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Posted: 1/1/2003 12:44:38 PM EDT
Marines expecting an early war call
Camp Pendleton division chief says holidays are seen as
By Jonathan Finer
Washington Post

Tuesday, December 31, 2002 - CAMP PENDLETON -- While diplomats, policymakers and network news talking heads debate the outcome of the intensifying standoff between the United States and Iraq, the Marines at Camp Pendleton are preparing for war.

"We have to assume that it is not a matter of if, but of when we have to fight," said Col. Bennett Saylor, chief of staff of the 1st Marine Division, the largest combat force on the base. "We look at the holidays as our last week of peace."

Comprising more than 60,000 Marines at the sprawling coastline campus set on 200,000 hilly acres north of San Diego, Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Expeditionary Force will likely be well-represented among the thousands of U.S. troops President Bush has said he will send to the Persian Gulf early next year.

Thousands of Saylor's charges left town last week on a holiday leave that many expected to be their last chance to spend time with friends and family before being deployed.

The arid terrain of Camp Pendleton and its sister base east of Los Angeles at Twenty-nine Palms are an ideal training ground for desert warfare. An undisclosed number of Marines from Camp Pendleton are already stationed in Kuwait under the U.S. Central Command, which has jurisdiction over northeast Africa and the Middle East. On Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered "significant" ground forces, combat aircraft and logistical support to the Gulf.

"We all get the sense that something is coming up soon," said Sgt. Shawn Smith, 23, of Beaver Creak, Ohio. "We just want to be ready."

Before being dismissed for holiday leave, more than 25,000 Marines were given a 90-minute "pre-deployment briefing" to educate servicemen on the mission that may soon be at hand.

"It's important that they have some understanding of what the mission is and why they may get sent over there," said Capt. Joseph Plenzler, a public affairs officer who made the presentations.

, which included some information on Iraqi weaponry, the Gulf's geography and the intricacies of Arab culture.

The Marines' training, though always intense, has taken on an increased sense of urgency in recent months, several said. Camp Pendleton has what may be the largest Marine Operations on Urbanized Terrain course, where more than 100 Marines at a time can practice fighting in a post-apocalyptic-looking cityscape, seeking out snipers firing "SIM" rounds tipped with colored chalk.

The base's heightened focus on urban warfare began with the initiation of "Project Metropolis," a curriculum designed in 1999 by the Marine Warfare Lab, which sought to reduce casualty rates in urban fighting from the historical average of 30 percent to 40 percent or more in bloody battles such as Hue City during the Vietnam War.

In training, the Marines now say, the casualty rate has fallen to about 20 percent.

"We drilled and drilled and drilled, and eventually got better at it," said Sgt. Smith, the range's safety officer for the day. All around him about 80 Marines threw grappling hooks into window frames to climb walls and advanced building to building in small numbers down exposed city streets. "If they ever have to do it for real, they'll be glad they did this," he said.

The Marines carry gas masks strapped to their hips, and instructors occasionally surprise the trainees by releasing a canister of CS gas, a mild tearing agent.

The threat of chemical or biological warfare is never far from the mind of any Marine. Each Wednesday, all Marines are required to carry their masks with them, and to wear them for at least 30 minutes during the workday.

"It gets us used to the gear and comfortable in it," said Sgt. Jose Guillen, 24, a combat correspondent from Pomona, Calif. "When it happens for real, you can't afford mistakes."

Later that afternoon a battalion of almost 500 Marines embarked on a "hump" -- a mandatory biweekly five-to-15-mile hike -- in their chemical- and biological-warfare suits.

Last week, the battalion got off easy: The hike lasted only a couple of hours, and they were not required to carry their loaded backpacks, which can weigh more than 75 pounds. But the pace was quick, and some had to "fall out" of the formation with fatigue or injuries and ride behind in jeeps.

As the group reached the home stretch, several CS canisters erupted along the trail. Though the Marines were wearing masks, some broke into coughing fits after swallowing a corrosive mouthful.

After the hike, many of the Marines returned to their barracks to pack their bags. While some embarked on up to 10 days of leave, others were required to work one of the holiday weeks so the base would always be staffed.

"It's an important time to make sure everything is okay at home," said Sgt. Maj. Michael Jones, of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. "We'll call them back early if we need to, but many of them have not deployed before, so they will be having some serious talks with their families."
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 12:45:57 PM EDT
Well you all I might be going so if anyone out there has any advice I'd like to here it.
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 1:03:11 PM EDT
sunscreen and chapstick.

bullfrog sunscreen is good stuff.

i'm packing a portable shortwave radio too [;)] along with the bbc freqs and schedule
playing cards..a must for all you 0341s

I tried searching for that 'gear to bring to iraq' thread that was here a few weeks ago but couldn't find it again.
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 1:05:58 PM EDT

Start here:
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 1:08:39 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Cat:
i'm packing a portable shortwave radio too [;)] along with the bbc freqs and schedule
View Quote

Can you point me to a website that lists the BBC freqs? If not, can you email them to me?Thanks

I tried searching for that 'gear to bring to iraq' thread that was here a few weeks ago but couldn't find it again.
View Quote

Check my above post to tayous1. I believe that's the thread you're looking for.

Link Posted: 1/1/2003 1:55:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/1/2003 1:58:51 PM EDT by treefrog88]
You know if you are going by now.
Most likely opsec keeps you from saying.
But in about 2 weeks I am sure there will be an official press release and I think you will see a lot of movement from both divisions.
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 2:52:10 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/1/2003 2:53:48 PM EDT by echo6]
Originally Posted By Cat:
sunscreen and chapstick.

bullfrog sunscreen is good stuff.

i'm packing a portable shortwave radio too [;)] along with the bbc freqs and schedule
playing cards
View Quote

I'll second everything Cat said and a a bit [;)]

In addition to the Bull Frog and Chapstick, get yourself some Saliene Nasal spray (the brand I always used was "NaSal")
If your not use to being in a [b]DRY[/b] desert enviorment, their is a pretty good chance the air will make your nose bleed if you cant keep some moisture up there.
Just MHO but the pre packeged stuff is alot more comfortable to use than snorting a handfull of water out of your canteen.

[b]GET A [i]GOOD[/i] PAIR OF [i][red]NON-REFLICTIVE[/red][/i] SUNGLASSES[/b]

The issue 'shades are total crap(least they were in '90) and will do one of two things- maby both
1 Give you pounding headaches.
2 Rub you raw and blistered behind your ears.

The SW reciver is a [b]awesome[/b] idea, but for thoes deploying with limited funds, you would be amazed with what you can pick up on the FM bands with your walkman and about 12 feet of commo wire [:D]

Link Posted: 1/1/2003 2:54:35 PM EDT
God bless you guys. Make sure you and every one of your fellow Muh-reens comes home safe and sound.
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 2:57:04 PM EDT

My buddy leaves Jan 3rd for Kuwait.  The time for war is nearing... BTW, he is taking sunscreen, chapstick, and a lot of porn(his words not mine).  Good luck to all that are going....Give em HELL!
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 6:01:06 PM EDT
Friend of mine is in a local Artillery Guard unit...they were just activated.  He has a 3-month old baby at home too.  Kinda rough for him.
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 6:20:55 PM EDT
DON'T FORGET GOGGLES!!!! When I was there in '91 our unit didn't have enough goggles to go around. My eyes were a mess and I can remember wearing sunglasses at night (in a fixed position with a buddy) just trying to give my eyes some releif from the blowing sand. There ARE sandstorms over there. Buy yourself a pair of wind/sand/sun goggles if you don't have them already as you really can't count on supply getting them to you. While I'm at it let me give you one more piece of advice - take your sleeping bag if you're not an 0311 and won't have to hump it everywhere with you. At least take a poncho liner. My fire team and whole squad as I remember froze our asses off at night for a long time 'till our seabags caught up with us. I remember the cold at night more so than the heat during the day in Saudi and Kuwait. Oman heat is another story altogether... GOOD LUCK LAD! SEMPER FI
Link Posted: 1/1/2003 6:45:56 PM EDT
hoggie bait(sp?) you get tired of those mre's and [puke]turkey breast!ate those everynight for what seemed like 2 weeks.good goggles are really needed and lots of playing cards.
to all that go keep come home safe!
Link Posted: 1/2/2003 8:08:21 PM EDT
Originally Posted By hanau:
hoggie bait(sp?) you get tired of those mre's and [puke]turkey breast!ate those everynight for what seemed like 2 weeks.good goggles are really needed and lots of playing cards.
to all that go keep come home safe!
View Quote

Now a day it's the beef stake and the beef and mushrooms that everyone tries to stay away from.

I got news today that I'm on hold to be going to the rock... AS anyone knows I can't say any more...

I was going to get some playing cards or at lest steal some from the 0341 you know they all got a few decks. The sun screen and chap stick are on are to go list and porn well I'm a married man and my wife is very religiose. ( So only if I can sneak it in my sea bag.) So I would never openly get that.

The goggles they now give us seam to be good and being stuck in the back of a track I should not see day light for a long time anyway. As I said I'm a boat company and there is no water for us to go in or city for us to raid.

Anyway thanks for the help.
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