Ground forces commander: 'You cannot fail'

4 Aug 2003 | Sgt. Colin Wyers

Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, Combined Joint Task Force 7 commanding general, took time Aug. 4 to talk to Marines of the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, commending their work and answering their questions.Army supply convoys leaving Living Support Area Dogwood, an Army logistics base located 10 miles south of Baghdad that supports the Army's 1st Armored Division in Baghdad, were being attacked by regime loyalists and Islamic fundamentalists in the very north of the First Marine Expeditionary Force's area of operations. Task Force Scorpion, which put several First Marine Division infantry companies under the reserve LAR battalion, was formed in June to take the fight to the opposition.The task force comprises about 1,000 troops."You guys are doing a fabulous job," said Sanchez. "You've taken a hot spot and calmed it down considerably. Don't for one second lose sight that this is part of the global war on terrorism. You cannot fail."Unlike most of the Marines' areas, TF Scorpion's sector is close to Baghdad, in the northern part of the Babil Province. Instead of the large Shi'ite population found in the south, the area is populated by Sunni Muslims, who were favored under the rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein."This is a low-intensity conflict," said Sanchez. "I think you know the enemy - former Saddam boys and girls. Foreign fighters are coming in from Syria as well. They all want to kill us."Dealing with that threat is TF Scorpion's mission."We're a terrorist magnet here," said Sanchez. "That's ok. We're ready to kill them, and you're doing that. We want to do it here, or we'll be fighting them in the United States. We don't want to do that; we saw what happened on September 11."As the coalition continues to engage the threat, as well as continue reconstruction efforts in Iraqi, the threat to coalition forces diminishes."Since we've killed (Saddam Hussein's sons) Uday and Qusay, the number of attacks have dropped," said Sanchez. "But it's not over."General Sanchez told the assembled Marines that their experiences as Americans would help them to help shape a new, better Iraq."There is no better military to send into this kind of environment than the U.S. military," said Sanchez. "The problems in the Middle East - it's about religion, it's about ethnicity, it's about politics. Look around you. You see blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, Protestants, all focused on defending the United States. People can't even understand how to do that. Try to bring some of your values, your ethics over here, so these people can have a better country."The general's comments were well received by the troops, who peppered him with questions about the overall situation in Iraq."It's motivating that a unit of such small size, could do such a good job that a general in such an important position would notice and give thanks," said Sgt. Kristopher Bauer, 4th LAR Bn. vehicle commander, from Redding, Calif. "It gives great credit to the Marines that our efforts are making a difference."