March 14, 2003
CAMP TRIUMPH, KuwaitWar is a dish best served promptly.
As the days get longer and the scorching heat burns hotter, the Marines on standby in the sandy deserts of Kuwait are champing at the bit to get the invasion going.
"I'm ready to invade me some Iraq," says Private Ernesto Ramos, 19, of Copa Verde, Ariz. "Let's get this party started. Yo, you can tell the President I said that."
Like club-goers straining against the velvet rope, America's servicemen and women are tired of waiting and ready for action. Dashing in their desert camouflage, with gas masks strapped to their thighs like Wild West gunslingers, this a military on the gopending final orders.
"It's up to the politicians to decide," says Sergeant Anthony Harper, 32 years old and from Huntsville, Ala. "If they say go, we go. That's pretty much how it works."
Their commanders dispute the notion that waiting around in any way dulls their warrior skillsor spirit. "They are Marines, so they are ready," says Lt. Charles Katzenbach. Asked to elaborate, he explained simply: "They are always ready. Trained and ready to go."
There's no question that the weatherparticularly in light of the bulky and unbecoming suits they will have to wear against unconventional weapon attacksis a primary concern. "It's getting pretty hot," says Private First Class Ramon Martinez. "I mean, if we're going to do this, let's do it. Let's roll."