Die Jakkalsgat

Sunday, November 14, 2004

US mechanised infantry battalion structure

There’s been a request over at Adventures of Chester for a basic introduction to unit structures and sizes. I’m not surprised really. I remember last year, a survey in the US during the initial invasion of Iraq suggested people thought the 3-7th Cavalry was a bigger unit than the 3rd Infantry Division. Over the top reporting by the CNN embed with 3-7th was to blame.

I guess the best way to start to explain this is to use a real example. I’ve chosen the sister unit of the 3-7th which is also one of the units engaged in the Battle for Falluja: 2-7th Cavalry.

2-7th CAV (IN) is mechanised infantry battalion equipped with the M1A2 Bradley (BFV). In barracks, it consists of a headquarters and headquarters company (HHC) and three mechanised infantry companies (normally named A thru C). An infantry company consists of a headquarters element and 3 platoons. Each company has 14 BFVs and a number of other assorted vehicles. Each company has about 135 troops and a very limited self-sufficiency. HHC is the largest company of the battalion in respect of manpower, about 250-300 personnel, but only 2 further BFVs. In HHC there is maintenance, medics, scouts, comms and logistics elements.

In total the 2-7th CAV (IN) accounts for about 650-700 personnel, 44 BFV and numerous other assorted vehicles.


However, when deployed on operations, the structure is very different. On operations it takes on the mantle of a Task Force (TF) and has sub-units attached and detached. TF 2-7 CAV is nominally based at Camp Cooke near Taji. TF 2-7 CAF looks a little like this:
· HHC/2-7 CAV
· A/2-7 CAV (IN)
· C/2-7 CAV (IN)
· C/3-8 CAV (AR)
· B/2-162 IN
· B/215 FSB

In otherwords, it has ‘lost’ the 14 BFVs of B Coy, and in return ‘gained’ the 14 Abrams tanks of C Coy of 3-8 CAV (AR), B Coy of light infantry from 2-162 IN Oregan National Guard and B Coy of 215th FSB (supporting elements).


For the Battle of Falluja, I suspect that the National Guardsmen have remained in Taji area as TF 2-7 CAV has been supporting the ‘light infantry’ of the USMC.

I hope this helps, and makes sense. If there is any interest, I can go into far more detail of how the units are structured, light infantry, mechanised infantry, tanks – US or UK military.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Some small updates to USMC orbat OIF 2B

Original text amended.

See here: http://jakkalsgat.blogspot.com/2004/11/usmc-orbat-in-iraq.html

17 - 12 Ireland

So the end of the Grand Slam already. Still, Ireland played well and deserve the win.

England next week. Beware of the wounded lion!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Black Watch BG orbat: Camp Dogwood

It's been publically released that the deployment of UK forces into the 24 MEU AO in North Babil Province is approx. 850 total troops. These can be broken down something like this:

Black Watch Battle Group
500 - 1st Btn, Black Watch Regiment
50 - 40 Commando, RM (backfilling!)
75 - REME
25 - RLC
5 - RAMC / QARANC

Attached BW BG
100 - B coy, QDG
70 - RE, RLC EOD, RMP, AGC and AAC

There is also a small number (5?) making up a National Liaison Headquarters Element embedded into 24 MEU HQ under Colonel Tim Allen.

We salute you!

USMC orbat in Iraq

updated 10:40Z 14Nov04

Best orbat I can come up with for OIF 2B is as follows (ground elements only - and concentrating on the Grunts/PBIs):

A) 'General' orbat prior Op. Al Fajr
1 MEF - HQ Al Asad:
1 Mar Div - HQ Ramadi : Maj Gen Rick Natonski
1 RCT / 1 MarDiv - Falluja : Col Mike Shupp
7 RCT / 1 MarDiv - Qaim / Husaybah : Col Craig Tucker
2 BCT / 2 Inf Div - Ramadi : Col Gary Patton

1 RCT / 1 MarDiv - Camp Falluja
3-1 MAR - Camp Abu Ghurayb
3-5 MAR - Camp Baharia (C/2 Tk Btn and D/2 LAR attached)

7 RCT / 1 MarDiv - Al Asad
1/23 MAR - Hit
1/7 MAR - Qaim / Husaybah
1/8 MAR - Al Asad / Haditha
3 LAR (TF Wolfpack) - Korean Camp, Rutbah

2 BCT / 2 Inf Div - Ramadi
TF 1/503 AA - Camp Junction City, Habbaniyah
TF 1/506 AA - Camp Junction City, Habbaniyah
TF 1/9 INF - Camp Ramadi, Ramadi

Others USMC units in I MEF OIF 2B :
2-5 MAR (A/2 Tk Btn attached) - Ramadi (prob. opcom 1 Mar Div)
2 Reconnaissance Btn : H&S, A and B Coys
2 Tank Btn : A and C Coy only
2 LAR : A and D Coy only


B) Other USMC units in Iraq are as follows:
24 MEU - North Babil Province (under opcon MNB SC)
1/2 MAR - Latifiyah
2/24 MAR - Latifiyah
11 MEU - South Babil Province (under opcon MNB SC)
1/4 MAR - Najaf / Diwaniyah
(also under upcon 2/12 CAV - Najaf / Diwaniyah)
31 MEU - Hmmmmm!
1/3 MAR


C) Orbat for Op. Al Fajr
Securing West Bank of Euphrates and bridges:
3 LAR : Lt Col Steve Dinauer
36th Commando btn ING

Entry into Jolan district N West sector:
TF 2/7 CAV : Lt Col Jim Rainey
3/5 MAR : Lt Col Patrick Malay
3/1 MAR : Lt Col Willy Buhl

Entry into N Central sector:
1/3 MAR : Lt Col Michael Ramos
1/8 MAR : Lt Col Gareth Brandl
5th btn / 3rd bde ING
2nd btn / 1st bde ING

Entry into Askari district N East sector:
TF 2/2 IN : Lt Col Pete Newall

Blocking positions:
- Assume 2 BCT / 2 Inf Div blocking positions to north of Falluja
- Assume 2 BCT / 1 Cav Div blocking positions to east of Falluja
- Assume 3 LAR holding west bank of Euphrates with the 36th Commando btn ING?
- Assume 24 MEU blocking positions to south of Fallujah. 1/2 MAR in front rank east of Euphrates, Black Watch BG west of Euphrates.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Is the UK in need of Security Sector Reform?

The UK media circus is on Tony’s back again, this time over his apparent interference with the Army Board’s restructuring plan ‘Future Infantry Structure’. A big question mark now hangs over the UK's civil-military relationship.

In an advanced liberal democracy, it is any government’s inherent responsibility and right to define the broad policy guidelines from which the military themselves define the ‘best’ way forward. If Tony Blair wishes to make it policy that all six Scottish line infantry regiments must remain as is, then so be it. If he feels it is easier to order a rethink from the Army chiefs rather than deal with the mutterings of his own back-benchers, who are we to criticise?

However, this needs to be put into its proper context.

‘Future Infantry Structure’ only exists because of government policy. Government policy determines where, when, and at what scale the Army deploys. The old structure simply cannot keep up with all these ‘new’ demands. Secondly, the cut-back in total manpower, and the disbandment of 4 infantry battalions, is directly connected with the desire to save money. Who determines the military budget? The government! Remember, if ‘Future Infantry Structure’ had nothing to do with money, the Army Board would make the structural changes AND keep the personnel levels up. Not so?

Nevertheless, for the past 6-12 months, the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has been spinning the line that this is purely an Army decision: they (the Army) want the changes, they suggest the disbandments and so on. The government doesn’t like to be criticised that it is cutting back the military to save money, at the very time when British troops are being killed in Iraq. Could ‘Buff’ Hoon pass the buck any more clearly?

So what’s the problem with civil-military relations? Tony Blair and his cronies seem to think that they have the right to meddle and interfere at any point in the process WITHOUT accepting any responsibility for the actions. Is that right?

Carla del Ponte at NATO

The following text was written recently by a good friend who initially asked me for my opinion and comments on it. He's quite a senior bod at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and since we have both just finished doing a post-graduate degree course in international relations, I can vouch for the fact that he does actually know a bit about the subject matter.

We got talking about the internet and blogging and he suggested I add it to my pages. I've already warned him that, other than myself, he is the only other person now that knows 'Die Jakkalsgat' even exists! Ha! Ha!

In order to appreciate the text, it helps if you have a bit of knowledge already on the subject, and more importantly, and interest in the matter. Otherwise, it will just be a complete bore.

Carla del Ponte and ICTY: Pushing Water Uphill?

On 3rd November 2004, The Chief Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Ms. Carla del Ponte addressed the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s highest permanent political authority. During her speech, she managed not only to criticise the authorities in Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH) - in particular Republika Srpska - and Serbia Montenegro (SCG), but also NATO itself and the wider International Community. Moreover, she bemoans the withdrawal of funding by some states, and the removal of intelligence assets to better focus on the Middle East; she is clearly not a satisfied woman. At what point will she realise that ‘pushing water uphill’ is not just a thankless task, but also neigh on impossible?

Previous addresses by Ms. del Ponte to NATO and the United Nations Security Council have been more selective in their criticism, invariably directed in the main against Serbia, in particular its stubbornness in not providing full cooperation to her and her prosecutors. This address was more even-handed, and even showed a glimmer of compromise. Maybe, the hard ‘truths’ are at last beginning to dawn upon her: the ICTY has not, and will not, bring reconciliation, peace and security to the former Yugoslavia; and that those states that were most vigorous in using the ICTY, either by default or by design, as a political tool, are now recognising that ‘international justice’ is a double-edged sword. If Slobodan Milosevic, as Commander-in-Chief, can be prosecuted for preparing and permitting an environment in which individual war crimes were committed in Kosovo, then surely George Bush and Tony Blair should accept similar responsibility for similar crimes in Iraq. If the use of force against armed insurgents using terror tactics in Kosovo by the Yugoslav Military (VJ) through 1998 and 1999 is considered ‘disproportionate’ – and thus a war crime; then the US Army’s tactics in Iraq must also be considered ‘disproportionate’ and war crimes.

In her address, Ms. del Ponte states, “the Serbian authorities are not ready to arrest and transfer the persons indicted,” and suggests that the main reason for this is that certain “networks” have manipulated the Serbia media, and thus public perception, into believing that the “indictees are … heroes.” For the first time, Ms. del Ponte is ‘recognising’ the problem – but she still fails to ‘understand’ the problem. Prime Minister Kostunica is not against the arrest and transfer of the indictees simply for the sake of being stubborn, nor is it because he feels the indictees have no case to answer, nor even is he against the basic principles of the ICTY; indeed, as del Ponte rightly notes, he is actually encouraging “voluntary surrenders.” His concern is the damaging effect such a move will have on the very stability of Serbia. An authorisation to arrest and transfer would be akin to political suicide - his coalition minority government would fall - resulting almost inevitably in a Radical Party (SRS) government under Tomislav Nikolic. Surely no NATO member state would welcome that result? Cooperation with the ICTY is no longer a question of morals or ethics, nor even of seeing justice served – Kostunica is clearly in favour of prosecuting the individuals concerned, but in Serbia not the Hague - it is now simply a matter of political practicalities, and whether the ICTY is likely to help or to hinder the process of long-term peace, stability and reconciliation in the Western Balkan region.

Nevertheless, there is some encouragement in this address for Serbia. Previously, Ms. del Ponte and her team of prosecutors have stressed their expectation that all indictees would be tried in the Hague. There is now explicit recognition that only the “most senior officials” need appear at the Hague, and the less prominent cases may be held locally. This is a major step forward for Serbia. Although there is no clear definition as to who is a “most senior official” and who is not, the apprehension of Ratko Mladic and/or Radovan Karadzic could well result in a agreement for Pavkovic, Lukic, Lazarevic et al to be tried in Belgrade - a compromise that has a strong possibility of public acceptance in Serbia. Moreover, there has now a recognition within NATO circles that the actual apprehension of suspects who are well aware that they are ‘on the run’, is not a simple process. If SFOR can be criticised by del Ponte in their repeated failures to locate and apprehend Karadzic, they (NATO member states) can hardly point fingers at Serbia. However, there are still some who feel the matter is a relatively simple process. Daniel Serwer, Director of the Balkans Initiative at the United States Institute of Peace, believes that Kostunica’s “impeccable nationalist credentials” should make extraditions to the ICTY a formality. In effect, he is implying that Kostunica is colluding with Mladic and Karadzic in their attempts to evade justice. What he is ignoring is the fact that even if Kostunica can establish, or already has, communication with said fugitives, the moment he makes the slightest move against them, they will break contact. Kostunica can exert as much influence as he likes over the ‘nationalist’ element in Serbia, with carrots and sticks, but if Mladic chooses not to listen, it is all in vain. It is doubtful that Mladic will be impressed by “impeccable nationalist credentials”.

The third element of encouragement in del Ponte’s address must be the general acceptance by her that ‘uncooperation’ is not an exclusively Serb trait. Some may wish to over-highlight the specific criticism of Serbia, but it is equally damning of all concerned. Indeed, reading between the lines, one should see her constant ‘frustration’ with Serbia in comparison to her ‘condemnation’ of the Kosovo Albanian position. Serbs can argue over whether the ICTY is ‘truly’ unbiased or not, whether it is a ‘political charade’ or not, but the fact remains that the prosecutors of the ICTY can only work with the evidence and the information put before them. The ‘Srebrenica case’ began with Radislav Krstic as the sole indictee, but has now developed as ‘new’ evidence comes to light, to encompass an additional eight individuals – including sufficient material to indict Naser Oric. Slobodan Milosevic, irrespective of his apparent contempt for the due process, has managed to effect significant changes in the understanding of the nature of Yugoslavia’s break-up within sections of the International Community; this would not have been possible if he were not on trial in the Hague.

The ‘Hague’ court may well close down sometime in the near future due to a lack of funds and a tiring of international patience, but the ICTY legacy will not go away. War crimes courts will be active in Belgrade, Zagreb, Sarajevo and elsewhere for many years to come. The only way that Mladic and Karadzic will evade justice completely is if they die before they are found and caught. Are they any more willing to present themselves before a prosecutor in Belgrade or Banja Luka? It is doubtful.

Although some will always believe that the ICTY exists purely to punish the Serbs, it is simply not so. The aim of the ICTY is to, “bring to justice persons allegedly responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law; to render justice to the victims; to deter further crimes; and to contribute to the restoration of peace by promoting reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia.” If a Serb has committed a crime, he should be punished. The fact that others, i.e. non-Serbs, also committed crimes does not provide an excuse, a justification, nor exemption from the legal process. But if the ‘system’ is not delivering on those aims, then maybe a change of the system is warranted. The process has already begun for the transfer of cases to local courts. This move must be applauded. The extradition of individuals to the Hague has given rise to the opportunity for the accused to become martyrs in the eyes of their supporters. This has entrenched nationalistic rhetoric and driven people further apart – contrary to the specific aims of the ICTY for reconciliation. If a case is heard locally, there is far better expectation that the public will actually take note of the ‘charge sheet’ - rather than blindly offering ‘Serbian brotherhood and unity’ - and then begin to understand what crimes have been perpetrated ‘in their name’. Samo sloga Srbina spašava will not make a murderer innocent.

Moreover, the sequencing of this hand-over is most welcome. Moving cases to Serbian courts in advance of a Mladic/Karadzic extradition, suggests genuine international desire to ‘work with’ Serbia rather than to ‘punish’ Serbia. This is in direct contrast to the approach proposed by Daniel Serwer. At a recent US Congressional Hearing, he stated, “When both the U.S. and EU agree to withhold assistance and block IMF loans, all of the war criminals in Serbia will go to The Hague.” He is, in effect, advocating a policy of ‘starving to the point of surrender’ the Serbian people. This is a serious accusation, but it is also the likely outcome of his policy - if that policy is pursued to its fullest extent. Let’s examine the process. If Serbia remains uncooperative, it is to lose all international aid; then the economy will collapse; those with skills and money will emigrate; the SRS will be elected to power; the SRS government will pursue policies of further isolationism and truculence towards international organisations – still no indictees are extradited and the local justice process halts. At this point the International Community reaches a cross-roads, to accept failure and work with the SRS government, or impose and enforce even more severe sanctions. One can only expect the worse. In effect, Daniel Serwer’s recommended policy is underpinned by the assumption that a Serbian politician will step forward and campaign for election on the platform of: ‘I surrender!’ This is unlikely to happen at any time in the near future. Serbs will have to be on the point of starvation before they agree to this form of government. In this context, any moves by the International Community, in particular the ICTY, to work with Serbia must be welcomed and encouraged.

Kostunica heads a minority government that faces daily criticism from the Radicals, the so-called Democrats, and even from within his own coalition when it comes to actual policy application – although all in the coalition agree on the broad policy direction. It is very difficult to imagine a more unstable political situation. Any overt and genuine effort by the International Community to recognise and support Kostunica’s reform process; the economic; the democratic; as well as judicial reforms, will provide a much needed fillip. The more the International Community can overtly contribute, by placing ‘faith’ and/or ‘trust’ in Kostunica’s hands, the more stable the platform becomes. Political stability will encourage further inward investment to Serbia, improving economic conditions and undermine the grassroots support base of the SRS. Furthermore, Kostunica can use this stability and economic improvement as the basis for arguing for better cooperation from Serbia with the International Community. Remember, it is not the Serbian Government that needs to be ‘encouraged’ by the International Community to be more cooperative – even under Zoran Djindjic it remained quite resilient to such efforts – it is the Serbian people that need to be ‘encouraged’ by their own government. Whereas Serwer still fails to recognise this, del Ponte maybe now does. However, both fail to ‘understand’ the dynamics of this three-way relationship, and thus are unlikely to achieve a desirable result.

This policy approach may not immediately produce Mladic in front of a judge in the Hague, but it will provide the basis of a more stable and peaceful Serbia. Remember, economic impoverishment is considered to be the single most important factor in creating discontent, political and security instability and so on. Just what is more important to the wider International Community: a queue of alleged war criminals outside the ICTY front door; or a stable, prosperous and peaceful Serbia. The assumption that the only way to achieve the second is via the first is false. Moreover, the divisions between the various Peoples of the former Yugoslavia are no less entrenched today than yesterday. The ICTY’s remoteness is part of the problem. It has now come to the point where a Hague based ICTY can only achieve its stated aim of bringing about reconciliation if all the indictees are found guilty. Imagine that the Mladic case is dismissed or he is found innocent, after all that has been claimed and assumed over the past decade, can anyone realistically expect inter-ethnic tolerance to improve? In order for the ICTY to bring understanding and reconciliation to the various communities, there is a presumption of guilt against the accused. Is this the way forward?

Carla del Ponte has an unenviable task: to turn into reality an almost impossibility. In many ways she has become, by default, the ‘bad cop’ in a familiar double act routine. Individual states can approach Serbia offering incentives and inducements, then threaten to throw Serbia to the ICTY wolves if they do not comply. The inducement of a trade-off from the US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Pierre-Richard Prosper over the past 12 months were initially quashed by del Ponte’s office, however, now it seems to have become policy - only the precise definition of who constitutes a “most senior official” remains unanswered. Del Ponte has always been an independent maverick, upsetting the US almost as much as she has upset Serbia. Has the US now been able to ‘tame’ her, or has she finally realised that pushing water uphill is neither efficient not sensible?There is just one more observation to be made. In this latest address, there is a definite shift away from emphasising the need to bring peace and reconciliation – a tacit confirmation that the ICTY is not delivering? – to highlighting the need to bring justice to the victims. More than anything else this should be applauded. However, justice need not be determined in the Hague, and administered by the International Community. Maybe, just maybe, justice would be better served if it comes from within rather than without.

Running short on security in Iraq?

You have just got to laugh at this ...

U.S. To Send 30,000 Mall Security Guards To Iraq
WASHINGTON, DC—Pressed for additional troops to police the Iraqi general elections scheduled for January, the Pentagon announced Monday that it will dispatch 30,000 U.S. shopping-mall security guards to the troubled Sunni Triangle region.
"A force of security guards trained to protect retail stores across America will be deployed to the Persian Gulf region," said Maj. Peter Archibald, a spokesman for Central Command. "Once in Iraq, security teams will fortify ground forces and assist them in keeping the peace and quelling any horseplay."
According to Archibald, the Pentagon wanted to bolster forces in Iraq without further extending the tours of soldiers currently in the theater. The solution should offer the additional advantage, Archibald said, of potentially dispelling the public's rising concerns over a possible military draft.
"We found that mall security guards are as well-trained and ready to face danger as the coalition-trained military police," Archibald said. "They may not have the power of arrest, but real authority is only a walkie-talkie call away."
Hired by the Defense Department through a number of licensed, reputable firms, the security guards will work independent of the roughly 135,000 troops currently stationed in Iraq. The guards will receive an hourly wage from the U.S. government, and they will be eligible for health and dental benefits after six months.
A test deployment of 1,000 mall security guards to Najaf in September convinced skeptical coalition officials that private-sector security forces provide a palpable sense of order.

http://theonion.com/news/index.php?issue=4045&n=1


Monday, November 08, 2004

Meerkats and buffaloes in Iraq

I spent far too long on the Border wondering when the World was going to appreciate my effort and say, 'Thank You!' I was just a 'rooinek', but if you're an 'oed troepie' you'll know what I mean. Far too much blood was spilt for no return. Can anyone make sense of why why Cubans would want to shoot at me in Angola?

Anyway, here's something we should be proud of:

New vehicles allow GIs to find, remove hidden IEDs

By Rick Scavetta, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Sunday, January 4, 2004

BALAD, Iraq — Using recently fielded mine detection vehicles, soldiers from Company C, 489th Engineer Battalion are hunting roadside bombs similar to those that have killed and maimed dozens of U.S. troops in Iraq over the past six months.

Equipped with South African-designed vehicles — the Meerkat and the Buffalo — the Arkansas-based Army Reserve troops have taken an Army side project to the forefront in the military’s efforts to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

Insurgents aiming to demoralize the U.S.-led coalition often stage ambushes with crude explosives hidden among debris along convoy routes or buried near roads.

The platoon of combat engineers, who had been working odd jobs in Kuwait, are now sweeping major convoy routes in central Iraq to clear highway shoulders and medians.

Cramped in the single seat Meerkat, Spc. Stephen Fowler, 22, of Fayetteville, Ark., examined a stretch of Highway 1 last week with the tractor’s powerful winglike metal detectors.

“We have certain audible tones when we find something,” Fowler said.

An ink jet marks the spot. Soldiers in the heavily armored Buffalo pry suspicious objects from the ground with a remote-controlled fork. Sappers — engineers trained in explosives — can then demolish the device.

Both vehicles are designed to protect soldiers from a blast, said Sgt. 1st Class Ed Fletcher, an Oklahoma native supervising the operation.

“It can take up to 20 pounds of TNT and everybody inside will survive,” Fletcher said. “The vehicle is down, but the passengers are all right.”

In June, civilian contractor Shon Craig, 50, of Manassas, Va., arrived in Iraq with the $1.5 million Interim Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection System, a package of several mine-detecting vehicles that the military has kept for five years, Craig said. The equipment, based on South African anti-mine technology, saw action last March at the U.S. airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, he said.

At first, the Army in Iraq was not interested in manning or field-testing the new equipment, Craig said. The mine threat was minimal, and units were busy changing from combat to occupation duties, he said.

But for six weeks, South African trainers taught Fletcher’s platoon about the equipment from the inside out. Then soldiers translated the schooling into Army tactics. And there were no mine-clearing missions.

Meanwhile, IED attacks against U.S. troops were rising.

“They had all this multimillion-dollar equipment sitting around, so we put it to use against IEDs,” Fletcher said. “It was pretty scary at first.”

On an early mission, the crew stumbled upon an IED half-buried in a foxhole.

“It was an artillery round. You could see the blasting cap and the wire coming out the end of it,” Fletcher said.

His soldiers fanned into a security perimeter and traced the wire’s end; thankfully, no enemy was attached, Fletcher said.

Sgt. Brad Lipe, 24, of Van Buren, Ark., operated a Buffalo for two months.

During that time, he found IEDs and other unexploded munitions. Years of video games prepared him to maneuver the Buffalo’s mechanical arm using only a small display screen to watch the nine-pronged fork scrape into the dirt.

“At first you are a little nervous, but after numerous times it becomes routine,” Lipe said. “You get used to seeing certain things, and know when something’s been put there.”

The Buffalo’s long arm jabs into the crusty roadside. Watching a screen on the dashboard, the operator uses the arm’s camera to pluck out objects.

Much of the time, they find debris.

“We’ve found everything from manhole covers to mufflers,” Lipe said.

At times, locals will point out potential bomb sights, for fear that an attack could harm their children, Lipe said.

Now, the team is sharing their experiences with fellow soldiers, as the company trains other units to use the gear.

“The Army decided to train us up on this and they like how we did,” Fletcher said. “So, they bought several more systems.”

The operation caught the attention of top brass, said Lt. Col. Kent Savre, commander of the Fort Lewis Wash.-based 864th Engineer Battalion, the team’s higher headquarters.

Savre, 43, of Edina, Minn., recommended that the Army supply one system to each division in Iraq. Three weeks after filing the request, a half-dozen more sets were shipped out, Savre said.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 19 years in the Army,” Savre said. “The senior leaders saw the threat and immediately bought more [systems].”

Both the Fallujah-based 82nd Airborne Division and the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit sent troops to Balad to train for clearing missions in their sectors. Another team recently deployed to southern Iraq to begin work there.

“They’re figuring it out and morphing this equipment into something useful,” said Col. Gregg Martin, commander of the 130th Engineer Brigade, who oversees much of the Army’s engineers in Iraq. “This is cutting-edge stuff.”

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Die Stem

There is only one possible way to start this blog: Die Stem

Uit die blou van onse hemel, uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes waar die kranse antwoord gee.
Deur ons ver-verlate vlaktes met die kreun van ossewa -
Ruis die stem van ons geliefde, van ons land Suid-Afrika.

Ons sal antwoord op jou roepstem, ons sal offer wat jy vra:
Ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe - ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika

In die merg van ons gebeente, in ons hart en siel en gees,
In ons roem op ons verlede, in ons hoop of wat sal wees,
In ons wil en werk en wandel, van ons wieg tot aan ons graf -
Deel geen ander land ons liefde, trek geen ander trou ons af.

Vaderland! ons sal die adel van jou naam met ere dra:
Waar en trou as Afrikaners - kinders van Suid-Afrika.

In die songloed van ons somer, in ons winternag se kou,
In die lente van ons liefde, in die lanfer van ons rou,
By die klink van huweliksklokkies, by die kluitklap op die kis -
Streel jou stem ons nooit verniet nie, weet jy waar jou kinders is.

Op jou roep sê ons nooit nee nie, sê ons altyd, altyd ja:
Om te lewe, om te sterwe - ja, ons kom Suid-Afrika.

Op U Almag vas vertrouend het ons vadere gebou:
Skenk ook ons die krag, o Here! om te handhaaf en te hou -
Dat die erwe van ons vad're vir ons kinders erwe bly:
Knegte van die Allerhoogste, teen die hele wêreld vry.

Soos ons vadere vertrou het, leer ook ons vertrou, o Heer -
Met ons land en met ons nasie sal dit wel wees, God regeer.

CJ Langenhoven, 1918.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

And in English ...

Ringing out from our blue heavens, from our deep seas breaking round;
Over everlasting mountains where the echoing crags resound;
From our plains where creaking wagons cut their trails into the earth -
Calls the spirit of our Country, of the land that gave us birth.

At thy call we shall not falter, firm and steadfast we shall stand,
At thy will to live or perish, O South Africa, dear land.

In our body and our spirit, in our inmost heart held fast;
in the promise of our future and the glory of our past;
In our will, our work, our striving, from the cradle to the grave -
There's no land that shares our loving, and no bond that can enslave.

Thou hast borne us and we know thee. May our deeds to all proclaim
Our enduring love and service to thy honour and thy name.

In the golden warmth of summer, in the chill of winter's air,
in the surging life of springtime, in the autumn of despair;
When the wedding bells are chiming or when those we love do depart;
Thou dost know us for thy children and dost take us to thy heart.

Loudly peals the answering chorus; We are thine, and we shall stand,
Be it life or death, to answer to thy call, beloved land.

In thy power, Almighty, trusting, did our fathers build of old;
Strengthen then, O Lord, their children to defend, to love, to hold -
That the heritage they gave us for our children yet may be;
Bondsmen only of the Highest and before the whole world free.

As our fathers trusted humbly, teach us, Lord, to trust Thee still;
Guard our land and guide our people in Thy way to do Thy will.