Skip to comments.U.S. Marines disarm to aid tsunami victims
Posted on 01/12/2005 4:55:46 AM PST by 1 spark
ABOARD THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD -- Cpl. Sean Foley looks around the ship's main armory and takes a quick inventory. The room is overflowing with guns. Pistols, sniper rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers.
But for the time being, it's all staying right here.
In an effort to ease the fears of local officials, Marines participating in the humanitarian mission to help Indonesia recover from the earthquake and tsunami that have killed more than 100,000 people on the island of Sumatra have agreed to leave their weapons behind whenever they go ashore.
For many Marines, that's tantamount to traveling naked.
"They didn't even want us to have protection like helmets and body armor, let alone weapons, because it might look threatening," said Foley, of Erie, Pa. "That's crazy."
His concern isn't unfounded.
Though the nearly 2,000 Marines on this ship and another nearby have only just begun to trickle ashore, and are generally returning to the ship each night, the area in which they are operating presents some significant security threats.
Rebels have long been active in this region, so much so that the Indonesian government had largely restricted it from foreigners. Though a lull followed the Dec. 26 disaster, firefights near the provincial capital of Banda Aceh have been reported recently.
"We are concerned," said Col. Tom Greenwood, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was diverted from duty in Iraq to join in the humanitarian operation. "The Indonesian government is taking it very seriously."
But Indonesian officials have also been reluctant to let the Marines come ashore with their weapons because of the image that might project.
"We are very concerned about force protection," Greenwood said. "But if you go in there and look like an invading force instead of a humanitarian force, that could be just as detrimental as having no security whatsoever. So you have to balance it."
In the devastated city of Meulaboh, where the Marines are expected to do much of their work and unload the bulk of their relief supplies, heavily armed Indonesian soldiers provide security.
In an exception to the no-weapons orders, Marine helicopter pilots have been allowed to carry their standard protection. Marines have also been careful to maintain close communications with their ship.
Officials stressed, however, that security was in the Indonesians' hands.
"We have full confidence in their ability to provide adequate force protection," said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Knoll, a spokesman for the Marines.
"We won't be using any of these," Cpl. Jeff Austin, of Salt Lake City, Utah, said as he set up a .50 caliber sniper rifle in the armory. "I guess the no weapons rule is understandable, since this is a humanitarian thing. But it's quite a switch for us. Usually, we never leave home without them."
There you have it - Form over substance. I for one am concerned that, in the role of providing assistance, our troops are sitting ducks for any Muslim nut case who wants to cause a BIG problem. I saw pictures of our troops handing out relief supplies to "Victims" who were wear Usama shirts! Go figure.
Crazy. Ya got that right.
Someone higher up should have put their foot down on this one and told these Mooslims "You want our help? We come packing and armored or we don't come at all."
I'm sure we're all thinking about the same line from 'Aliens'.
"Hey, what are we supposed to use, man, harsh language?"
Bring em home then. They are soldiers and should be dressed and protected as one.
Why do we continue to bend over backwards for these ignorant people. We offered a hand, if they spit in it, so be it, let them die from their own arrogance.
This is not a good idea. Opens them up for a slaughter by murderous muslim trash. I've got a bad feeling about this.
What a stupid idea. These are Marines, not Peace Corps volunteers.
Well said. Get them out of there.
Drop in some hippies instead. They are always complaining about the military. Put them to work.
AMEN! Insert some of the hippy assholes who always bitch about the military but never actually do any good themselves. Let them spread goodwill rather than spewing rhetoric.
This is absolutely nuts! If this is a directive from the State Dept or some other high-level administrative agency, the least the Marine High Command should do is tell them to piss up a rope. There is no way in hell a Marine should be ordered into a Moslem hate zone without his sidearm. This kind of touchy-feely assininity is what the "great" Reagan was responsible for when 246 Sailors and Marines were murdered in their beds by a mad Moslem bomber who penetrated the perimeter of the compound in Lebanon because the guards at the gates HAD NO AMMUNITION IN THEIR WEAPONS. It was deemed "too provocative". When the hell will we decide to tell the PC-oriented people and their idiotic sensibilities to just DROP THE HELL DEAD!
Not a good idea.
And yes, I'm trying for "understatement of the day" with that assessment.
We were looking at an opportunity for my company to send small boats instead of money to aid some of the local fishermen who lost their boats. I was kind of in the middle of the plan. My first thought was how do I manage to get a sidearm there to protect myself in the unlikely event I was asked to deliver the boat kits.
The plan fell through and we wrote a sizeable check instead.
Completely and utterly stupid. Our guys shouldn't be sent into such a situation - where the enemy is known to be present - without even the slightest ability to protect themselves.
This is BAD NEWS! A soldier should never be without his loaded weapon, also policemen and pilots fit this list. I just had a chill thinking of the terrorist bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut.
Forget the hippies, drop in liberals
I don't think this is a good idea at all and am shocked that we would agree to it.