Marines Ready for Another Iraqi Endeavor
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2004 Marines are getting ready to deploy again into Iraq, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee told the House Armed Services Committee today.
Hagee stressed to the congressmen that the Marine Corps is heavily committed to the war on terror. He said in the past year, Marines have been engaged in operations from Afghanistan to the Arabian Gulf. Marines have also been deployed to the Horn of Africa, Liberia, the Republic of Georgia, Colombia, Guantanamo Bay and the Philippines.
He said the Marine participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom last year was the best example of what the Marines bring to battle. "The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force deployed 70,000 Marines and sailors in less than 60 days," the commandant said. "Exploiting the operational speed, reach and inherent flexibility of sea power, the Navy and Marine Corps closely integrated with joint and coalition, and special operations engaged in 26 days of sustained combat operations, fought 10 major engagements, destroyed eight Iraqi divisions before stopping in Tikrit almost 500 miles inland."
The 1st MEF then participated in security and stability operations in five Iraqi provinces. The Multinational Division Central/South relieved the last Marine unit in Hillah in September 2002.
The Marines are preparing a return to Iraq, and many of the members of the 1st MEF will have personal experiences they can bring to the new deployment. "The Marine Corps is currently preparing to deploy forces to relieve the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division in western Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2," Hagee said. The Marines will deploy in two rotations of about seven months each.
The commandant noted that in preparation for the operation, 1st MEF has analyzed lessons learned from their own experiences in conducting security and stability operations and recent Army lessons learned. "As they did last year, 1st MEF is already working closely with U.S. Army forces in Iraq," he said.
The Marines have visited Army units, and, he said, they "have drawn from procedures used by the Los Angeles Police Department for neighborhood patrolling in gang-dominated areas, the tactics of the British in Iraq which reflect years of experience in low intensity conflicts and peacekeeping operations, as well as our own extensive small-war knowledge."
These lessons have allowed the Marines to build and conduct a comprehensive training package that includes tactics, techniques and procedures for stability and counterinsurgency operations, Hagee said. The units have conducted rigorous urban combat training, and more than 400 Marines have received Arabic language immersion.
Most of the deployment will occur over the next two months. An Army 1st Infantry Division brigade, already in place in Iraq, will work with the Marines to ensure continuity of mission, officials said.