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Hunting al-Qaida in Iraq
Up-close look at U.S. soldiers' preparations for 'Operation Snake'
Posted: October 18, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
Editor's note: Reporter Matt Sanchez, currently embedding with military units throughout both Iraq and Afghanistan, has been providing WND readers with a glimpse into the Iraq war most Americans have never seen.
By Matt Sanchez
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Take a Knee: This infantry Marine rifleman was always alert even when there was no one on the horizon. Going to one knee makes for more stable shooting and Marines spend hours practicing "snapping in," learning how to make the body conform to the needs of the weapon and not the other way around. This is key in 100-degree-plus weather.
Terror and anonymity go hand in hand. It's hard to be a terrorist when everyone knows who you are. An attack takes a certain detachment, stealth and a craven willingness to kill people you've probably never met. Ramadi, Fallujah, Baghdad – one by one, as neighbors learn who lives next to them and repel those who mean harm, terrorists have moved out of the cities and into the outskirts, the areas that have had little or no authority.
Operation Snake was slated to begin at 0200, 2 a.m.
FOB Sedgwick, in the middle of nowhere and not far from the Syrian border, had running water, electricity, a gym, air-conditioned housing and enough bandwidth to run an encrypted computer network and phone system. The base perimeter was a berm – a type of wall made from pushed-up dirt, a simple defense just as old as the earliest cities in human history that sprung up in what is currently known as Iraq.
The FOB (forward operating base) was a very busy place, with hundreds of soldiers prepared to convoy to the next big bases, Marines settled into SWAHs (South West Asian Huts) while Navy Seabees cut wood, laid pipe, ran wire and moved heavy equipment. It was hard to believe FOB Sedgwick did not exist only three weeks before.
"It's called a COP in a box," that is, a Combat Operation Post ready-to-go, explained Maj. Andrew (Drew) Kelly. A native of Syracuse, N.Y., and a class of '94 graduate of West Point, at 35 years of age Maj. Kelly was a brigade engineer and part of a team that created these tiny modern villages in remote areas that had more nomad tents than solid buildings. They chose the spot for this strategic base because of two tiny "hard structures" which fishermen used to collect and cook the day's catch.
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