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July 6, 2005

Defending Terror Target No. 1: Iraqi Marines?

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

Calling them "Terror target No. 1" isn't much of a stretch when you're refering to ABOT(Al Basrah Oil Terminal) and its decrepit cousin, KAAOT (Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal), Iraq's huge oil spigots. "In the last six months, ABOT has pumped 270 million barrels of crude into oil tankers -- and put roughly $14 billion into Iraq's desperate treasury." So it's easy to believe that terrorists would think they'd arrived at the homeland of 72 times 72 virgins just to have a chance to destroy what amounts to a sizable chunk of 'Iraq's economy'. And Iraqi Marines, yes I did say Iraqi Marines, are being trained by U.S. Forces to defend the tempting target.

- Austin Bay at Tech Central Station

ABOT's decks and skeletal metal walkways have an impressive arsenal of heavy infantry weapons -- machine guns, an automatic cannon, 40 mm automatic grenade launchers. Bullet holes and shrapnel scars in ABOT's sheds and catwalks give the maze-like terminal a post-apocalypse feel -- the holes are lethal graffiti left by Navy SEALs who attacked the terminal in 2003. Approximately two-dozen sailors from the Navy's Mobile Security Detachment 25 man ABOT's observation posts. Today, four Iraqi marines are also on the terminal.

By early 2006, there will be a battalion of them assigned to protect oil platforms and port facilities.

"We're training them to take over the defense mission," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Jacobsen tells me. Jacobsen, from Incline Village, Nev., commands the sailors defending ABOT. "We're training about a platoon of Iraqis every week. Training them on how to integrate with coalition naval forces in the area."

According to the TCS article, Iraqi marines will eventually replace American sailors defending ABOT. However, owing to the close proximity of Iran, and the threat of water-borne terrorists, coalition naval forces will need to remain "on call" for several years.

Posted by Hyscience at July 6, 2005 2:11 PM

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