Many of the young marines expected to lead the attack have not yet been part of a major battle. Most of those who took part in the operation in Falluja in April have been sent home. And though some of the commanders here fought the first phase of the war last year, many of the rank and file arrived here for the first time in June.And note what is not there. Last week, wouldn't there have been some material about misleading connections between Iraq and al Qaeda? Wouldn't numbers of the dead and wounded have been juxtaposed to the Marines' gung-ho statements to make them seem naive? Wouldn't they have located a Marine who'd say he didn't like Bush or longed to go home? Instead, we get the extra information that the Marines who've already fought in Falluja have gone home.
All of them, though, seem eager to prove their mettle and at last confront the insurgency head on.
"It's kind of like the cancer of Iraq," said Lt. Steven Berch, a lanky platoon commander, speaking of Falluja. "It's become a kind of hotel for the insurgents. Hopefully getting rid of them will help to stabilize the whole country."
Others point to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who is said to be using Falluja as a base.
"We're doing the right thing here," said First Lt. Christopher Wilkens, pausing for breath during a drill. "These guys are terrorists, there are connections to Al Qaeda, and fighting them is what we came here to do."
The article ends with this rousing tribute to the Marines:
None of the dangers seem to rattle their confidence. Between drills, they do pull-ups and play touch football. In the evening, laughter echoes around the barracks where they live, along with heavy metal music blasting from CD players.
"I don't think about it," said Pfc. Anthony Mells, a 20 year-old marine from Queens, when asked about the risks of battle. "It's all about motivation. Getting wounded is not in my job description."