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SpongeBob is off to war.

“The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie” is one of several titles troops downrange can see for free during the holidays.

The annual Army and Air Force Exchange Service/Hollywood Holiday Film Festival runs through through Jan. 7 at bases in the Balkans, the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

The festival will show first-run flicks in 35 mm to U.S. troops stationed in the Balkans, Camp Doha, Kuwait, and Balad, Iraq.

Troops in more remote locations will see video copies of the films.

The movies include “The Incredibles,” “National Treasure,” “Alfie,” “Christmas with the Kranks” and “Alexander.”

Advance VHS versions of Mr. Squarepants’ opus and “Alfie,” “Kinsey,” “Sideways” and “Flight of the Phoenix” will be shown at posts without theaters.

“We are very excited about the films lined up for this year’s film festival,” said Richard Sheff, Vice President of AAFES' Food and Theater Division, in a prepared statement. “As in the past, AAFES’ motion picture partners all agreed that it would be a great gesture of support to those service members defending our country, and in the best holiday tradition, to offer the films free of charge.”

The film companies all agreed to waive their normal royalty fees for the festival.

Germany expands Iraqi training

BERLIN — Germany will provide training for Iraqi officers, send ambulances and equipment for a military hospital and help set up an engineering unit as it expands efforts to support the new Iraqi military in early 2005, the Defense Ministry said Saturday.

Germany was an outspoken opponent of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and refuses to send troops to the country.

But it has trained Iraqi police officers in the United Arab Emirates and last month launched a program to train Iraqi military drivers and mechanics.

The Defense Ministry said Germany and Iraq agreed to expand the program during a visit to Berlin Thursday and Friday by Iraq’s deputy defense minister, Bruska Shaways.

Iraqi officers will receive training in Germany to prepare them for “their tasks in the new, democratically controlled Iraqi military,” according to a ministry statement.

It said Berlin also plans to provide Iraq with equipment for a military hospital and “a large number” of ambulances.

Germany also will help train and equip a new engineering unit, and Iraq is considering an offer to train experts in explosives disposal in Germany, the statement said.

Officer to face trial in February for death of Iraqi

Capt. Rogelio M. Maynulet, a 1st Armored Division officer, will face trial in February on a charge of assault with intent to commmit murder and dereliction of duty in the death an unarmed and wounded Iraqi, a judge determined during a Friday arraignment.

The judge, Col. James Pohl, announced that the court would hear motions on Jan. 25, and the trial itself is scheduled for Feb. 22 through 25. It is tentatively to be held at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in Germany.

Maynulet did not enter a plea, said Maj. Michael Indovina, a 1st AD spokesman. Maynulet will face a maximum combined sentence of 20½ years.

Maynulet’s tank company had fired shots at a car to end a May 21 car chase near Kufa, Iraq, wounding both the driver and passenger. Prosecutors say the 29-year-old Chicago native then murdered the driver, who had already had part of his skull blown away.

Fellow officers, however, say Maynulet killed the man as an act of mercy after a medic pulled him from the car. The soldiers believed the men were associates of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Maynulet is now assigned to the division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

Memorial held for Mannheim soldier

A memorial for Pfc. Joshua A. Ramsey, 19, a military policeman with the 95th MP Battalion, was held Friday in Mannheim, Germany, as well as on Thursday in Baghdad.

Ramsey, who is from Defiance, Ohio, died Dec. 12 in Baghdad from noncombat-related injuries. He is the second troop to die from the Mannheim community, according to the 293rd Base Support Battalion, based in Mannheim.

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