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If you're like me you're not an HBO subscriber, and weren't able to see episode one of HBO's miniseries "Generation Kill". Fortunately for us, one who did see the program has offered the following review. Even more fortunately, he's Richard S Lowry, author of "Marines in the Garden of Eden" - 'The true story of the bloodiest battle in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.'
That would be the battle for Nasiriyah, fought in the earliest days of the march on Baghdad, and also retold in Generation Kill. Our sincere thanks to Mr Lowry for sharing his insight here.
Generation Kill – Get Some "Roger that!"
Review by Richard S. Lowry
Marines in the Garden of Eden
July 14, 2008
Last night, I sat with eyes glued to my television. David Simon et al have done an excellent job of bringing the Marines of the 2003 invasion into our living rooms. Part 1 – Get Some – was a stunning introduction to the series. It was visually accurate from the storm in the desert to the Skittles on the dashboard. This first installment provided an accurate introduction to the Marines and the fight.
I wasn't there, but I have dedicated my life's work to researching and writing about our conflict in Iraq. I spent three years of my life putting together the puzzle that was the story of the battle of an Nasiriyah. With my extensive knowledge of the events, I was not disappointed by Generation Kill's first installment.
That being said, I feel that a few issues that were brought up need some historical context. The Marines classically run on bubble gum and duct tape. All of the Marine Units were lacking for supplies and equipment in one way or another. They have the smallest budget of all the services and are treated like a red-headed stepchild when it comes to budgeting in the Navy Department. These shortfalls were exacerbated by the monumental military budget cuts of the 90's. In 2003, our armed forces were paying the "Peace Dividend."
As we left TEAM 1 ALPHA last night, they were headed for the Fertile Crescent. Godfather 6 surmised aloud that if the mission of securing the bridge over the Euphrates had been taken away from them, it must not be too important. The war did not revolve around 1st Recon. Taking the crossings over the Euphrates River was of utmost importance to Generals Conway, Mattis and Natonski. So much so, that Conway ordered General Natonski to make a beeline to Nasiriyah. The entire 2nd Marine Regiment and Task Force Tarawa were assigned the task of securing three vital bridges.
The Betio Bastards of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines (an entire infantry battalion) was given the mission of securing the Highway 1 (ROUTE TAMPA) bridge, ten kilometers west of Nasiriyah. The rest of the 2nd Marine Regiment was tasked with securing the two bridges and road which ran through the eastern side of Nasiriyah. A two kilometer urban stretch of road through the city (Ambush Alley) connected the two bridges. The southern bridge crossed the Euphrates River and the northern bridge crossed the Saddam Canal. The plan was for the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines (a reinforced mechanized infantry battalion) to cross the Euphrates River Bridge and then move to take the bridge over the Saddam Canal.
The regimental combat team's third infantry battalion, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, would then secure the southern bridge, leaving an infantry battalion guarding each of the three bridges. This was hardly a task for a light recon unit. Task Force Tarawa also had 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, an artillery battalion in support (I will discuss the artillery support after next week's show).
This context is important for the viewer to understand. Task Force Tarawa was given the mission of securing the bridges so that the 1st Marine Division could cross the Euphrates River quickly, without expending any of their combat power. The commanders were worried that the bridges would be blown and the Marines would be caught in a bottleneck and fall victim to chemical attack. Everyone believed that Saddam had chemical weapons and that he would use them in Nasiriyah.
Now that we all have the context, we can pull up our chairs and settle in to watch Part 2. My hopes are high that this will be the first real movie about Americans at war in the 21st Century. If Chapter 1 was any indication, we are all in for an amazing ride.
Richard S. Lowry is the author of "The Gulf War Chronicles" and "Marines in the Garden of Eden." He served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service from 1967-1975 and spent the time from 1975 to 2002 designing sophisticated integrated circuits for everything from aircraft avionics to home computers. He is currently working on his next book, "New Dawn," which will tell of the fight to free Fallujah. Visit www.marinesinthegardenofeden.com for more information.
I expected Generation Kill to be terrible - an MTV show about Marines.
I was absolutely wrong. It is the most accurate depiction of Marines I've ever seen. How we talk and think. My war was 12 years earlier, but I felt like I had just checked into 1st Recon and was learning who's good to go, and who the shitbirds are.
I was pleasantly shocked to see that dark Marine humor on TV. Mr. Potato Head made me laugh hard, as did the "Pussy Infrastructure" speech. Looking forward to more.