More about Beth’s unit, the 203rd MI BN

Last time I mentioned that I had recently found an article about the Weapons Intelligence unit that Beth had been in during the Iraq War. In her letters to me she lamented several times, that the unit had arrived by plane, but the equipment would be arriving by boat:

The main security unit left [Tallil, Iraq] yesterday. They moved up north. Now there are only seven or eight of us left here. The rest of our unit is still in Doha [Kuwait]. They’re on their way up but it’s taking them a long time to get here. All of our equipment is still in the States. And even more crazy is, not only is everything that we need still in the States, but the gear and life support needs are all coming by boat. Meaning that it will be another month or so before any of that stuff gets here. Meanwhile, we’ll have about 150 people or so here without vehicles, gear, tents, or computers and equipment. I can’t understand why we’d have everyone move to Iraq and not be able to do any work.

In my previous blog post, I had noted that the article even commented, ”B Company [Beth’s company] arrived in Kuwait without their organic equipment, which was coming by sea. C Company flew with their equipment.” The article quotes the commanding officer, documenting that this had happened, and how they dealt with it, but not why it had happened:

“I gave the group about four days to get used to the heat and the time change before moving into Iraq. Since we did not have most of our equipment, we are significantly handicapped, but one of my fellow battalion commanders is a friend from Georgia. His unit has spent the entire war at Udairi [Kuwait] and is anxious to help in any way. He agreed to loan us about 15 vehicles and trailers and a mobile kitchen until our equipment arrives. I also got the [513th MI] Brigade to agree to provide me 54 of their long-range surveillance (LRS) platoon soldiers–all excellent infantrymen–to serve as security elements during movement and missions. This is the first of many handshake deals with friends that will prove to make up the backbone of our logistical support going forward.”

I found an article about Beth’s unit from Iraq

Here’s an article about the 203rd MI BN, the weapons intelligence unit that Beth went to Iraq with. She was a medic with “B” Company. Here are some relevant selections:

A and C Companies perform the majority of the TECHINT reconnaissance portion of the 203d’s mission. The two AC and four RC mobile TECHINT collection teams collect and report on CEM (captured enemy material) from forward areas of the battlefield. These teams consist of experts in several fields, including foreign mobility (tracked and wheeled vehicles and rotary- wing airframes), weapons and munitions, communications and electronics, and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). The teams provide intelligence on enemy weapons and equipment to combatant commanders and prepare CEM for further exploitation by the Exploitation Platoon (2d) of B Company. This platoon consists of experts in the same fields As that of the collection teams, but it s their job to conduct a more thorough analysis of the materiel. This includes detailed measurements, analysis of subcomponents, and assessments of upgrades to known enemy materiel.

B Company also includes a packaging and warehousing platoon that receives, tracks, and temporarily stores all CEM. The 203d not only collects intelligence for the current battlefield, it also collects for future conflicts as well. Therefore, the platoon has the ability to package and ship various weapons, missiles, munitions, aircraft, and naval vessels to production centers back in the United States or coalition countries in order to conduct more detailed testing and evaluation to combat enemy capabilities in future conflicts.

The unit prioritizes enemy-materiel collection requirements according to a national collection requirements list submitted to and vetted by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and other intelligence production centers. Using this list as a starting point, the Collection Management and Dissemination (CM&D) Platoon of B Company identifies potential targets of interest for TECHINT reconnaissance and works with the S3 in developing and coordinating TECHINT missions.

More specifically about their visit to Iraq:

HHC, B, and C Companies finally deployed to Kuwait at the end of April. The battalion consolidated at Camp Udairi in early May. At this point, perhaps the most critical decisions regarding the 203d’s deployment were made.

HHC and B Company arrived in Kuwait without their organic equipment, which was coming by sea. C Company flew with their equipment. The battalion could either wait in Udairi for the equipment to arrive, or borrow enough to move into Iraq and begin collecting. The battalion commander described his decisionmaking process at the time:

“First, the sooner we get started, the sooner we will finish. Second, the security situation is reasonable now but may deteriorate over time as the resistance elements get more organized. Third, the looting is severe and any equipment that is out there and on our collection list could well be lost two months from now. Also, Charlie Company has its equipment and since we obviously have to collect the material before we do anything else, I can see them running missions for a couple months, collecting enough equipment to give Bravo a good amount of work to do once the balance of the equipment arrives.”

More to follow.