In the Military
Kaneohe Marines confident of Iraqis' skills
By the end of their deployment, Marines from Kaneohe Bay's 3rd Battalion's Weapons Company in Baghdad say they are confident that the local police will be capable of policing the streets on their own.
Daily patrols through this dangerous region in the Euphrates Valley is the norm for these Hawaii-based Marines, a Pentagon news release said. The Marines spend their days patrolling with "jundi," the Iraqi military term for junior enlisted soldiers, in the rugged streets of Baghdad looking for insurgent activity. The Iraqis and Marines also gather information to identify and locate insurgents, like those who place IEDs and murder innocent people.
"They are cowards," said Cpl. Mark English, 22, who engaged in a firefight with insurgents May 9 while guarding a water treatment facility. "They know they do not stand a chance when fighting us face-to-face."
English, a team leader with the battalion's Lima Company, and two other Marines came under fire when insurgents opened fire from, according to English, about two football fields away and none of the rounds came within 50 meters of the Marines' location in the confines of the water treatment facility. English and the Marines under his charge had set up an observation post there to observe any insurgent activity.
Sgt. Andy Darnell, a team leader with Weapons Company, keeps a picture of his wife, Heather, taped in the corner of the windshield of his Humvee on his daily patrols in the volatile Al Anbar province.
"I love my wife," said Darnell, who has been separated from his family for more than two months now. "Knowing I will be reunited with the most wonderful person in the world keeps me motivated and focused out here. I will be with her soon enough."
Darnell, a native of Marietta, Ga., and the rest of the Weapons Company Marines have been partnered with their Iraqi counterparts in the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division.
Gunnery Sgt. Charles Huff, the intelligence adviser assigned to the Police Transition Team, says the Baghdad police are making progress toward independently patrolling Baghdad with the Iraqi army and gaining the trust of the local community.
Huff cites a recent incident when a schoolgirl fell down in the playground at her school and cut her chin. Iraqi police took the girl to one of the battalion's Navy hospital corpsmen, who cleaned and bandaged the wound. Acts like these, Huff said, will make the populace realize the police are no longer operating like a militia as they did under Saddam Hussein's regime, but as protectors in their community.
Still, Huff said the mission of making the Baghdad police independent is still in its infancy. Although the policemen have weapons such as assault rifles and pistols, protective equipment and uniforms, they still have much to learn, Huff said.
"It is going to take a while to rebuild the communities and model a structured police force here in Baghdad," he said.
Rear Adm. Townsend "Tim" Alexander, commanding officer of Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego for the past two years, will become the next commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group MIDPAC at Pearl Harbor. Alexander graduated from the University of Colorado in 1978 and is a helicopter pilot.
More than 100 veterans from World War I to the Persian Gulf are expected to attend the Disabled American Veterans and Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary annual convention Friday and Saturday at the Naniloa Hotel in Hilo. Speakers will include Paul Jackson, national commander; and Judy Steinhouse, auxiliary commander. Election of new DAV state officers will be held Saturday.
» Hickam Air Force Base:
Maj. Gen. Polly A. Peyer, who is the director of logistics at Pacific Air Forces headquarters, will become director of resource integration and deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon. Brig. Gen. Francis M. Bruno, commander of 76th Maintenance Wing at Tinker AFB, Okla., will be Peyer's replacement.
» Pearl Harbor: Rear Adm. Joseph P. Mulloy will become the deputy chief of staff for plans, policies and requirements for the Pacific Fleet. Mulloy is currently serving as chief of program and budget analysis on the Pentagon's Joint Staff.
"In the Military" was compiled from wire reports and other sources by reporter Gregg K. Kakesako
, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached by phone at 294-4075 or by e-mail at email@example.com