Article Overview:   When the Screaming Eagles landed in Kuwait on February 28th, someone asked them if they knew why they were there.   They replied:  "To kill."   But there is another answer they may not have articulated as gracefully as they might have.  They are there to die for the right of the Children's Children's Children to be safe from Terrorism.  They are there to depose Saddam Hussein as a symbol to all Terrorists that at least one nation's children is willing to die for all other nation's children.


Tuesday--March 4, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 538
Screaming Eagles of Vigilance Land In Kuwait:
To Fight For the Children's Children's Children
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 4--The 101st Airborne Division, known as the "Screaming Eagles," landed in Camp New Jersey, Kuwait at 11:48 p.m., February 28th.   The 19,000 soldiers are preparing for a major battle to topple Saddam Hussein in the expected fierce battle for Baghdad. 
       What will they be fighting for?

Patch of the Screaming Eagles with genuine model

        Strategists expect that Saddam will not chose to fight American and British forces in the desert where he suffered devastating losses during the Gulf War.   Most tacticians expect him to ring the city of Baghdad with his elite Special Republican Guard, forcing the American-led invasion to engage in house-to-house, close combat.  The 101st will be there, a key driving force toward toppling the Butcher of Baghdad.
          And that may be what Saddam is hoping for.  Pundits are betting Saddam wants a siege on his city.  He is hoping the world will view the siege of Baghdad as an act of oppression, and before he is toppled, global anti-war forces and the Arabic nations will rally to his support as the hand-to-hand combat turns bloody and legions of civilians are used as shields.
        That's the Big Picture.
        But what about the Little Picture.  What does all this mean to a Screaming Eagle who has a picture of a wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or his or her (assuming women soldiers will be in the front lines)  family tucked in some safe uniform pocket.

Soon to be in a battle for survival

      The battle will be for both the Screaming Eagles and Special Republican Guard about surviving.   For the Iraqis, it will be to guard their leader and their land from the infidels.  For the Screaming Eagles it will be to insure that the round-trip ticket from Baghdad back to the United States or England will be used for a live body, and not for a coffin.
        After reading today's New York Times story by Jim Dwyer who flew with the Screaming Eagles' on a 7,000 mile journey from Kentucky to Kuwait, I was reminded of my own 8,100-mile trip to Vietnam over three decades ago.
        I was part of the first wave of 20,000 U.S. troops sent to Vietnam in 1965.  We spearheaded a massive build up that eventually cost over 50,000 American  and an estimated 2 million Vietnamese lives in the longest war in American history.  

Marines in Vietnam  are trained to fight to the death

         Like the Screaming Eagles standing on the tarmac of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, a few days ago, we were the elite troops--U.S. Marines trained to fight to the death.  We were all volunteers, as the Screaming Eagles.  Like the Eagles, we were to be the first in and last out.  In parallel, we were trained to rid the embattled country of its Terrorists--in my case, the communists and their Viet Cong forces seeking to oppress the people-- in the Screaming Eagle's, to depose Saddam Hussein.

Marine amphibious assault in 1966

        We didn't fly to Vietnam aboard commercial jets leased to the military as the 101st did a few days ago.  Instead, we climbed into the stinky belly of a troop ship, the U.S.S. Paul Revere, and sloshed our way over heaving seas for 18 sweltering days to Okinawa where we staged for a few months, then climbed on another ship for the final trip to Chu Lai, headquarters for the First Marine Division.
        Like the Eagles, we were eager for war.  In the Times story, Dwyer captured the response of the troops when they were asked by a military briefer in Kuwait :  "Did anyone tell you why you are here?"
        One of the soldiers shouted:  "To kill!"   Another interjected, "War!"
        Dwyer reports the briefer answered the question politically rather than tactically:  "Force protection."  
        The brief answer meant nothing, I'm sure, to the men of the 101st.   It would be like telling U.S. Marines landing in Vietnam they were there to defend the world against communism, when every Marine knew he was trained to "kill the enemy," and after "killing," the enemy, his job was finished.  What the politicians did afterwards was their business.   Warriors aren't trained to think, or ponder, or question.  They are trained to follow orders--specifically to "kill."
         I doubt if a great football coach tells a linebacker his job is to win the game.  Instead, he  grabs the 285 pound monster's face mask, twists his thick head down so he can glare into the brute's face, and spits as he shouts:  "Your job is to smash the offense into the ground, to take him out, to make him fear you so he flinches.  Don't worry about winning the game, just obliterate the body in front of you. That will win the game, for the game is one yard forward at a time."
         Wars are won by body count.  The more of "them" you kill, the closer you approach victory.   It's been that way since the dawn of time, and will remain that way until the final sun sets.
          This same axiom is true in Iraq.
          Saddam Hussein follows this axiom as any warrior-leader. 
          He's hand picked six divisions of his Special Republican Guard to form a wall between his throne of power and the invading forces.    The Special Republican Guard (SRG) is different from the Republican Guard.   Each of the 25,000 men representing four brigades of  the SRG have had their loyalties tested and assured  they will die to the last man to defend his Palace from being toppled.
         According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the current strength of the Republican Guard is about 375,000.  It represents 17 divisions.  While the Republican Guard are crack troops, under pressure of massive allied forces, they may crumble as they did during the Gulf War.  Facing over 200,000 American and British troops, backed by massive air, artillery and naval bombardment may prove insurmountable odds and render them ineffective to hold back the assault on Iraq's borders..
        Saddam has planned to send the majority of the Republican Guard to fight the perimeter of the country.  He's keeping his elite forces, the Special Republican Guard, close to home to wage the final battle on his turf--in Baghdad.
        Prior to the Gulf War, the Republican Guard boasted 955,000 troops.  Nearly two thirds were destroyed or surrendered during the 1991 conflict..

Screaming Eagle Warriors Ready For Battle Against Saddam

       Saddam also has a large potential militia at his disposal  Potentially, he has  5.9 million human warriors between the ages of 15 and 49 that could fight.  But estimates of those fit for military service range around 3.3 million.  Few believe the majority of these potential "warriors" will fight, but they remain a large possible "guerrilla force."
       The bulk of fierce fighting is expected to come from the Republican Guard, and the most intense, from the Special Republican Guard ringing Baghdad.
       These "Saddam Linebackers"  will be the ones the 101st will mostly likely tackle.  It will be "gladiator against gladiator."
       Fortunately, the ranks of the Special Republican Guard have been heavily thinned by former U.S. aggression.  In 1991, they were twice as large, representing some 150,000.   But their motivation will be intense.  Unlike the 101st, the Special Republican Forces will be fighting in part for their dead comrades, seeking revenge for their deaths.   Americans were virtually unscathed in the Gulf War.
       I respect the Special Republican Guard.
       In Vietnam we faced a similar well-trained, dedicated enemy.  In that war, we faced two types of combatants.   First, the Viet Cong.  They were mainly jungle fighters, set up in cells and designed to attack and disperse, to constantly snipe and harass, to ambush, to suicide bomb our positions.     

Trained to kill

      Then there were the regular North Vietnamese warriors.  They were professionally trained killers, strict militarists with advanced weapons and a brazen desire to obliterate us.   They fought to win, to overpower, to rush with bayonets fixed, screaming as wildly as we did.
       When we went up against the North Vietnamese Regulars, we sharpened our bayonets and said our prayers extra hard.
        Perhaps that's why the 101st solider yelled in response to the question:  "Why are you here?" their fundamental answer, "To Kill!"  
        Unfortunately, Saddam's policy is the same, especially with the Special Republican Guard.   Everyone is geared to fight to the death.

The book includes Saddam's last-stand strategy

         Gordon Thomas wrote a book including Saddam's last-stand strategy titled, "Seeds of Fire."     Thomas claims that Saddam has 200 Kamikaze planes ready to attack American naval ships and key allied positions.    There is, of course, the strong possibility that if the assault on Baghdad turns sour for Saddam, he will unleash biochemical weapons as his final act of defiance.
       There is little doubt the 101st deployment signals America is going to war no matter what the U.N. says or does.   President Bush has ignited the fires of war; few believe they can be extinguished.   To back down would be like pulling the #1 favored team out of the Super Bowl before the kickoff..   There is a point of no return for everyone in any conflict.  The Screaming Eagle's presence in Kuwait is evidence we have crossed that line.
        Even with Turkey voting against our war needs, or the fact that Saddam has destroyed about fifteen Al Samoud 2 missiles, suggests little can stop the machine of war from advancing.   If Bush pulls out now, Kim Jong Il and all the Terrorists waiting for America to weaken will cheer.   They will roam the Super Bowl of Terrorism without challenge until they unleash their weapons of mass destruction, or sell them to those who will.
        It makes my skin crawl to think America and Britain are shouldering the duty of standing up to the Beast of Terrorism alone.  Even the British public is against the war, and Tony Blair is a straw in the wind despite public opinion.   That leaves only America with both military and public conviction favoring removing Saddam by force.
        It also means  those members of the armed services who have committed their lives to unseat Saddam Hussein certainly aren't doing it to achieve accolades from the world.  
        Quite the opposite is the case; the world is spitting at them, as they spat on me when I returned to Vietnam.    

 The Vietnam War was  first greeted by applause but later shifted to revulsion

         It's not a nice feeling to know you are willing to die for people in far off lands, and then have friends and neighbors turn their backs on you and call you terrible names, haunting you with invectives that torture your sense of patriotism and cause you to turn inward, trying your best not to hate those who hate you. 
        In Vietnam, we started the war with applause and support.  That support quickly shifted to ugly debate and radical revulsion..   At least the 101st Airborne, and the sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines who will fight in Iraq, know going in they are being spat upon, and not by dissident Americans alone, but by nations of the world for whom many thousands of Americans shed their blood in the past so their children could be free..
        What then drives the Warriors of Vigilance who are massing around Iraq to stand up to Terrorism while the world is giving them the "thumbs down?"  Could it be they have a vision of future peace and prosperity that few can imagine?  Could it be that only those willing to give their lives for others can see the Beast of Terror stalking the world, can smell his fetid breath?

The Screaming Eagles can see the Beast of Terror through any of his disguises

         I believe the Screaming Eagles see the Beast of Terror as few others have the Courage, Conviction or Fortitude to focus on his true intent, his true countenance.   They see his fangs of Fear, his jaws of Complacency, his angry eyes of Intimidation trying to bully the world.  They know he is like the serpent slithering in jungle, waiting for the opportune moment to attack those who try to dance around him, those who think they can outsmart him, those who think they can negotiate with him, those who falsely believe he can be lulled away from biting the innocent.   Warriors are trained to see through evil's nefarious disguises.  Their very lives depend on it.
        And, evil intent is contagious.   It spreads insidiously when the Beast of Terror thinks he is able to act without penalty, as he does now with the U.N. favoring his heel dragging over weapons destruction.   He uses time to grind old sores anew between former allies, and waits for the cleavage between the egos to widen so he can slip through the cracks and slither back into the sand where he digs in for the next battle.
       Just the other day the Beast of North Korean Terror sent fighter jets to intimidate a U.S. reconnaissance plane flying in international air space.   The North Koreans locked their targeting lasers to the plane, a sign they were about to fire, a hair breadth from an act of war.
        The North Koreans are bullying the United States and the Complacent world into allowing them freedom to manufacture nuclear bombs despite the world's demand that nuclear weapons be limited, contained..  Their nuclear reactors hum as this is written, and the fuel rods they have stored are being turned into bomb-grade plutonium, capable of creating a bomb every two weeks.
        If America flinches against Saddam, what will Kim Jong Il think?   Or does he think it now?
        Have we forgotten the children are the victims of our Complacency to stand up to the Bullies of Terrorism?
       Children expect Parents of Vigilance to protect them from harm.  We hold children's hands when we cross the street, we lock our doors at night.  We watch them carefully at playgrounds so that "evil forces" do not harm them.  Our laws of child abuse prosecute those are derelict in their duties to protect a child from harm.  What difference is there from a child being allowed to cross a busy street without supervision and allowing a known Terrorist to build weapons of mass destruction that can one day be used to maim or destroy the little ones?

Screaming Eagles know they are fighting for the protection of all children not just their own

      Terrorism, a highly importable "evil force," doesn't just exist within the borders of Iraq or North Korea.   Nine Eleven reminded America and the world that Terrorism is exportable from Terror Nations to anywhere in the world.   It can be unleashed on the innocent without a blink by the Terrorists who use it to impose Fear, Intimidation and Complacency on any society it selects as a "target of oppression."  Kim Jong Il recently issued such a threat if America were to use force to stop his production of Terror weapons.
        When we attack Iraq, we will be sending a huge message to all Terrorists that our children, and the Children's Children's Children have at least two major nations willing to die for their protection.  We will foil their current glee that they have the upper hand--a hand raised like a club threatening to smash down on those who might stand up to them.
         I'd like to believe all those Screaming Eagles have taken pictures of their children, their nieces and nephews, their cousins, their Loved Ones with them to the Middle East.  I'd like to believe they will look at those pictures and know they are fighting for the protection of all the children when they move against the Beast of Terror.

The Swords and Shields of Vigilance

         I'm going to call them the Screaming Eagles of Vigilance, for they are, in my book, the Swords and Shields of Vigilance.  When the rubber hits the road, they are willing to die for no greater reason than to make the world a little safer for the future.
        You can support the Screaming Eagles of Vigilance and all the military preparing for war.  You can show you support by taking the Pledge of Vigilance.  
        They have.  They've signed theirs with their blood, the blood they're willing to offer to defend the Children.






Mar. 3--A Lesson From Ben Hur About Fighting For Vigilance

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