The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] A article from:

You have been sent this message from as a courtesy of the Washington Post -


There will be more information, but I think you'll find this  quite useful.

Bert Gedin.

 To view the entire article, go to

 Key Marine Commander Is Removed

 By Thomas E. Ricks
  The Marine Corps relieved one of its top commanders in Iraq yesterday, an extremely unusual 
action, especially for a unit engaged in combat.

 Col. Joe W. Dowdy has been the officer in charge of the 1st Marine Regiment, one of the three 
major Marine Corps ground units fighting toward Baghdad. His regiment is reported to have been used 
to pin down Republican Guard units in the city of Kut while the other two major units, the 5th and 
7th Marines, crossed the Tigris River on Thursday and raced toward Baghdad. Those units encountered 
heavy ground fighting yesterday on the outskirts of the capital and had at least three M1 tanks 
disabled by Iraqi fire.

 The U.S. military was unusually guarded about discussing the reason for the battlefield removal. 
The Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the war, announced the action but offered 
no explanation for it. Pentagon spokesmen referred questions to the Marine Corps, which had no 

 "We can confirm that he has been relieved," said Marine Maj. Brad Bartelt, a Central Command 
spokesman. "I have no other information at this time."

 At Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, the 1st Marine Regiment's mission included feinting a move 
toward Iraqi positions in such a way as to draw artillery fire, according to a Marine officer. That 
maneuver was intended to expose the locations of the Iraqi gun batteries, which could then be hit 
by airstrikes. The Iraqi units didn't take the bait and never opened fire, the officer said.

 Dowdy's immediate superior, Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, 
has the reputation of being an extremely aggressive commander, which is regarded as a plus in the 

 Allan Millett, a military historian at Ohio State University and a retired colonel in the Marine 
Corps Reserve, said that "relieving a regimental commander for cause is unusual, in combat or not." 
The move is especially significant because the three Marine regiments in Iraq have been operating 
in a decentralized manner -- that is, not in one formation, but as three geographically separate 
"regimental combat teams."

 At the outset of the war on March 20, the three units -- the 1st, 5th and 7th Marines, totaling 
about 20,000 troops -- drove from Kuwait to seize the Rumaila oil field, which is one of Iraq's 
most important economic assets, located about 20 miles west of the city of Basra. Then they pushed 
75 miles north to Nasiriyah, where they skirmished with Iraqi irregular fighters and crossed the 
Euphrates River beginning around March 24. They moved into central Iraq and then paused as they 
grew low on some supplies and a huge sandstorm howled across the country. Earlier this week, the 
Marine units drove on two axes toward Kut, where Dowdy's 1st Marine Regiment was ordered to pin 
down the Baghdad Division of the Republican Guard.

 Dowdy took command last summer of the 1st Marine Regiment, which is based at Camp Pendleton, 
Calif. Including units attached to the regiment for combat, he had command of more than 6,000 
troops, according to

 Before this assignment, he was the assistant chief of staff and chief planner for the 1st Marine 
Expeditionary Force, which is the umbrella unit for the Marines fighting in Iraq. Born in Little 
Rock, he graduated from the University of Mississippi and joined the Marines in 1979. His service 
biography indicates that the current war in Iraq is the first time he has seen combat. During the 
1991 Persian Gulf War, in which much of the combat Marine force served, he was the commander of the 
Marine Corps security unit in Keflavik, Iceland.

 "Good man," retired Marine Gen. Richard Neal said of Dowdy, who he said was a student of his years 
ago at the Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico.

 Dowdy's removal puzzled veterans of the Corps, which -- with just about 16,000 officers -- is 
small enough that many senior Marines come to know each other.

 "Jim Mattis was one of my battalion commanders during the first Gulf War," said retired Marine 
Gen. Carlton Fulford. "I have great confidence in his judgment. I know of Joe Dowdy by reputation, 
but not personally. He has a fine reputation."

 The key to the situation, some officers suggested, is likely Mattis's views on how forcefully a 
unit should act in combat. "Jim Mattis is a very aggressive commander -- we wouldn't want it any 
other way," said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Klimp.

 In any case, said Fulford, removing a commander in combat is an extraordinary move that isn't 
taken lightly. He recalled that during the 1991 Gulf War, when he commanded the 7th Marines, and 
when Mattis commanded one of his battalions, he decided to remove another of his battalion 

 "It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made as a commander," he recalled. But, he 
added: "In the final analysis, I believed the commander was not prepared to lead his men into 
combat, and that was the most important issue."

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]