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08-30-04, 06:15 AM #1
Marines prepare to cast votes in Iraq
Marines prepare to cast votes in Iraq
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 2004829182754
Story by Cpl. Joel A. Chaverri
AL ASAD, Iraq (Aug. 29, 2004) -- As November’s general elections approach, the time for Marines to consider their vote has arrived.
After working hard to help stand up the first elections for the people of Iraq since the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, the time has now come for American forces to exercise their freedom to vote.
Even while deployed to a war zone, those who wish to vote are actively supported by the military. However, it’s not always easy for those deployed far from home to cast their vote and many wonder whether their ballots make a difference.
“Marines are strongly encouraged to take an active role (in the general elections),” said Capt. Jesse L. Sjoberg, voting assistance officer, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, “and as we know from the last (presidential) election, your vote does count.”
Each unit is assigned a voting assistance officer to aid Marines in making sure that each person is aware of voting deadlines and able to vote in a timely manner, as well as convey the significance of exercising the privilege.
“It’s important that everyone knows (about) and utilizes their right to vote,” said Sjoberg.
“Voting is extremely important,” added Cpl. Lonnie R. Mitchell, administration clerk, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “People need to be educated about their voting options,” offered the 26-year-old from Charlotte, N. C.
According to the Federal Voter Assistance Program, Marines who want to vote here must first fill out the Federal Post Card Application. The FPCA is sent to the Marine’s home state, which in turn sends the voting ballot back to the Marine in Iraq.
“The voting process is nearly exactly the same for the military as it is for people back (in America),” said Sjoberg. “Filling out the (FPCA) is the key factor for Marines who want to vote overseas.”
Serving in a foreign country during wartime can cause a slowdown in mail delivery, which is why the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot was made available to military personnel serving overseas.
“The (FWAB) is a last resort for those who don’t get their ballot from the state in time because of mail issues,” explained Sjoberg. “Marines simply write in their choice for the national election and sent it in.”
Although the voting assistance officer is responsible for troop awareness, once the Marines have the information, it’s up to them to take action, said Sjoberg.
“I put all the information out there and give everyone ample opportunities to act with it,” remarked the 32-year-old from Omaha, Neb., “but actually casting the vote is a step that (the individual) has to take.”
“Everyone has the responsibility to vote,” emphasized Mitchell, “and being lazy isn’t an excuse.”
The deadline for overseas post card applications was Aug. 15, but it’s not too late for those in the states to send theirs in.
“The deadline for state side post cards is September 15,” remarked Sjoberg. “There will be a voter awareness week taking place in the beginning of September.”
For more information concerning voting, servicemembers can contact their unit’s voting assistance officer, or visit the Federal Voters Assistance Program website at www.fvap.gov.
08-30-04, 06:15 AM #2
Insurgent Attacks Halt Iraq Oil Exports
By TODD PITMAN
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgent attacks on pipelines have brought oil exports from southern Iraq to a complete halt, a senior oil official said Monday, part of a rebel campaign to undermine the nation's post-war reconstruction efforts.
In Baghdad, military officials and representatives of rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr held talks Sunday aimed at reducing violence in the restive Baghdad slum of Sadr City. Clashes there killed 10 people on Saturday, officials said.
Oil flows out of the southern pipelines _ which account for 90 percent of Iraq's exports _ ceased late Sunday and were not likely to resume for at least a week, an official from South Oil Co. said on condition of anonymity.
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"Oil exports from the port of Basra have completely stopped since last night," the official said Monday.
A stop in southern oil exports costs Iraq about $60 million a day in lost income at current global crude prices, said Walid Khadduri, an oil expert who is chief editor of the Cyprus-based Middle East Economic Survey.
Insurgents have launched repeated attacks on Iraq's oil infrastructure in a bid to undermine the interim government and reconstruction efforts.
The latest strikes against five pipelines linked to the southern Rumeila oil fields immediately shut down the Zubayr 1 pumping station, forcing officials to use reserves from storage tanks to keep exports flowing for several hours. The reserves ran out late Sunday.
The South Oil Co. official said that before Sunday's attack, Iraq's exports from the south were about 600,000 barrels a day _ already a third less than the normal average of 1.8 million barrels a day due to a separate string of attacks early last week. The pipelines were still ablaze Monday, he said.
Saboteurs last brought southern oil exports to a halt in June.
Sunday's talks in Sadr City failed to bring a peace agreement, with al-Sadr's aides demanding a U.S. pullout from the neighborhood, a condition U.S. officials rejected.
British forces in the southern city of Basra, also the site of recent fighting, held similar talks Sunday with al-Sadr officials there.
Both areas had erupted in violence after U.S. forces and al-Sadr's militants began fighting in the holy city of Najaf three weeks ago, and the talks Sunday appeared to be an effort by both sides to expand on the peace deal that ended the Najaf crisis Friday.
U.S. forces and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia have been fighting for weeks in Sadr city, the east Baghdad slum named for the rebel cleric's father. Though peace descended on Najaf on Friday, skirmishes continued Saturday in Baghdad, with militants firing mortars and automatic weapons at U.S. troops and tanks in the impoverished neighborhood.
In response, al-Sadr representatives, tribal leaders, Shiite politicians, government officials and U.S. military officers met to discuss the violence.
The head of the tribal negotiating team, Naim al-Bakhati, told reporters that all sides _ including al-Sadr representatives _ had agreed that damaged areas there be rebuilt, U.S. troops withdraw from the area except for their normal patrols and that Iraqi police be allowed to enter the slum.
But "there was no agreement on the Mahdi Army handing over their weapons," al-Bakhati said.
Sadr City police chief Col. Maarouf Moussa Omran said all sides agreed to observe a one-day truce until Monday morning to give the Iraqi government time to discuss the results of the meeting.
But Lt. Col. Jim Hutton, a spokesman for the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division, said "there has been no agreement of any kind," adding that the talks were not negotiations.
Sadr City remained relatively peaceful Sunday. Fighting Saturday in the slum killed 10 people and wounded 126, said Saad al-Amili, a Health Ministry official.
In Basra, a British commander held talks with al-Sadr's top representative in the city, Sheik Asaad al-Basri, and the pro-al-Sadr deputy governor, Salam al-Maliki.
British Maj. Charlie Mayo, a coalition spokesman in Basra, described the meeting as a routine "interaction between the local British commanders and respected tribal leaders."
Before the talks started, al-Basri told The Associated Press that "we want to avoid bloodshed but we have conditions that we will put forward to the British" including an amnesty for Mahdi Army members and compensation for victims of recent clashes.
Al-Basri also said he wanted British forces to keep out of the city
Near the northern city of Mosul early Sunday, insurgents holed up in a mosque attacked U.S. patrols with rocket-propelled grenades twice in three hours, said Army Capt. Angela Bowman.
The violence occurred just outside Tal Afar, 30 miles west of Mosul. Soldiers returned fire during both assaults, killing two of the attackers, she said. No U.S. casualties were reported.
Scores of people in the area sleeping outdoors on rooftops to escape the summer heat were wounded "by flying debris and broken glass" during the violence, the U.S. military said in a statement.
Citing a doctor at a hospital in Tal Afar, the military said 34 civilians were wounded, 26 of them women and children. Provincial health chief Rabie Yasin al-Khalil told The Associated Press that 32 civilians were injured.
On Monday, insurgents fired three mortar rounds in Baghdad but there were no immediate reports of casualties, the Interior Ministry said. The mortars landed in a neighborhood in east Baghdad, said ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman.
08-30-04, 06:17 AM #3
HMM-263 Performs Night Operations
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 200483011836
Story by Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Beavers
CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq (040823) -- Darkness consumes the Iraqi landscape as creatures, loud and fierce, ascend into the starlit sky. These flying warhorses sally forth amid the dangers of insurgent forces in order to support the operations of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
They are the aircraft of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263, the Aviation Combat Element of the 24th MEU. Exploiting their technological advantage and their ability to conduct missions beyond the twilight hours, they diminish the risk of enemy confrontation during their operations.
“They can’t shoot what they can’t see,” said Capt. Adam Gutshall, 33, a native of Shippensburg, Pa., and a CH-53E Super Stallion pilot with HMM-263.
But this dusk-till-dawn approach to aviation combat support not only gives them an optical advantage by employing night vision equipment, infrared technology, and flight data gauges to “see” during low-light conditions, it also provides a means to circumvent the brutal climatic challenges Iraq poses to the aircraft.
“The ambiance -- temperature, pressure, density -- is better at night,” adds Gutshall, referring to the lower humidity and higher oxygen levels, caused by the lower evening temperatures, that create more lift and power for the helicopters.
Yet, with all these advantages, no tactic is without its hazards, especially while operating during a time of reduced visibility.
“You can find yourself in descent without even realizing it,” said 1st Lt. Drew Morris, 26, a Plano, Texas, native and a CH-46E Sea Knight pilot with HMM-263. “There’s not as much of a visual reference [as you would have during the day]. You have to rely more on the instruments in the cockpit.”
No helicopter flies alone, a tactic aimed at providing protection from possible contingencies that might occur while conducting a mission.
“If somebody goes down, (another helicopter) can assist, and immediately call for (Tactical Recovery of Aircraft or Personnel),” added Morris. “But you have to stay aware of the lead aircraft and ‘dash-2’ because you can’t see them.”
Besides companion aircraft, one of the most important defenses the pilots of HMM-263 have are their own Marines.
“You have to keep good vision around the aircraft,” said Sgt. Jason Weischedel, 25, a Wharton, N.J., native and a CH-46E Sea Knight crew chief. “Our pilots are responsible for 10 (o’clock) and 2 (o’clock), we’re responsible for the rest. There’s always at least two Marines on the sides of the aircraft with .50 (caliber machine guns), looking back and forth for (obstacles or possible enemy fire).”
Although it is still necessary to make flights during the day, they prefer to remain under the cloak of darkness. To those who may hear but cannot see them, the birds of HMM-263 represent a nightly phantasm beneath the Iraqi moonlight. Their new nocturnal approach to the bulk of assault support requests has not only become part of everyday life, but a rewarding experience for every Marine involved in the process of transporting essential provisions to their troops.
“Out here we get to do our job,” said Weischedel. “Everybody’s stepping up and doing what they’re supposed to. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.”
A CH-46E Sea Knight with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-263, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepares to take off from Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq and provide aviation combat support to fellow Marines.
The 24th MEU is currently conducting security and stability operations in the Northern Babil province of Iraq. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Beavers
08-30-04, 06:18 AM #4
ING, 24th MEU capture large weapons cache during raid
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 200483024543
Story by Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon
FORWARD OPERATING BASE ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq (Aug. 27, 2004) -- Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, working closely with Iraqi National Guardsmen, conducted a raid in central Iraq Aug. 26, netting a large weapons cache that included dozens of weapons, munitions and explosive making devises.
The raid, led by the MEU’s Force Reconnaissance Platoon and members of Delta Company of the Iraqi National Guard, initially began at a different target. The Marines from the Force Reconnaissance Platoon went in and secured the buildings, which later led them to a second target where the cache was found.
At the second objective, the Force Reconnaissance Platoon secured the building and began to exploit the site with help from the ING, combat engineers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians and members of an interrogation team. Marines from 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, set up blocking positions, allowing no one to enter or exit the area around the site.
Combat engineers armed with metal detectors cleared the site and began finding weapons and ammunition, which had either been buried or camouflaged in the surrounding area.
“This was a lot of hard work for everyone out there,” said Capt. Billy Ray Moore, a New Castle, Ind., native and company commander of Alpha Company.
The raid turned up a laundry list of items that included everything from small arms and machine guns to mortars, rockets and bomb-making materials, some of which were rigged to explode.
The items found included Rocket Propelled Grenades and launchers, rifle grenades, hand grenades, 167 mm ammunition, 57 mm rockets, 120 mm mortars, 89 mm rockets, electric blasting caps, detonation cord, 30 mm cannon parts, a Dragonov rifle, AK-47 assault rifles and several other small arms and light machine guns with ammunition.
“That was a pretty good haul for the day,” said Moore. “[The raid] went extremely well. We found an extremely large weapons cache. All the units out there acted very professional.”
“The Force Platoon is phenomenal,” he added. “They are smooth, fast and know how to do business.”
Moore also gave credit to the ING company. “The ING was very flexible and extremely motivated,” he said. “They were about getting the job done and getting these weapons out of the hands of the enemy.”
Once everything had been found, the EOD technicians consolidated the items and prepared them for demolition. With everything in place, the techs blew all the ammunition and explosives, creating a massive blast.
The ING and the MEU will continue to conduct raids in the area to uncover weapons and bomb-making material. Their work is part of an ongoing effort to take weapons and ammunition off the streets.
Iraqi National Guardsmen provide security during a raid Aug. 26.
The raid was conducted by the Iraqi National Guard and Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The 24th MEU is currently conducting security and stability operations in the Northern Babil province of Iraq. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Caleb J. Smith
08-30-04, 06:19 AM #5
Marines sweep for enemy mortarmen in Kharma
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200483052355
Story by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen
KHARMA, Iraq (Aug. 29, 2004) -- Enemy mortarmen in the rural areas around Fallujah may soon find themselves face-to-face with the business end of a Marine's M-16.
Bristling with rifles and ammunition, and the sun on their backs, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, has gone on the hunt for enemy mortarmen here recently.
"One of our duties is mortar mitigation," explained Sgt. James Eldridge, 24, and a team leader with the company. "We need to keep them from firing at us, so we're basically just getting out there on foot and searching for enemy positions."
Although anti-coalition forces have learned to keep their distance from the Marines, mortar sweeps also serve as presence patrols, according to Eldridge.
"These type of missions just reminds them that we're here hoping we actually run into them, or at least close enough to kill them," said Eldridge, from Lynn, Mass.
Despite the 'shoot-and-hide' tactics of the enemy mortarmen and the 120-degree temperatures, the Marines are holding up well and are committed to keeping on the enemy's trail, according to one squad leader in the company.
"The terrain can be challenging, but my Marines are doing very well and are eager to get these bad guys - and we will," said Sgt. Fernando Rafael, 26. "I expect us to continue doing more sweeps because of (the operation's) success and effectiveness."
It helps to have some combat veterans too, according to Eldridge.
"We have a strong and salty squad because some of us were here last year," said Eldridge, who's currently serving a second tour in Iraq and will receive a Purple Heart medal for wounds received from enemy action.
One tool that has helped out the Marines of Kilo Company is the minesweeper. The combat engineers have used the gadget to uncover many weapons caches, draining the enemy's combat power.
"I think (the enemy is) just stretched out thin, but it would help to have more minesweepers with us," said Rafael, of Pomona, Calif. "The combat engineers are very effective and we have seized a lot of weapons because of them."
Sgt. John P. Wodkowski, a squad leader with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, keeps a steady hand on his M16A4 service rifle during a sweep for suspected enemy mortar positions in East Kharma, Iraq recently.
(USMC Photo by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen) Photo by: Sgt. Jose E. Guillen
08-30-04, 06:21 AM #6
MSSG-24 celebrates life of fallen brother
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 200483025827
Story by Staff Sgt. Demetrio J. Espinosa
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Aug. 28, 2003) -- In a sunrise memorial gathering, Marines and sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit paid tribute to a fallen warrior here Aug. 28.
Friends and colleagues came together to remember Cpl. Barton R. Humlhanz, a field military policeman assigned to Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24, 24th MEU, who was killed in action Aug. 26.
Cpl. Humlhanz, 23, a native of North Hampton, Pa., was remembered by many fellow Marines as a dedicated professional who strived for success in all aspects of his life. Marines Humlhanz worked with emotionally explained his accomplishments.
"Cpl. Hanz was a great Marine, who accomplished a lot in the few years he was in the Marine Corps. Most Marines of the past, present or future probably will never accomplish," said Sgt. Deon A. Washington, Cpl. Humlhanz' squad leader and a military policeman with MSSG-24. "Marine of the Quarter, meritorious corporal, for that I am proud of him. We are going to miss a great brother."
Standing apart from his peers, Cpl. Humlhanz also made an impact on his superiors.
"Anytime a person is lost, it is a tragedy, but when you lose one of your own, it has a greater impact. Cpl. Humlhanz was this command’s first meritorious corporal and was Marine of the Quarter," said Lt. Col. Vincent A. Coglianese, MSSG-24 commanding officer.
More than losing a great Marine, the Marines and sailors of the 24th MEU have lost a great friend who made an impact in the life of everyone he touched.
" The loss we suffer is almost beyond comprehension," said Coglianese. Our fallen comrade was a friend and fellow Marine with whom we have served and sacrificed, fought an enemy, and helped a nation rebuild. The loss will not, however, cause us to falter or fail. To the contrary, this loss will lead us to redouble our efforts and drive on. If we are to continue making progress -- and we have indeed made great progress -- we must continue to move forward. We are resolved to do just that."
Humlhanz' fellow Marines were sad and overcome with emotion at his passing, but felt comforted by the thought that their friend is now looking out for them. A sentiment illustrated by his fire team leader, Cpl. Jared Riske, 23, a field military policeman, Humlhanz' fire-team leader, and Concord, Mich., native.
"So as we go back to work without our friend and brother, let us remember that we’ll always have a guardian angel watching down on us. So when it’s dark, and you’re scared, and the dust is thick, just remember to pray because God’s up there watching us right now. And no matter what situation you’re in, Hanz is standing over his shoulder, saying ‘Help them, Lord. Those are my friends.’”
Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit bow their heads in prayer during the memorial service for Cpl. Barton R. Humlhanz at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq.
Humlhanz, 23, a native of North Hampton, Pa., and field military policeman with MEU Service Support Group 24, was killed in action Aug. 26 while conducting security and stability operations in the Northern Babil province of Iraq.
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Beavers
Cpl. Jared Riske of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit gives a eulogy during the memorial service for Cpl. Barton R. Humlhanz at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq.
Riske, 23, a Concord, Mich., native and field military policeman was Cpl. Humlhanz’s fire-team leader with MEU Service Support Group 24.
Humlhanz, 23, a native of North Hampton, Pa., and field military policeman with MSSG-24, was killed in action Aug. 26 while conducting security and stability operations in the Northern Babil province of Iraq. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Demetrio J. Espinosa
Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit pay their respect to a memorial display erected for Cpl. Barton R. Humlhanz at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq. The memorial display, an inverted M16A-2 service rifle with bayonet attached, a pair of boots and a helmet, is traditionally erected to honor a fallen comrade.
Humlhanz, 23, a native of North Hampton, Pa., and a field military policeman with MEU Service Support Group 24, was killed in action Aug. 26 while conducting security and stability operations in the Northern Babil province of Iraq.
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Beavers
08-30-04, 06:23 AM #7
August 29, 2004 E-mail story Print
THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ
In Iraq, 'Road Warriors' Deliver the Goods
The lure of a big payday keeps civilian truckers going despite bombs, bullets and ambushes.
By T. Christian Miller, Times Staff Writer
BALAD, Iraq — It is 9 p.m. on a Wednesday, and Melvin Winter is going to war.
The 44-year-old truck driver from Greenville, Texas, turns the key of his white Mercedes flatbed truck, revs the engine and rolls up to a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. On this side is Camp Anaconda, a U.S. supply base. On the other is Iraq.
Put your game face on," he says, strapping on a helmet and bulletproof vest as the call to roll out crackles across the radio. "It's time to put on the gloves."
Over the next three hours, Winter and the other truck drivers in his convoy will rumble through a landscape of violence and fear. They will take fire from Iraqi insurgents. They will pass through blinding black smoke from roadside fires. They will be stuck for tense moments on a stretch of highway famous for its ambushes.
It will, in sum, be a normal day for the truck drivers of KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co. that finds itself on the front lines of the deadliest war the United States has fought since Vietnam.
Halliburton allowed a reporter to accompany a convoy on a typical run, providing the first glimpse of the hazards faced by its drivers, many of them blue-collar workers seeking to get ahead. Certain security measures were not allowed to be disclosed.
As the Defense Department has contracted out more and more jobs traditionally done by military personnel in order to focus its mission and save money, private companies increasingly have been plunged into the war.
None is more prominent than Halliburton, an oil services company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2001, the company won a multibillion-dollar contract to supply all the logistical needs of the U.S. military in Iraq.
As a result, it is difficult to overstate Halliburton's importance to the war effort. Halliburton delivers soldiers' mail and washes their clothes. It provides them with food, toilets and bunks. It ships fuel for tanks and builds conference rooms for generals.
The company and its workers have benefited, but at a cost. In Congress and the presidential campaign, Halliburton has come under attack because of its links to Cheney and Pentagon audit findings that it has overcharged the government hundreds of millions of dollars.
Workers have paid with their lives. Of Halliburton's 30,000 employees in Iraq — including more than 7,000 U.S. citizens and thousands of subcontractors from other countries — 45 have been killed since the company established operations in March 2003.
No job is more dangerous than driving a truck. Of the 18 U.S. citizens killed in Iraq while working for Halliburton, 11 were truckers.
The drivers' existence here is a real-life version of "The Road Warrior," the Mel Gibson film in which a group of settlers in post-nuclear-war Australia tries to steer a truck through a desert filled with bad guys.
Recently, Halliburton's convoys have been taking hits every day on some routes. The truckers endure sniper fire, car bombs, roadside explosions and rocket-propelled grenades. Iraqi insurgents mount ambushes to pick off trucks from behind. They throw bricks and drop 8-foot-long steel pipes from overpasses into the cabs.
In the most horrific incident, in April, insurgents blocked a convoy near the Abu Ghraib prison. Four Halliburton truckers were killed, two remain missing, and another, Thomas Hamill, escaped from his captors.
For an insurgency vastly outmatched by the U.S. military in firepower, shutting down supply lines has become an efficient alternative to direct confrontation.
"The front lines are no longer what we think of," says Capt. Catherine Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for the Army's 13th Corps Support Command, which oversees Iraq's main logistics center. "The front lines are the convoys."
There is not much the drivers can do. The Army provides security escorts, but the insurgents plant bombs along the relatively few cross-country routes the trucks must travel. Then they simply wait for a convoy, which sometimes pass as frequently as every half-hour on well-traveled routes.
Not all of Halliburton's trucks are bulletproofed. Their windshields shatter. Bullets pierce the cab.
Mostly, the drivers punch the gas, and hope for the best.
"Sometimes it's so calm and peaceful out there. Other times, you roll out the gate and think: I hope I make it, I hope I make it," says Lou Hadley, who has been driving trucks here for nearly a year.
On this run, the convoy is carrying a load of tires, engine parts and other supplies into Baghdad from Camp Anaconda, a sprawling base about 60 miles to the north.
The drivers are typical: experienced truckers from the U.S. Military security prevents Halliburton from hiring Iraqis to deliver supplies to American troops.
As they wait for orders in the camp's dusty parking lot, they stand out from the camouflaged soldiers, a motley crew from heartland America in the midst of the Iraqi desert. They wear tattoos and cowboy hats, big brass belt buckles and Bowie knives, blue jeans and sweat-soaked shirts.
Nearly all the drivers went to work for Halliburton for the money. Halliburton won't disclose sums, but drivers have boasted of salaries of as much as $100,000 with bonuses — with $80,000 of it tax free, as long as they stay in Iraq for a year.
It's a long haul. The truckers work 84 hours a week — that's 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Home is a tent with 20 other cots and 5-foot-high divider walls in between. Meals are cafeteria style. Mortar attacks are constant.
Edie Hair, a 34-year-old from Ft. Hood, Texas, is a rarity here, a female driver. Her husband served 15 months in Iraq with the Army. When he got home, she went to work for Halliburton, leaving him to take his turn caring for their three daughters.
"I gotta put braces on my kids," says Hair, a solidly built woman with thin blond hair, to explain her choice. "But I'm also supporting our troops."
Clay Henderson, 34, is the convoy commander and the veteran of the group, with nearly a year in Iraq. A big man with a beard and long hair, he dreams of owning his own ranch one day in the Louisiana countryside where he now has nine horses.
"I want to mess around and do something fun instead of getting up at 3 a.m. and working until midnight and have nothing to show for it at the end of the year," he says.
It's an irony not lost on the drivers: They have come all the way to Iraq to make enough money to realize the American dream.
"I'd say 90% of the people over here are in it for the money," says Winter, who is saving to trade up from a double-wide trailer to the 3,500-square-foot home he hopes to build one day. "One year over here, it's equal to two to three years working in the U.S. You can advance considerably."
If you make it a year. Turnover is high, the drivers say. One says he came to Iraq with about 20 friends. Of those, only three remain a year later. Halliburton said it could not provide statistics for the truckers' turnover rate. But company policy is to send anyone home who wants out of their one-year contract, no questions asked — but no tax benefits, either.
"If you don't get nervous, you're stupid. If you don't get nervous, it's time to go home," says Billy Lee Tripp, 44, a La Vernia, Texas, native who is as wiry as a stray cat.
Nervousness rises as night begins to fall. With an orange sun flaring in the west, the truckers and their military escorts gather in a circle to plan the night.
The route will take them right through the middle of "IED Alley," named for the roadside bombs that the military calls improvised explosive devices.
In addition, locals have recently taken to lining the highways and bridges, dropping rocks to smash the windshields. Hair, the woman from Texas, had five windshields replaced in a month.
Sgt. Hosea Lark, the military commander for the run, orders his soldiers to pass out chemical light sticks to the truckers. He tells the truckers to activate the sticks and toss them out the window to alert their escorts if they get hit by rocks.
"If you see a rock thrower, blast [him] away," Lark tells his men from the Army National Guard's 1171st Transportation Company. "The risk is extremely high."
After the briefing, truckers and soldiers huddle in prayer. Then all scramble into their vehicles, forming a long convoy of military security escorts and Halliburton trucks.
Winter goes over final preparations in his cab, pockmarked by a single round from an AK-47 that he calls his "lucky bullet hole."
Near at hand, he places bottles of water and lemon-flavored Gatorade, three packs of cigarettes and a handful of tampons — which can be used to stanch bleeding.
08-30-04, 06:23 AM #8
Then the convoy rolls out. In minutes, the landscape changes from the bustle of the base to a wide open plane of scrub and blacktop lighted by the moon.
Soon, the trucks turn onto the main highway leading toward Baghdad.
"From this point on, it's not safe," says Winter, a round-faced man with metal glasses, a tan shirt and blue jeans.
The road quickly becomes a place of lurking danger. Iraqis motor alongside the convoy in both directions. The endless piles of rocks and trash by the side of the road are potential hiding places for bombs.
"If you roll out thinking that everybody is trying to kill you, you're better off," says Winter, a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, shrugging off a question about the danger.
Thirty minutes down the road, fires burning in clumps by the side of the road become visible. Huge clouds of acrid black smoke roll across the road, maybe from trash burning, maybe from recent combat. The cab becomes hot, smoky. The drivers run with the windows down, to keep the cab's windows from being shattered by explosive concussions.
"Mash the gas. Drive it like it's stolen," Henderson's voice comes across the radio.
The convoy bolts up onto an elevated highway that runs across marshland, providing a hellish view of fires, billowing smoke and haze. After a while, they descend and make a slow turn to join another highway. Suddenly, the radio crackles.
"AK-47. Right side. It's hitting your truck," a KBR driver calls out to the military escort in front of him.
Ahead, perhaps a thousand yards, red tracers light up the sky as the military escort returns fire. Radio calls report fire from the left and the right.
"It's pretty bad," one driver calls out. "You got bullets flying from both sides."
And then, just as suddenly as it began, the shooting stops. Henderson calls on the radio for injuries. The radio stays quiet.
"It didn't hit nobody. Keep rolling," Henderson says. "Keep rolling."
The trucks speed up briefly, but then slow again. Ahead, brake lights from another convoy fill the road, a major highway with four lanes in both directions.
The truckers get nervous. The highway that had been filled with Iraqi cars is empty. The stretch of road had seen both sniper fire and bombs in the past.
"There's not enough traffic. Be advised of it," one trucker calls out.
"Let's go, let's go," Winter says under his breath. "This is not a nice neighborhood."
The convoy comes to a halt. Gunners in the military escorts train their weapons on the moonlit fields and low, two-story homes around them.
The truckers don't know what is happening. Neither does the military. The radio is filled with unanswered questions. The convoy has stopped in the middle of one of the most dangerous places in Iraq. Their best defense, speed, has been stripped away.
The convoy ahead begins to move. The truckers who have hopped out of their trucks to take shelter jump back into the cabs.
Half an hour later, the convoy hits the exit for the Baghdad airport, where the truckers are dropping off their load at a military base.
The trucks pull into a dusty parking lot. The drivers climb down, drop their trailers and talk quickly among themselves.
"It was a good run," Winter says. "It was only small-arms fire. That's a good run."
Then they get back to work. It is 12:30 a.m. The moon is high. Time to make the run back to the logistics base, through the same gantlet of gunfire and smoke.
The road awaits.
08-30-04, 06:56 AM #9
Revving up: Marine providers ready for road
Revving up: Marine providers ready for road
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 200482215237
Story by Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon
CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq (Aug. 22, 2004) -- Sucked beyond the western horizon the night before, sunlight seeps back into the valley here, in an everlasting give-and-take.
Such as the insatiable west in celestial cycles, Marines' stomachs, gas tanks and weapons cry for more and more.
From the east emerges the provider.
With the growing light, Marines funnel from their barracks' beds to a narrow lot where their behemoth trucks, wearing coats of muted green and black or tan paint, were parked the night before in three neat rows.
Both man and machine are rested, and the latter's engines are cool from a night of rest. Soon, though, they too will awaken, grumbling.
For the Marines of Combat Service Support Battalion 7 here, their return to the road is perpetual, and in the moments before they climb behind steering wheels and heavy machine guns, they scurry over, under and through the columns of vehicles making final preparations. Odometer readings are scrawled down on vehicle logs; weapons are lubricated; cargo straps are cinched tighter.
This battalion alone shoulders a heavy load -- delivering life-sustaining supplies to fellow Marines operating across Iraq's vast western province the size of Wyoming. Since March 2004, approximately 5 million pounds of cargo have rested on the beds of these trucks during scorching, dusty treks, some spanning hundreds of miles.
By now, to most Marines, putting a convoy on the road is mere reflex. Still, they gather ritualistically to review the mission: where they're going, which route they'll take, who's in charge, what to do if insurgents say hello.
Ever repeating shouts domino down the lines of steadily awakening trucks announcing the minutes remaining before the logistics train chugs away on its way. Marines don flak jackets, sandwiching themselves with armored plates. Helmets settle atop their close-cropped heads.
And with the bottom of the sun separated from the horizon, the Marines' day officially begins.
They have mouths to feed.
In the minutes leading up to their departure, Marines of a Combat Service Support Battalion 7 supply convoy move within rows of vehicles making final preparations at Camp Al Asad, Iraq, on Aug. 11, 2004. During the past six months alone, CSSB-7, a part of the Marine Corps' 1st Force Service Support Group, has hauled approximately 5 million pounds of supplies to Marines operating throughout the vast western portion of Iraq's Al Anbar Province. Photo by: Staff Sgt. Bill Lisbon
08-30-04, 07:05 AM #10
Tears, pride for Marine combat unit Iraq-bound
By Emanuel Parker
Jessica Garcia sobbed Tuesday as she kissed her son's hand, embraced him for several long moments and repeatedly blessed the bus that carried him away from her.
"I feel very proud of my son, I miss him already," she said. "He's my companion, he's my friend, he's my everything. I love him a lot. But I'm very pleased and I'm very happy at the same time because he's doing what he wants to do: fight."
Similar scenes were enacted numerous times Tuesday as 150 members of the 4th Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, based in Pasadena, departed for a seven-month tour in Iraq.
Capt. Eric Drown said the combat unit will guard an unidentified airfield in western Iraq.
Garcia's son, Cpl. Gerardo Garciamontes of Arleta, said he has mixed emotions about heading off to the war zone.
"I'm excited to go and serve my country," he said. "At the same time I'm a little worried because I'm leaving family behind and I'm more concerned about their safety than mine.
"My sister, Jessica Delores Garciamontes, is in the Navy at Port Hueneme, and she may be sent to Afghanistan soon."
Gunnery Sgt. Francisco Serrano, 35, of Altadena, fought in the Gulf War but was recalled, forcing him to leave his wife and five children, ages 6 months to 12.
"That's the hardest thing, leaving my family behind, all my kids," he said. "I'm sure I'm going to be missing them over there. Then again I have to focus on what I have to do with my other family I'm going to have there."
Emanuel Parker, (626) 578-6300, ext. 4475 email@example.com
08-30-04, 07:45 AM #11
Inside the Navy
August 30, 2004
Deployed in spring
Marines Deployed With Seals In Iraq, First Time Since Proof Of Concept
Marines have deployed with a SEAL squad to Iraq in recent months, the first such joint deployment since a Marine detachment trained with special operations forces in a trial effort last year.
The Marine Corps-SEAL detachment consists of the SEALs' Naval Special Warfare Squadron One as well as a Marine Corps force reconnaissance platoon, intelligence platoon and fire support detachment, according to Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Bender, who responded to questions from Inside the Navy.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee mentioned the deployment Aug. 23 during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
"We have stood up a force reconnaissance platoon who trained with the SEALs and had deployed as part of a SEAL team, and they're in Iraq right now, doing extremely well," Hagee said.
The Marine-SEAL detachment deployed in the spring, though Bender would not give a precise date. He would not discuss the mission or the specific location of the detachment in Iraq, but said it is conducting special operations forces missions in the war on terror.
Marines and SEALs have deployed together before, but this spring's deployment marks the first time that "specifically integrated" SEALs and Marines are performing SOF missions under the operational control of Special Operations Command, Bender said.
An 85-man Marine detachment trained with Naval Special Warfare forces last year as part of a proof-of-concept trial, which was meant to precede a six-month deployment with a NSW squad, then-SOCOM Deputy Commander Vice Adm. Eric Olson said last October at a conference in Panama City, FL. The first deployment was scheduled for April 2004, sister publication Inside the Pentagon reported at the time.
The deployment has gone well in meeting objectives, improving working relations and standardizing procedures, Bender said last week, noting that SEALs and Marines have deployed together before as part of amphibious ready groups, now called expeditionary strike groups.
"Deploying together for extended SOF operations will go a long way towards cementing that relationship," he added. "Additionally, the Marine detachment has significant capabilities that are not organic to SOF, and those capabilities greatly enhance the ability of SOF to execute its missions."
When Marine expeditionary units enter a theater, they develop a "special relationship" with the commander of special operations forces in the that theater, Hagee said last week. A Marine general is also on the SOCOM staff to ensure the command is aware of Marine Corps capabilities, Hagee said.
Results of the deployment must be evaluated and will help develop a range of options for future missions where Marines work with special operations forces, Bender said. The Marine Corps already has asked the Center for Naval Analyses to perform a study on the service's detachment to SOCOM to examine its usefulness and any other areas that could benefit from cooperation between the two communities (ITN, Feb. 9, p12).
08-30-04, 07:47 AM #12
New York Times
August 29, 2004
Fighting The Old-Fashioned Way In Najaf
By Alex Berenson
NAJAF, Iraq — The Marines fought hard in the battle of Najaf, but the Army's role proved decisive. At stake is more than bragging rights. The success of the Army's tanks on the city's narrow streets in the last three weeks casts a new light on efforts to transform the Army by weaning it from the heavy armored vehicles that are a traditional mainstay.
The proponents of this transformation have pushed the Army to become more flexible and fleeter. They argue that lightly armed soldiers, provided with real-time information about enemy movements and supported by precision air power, can replace heavy armor, especially against enemies who lack their own.
"We can use precision weapons, in the form of bombs dropped by aircraft, in the form of snipers," said Andrew Krepinevich, executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, which studies defense issues. "Precision allows you to do more with less."
But the Najaf battle, which involved some of the heaviest urban combat the American military has seen since Vietnam, may offer a different lesson, according to some experts. Commanders and front-line soldiers say that the Army's tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles reduced American casualties while demoralizing the insurgents, who could not stop the heavy armor. A cease-fire Thursday ended the fight, but by then tanks and Bradleys had closed to within 100 yards of the Imam Ali shrine, where the insurgents were based.
The Pentagon should heed Najaf's lessons, said Douglas Macgregor, a former colonel and the most outspoken of a small band of military veterans who believe replacing tanks with lighter forces is misguided.
Col. Macgregor, a former Army Ranger and gulf war commander who retired in June from the National Defense University, acknowledges that he is not well liked at senior levels of the Pentagon. He said his critics overestimate air power in a rapidly changing battle and underestimate the lives saved by armor.
"The easiest thing to harm or kill is a human being with a rifle," he said.
In fact, in April the Army and Marines rushed dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers to Iraq because they were needed to fight the insurgency, which killed well over 100 American troops that month.
But Carl Conetta, director of the Project on Defense Alternatives, a Boston-based research group, said that he and most other supporters of transformation, who include Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, have never argued that the Army should eliminate tanks. The question, he said, is how to build a more balanced force.
"You need the tanks - you just might not need that many," he said, noting that they are heavy, hard to maintain and consume huge amounts of fuel.
Moreover, the urban warfare in Najaf is only one kind of combat, Mr. Krepinevich said. The advantages tanks have shown here do not "mean that transformation isn't valuable," he said.
The battle for Najaf began on Aug. 5, with American forces fighting guerrillas loyal to the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. Najaf's old city, with narrow, easily mined streets and buildings that allow guerrillas to fire down on tanks, is in theory dangerous terrain for armored vehicles and better suited to fighting on foot.
Yet in Najaf, two battalions of the Army's tanks did what a lighter Marine battalion could not, inflicting huge casualties on Mr. Sadr's insurgents while taking almost none of their own. The 70-ton tanks and 25-ton Bradleys pushed to the gates of the Imam Ali shrine at the center of the old city. Meanwhile, the Marines spent most of the fight raiding buildings far from the old city. Even so, seven marines died, and at least 30 were seriously wounded, according to commanders here, while only two soldiers died and a handful were injured.
The difference the armor made was obvious to soldiers on the ground. "You spot an enemy in a building, you don't want to send guys in, you use Bradleys and tanks," said Specialist Marquis Harrell of the Second Battalion, Seventh Cavalry. "We're glad to have 'em."
Military commanders here say they were somewhat surprised by the tanks' success.
"They myth that we've proven false is that heavy forces can't operate in an urban environment that in the past has been considered a light-fighter environment," said Lt. Col. Myles Miyamasu, commander of the First Battalion, Fifth Cavalry, which fought north of the shrine. Colonel Miyamasu emphasized that he was not trying to play down the contribution of the Marines.
The Marines have barred their commanders here from talking on the record. But some officers admit privately that armor made the difference in the fight. When the Marines finally entered the old city Tuesday night, they took four tanks, their only heavy armor, and borrowed several Bradleys from the Army.
The Marines traditionally try to integrate overwhelming air power with light infantry, the same doctrine that the advocates of the military's transformation say the Army should adopt. In theory, airstrikes can be carried out very quickly, once approved at headquarters. But aircraft are not always available, and concerns about civilian casualties can slow the approval process. In Najaf, the approval often took hours, and in that time American forces faced mortars and snipers.
The transformation idea is relatively new, and its biggest proponents are often civilian experts. But commanders and soldiers also like the idea of light infantry and fighting the enemy face to face. As a soldier in the armored First Battalion, Fifth Cavalry, said on Friday, the gung-ho aggressiveness of the Marines and the Army's light infantry "is a lot more fun than this."
But the Army should always be ready to use armor, even against lightly armed guerrillas, Colonel Macgregor said. "The idea in war is to crush your enemy," he said. "If you're in a fight with a fly, use a baseball bat."
08-30-04, 09:11 AM #13
24th MEU Shock Trauma Plt. brings advanced medical care to BLT
Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 200482644028
Story by Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon
FOWARD OPERATING BASE ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq (Aug. 24, 2004) -- For the Marines of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, who are forward deployed in Iraq, the threat of injury is elevated because of the types of missions they conduct.
To combat this danger, the BLT has beefed up the staff at its Battalion Aid Station with eight sailors from the Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24 Shock Trauma Platoon.
"We are schooled in advanced emergency medical techniques and have the knowledge and tools to perform minor surgeries and resuscitations," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Rashad Waller, 28, a Danville, Va., native and STP corpsman. "We bring to the BLT a more advanced medical care facility."
While only eight sailors may not seem like a lot, the STP is meant to be small and mobile. It is made up of two emergency-room doctors, four corpsmen, one chief independent duty corpsman and one critical-care nurse.
"We are pretty much just two or three machines away from being a (Combat Surgical Hospital)," said Waller. "If we had just a few more capabilities, we would be like them."
The STP relies on mobility to be able to save lives. The platoon has the ability to set up its medical spaces wherever they may be needed.
"We can tear this place down in 42 minutes," said Waller. "Then set up at the new location in under an hour."
"Depending on our lighting situation, we can have everything set up in about 40 minutes, but we should be able to start receiving patients in 30 minutes," added Lt. Cmdr. Ethan Bachrach, 34, an Ellensburg, Wash., native and officer in charge of the Shock Trauma Platoon. "We can then take critical trauma patients and do whatever interventions need to be done."
So far STP has treated six Marines, most of whom had shrapnel wounds. They have also provided medical care to two detainees.
When they aren't busy treating patients, the sailors spend a lot of time training and working with the BLT's corpsmen on advanced medical procedures.
"Everyday we have three corpsman from the BLT come over for an hour a day," said Waller. "They get to work with the electronics and use some of the other equipment like sonograms - stuff they don't have."
"It makes them more well-rounded," he added. "It also makes the corpsmen more comfortable."
The STP corpsmen also spend time each day studying different types of wounds and how to effectively treat them. "We just finished watching videos on how to treat different kinds of shrapnel injuries," said Waller.
Training doesn't stop there. The STP members also use interactive training methods to hone their skills.
"We also spend time each day being the patient," said Waller. "The doctor will tell us to lay on one of the racks and give us different injuries with different symptoms. Then the corpsman has to go through what he would do."
After the training, the doctors debrief the corpsmen, critiquing the sailors' actions and suggesting ways to improve their techniques.
"The more training these guys do, the better off they will be - the better off everyone will be," said Bachrach.
Another responsibility the STP has is patient turnover with medical evacuation crews who take patients to larger medical facilities.
"It only takes 15 minutes for the [medical evacuation] bird to get here. Our goal is to perform resuscitation and make sure the critical patients don't deteriorate between here and the (Combat Surgical Hospital.)"
Experience in dealing with battlefield injuries is what makes this team what it is. All of the sailors in the platoon participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom I. Most of them even worked with each other last year.
"Combined, we saw more than 600 combat casualties last year," said Bachrach. "We had no patients die on us, that came to us with a pulse," he added.
With all that training and experience, the STP offers a lot of capabilities to the BLT.
"We benefit the Marines who are out there by acting as a security blanket for them," said Waller. "They know that if something happens to them, we can (evacuate) them all the way to (Combat Surgical Hospital.)"
Lt. Cmdr. Ethan Bachrach of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit shows corpsmen from Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, the proper way to use a chest tube during training at the Battalion Aid Station Aug. 19.
Bachrach, 34, is an Ellensburg, Wash., native and officer in charge of Shock Trauma Platoon, MEU Service Support Group 24.
The 24th MEU is currently conducting security and stability operations in the Northern Babil province of Iraq.
(Official USMC Photo by Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon. This photo is cleared for release.)
Photo by: Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon
08-30-04, 11:28 AM #14
Marines dedicate Al Taqaddum airfield to fallen aviator
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200482772511
Story by Sgt. Nathan K. LaForte
AL TAQADDUM (GREENE FIELD), Iraq (Aug. 22,2004) -- A group of Marines recently gathered on the flightline of Al Taqaddum, Iraq to pay tribute to their fallen brother.
In the late afternoon sun Aug. 22, they dedicated the airfield at TQ to Lt. Col. David S. Greene, a reserve Marine AH-1W Super Cobra pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, killed in action July 28.
Greene was flying a mission in support of I Marine Expeditionary Force when he was killed by small arms fire. However, news of the event didn't reach most of the squadron immediately, claimed Cpl. Jacob S. Dahlin, flightline mechanic, HMLA-775.
"I was testing aircraft and we got a call that said we had an aircraft that had taken battle damage," said the 21-year-old Marine from Clinton, N.Y. "The other pilot came up to us and said that he had been hit."
Some Marines did not take the news well, claimed Sgt. Eric G. Frank, avionics technician, HMLA-775.
"That afternoon I woke and came to work," the 30-year-old Bristol, Conn., native said. "On the way there, someone said that one of the pilots had gotten killed. I got angry and was in denial at first. When I got to work they were cleaning and fixing the aircraft."
The loss to the squadron did not just equate to a lost pilot, Marine or an officer, noted Lt. Col. Bruce S. Orner, HMLA-775 commanding officer. Greene's passing impacted the squadron much more heavily than that.
"We lost a quality maintenance officer and a highly experienced and respected pilot," the California State University graduate continued, "but for many of us, we lost a good friend."
From his leaders to his Marines, all the Marines have mourned the loss, added Dahlin.
"We lost an amazing person, leader and family man," he said. "He cared about everything he did. He had a genuine love for everything did and the people he worked with."
"Lt. Col. Greene led us in a way that we would want to impress him and inspired us to work for him," Dahlin remembered about the squadron aviation maintenance officer. "He spent countless hours motivating us to get the aircraft up to defend those guys on the ground. Because of that, he probably saved countless lives. He was an amazing person and a hell of a Marine."
It was his selflessness which shined through to the Marines and anyone who met him, claimed Staff Sgt. Brian A. Sanchez, quality assurance chief, HMLA-775.
"His whole goal was to make sure everything was fine here and to fly and provide support for evacuation or escort," the 31-year-old from Pittsburgh said. "He never thought of himself and held very high morals."
It is for this reason that the airfield was dedicated to the man who dedicated his life to the Marines around him, claimed Orner.
"He would take the time to find out about his Marines," he said. "It wasn't fake, he has a genuine concern. This is an opportunity for the Marines to see that he'll be remembered even when we leave."
"It's also an opportunity for us to pay tribute and pass on his memory to other people," he added.
On hand for the tribute was Brig. Gen. Harold J. Fruchtnicht, 4th MAW commanding general, who said he was honored to be there for the dedication to the fallen reserve officer.
The squadron has since carried on with what they think Greene's wishes would be in his absence, Orner said.
"I think he'd want us to carry on like we always have," he said. "We were asked if we needed any (operational tempo) relief but we declined. We wanted to stay focused and stay on the job. I think that's what he would've wanted."
Dahlin, who was one of Greene's Marines, agreed with his commanding officer. Supporting the Marines is what they should continue doing, he claimed.
"Lt. Col. Greene was very particular about maintenance," he noted. "He believed in what we do. He knew the sacrifices and would want us to continue to get up aircraft and finish the battle."
So the "Coyotes" of HMLA-775 have decided to carry on without him while in Iraq, but none will ever forget him as they walk onto to his airfield, Orner said.
Brig. Gen. H.J. Fruchtnicht (left), commanding general of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, and Lt. Col. Bruce Orner, commanding officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd MAW, unveil a memorial sign at a dedication ceremony at Al Taqaddum, Iraq. The airfield was dedicated Aug. 22 to Lt. Col. David S. Greene, an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot who was killed in action flying a mission over the skies of Iraq. Photo by: Sgt. Nathan K. LaForte
08-30-04, 04:03 PM #15
Soldiers' Iraq Blogs Face Military Scrutiny
Aug. 24, 2004 -- Military officials are cracking down on blogs written by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, saying some of them reveal sensitive information. Critics say it's an attempt to suppress unflattering truths about the U.S. occupation. NPR's Eric Niiler reports.
A blogger with the pen name CBFTW, stationed near Mosul with the First Battallion, 23rd Regiment, says he began his My War Web log to help combat boredom. "I'm just writing about my experiences," the soldier says. "I'm pretty much putting my diary on the Internet -- that's all it is."
CBFTW says he has avoided describing sensitive information, such as U.S. weapons capabilities, weaknesses and scheduling. But earlier this month, CBFTW was lectured by commanders about violating operational security. Two other popular blogs run by soldiers have been shut down recently.
Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a spokesman for unit CBFTW belongs to, said the soldier's blog now has to be reviewed by his platoon sergeant and a superior officer. In an e-mail to NPR, Hastings said the popularity of blogging has increased the chance that soldiers may inadvertently give away information to Internet-savvy enemies.
But some critics worry that military officials are trying to muffle dissent from troops in the field. "I really think it has much less to do with operational security and classified secrets and more to do with American politics and how the war is seen by a public that is getting increasingly shaky about the overall venture," says Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
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