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CG reflects on Iraqi deployment

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 4/29/2004

Story by MCAS Miramar CPAO

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.(April 29, 2004) -- Maj. Gen. Jon Gallinetti, commander of Marine Corps Air Bases Western Area, held an officer and staff noncommissioned officer professional military education seminar at the MCABWA Headquarters April 21 to reflect on his recent deployment to Iraq.

Gallinetti worked out of the Coalition Provisional Authority Headquarters, formerly Saddam Hussein's Presidential Palace in the heart of Baghdad, and served for seven months as the chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force 7.

During Gallinetti's deployment to Iraq, a country that is roughly the size of California, he witnessed first hand the dangers that troops are facing in this war-plagued country.

"From October through the end of March when we left, we had multiple rocket and mortar attacks," he said. "They were launching some of these rockets from up to 30 kilometers away... (The enemy) is getting very adaptive."

He also added that improvised explosive devices (roadside bombs) continued to inflict damage on Coalition Forces and Iraqis alike.

The rocket, mortar and IED attacks aimed at the Coalition and the Iraqi security forces slowed progress toward stability in the surrounding areas that had deteriorated from years of neglect under Saddam.

"In 35 years Saddam put very little money into the infrastructure. Yes, some of the damage was done during Iraqi Freedom and all the bombing we did, but the majority was done from the lack of infrastructure repairs," Gallinetti said.

"You don't see this in the press that often, hardly at all, but in one year there has been 20,000 projects done by military personnel and civilian contractors refurbishing and rebuilding schools, hospitals, roads, electrical power grids and oil pipes."

Gallinetti also explained what the future held for American aid to Iraq, such as $12-billion worth of projects which will employ Iraqi nationals, further lowering the unemployment rate which according to Gallinetti, was 56 percent during the beginning of the war.

According to Gallinetti, Iraq has the potential to be on of the most productive countries in the Middle East due to its tourism appeal, its reserve of oil and the means of exporting it.

"Once things get stabilized in Iraq, they have the most capability and potential than any other country in the Middle East," he said.

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