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01-29-03, 12:20 PM
29 January

MILINET: A Retired Marine's Eye-View of War Preparations in Kuwait



We've been working round the clock on twelve hour shifts cycling units up to
the Kuwaiti border with Iraq. The units fly in with great regularity, are
bused to Camp Doha (or to Arifjan), we issue them their vehicles, and in a
matter of hours, they are off to their desert encampments.

I'm on night shift. 7pm to 7am. During the last four days, we have cycled
through much of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)- The "Rock of the
Marne" out of Ft Stewart, Georgia.

Under the klieg lights of the hard stands -- which are huge concrete grids
for staging and issueing the vehicles -- I've had the opportunity to ponder
the nature of things. The work is physical, and I'm reminded how old and
out of shape this retired Marine has gotten. As I compare my own plight
with that of the young Americans headed off to do what needs to be done, I
can't help but wish I was young again and feeling the vitality and
camaraderie that are inherent to the deadly mission of combat. This is not
nostalgia for war. It's nostalgia for the ranks; for the 'campfire'; for
doing something important.

The chatter about verification and smoking guns and coalitions are mildly
annoying to me. I sense in the determined young faces that America's
soldiers have no patience for the discussion. Though they might be uneasy
trying to articulate it, I believe our men feel righteous indignation that
anyone would challenge their purpose. This is a volunteer Army. The sons
of liberal elites, and peace protesters are nowhere to be found. It is
interesting that the Germans and the Canadians are lagered here at Camp
Doha, enmeshed in the high command alongside Czechs and the ever-reliable
Brits. But it is America that is under attack, and we need wait for no
nation's participation or approval to do what has to be done. The French,
of course, are nowhere to be found.

Out under the klieg lights, another Tank Company draws its 60 ton Abrams
tanks. All the young faces... Their air journey from Southeast Georgia was
long and tiring -- but you wouldn't know it from the vigor and care with
which they prepare their chariots of war. They have a toughness about them
which should reassure Americans, humble our reluctant "Allies", and instill
fear in the hearts of terrorists wherever they hide or find sanctuary.

I am reminded of George Orwell's admonition: "We sleep soundly in our beds
because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who
would do us harm."

The Company Commander said to me, "Let's get this over with so we can get
back home. Let's roll."

It's time for war.

Jeff Cole
Retired Marine