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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

I MEF establishes forward command post in Iraq


Story Identification Number: 200332614717
Story by Sgt. Joseph R. Chenelly

MARINE COMBAT HEADQUARTERS, Southern Iraq(March 22, 2003) -- First Marine Expeditionary Force's headquarters element and other command and control assets convoyed across the Kuwait-Iraq border and headed north March 22.

In just about the middle of nowhere, Marines have stood up a forward operating base from which they are now running the Corps' portion of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Immediately after passing through the United Nations' border checkpoint, which is now mostly manned by Kuwaiti forces, Iraqi civilians flocked the Marines' vehicles. Most waved while others just moved in to catch a glimpse of the military might pass by.

Locals not on the roadside were tending fires burning inside buildings. A thick stench of smoldering rubble saturated the air. Some structures stood in fine shape while others were in ruins. Shards of burnt steel protruded from piles of stone.

The convoy rolled through the smoke filled street, and the Marines drove on throughout the night. Pyrotechnics from nearby military operations and dozens of oil fires lit up the otherwise pitch-dark sky. Plumes of black smoke blocked out the near-full moon. At least one oil well and numerous pipelines were ablaze.

Anti-air craft fire could be seen firing upward. Shortly after, a coalition-response could be seen coming downward. Artillery impacts could be seen, heard and felt. Armored vehicles, tanks and other convoys rumbled by the I MEF warriors.

Convoy commanders employed maps and global positioning satellites to guide the long lines of tightly packed trucks and fully loaded humvees. Vehicle commanders worked to keep the convoys together as they wound through the darkness.

Some wrong turns were made and a few breaks in the vehicle trains occurred, but every Marine made it to the patch of desert in southern Iraq from which I MEF is now commanded.

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