Thursday, August 28, 2003


But a lot of work for the troops.
Instead of the more than 20 bases now scattered around Baghdad, the 1st Armored Division plans to consolidate its 35,000 troops into four major, brigade-level forward operating bases by early next year, according to the division’s commander, Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.

“I’m bringing [the smaller bases] in to protect them,” Dempsey said earlier this month. “Right now, I am using 33 percent of my combat power to protect [the troops].”

That’s a level that cannot be sustained, Dempsey said. And if he tried, he said, “I’ll turn [the division] into a self-licking ice-cream cone.”

Dempsey’s plan is to consolidate at the brigade level, using four major forward operating bases, or “FOBs.” His target date to complete the job is Jan 1.

The bases will be located at Taggi, about 20 miles north of Baghdad; Baghdad International Airport, on the south side of the city; Al Rashid Airbase, on the east side of Baghdad; and “Camp Falcon,” where some of the 82nd Airborne troops are now.

All of the bases are well outside Baghdad — a major change as some U.S. military personnel are stationed in residential neighborhoods.

To me this makes sense - especially from a long-term perspective, though I suspect there will be much grumbling about it. For one thing many of the troops have spent an enormous amount of time and energy upgrading their own living and working spaces. Some of these improvements may not get to travel to the new locations.

And, some of those who currently find themselves in the category of "the haves" will now find themselves perhaps stripped of that privilege and will be sharing with the "have nots".

But let's not lose sight of the bigger issue...this move wasn't possible when we first got to Baghdad because the mission required our guys on patrol all the time in deepest, darkest Baghdad.

That has changed. And that is a positive step forward.

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