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Dispatch from the 101st

From the Front

By WES ALLISON, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2003


NORTHERN KUWAIT -- As the 3rd Infantry Division and the U.S. Marines race toward Baghdad, many soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division are going stir crazy.

Three days after the ground attack started, thousands of soldiers and officers with the 101st are still camped in the Kuwaiti desert -- waiting to put their extensive training and hard work to a real test.

Especially after already spending weeks in the desert.

The 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force are heavily mechanized, with tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and heavy artillery. They're supposed to steamroll the enemy over open desert terrain.

The 101st Airborne is a light infantry, quick-strike force. Its role will be to take and hold key objectives, and to use its close fighting skills in Baghdad if the need arises.

Much of the Airborne is preparing to move, and its commanders say it indeed will see action, but it may be a while before its soldiers catch up to the rolling front.

On Saturday, Pfc. Ramon Bieniemy, 21, of New Orleans, escorted a local septic truck around camp to drain the portable toilets.

"If we take too long, I know the (Marines and 3rd ID) are going to do the job to the best of their ability, and there won't be nothing left," Bieniemy said.

The stench from the truck was significant.

"This isn't what I came all this way for."

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