Armed With Computers And Data About The Enemy, 'The Hobbits' Are Key To Success In Ir

December 16th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Armed With Computers And Data About The Enemy, 'The Hobbits' Are Key To Success In Ir

Houston Chronicle
December 15, 2006
New kind of tactical magic
By Joe Swickard, Detroit Free Press
FALLUJAH, IRAQ Inside a stronghold that commands a stretch of land between the river and the desert, the Hobbits work wonders in a windowless chamber.
As a battle raged miles away last week, the Hobbits knew the arena intimately, down to the cement building from which the enemy threw gunfire at their fellow Marines. It was the Hobbits' collected data that allowed a circling jet to launch a bomb at the structure, imploding the building and killing the gunmen inside.
In the ongoing fight against insurgents in Iraq's Anbar province, the Hobbits six Marines with computers and self-designed databases who compile information about the enemy, its strength and its position have a clear mission as part of the Michigan-based 1st Battalion of the 24th Marine Regiment.
"We want to know their backyards and houses better than they do," said Lance Cpl. Curtis Mejeur, 21.
Mejeur is a member of the 24th's Alpha Company, and a Hobbit one of four certified-smart and computer-wily lance corporals led by a corporal and a sergeant who, together, provide some of the magic necessary for modern combat.
"Use of intelligence is at the heart of this generation of warfare," said the 24th's commanding officer, Maj. Daniel Whisnant, himself a former intelligence officer. "The Hobbits are key to that."
Slight and smart
The six are small and slight Marines most are shorter than 5-feet-7 and the tallest towers at maybe 5-9 in a Corps world of Buick-sized beef and brawn.
But with their skills and smarts, they take tactical intelligence and put it to effective use killing and capturing insurgents who have turned the area around Fallujah into one of the most dangerous sectors in Iraq.
Whenever information is gathered, Whisnant's directive is clear: "Get that to the Hobbits."
Through regular patrols, census-taking and other methods, Alpha Company which operates across the Euphrates River from Fallujah provides information to allow the Hobbits to assemble and analyze a detailed portrait of the people, the terrain and the buildings.
The gunfight last week showed the power of the intelligence information in action.
Tapping into a database created by Lance Cpl. Joshua Clayton, a 22-year-old computer programmer, the Hobbits were able to locate and describe the buildings the insurgents were using.
Working in the operations center beside Whisnant and his team, the Hobbits helped link their buddies in the firefight with other Marine leaders at other bases along the command chain and up to the pilot ready to strike from above.
Whisnant said the Hobbits' database also has led to the arrest and capture of dozens of other "bad guys."
Moving toward analysis
The Hobbits were drawn from the usual complement of riflemen in the company that is part of the 24th on its deployment to Iraq.
They enlisted to be gun-carrying grunts, but their test scores and personalities fit with plans to move military thinking toward analysis of the complex environment of anti-insurgent warfare.
It was during the battalion's five months of training in the Mohave Desert that the men were singled out and publicly proclaimed the Hobbits.
"I like the name," said Lance Cpl. Matthew Robinson, 21. "I like being a Hobbit."
Sgt. Jeremiah Howe, 29, said the Hobbits aren't mouse-pad warriors: They regularly go out on multi-day combat operations.
It's all part of the mission, said Robinson. When he enlisted, it was with thoughts of guns-up action, not computer warfare.
"I had no idea," he said. "I thought I'd just come over and go against the bad guys. I still do in a different way."