Thursday, March 04, 2004

Just minutes after arriving at this Army processing base next to the Kuwait International Airport Tuesday night, Iraq-bound Marines were given a simple welcome: "You are now in a combat zone."

As the troops crowded onto wooden benches in a prefabricated aluminum building, all eyes locked on a huge TV screen where a taped message from Army Lt. Gen. David McKiernan briefed them on what to expect as they move north to their operating base in western Iraq during the next few weeks.

The brief included many sobering warnings, including tips on how to spot roadside bombs, how to avoid ambushes, and that the first general rule is: "There are no sanctuaries in this theater of operations."...

Dozens of Iraq-bound Marines stood silent and stunned in an airport terminal as they watched bloody scenes broadcast from Iraq after simultaneous bombings ripped through the cities of Baghdad and Karbala.

"You alright?" Sgt. Joseph Alvarez asked a fellow Marine who looked a little peaked watching the broadcast on an overhead screen.

When the camera zoomed in on Iraqi civilians throwing rocks and garbage at U.S. soldiers, the other Marine walked away without answering.

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