said they may have to do. The Army has the authority to add the soldiers but arranged for it to be only a temporary boost because it did not want a long-term commitment to the cost of a larger force.

The fact that the military is severely stretched restrains those who might be tempted to use force in new places, Thompson said.

“Inner counsels at the White House — people like Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — would very much like to do something about troublemakers like Iran and Syria, but in order to act on that impulse they would need a much larger” force, he said.

“We are not going to be looking for any wars of choice, that’s for sure,” The Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon said. “But if some of these things happen,” he said of any flare-up surrounding Korea, Pakistan, Iran or Taiwan, “we won’t have a choice.”

Without new provocations, analysts see little chance the administration would use force against North Korea. In Iran, by contrast, some think it somewhat more possible that there could be U.S. or Israeli action.

On the issue of realigning U.S. forces around the world, Bush says he plans to move back to the states up to 70,000 uniformed personnel and 100,000 dependents, part of a worldwide plan to break down large Cold War-era bases and move smaller numbers of troops to places where they can more quickly respond to flare-ups.

That effort can either be complicated or hastened by the continued deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, analysts said.

“Any time you have a plan, you have to overlay with reality,” said Brookes, noting that the two campaigns could require much of the military to stay in the Middle East region. “Right now you may need the bases in Germany that you had hoped to close ... this may have to be put off.”

“Alas, the current administration’s rebasing plan, like the rest of its defense program, has partly become captive to the hope that the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq are temporary,” American Enterprise Institute analyst Thomas Donnelly wrote in a recent paper.

O’Hanlon disagreed, saying a plan to decrease troops in South Korea over the long run, for instance, might be made easier by Iraq’s needs. Troops sent from Korea this year to help temporarily in Iraq may never be built back up in Korea, he said.