WITH THE MARINES IN CENTRAL IRAQ — A Marine regimental commander was replaced Friday after being accused of showing too much caution in his drive on Baghdad. The move by Maj. Gen. James Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division, was highly unusual, coming just two weeks into the war and while the Marines were in the midst of a charge that sent them into unexpectedly fierce fighting.
Col. Joe W. Dowdy, who had been commander of the 1st Marine Regiment, was informed Friday that he would be reassigned to another position; he was immediately replaced by Col. John Toolan, the 1st Marine Division's operations officer. Toolan hurried to the front and immediately took charge of a speeded-up drive to Baghdad. By this morning, the troops had begun to enter the capital.
The switch was made with no formal announcement, but word was sent down the chain of command, causing some grumbling among enlisted Marines who questioned the timing. Dowdy had been a popular commander, in part because he had taken pains to protect his troops, sometimes at the expense of speed.
"I'm afraid this could mean more casualties," said one enlisted man, who asked that his name not be used.