View Full Version : Bible in hand, the Marines wait for battle

03-17-03, 05:53 AM
The young US marine sat on an ammunition box in a tent, cradling his automatic rifle. "I'm scared to death... I don't mind telling you," he said.

The longer world leaders squabble over Iraq, delaying a US-led invasion of the country, the tougher it gets for tens of thousands of US and British troops living in Kuwaiti desert camps near the border with Iraq.

"I have doubts about all this... real doubts," said the marine, who comes from Alabama. "The other night I read a passage in the Bible and I realised that I have been trained to do a job and I must do it, but I want to be home with my fiance real bad."

Desert winds of up to 100kmh often whip up the sand, blinding the soldiers, blowing down tents and damaging sensitive equipment like computers. The air is so heavy with sand that it killed the chickens the military brought in to alert soldiers to a chemical or biological attack.

Soldiers in some of the camps, who have been here for four months, queue for up to 40 minutes to get one hot meal a day. The mail is usually late arriving. There are long queues to make telephone calls. And the daytime temperature is quickly rising as summer approaches. This will soon be one of the world's hottest places.

But, most of all, the soldiers just want the war to start or to go home.

Another marine, about 20, told his sergeant yesterday he was upset because he had heard a rumour that a decision on the war had been delayed 45 days. The sergeant stiffened and snapped back: "I've heard a rumour that your wife is having an affair with the mailman. That's why your mail is late. Do you believe that?" When the soldier said he didn't, the sergeant said: "Well, don't believe rumours. You got that, son?"

The road to war is a six-lane highway packed day and night with convoys of trucks transporting weapons, tanks, ammunition, food and other supplies to the camps from ports in Kuwait City. More camps are still being put up.

But troops in combat units massed near the border are mostly taking it easy, tinkering with their weapons and machinery, making sure everything is working. The frequent exercises they had been conducting for months have largely stopped, replaced by briefings on how the soldiers are to conduct themselves in any war with Iraq, including the rules of engagement.

A US Marines commander, Major-General Jim Mattis, has told journalists living in the camps that war with Iraq this time would be a "different ballgame" from the last in 1991 because the lives of many civilian Iraqis, victims themselves of the Baghdad regime, would be at risk. He said soldiers had been briefed to spare civilians and civilian property and to "use your brain before you use your weapon".

US commanders are worried that the Iraqi military intends to deploy forces near mosques, schools and other areas where civilians congregate.

Extensive briefings have also been held on how the soldiers are to handle prisoners of war.

A few days ago, according to reports the US military has not confirmed, some Iraqi soldiers turned up at the border wanting to surrender.

They were told to go away, the war had not started.

The briefings break the monotony of the soldiers' time.

Many spend their days reading or watching videos while senior officers revise battle plans which, they say, inevitably keep changing. Other officers assess intelligence reports about Iraqi units stationed across the border, where sections of the fence have already being pulled down. General Mattis told journalists that there could always be more to do in preparing for war but that his marines were "ready to go". "We won't lose any sleep about what... we will be asked to do," he said.

The US Ist Marine Division has named one of its biggest camps Matilda because of its relationship with Australian troops at Guadalcanal during the Second World War. Waltzing Matilda is the division's theme song. To cover a war with Iraq, The Age has been assigned to the Ist Division's 5th Battalion, 11th Regiment, an artillery unit.



Sgt Sostand
03-17-03, 06:13 AM
I Just Hope everyone make it back Home Safe! they are on my mind every day and night

03-17-03, 06:18 AM
Marine's Prayer

Almighty Father , whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family. Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Make me considerate of those committed to my leadership. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.

If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.

Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.



03-17-03, 07:50 AM
"the air is so filled with sand that it killed the chickens the miltary brought to alert troops of an NBC attack". Hmmm... the isotopes have a half-life of hundreds of years (?) I wonder if it was the sand that killed those chickens. Just thinking... Semper Fi. Dave