Jewish World Review May 8, 2003 / 6 Iyar, 5763
Dispatches from the Desert: Ammo boxes in trucks get attention of soldiers
WESTERN IRAQ It makes you feel like a proud father," said First Sgt. Jim Gowdy. "They do listen."
Gowdy has four sons back home in Canon City, Colo., and 140 more in the
enlisted ranks of the Army's Apache troop, Tiger Squadron, 3rd Armored
"It's funny how my guys can go from boys to men in a matter of minutes,"
Gowdy said. "This isn't something we practiced. But they did great."
The Apache convoy, headed yesterday toward a base camp near Qaim on the
Syrian border, was at the side of the road for a maintenance stop. Staff
Sgt. Steven Ayres of the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion noticed a
Russian-built pickup truck eastbound. It had a new paint job and green boxes
in the back.
They looked like Iraqi ammunition boxes.
Ayres had no radio in his Humvee. He raced to the vehicle behind him to
report what he had seen.
Soldiers from Apache troop quickly blocked the highway in front of and
behind the blue pickup, trapping it. Following the blue pickup was a yellow
pickup, also filled with ammunition boxes.
There were 14 men in the trucks. The troopers took them out of the trucks,
down the hill from the roadway. They had them sit in a semi-circle, about 10
feet apart from each other.
Each Iraqi was searched. Three soldiers conducted each search.
One sat in front of the suspect, showing him the proper posture to assume. A
second conducted the pat-down. The third kept his M-16 trained on the
Each of the Iraqis was given water to drink.
Other soldiers searched the trucks. The ammunition boxes in the yellow truck
- which had once contained rocket-propelled grenades - were empty. But in
the blue truck were thousands of rounds of ammunition for the ZSU-23-4
The two Arabic linguists attached to the civil affairs unit, Staff Sgt. John
Pullen and Sgt. Brian Myhre, questioned each Iraqi. The occupants of the
yellow truck said they didn't know the occupants of the blue truck, and vice
The occupants of the yellow truck said they had picked up the wooden ammo
boxes from an abandoned Iraqi military base a few kilometers to the west.
They planned to sell the wood. The occupants of the blue truck said they
were scavengers, too. They gave directions to the military base.
When Apache troop arrived at the base, they found a vast cache of weapons.
"There was enough ammo there to fill four or five aircraft hangars.
Artillery rounds, RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), anti-aircraft, you name
it," said Lt. Tim Barnes, the assistant intelligence officer for Tiger
The Iraqis were brought up the hill one by one. Pullen affixed to each one a
tag with his name and some other pertinent information. Their hands were
bound with plastic cuffs, and they were put in the back of an Army truck so
they could be taken to a former Iraqi air base where interrogators from the
Defense Intelligence Agency could question them. Other soldiers drove their
trucks to the base.
"My heart was breaking for one guy," Pullen said. "He pleaded with me to let
him go. He said he had eight kids, and they were hungry."
Pullen's compassion proved to be partially misplaced. Six of the 14 - all of
those in the blue truck, and one in the yellow truck - turned out to be
Iraqi soldiers. Several had ties to paramilitary groups that have fought in
support of the Saddam Hussein regime. They remain in custody, and the truck
is now the property of the United States government.
The soldiers in the blue truck apparently were using the civilians in the
yellow truck as Judas goats to distract attention. If the story of the men
in the yellow truck checks out, they'll be released, and their truck
returned to them.
"We don't want to hurt poor people who are just trying to make a buck off
the regime that took so much from them, but we can't afford to take
chances," Barnes said. "Not everybody out here is a friendly."
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
administration. Comment by clicking here.
05/06/03: Syrian border diarist: Only trouble in Iraq seems to be news
04/28/03: Loser generals : They shot (off their mouths) and missed
04/25/03: A war we could lose
04/21/03: The "Collaborators' News Network"
04/14/03: Axis of Weasels is coming to its senses?
04/11/03: Peace will be a mess
04/08/03: It's a mad, mad (Arab) world
04/03/03: Ah, the life of a war correspondent this time around
04/02/03: The difference between hopes and expectations
03/31/03: Iraq is a steppingstone, not a final stop
03/24/03: European media and former 'human shields' are beginning to get it
03/20/03: Was getting the UN involved worth it?
03/18/03: South Koreans no longer behaving as if they were the French of Northeast Asia --- why?
03/11/03: Ultimatum's moment of truth
03/11/03: Thank you, Turkey, we needed that
03/07/03: The fight against Saddam isn't a distraction from the war on terror --- it's is the main event
03/04/03: Bioterror nightmare approaching --- how it could likely happen
02/27/03: Iranian student: Can America hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?
02/25/03: Yahoos on both the Left and the Right are trying to prevent government from maximizing technology in protecting us
02/20/03: Anti-war group gets it right about great humanitarian tragedy in last Gulf War
02/18/03: Iraqis: Why are these people marching for tyranny?
02/07/03: French kiss(ed)-off
02/05/03: Does the FBI have the ability to protect us from terrorists already here?
02/03/03: The "Axis of Weasels"
01/29/03: A bit of the jitters
01/27/03: The world's mediocre intelligence agency
01/21/03: By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
01/16/03: Why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can
01/14/03: Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
01/07/03: Another Korean war?
12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate
Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack … by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same
standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred" …
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections
© 2002, Jack Kelly