Saturday, August 28, 2004
Is our Government Being Faithful to those who Always Are?
I recieved this today from a fellow Marine currently on In-Active Duty, John J. Kline, of Philadelphia. Read this and ask yourself how desperate our Government is for bodies to "serve" in Iraq. Frankly, this makes me sick. Maybe if all the "Protest Warriors" would put their money where their mouths are and enlist, we would have the time to properly train our young people before sending them off to a bullshit War that serves no American's interest other than Bush, Cheney and the Halliburton Mob. This reminds me of when they cut Bootcamp from 12 weeks to 9 in order to get more bodies into Viet Nam.
Tell me again, Georgie Boy, how you support our troops.
Pardon me while I puke.
Marines slash final combat training in half
David Wood, The Star-Ledger, NJ 08/24/2004
Under growing pressure to ship Marines to Iraq, the Marine Corps is cutting in half the rigorous field combat training it gives units preparing to deploy, senior officers say. The Marines hope to make up the time by intensifying this final, pre-deployment training and focusing it on skills needed to survive and prevail in Iraq's brutal combat conditions. This means practicing more nighttime operations, ambushes, city fighting and guarding of convoys.
The exercise, called a CAX in Marine lingo, has been shortened from 23 to 11 days, Col. Blake Crowe, operations officer for the Marine Corps Training Command at Quantico, Va., said in an interview.
This was done, Crowe said, to "get more battalions through" in a shorter period of time. Until now, the Marine Corps trained 10 battalions in CAX every six months. Under the accelerated schedule, it will train eight battalions in two months.
The intense course, to begin this fall at the Marine desert training base at Twentynine Palms, Calif., will for the first time include thousands of Marines who hold traditionally noncombat jobs such as truck driver, intelligence analyst and jet aircraft technician.
Increasingly, these "noninfantry" Marines are deploying into combat zones where they find themselves suddenly under fire and unprepared. Commanders in Iraq report that some Marines, pressed into the fight from their truck cabs and computer consoles, have not had combat training in a decade.
"This is a high priority, identified in after-action reports" from commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq, Crowe said.
All Marines get some entry-level combat training. New infantrymen get 50 days of hard schooling in weapons handling and combat tactics. In contrast, those headed into noninfantry jobs get just 16 days in the muddy, mosquito-swarmed woods of Camp Lejeune in coastal North Carolina. Then they depart for schools in technical specialties ranging from food management to logistics planning and helicopter flight crews.
Once units are alerted for duty in Iraq, they will be cycled through the training at Twentynine Palms -- infantrymen and clerks, cooks and truck drivers alike.
Approximately 31,000 Marines are in Iraq -- almost 20 percent of the active-duty force that also deploys to Afghanistan, Okinawa and the major anti-terrorist base in Djibouti, on the Red Sea.
Across the Marine Corps, the unanticipated and unbudgeted requirements of rotating fresh, well-trained troops through Iraq have forced dramatic and sometimes painful adjustments and compromises.
The new, noninfantry Marines who show up for their crash course in combat at Camp Lejeune each year are well aware of the building pressure. They literally run from one event to the next, and in their final field exercise they work around the clock, snatching 20 or 30 minutes of sleep when they can.
"I wish we did have more time," said Capt. Dan Snyder, who oversees the teaching of 54 specific combat skills. "It's difficult to do in the time we have." That's incentive for Camp Lejeune's instructors -- many of them veterans of combat in Iraq -- to bear down hard during the 16 days in the field.
"You have a 70 percent chance of going into combat, a 5 percent chance of getting killed or wounded -- pay attention!" Staff Sgt. Charles Kilgore, a combat instructor, barked at a formation of exhausted Marines in sodden, sweat-stained fatigues and muddy boots. "I've definitely seen a ramp-up in intensity here," said Capt. Mark Reid, who oversees combat instructors. "This is not, 'Let us entertain you on your way to jet mechanics school.' What they're learning here they will be doing in Iraq or Afghanistan."
"It's demanding," admitted Pvt. Daniel Sanabria-Morales, 22, of North Plainfield, N.J. "In boot camp they tell you how to do everything. Here you gotta be thinking. And we're constantly on the move."
The Marines are tested on each of the 54 specific skills they must master, answering questions on written tests and demonstrating proficiency in front of an instructor. Those who fail are retaught until they can pass.
But money is short, and so is time.
Staff Sgt. Don Allen, a combat instructor, said his trainees watch demonstrations of the M203 grenade launcher, the Squad Automatic Weapon and the .50-caliber machine gun, but not everyone gets to actually fire the weapons.
"It's financial," said Allen, a combat engineer who fought in Iraq last year with the 8th Marines. "I wish I had the money for them to shoot actual rounds. When I went through this training in 1995, we all shot every weapon."
The final 36 hours of Camp Lejeune's 16-day course begins at 5 a.m. and ends with a 15-kilometer march with full combat loads. In between are back-to-back classes and field exercises.
"It's not that stressful; it's more fun," said Pvt. Rosalind Sanchez of Menifee, Calif. "This is why I joined."
"They give you too much information, class after class," said Pfc. Christopher Schneider, a 20-year-old from Longwood, Fla., who will train as an aircraft airframe mechanic. "But if I went to Iraq, I'd definitely feel confident."