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Reporters on the Job

The Road to Fallujah: Getting to the most forward US Marine positions around Fallujah (this page) was a minor adventure Tuesday for staff writer Scott Peterson.

Scott spent a few hours cooling his heels at Camp Fallujah, the US base about seven miles east of the Iraqi city, before the first leg of his journey to town began on a "chow convoy," which takes meals to soldiers out in the field.

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He was dropped off at Baharia base, a lake-side resort area once frequented by Saddam Hussein and his sons. He spent a few more hours waiting for his next ride. At dusk, a psychological operations (psy-ops) unit played mellow country music from their loudspeakers.

Then, the soldiers and Scott suited up into bullet-proof vests and helmets and hopped on another convoy of military vehicles. "We drove and drove with lights off. The driver of my truck held up night vision goggles with one hand, and used the other to steer," Scott says. Sentries appeared - and disappeared - along the road like apparitions.

The convoy arrived at a forward battalion headquarters - the main building entirely blacked out - and Scott was given a briefing from an especially welcoming US officer.

Afterwards, Scott and a colleague jumped into the back of a Humvee for the final stop: a railroad station where the last US Marine company has a toe-hold inside Fallujah city limits.

This outpost has some bottled water, MREs (meals ready to eat), and no electricity. But after "roughing it" on assignments in Somalia and Afghanistan, Scott knows enough to come prepared to tap whatever battery power is available to run his computer and satellite phone, and recharge camera batteries. "The 7-ton military supply trucks have 12-volt cigarette lighters, and I have the AC-DC converters necessary to get the job done," he says.

David Clark Scott
World editor