Coalition Provides A Formidable Force Against Terror
By Jim Garamone, AFPS (abridged)

U.S. State Department official "Remember, that is the fundamental of this, that these are countries who have all stood up and said it is time to disarm Iraq, and if Iraq doesn’t do that peacefully, we need to be prepared to do it by whatever means are necessary,"
     Countries that support the coalition are Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.
     "Each country is contributing in ways that it deems the most appropriate, Boucher said.


Ground War Underway

By Kathleen T. Rhem, AFPS (Updated March 21, 7:00a.m. EST)

A CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter is shown lifting cargo during a drill in the Kuwaiti desert, March 12.

Photo by Oleg Popov / Reuters

WASHINGTON- Twelve Coalition troops died in an apparent accident when a U.S. Marine helicopter crashed Friday morning in northern Kuwait, ( 7:37pm EST) about 9 miles from the Kuwait – Iraqi boarder. Also, at about 6:00AM EST, it was reported that the first soldier killed in action is an American. He was part of the U.S. Marines’ 1st Expeditionary Force.

The crash happened just hours before a major ground offensive kicked off in the Persian Gulf. U.S. Defense Department officials confirmed the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division rolled into southern Iraq late March 20.

A U.S. Marine CH-46E Sea Knight with American and British troops and crew crashed in the Kuwaiti desert south of the Iraq border at about 7 p.m. March 20 Eastern time — 3 a.m. March 21 in the Gulf, a spokesman said.

The American troops were U.S. Marines, and the British were with the 3rd Commando Brigade on the US CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

U.S. Central Command officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

Reportedly, Col. Oliver North with FoxNews said that a camera had captured images of the crash and the tape has been sent to the Pentagon as part of the investigation underway. FoxNews reported that Col. North said that the weather was very bad, and he can’t speculate if sandstorm type weather was the cause, as the crash is being investigated, but from what he witnessed he believes that "mercifully" the brave men who died in the copter crash ‘did not suffer.’

The CH-46E is the Marine version of the tandem-rotor Chinook helicopters designed primarily as personnel carriers. In combat, it typically carries a crew of five and up to 14 passengers. Neither U.S. or U.K. militaries will publicly release names of dead or injured service members until their families have been notified.

Meanwhile, the Army’s storied "Rock of the Marne" division out of Fort Stewart, Ga., started moving across southern Iraq "largely unopposed." The offensive began at 10 p.m. in Washington, 6 a.m. March 21 in Baghdad. So far 250 Iraqi troops have surrendered to coalition soldiers. 12 million leaflets have been dropped over Iraq by Coalition forces giving instructions on how-to surrender.

The 3rd ID is comprised of nearly 20,000 soldiers, 300 tanks and a similar number of Bradley fighting vehicles.

British Prime Minister Blair said early Friday of the troops who died: "These were brave men, who in order to make us safer and more secure, knew the risks, faced the risks and had the courage to serve their country and the wider world. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. "