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U.S. coalition forces hope to eventually hand over defense of the Iraqi oil platforms entirely to the Iraqi marines, said Navy Lt. Aaron Bergman, Mobile Security Squadron 7, Detachment 73 officer in charge.

But recent events may delay that turnover, he said Monday, referring to Iran’s capture of 15 British sailors and marines.

The crew was detained March 23 — a day after the Guam sailors left the platforms, Bergman said — and released last week.

The British sailors and marines were conducting a security sweep of a tug coming into one of the oil platforms — the same job the Guam sailors did, Bergman said. The British took over that mission for a few days until the incoming sailors of Mobile Security Detachment 24 from Norfolk, Va., were ready to go, Bergman said.

“We were really surprised that did happen,” he said. “We did have encounters with the Iranians that were intense but nothing more than that. It was more of just a visual stand-off: ‘Don’t come any closer to us, we won’t come any closer to you.’”

Another hold-up to the handoff is the Iraqi military’s logistics and supply train.

“They’re good at fighting, but what they lack is the ability to resupply,” Bergman said. “They have trouble getting things like batteries … even ammo for their weapons. Until that’s fixed, they won’t be able to” sustain a force on the platform.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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