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Austin Bay reporting from Persian Gulf

Posted by Richard on June 14, 2005

Austin Bay is blogging from the Persian Gulf. Col. Bay, who served a tour in Iraq, is on a free-lance reporting mission to the region. His blog has some thoughtful and interesting commentary on the war, foreign relations, and military matters. I wish I had more time to explore his archives.

Today’s post is a quick overview of what he’s been up to since arriving in Bahrain on the 11th. It’s full of cool naval info and acronyms:

I caught a helo flight from the USS Vinson to the USS Kearsarge –an LHD, amphibious warfare ship with helos, Harrier jets, and a USMC Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on board. (A MEU has around 1200 Marines. It’s a Marine battalion landing team with tanks, artillery, helicopters, and Harrier jets.) I spent the night on board the LHD and in the morning watched as the ship recovered an LCAC ( hover-craft used to transport heavy Marine equipment). The Marine unit had been training on land at a site in Kuwait. The LHD is the centerpiece of an Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). The ESG is partrolling the northern Persian Gulf.

On the morning of June 13 I flew by helicopter to the USS Normandy (the Aegis cruiser). The ultra-hi-tech missile-carrying Normandy now sports M-2 heavy machine guns and 25 millimeter chain guns (the type on US Army Bradley infantry vehicles and USMC LAVs). They are “add-ons” for close-in defense from potential attack by small boats. … The Normandy’s captain pointed out that most of his crew is now “dual-hatted.” A sailor may be assigned as a cook or logistics specialists, but he or she is also assigned a gun position, or may participate in boarding parties using the cruiser’s RHIBs (rigid hull inflatable boats).

I spent the afternoon of June 13 scooting around the Persian Gulf on a Coast Guard RHIB and on the Normandy’s RHIBs. I was in the stand-off boat when a couple of dhows were boarded. These boardings were “information boardings” where local boat operators receive information in Arabic, Farsi, and English about the exclusion zone around the oil terminals. …

I’m looking forward to more, especially from within Iraq. Meanwhile, I’ve hit his tip jar and encourage you to do likewise. Let’s encourage original reporting from the new media.

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